Battlefront is on the brain. There's still months to go before DICE’s Frostbitten reboot of grand-scale Star Wars-fare hits monitors, but the (carefully choreographed) bits seen so far are exciting stirrings of trading hot laser, lightsaber, and explodey death in both familiar and new worlds. Ten years has been quite the wait.
Beyond jetpacking Rebel rocket troopers and anti-aliased Endor tree bark lies a fleet of expectations. A smooth launch and low bug count wouldn’t hurt, but hey, we’re PC gamers—let’s toss modding support right on top of the pile. While EA thinks about that (”don’t hold your breath,” says my Force-powered 8 ball), 2005’s Battlefront 2 still hosts a small but fiercely dedicated community and a legion of intricate mods. If that’s not enough worthiness for your Steam library, it’s also stupidly cheap as of writing (until May 7) at $3/£2, so picking up the base game is an inexpensive first step. GameSpy is no more, but external lobby programs such as GameRanger and GameMaster keep multiplayer breathing.
If you’re just looking for the grand slam of what Battlefront 2’s mods offer, consider installing the Conversion Pack, its patch, and the unofficial 1.3 game update. That combo provides a sizable content boost to most modes with minimal deviation from stock army-on-army gameplay, but plenty more choices await your consideration in this gallery. As a rule of thumb, keep the 1.3 update installed when configuring mods, as many of them won’t work without it.
Star Wars Battlefront Conversion Pack
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The Chosen One of Battlefront 2 modding. The Conversion Pack is a huge package of additional heroes, units, and vehicles. It brings in 22 new maps spanning the Galactic Civil War and Clone Wars eras including the much-favored Bespin platforms and Tatooine’s sprawling Dune Sea. Over 50(!) extra heroes and several clone legions join the ranks. Modes such as deathmatch and the amazingly fun Order 66—a team of clone troopers hunting down a team of Jedi—maximize Battlefront 2’s already great replayability.
The pinnacle of the pack is the inclusion of an entire third era based off BioWare’s legendary Knights of the Old Republic RPG. It comes with its own set of heroes (hi, Revan) and soldiers uniformed in the Old Republic red and gold or the polished silver and red of the Sith Empire. The effect of witnessing a 64-player laser fight between Sith and Old Republic warriors on Jango Fett’s homeworld of Concord Dawn is just one of a plethora of positives. (Don’t forget to patch it!)
Think of the +123 mod as a funnily-named key for unlocking Battlefront 2’s greatest potential. It slots in a few classic maps from the original Battlefront—the icy world of Rhen Var is one of my favorites—but the biggest plus here is the availability of every mode on every vanilla map. The results are equally wondrous and wacky. Want to see how many units you can stuff into the tiny Tantive IV (Princess Leia’s consular ship from A New Hope) map using XL mode? Better yet, combine the excellent Hunt mode with the Death Star Interior map for an awesome reenactment of Luke, Han, and Leia’s escape from the detention level. Head over to Hoth, and you’ll take part in a wampa assault on Echo Base. The possibilities are almost endless.
Clone troopers are everywhere in Battlefront 2, and they’re really good at looking alike. If you feel a little variety in the ranks is just what the Republic’s zerg rush needs, grab the Battlefront Extreme mod. It throws in some pretty distinct non-basic classes for each army as elite unlocks once you earn enough points in the field. Commando and officer units such as the jetpacking dark trooper from the Dark Forces series and the dual-wielding Captain Rex of the esteemed 501st are powerful alternatives to full hero characters. Extra weapons such as long rifles and customized carbines show up in loadouts, and laser behavior is slightly tweaked for reduced accuracy on full auto with a danger of overheating. Your mob of Jango dupes will now be a noticeably more distinguishable mob of Jango dupes.
Dark Times II: Rising Son
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The sheer size of Dark Times II nearly rivals the Conversion Pack, so there might be space issues with having both installed alongside other mods. (Battlefront 2 tends to get snotty if it detects more than 500 missions.) It’s a tough choice made tougher by the fact that Dark Times II boasts 16 new maps covering Expanded Universe planets such as Nar Shaddaa and Taris. A more complex lightsaber system with light, heavy, and Force combo attacks replaces the simple slash-and-block default controls. It’s best demonstrated in the new VIP mode where each team protects their single hero while hunting down the opposing VIP for points. I particularly enjoy Wave mode: a single hero squaring off against waves of common enemies, challenging fun for slaughtering hordes of AI without risk of friendly fire. Best of all, a full Galactic Conquest campaign of about 10 maps rounds out the mod with objective-based missions charting the journeys of a special Rebel commando detachment under the command of Luke Skywalker himself.
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Though Battlefront 2 unblinkingly tosses swarms of soldiers onto the screen, it’s still a decade-old game. Aged textures, shader effects, and colors hearken back to a time when smudgy faces were standard and DirectX-10-powered sweat pores were but a twinkle in Crytek’s eyes. Evolved is your go-to graphical overhaul mod, then. Just don’t expect an ENB-like jump in quality. Its enhancements are still quite noticeable—the Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi models are especially stunning—but they scrape the ceiling of the Zero engine’s possible output.
Mass Effect: Unification
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Mass Effect: Unification packs Battlefront 2 into a cryo pod and hops into BioWare’s sci-fi trilogy. The attention to detail is astounding, a transformative sweep of the Rebel Alliance into the Systems Alliance deploying N7 battalions against convincingly detailed Geth and Collector armies. Three maps—Eden Prime, Prothean Skyway, and Virmire—recreate critical battles from Shepard’s saga if he/she had access to the full might of humanity’s forces from the start.
Each loadout includes swappable abilities adhering to ME’s recognizable classes, so Adepts toss biotic warp blasts while Soldiers deliver ballistic smackdowns with concussive shots. First-person view is disabled for authentic ME cinematography, and heroes like Samara and the good ol’ Commander are present to Paragon interrupt everyone and plead for a peaceful resolution—just kidding, they’re slaughtering powerhouses. Even the menu’s appearance switches to ME’s futuristic interface with music lifted directly from the space-synth soundtrack of Jack Wall et al. Did you enjoy Mass Effect? Get this. Never played Mass Effect? Get this (and then play Mass Effect, silly). Do you like mods? Get this.
Ultimate Battlefront: The Clone Wars
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On the surface, Ultimate Battlefront seems like just another garden-variety clone trooper mod. Once you hit the class selection screen, things turn interesting. The mod randomizes available units and heroes on a per-round frequency; your vehicle repairman might be replaced by a mine-laying combat engineer, for instance, or a heavy gunner turns into a vibroblade-waving berserker. No two matches play the same as a result, and the challenge of victory becomes surprisingly steep due to constantly adapting to whatever forces you have available.
Tactical Enhanced Combat Mod
Realism and appropriate physics aren’t quite synonymous in a galaxy where magical space wizards twirl elaborate glowsticks while clearing football-field-sized jumps. Still, when it comes to the gritty details of zappy warfare, the Tactical Enhanced Combat Mod does the best job of approximating how devastating fighting with amplified light might actually be.
It also exponentially cranks up the difficulty. Accuracy on the move is Stormtrooper-effect-levels of bad, but it doesn’t take many shots to drop someone—which means you’ll eat dirt in just a couple hits, as well. Run-and-gun blitzes of traditional Battlefront 2 play are shelved for more cautious, cover-based combat. Killing sprees thusly feel more rewarding, and it feels especially heroic to survive a full battle as a single, fragile grunt.
Do note that this particular mod overwrites a batch of core game files, so follow the readme’s instructions carefully and backup whatever’s affected (always a good practice, really) before proceeding.
The Old Republic
Another era mod borrowing from a BioWare game, The Old Republic predictably copies regalia and uniforms from the 2011 MMO of the same name. Imperial Agents, Sith Warriors, Smugglers, Troopers, and other classes join the endless war in addition to heroes such as Darth Malgus and Master Satele Shan.
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Some of Battlefront 2’s custom maps are comparably extensive to full mods. Spira: Besaid is perhaps the best example of what a single map offers, and it doesn’t even involve Star Wars whatsoever. It’s a mini Final Fantasy RPG! Figuring out everything can take a bit, but you’ll soon discover features such as sidequests, a self-contained save system, puzzle-solving, damage resistances, party members, and a lot of bad anime hair.
Aquilaris: Deep Sea
It may look like a couple blocky underwater domes, but Aquilaris: Deep Sea is a fantastically well-paced tale of subterfuge and sabotage. Infiltrate an Imperial base as an undercover Rebel in search of critical military intel; success depends on sticking to your cover identity and not going in guns blazing. Interacting with people and database systems reveals a pretty engaging story for just one map with neat stealth elements and an interesting twist. A definite recommend.
Verena Defense: Immortal
Where Aquilaris focused on narrative, Verena Defense answers with pure epicness. The Republic cruiser Immortal crash-lands on the rainy world of Verena, and the Separatists pounce on the opportunity for easy prey. The map is great for an Alamo-style battle of desperation with an appropriately violent storm rumbling overhead as interceptors clash in the blackened sky and ground forces smash together outside the stricken ship. Boiling out of the Immortal’s launch bay alongside dozens of troopers and walking armor while John Williams’ Battle over Coruscant thunders in the background is something that needs to be experienced firsthand.
In Yoda-speak: “Practice fundamentals, you must.” The Battle Arena map passes up the artist’s brush for a more utilitarian nature. A handful of rooms serve as practice grounds for marksmanship and movement, and they’re all customizable via simple menus set near entranceways. Elsewhere, a few amusing distractions include spectating a Geonosian gladiator fight, playing a round of giant chess, or hopping on a Segway to look ridiculous.
Battle of Endor (Space)
There’s plenty of space-fight maps to choose from, but few match the scale of action as Return of the Jedi’s climactic Battle of Endor. This particular version is the best of the bunch, and all the major and minor ships that participated in the Emperor’s downfall make an appearance. Fly over (or blow up) bulbous Mon Calamari cruisers, spindly Rebel medical frigates, angular Star Destroyers, or Darth Vader’s flagship Executor itself. For total authenticity, make sure to corkscrew an A-wing directly into the latter’s bridge while screaming really loudly in your chair.
Christmas in Jinglin’ Town
It is a period of arctic armageddon. Rebel suburbanites, striking from the corner of Maple and Hawthorn Avenue, have won their first snowball fight against the evil NEIGHBORS DOWN THE STREET.
During the battle, rebel gossipers managed to learn the existence of holiday cheer’s ultimate weapon, SANTA CLAUS, a hefty gift-giver with enough surface area to destroy an entire premium girdle.
Pursued by the neighbors’ loud kids, the remaining rebels race home aboard their SUV, custodian of the wrapped presents that can spoil their kids and restore joy to the neighborhood….