More Starfighter Assault Fun

Star Wars: Battlefront II has been in a very interesting situation since its launch. Doubtless the majority of people reading this will have heard of the furore surrounding it and will have taken a 'side'.

Myself, I've just been my usual self and battling on regardless since it takes a lot of tedium to get through my thick skull. Heck, I've been playing SWtOR for six years even with the last two-and-a-bit years being really quite stagnant and samey. If I have fun with the people I'm playing a game with then that overrules any potential misgivings about the game itself. That is, of course, not to say that I don't have periods of not finding stuff fun, but largely that's related to hitting our heads against something hard and getting nowhere for too long for seemingly no reason.


Back to Battlefront.

I'd already commented on Starfighter Assault being my primary tether to this new Star Wars game, and while I've been focusing more on the other modes as-of-late than I anticipated (due mostly to my guildmates who are playing it; they're strangely not as fond of Starfighter as I am) I still very much enjoy going back into it whenever I get the opportunity.

With the first DLC season, themed around The Last Jedi, Starfighter Assault was one of two modes to receive a new map alongside Galactic Assault. More than this, though; it also received an update to the Hero roster, although unlike the new Ground Heroes - Finn and Captain Pathetic Phasma - there's only one Hero and she joins the 'good' side.

For those of you who aren't aware of the current Tallie tally, this means that with the introduction of Tallissan Lintra the Republic/Rebellion/Resistance has six space Heroes while the CIS/Empire/First Order only has four. It also doesn't help matters that Tallie's A-Wing is probably the best Hero ship in the game at the moment; she brings to the table a missile-evade and the only group-heal in space, and on top of this she is an Interceptor so is an absolute beast at taking ships down.

Oh, and Poe's Black One has received an upgrade as well; whereas before it was just a different X-Wing which traded the overcharged weapons ability for an enemy-revealing pulse, it now has a fourth ability (being the only unit in-game which starts with one as default); the Accelerated Booster Pod. Basically, this gives the ship a speed boost, breaks missile locks, and gives it a small amount of damage resistance, all without sacrificing its BB-8 Heal or group support utility.

Both of these Resistance-era Heroes are thus the most versatile ships in the game, since they can not only pump out a lot of damage but sustain and avoid it reliably as well. I'm curious to see what later space Villains will be able to bring to the table, as at this moment in time the Heroes have very much stacked the deck against them with this DLC season.

While I have severe reservations about the changes and additions to the Hero roster - and I'm saying this as someone who actually really likes Tallie and Poe as Heroes - the same cannot be said of my feelings towards the first new Space map; D'Qar. Being the sixth map for this mode, it is thus also the first map where the Resistance has the defence advantage, whereas previously the only map set in the Resistance/First Order conflict had the First Order with a very strong advantage and the Resistance needing to overcome severe odds to achieve victory.

It's actually very interesting to look at the different maps and the apparent balance between each one, since it seems that 3 of the maps are fairly well-balanced and the others... well... aren't. At the same time, though, it is apparent to me that one of the main reasons why there is this imbalance at times is to do with ship shields; none of the standard CIS or Imperial ships have shields while all the other factions do.

When a faction is defending, numbers don't matter. You can throw as many sacrificial lambs to the enemy as you wish since the enemy needs to destroy an objective and killing a defender only helps advance the round by temporarily removing somebody who might otherwise prevent attackers from doing their job. For the attackers, on the other hand, numbers do matter. If people die to stupid reasons or because nobody's taking out that one guy with a 34-player killstreak then they're almost inevitably going to lose very easily.

So for the CIS and the Empire, when they're defending they're on a more even playing-field than when they're attacking. Quick deaths aren't very helpful when you need people to stay alive long enough to have a chance at attacking the objectives, and in the case of Endor it's very easy for people to die for 'stupid' reasons since there is an absolute shedload of debris to fly into, either because you turned too sharply, too late, or your internet spiked and you found yourself seemingly crashing into nothing.

That's not to say that just because the Resistance and First Order had the foresight to put shields on all their craft it makes their maps substantially easier. The ambush on the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer takes place in an asteroid field and because the first objectives are contained in the 'jaw' of the ship all three phases force attackers to duck and weave; this is made harder in the second phase by the objectives all being AI-controlled rather than stationary, so a player might be close to destroying a transport only for it to duck behind an asteroid and following it lands them directly in the path of an oncoming defender.

D'Qar, on the other hand, is a lot better in terms of objective placement. While there's still a fair amount of debris, there is a fair amount less of ducking-and-weaving required since not only is the debris a lot bigger and far harder to accidentally fly into (although it's still possible) objectives are stationary for the first two phases and fairly substantial in the third. Since there are only two viable paths into the numerous self-contained objectives (field generators) in the second phase and they're all over the place it's a fair amount harder for a defender to chance upon an attacker to begin with, and even harder for them to destroy their target once they're inside the generators and opening fire.

Thus, while the Resistance still has the advantage as the defending faction it isn't a total nightmare for the First Order. While at the time of publishing this post I had only played as the First Order once subsequent viewings of the map from their perspective has reinforced this view. While the second phase is tedious and the third phase is very reliant on sufficient numbers being left alive to complete the objective, both as remainders of the reinforcements from the previous phase and those which may be depleted throughout the third phase itself, the fourth and final phase is the easiest phase for an attacker in any map.

Basically, the First Order has almost three minutes to defeat fifty Resistance ships. That's all; once those ships are destroyed, the game ends and victory befalls the First Order. This has an additional twist in that in this phase only the Resistance has a reinforcement counter; the First Order only has a time limit and a set number of ships to kill. This is thus the first Starfighter map not to feature a direct penalty - although throwing too many sacrificial lambs to the slaughter will be detrimental if not tempered - to the attackers for losing friendly craft in the final phase, and it makes for a nice bookend for them should they reach this far.

I sincerely hope that we'll see this sort of thing added in future maps, because it also adds a greater amount of pressure on the defenders to eliminate their opponents as quickly as possible since the moment the third phase ends it's them who'll be fighting for their lives instead.


Since it had been a while since I uploaded anything to my YouTube channel, I decided to spend Tuesday recording various matches and ended up with two matches which I deemed as worthy to upload. The first is set on D'Qar and the second is set on Ryloth. This is admittedly the second gameplay video of Ryloth I've uploaded to the channel, but at least it shows off Tallie's A-Wing, so there's that to it I suppose...

I still very much enjoy Starfighter Assault, and I'm still very hopeful that we'll eventually get a nice offline mode of it. As I said earlier I'd happily spend a lot of time just shooting bots out of the sky in my own time without feeling guilty about killing another player.

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