Since its release late last year, Star Wars Battlefront II has definitely had its ups and downs, development-wise.
After getting off to a particularly rocky start involving mixed critical reviews and a fan backlash over in-game purchases and microtransactions, it's finally starting to feel like Battlefront II is hitting its stride—not just in terms of a new take on a video game heroine in the Star Wars galaxy, but in the fun add-ons the team at EA has offered players over the last few months.
First, there was the addition of new maps, like Chewie's home planet of Kashyyyk, or Crait from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or the version of Cloud City we all know and love from Empire Strikes Back. Now there's Ewok Hunt, which just might be the horror/survival game mode we never knew we needed to see in Star Wars.
When we were kids watching Return of the Jedi for the first time, those small, furry Ewoks might have seemed cute and safe. Revisiting the same film as an adult, however, clues you into some particularly macabre details—like that shot at the end of the movie, when an Ewok is using a set of trooper helmets to perform a drum solo. It begs a disturbing question: what did they do with the heads?
Well, Battlefront II's Ewok Hunt mode satisfies our morbid curiosity by fully leaning into the truth of what these sentient, fuzzy creatures really are: murderbears. And these tiny killers are hungry for stormtrooper blood.
The gameplay itself is fairly straightforward. At the beginning of every match, each player is either randomly assigned the role of Imperial stormtrooper or one of two "first Ewoks" to kick things off. As a stormtrooper playing in first-person perspective, the situation becomes instantly more terrifying. Visibility while navigating the forest floor of Endor's moon at night is extremely limited, and you're basically only armed with your blaster, as well as a flashlight that you have to turn off at occasional intervals to recharge. Without that flashlight, things are suuuuuper dark, and unless you can group together with a few of your fellow stormtroopers or find a well-lit cave to hunker down in until your rescue shuttle arrives, you're pretty much toast.
Even if you eat it as a stormtrooper, though, this mode reincarnates you as an Ewok—and it's then that the game becomes a little less scary and a lot more fun, albeit a bit silly in the process. You're automatically switched to third-person perspective, and while the stormtrooper does have some advantages over the murderbear (like more health), the Ewoks are definitely better equipped to navigate the surroundings.
As an Ewok, you can trigger three different abilities. Your Hunters' Instinct allows you to better perceive your environment, illuminating stormtroopers and their footprints to give you the advantage in tracking them down. Additionally, your Wistie Pouch (a nod to terribad '80s Ewok adventure flick Caravan of Courage) can be used as a slingshot weapon to disorient your enemy—and sometimes deal enough damage to whittle down their health entirely. Then there's the Valiant Horn, which both gives you a slight damage bonus and has the benefit of being freaking terrifying. For a stormtrooper, hearing the sound of an Ewok's battle horn without being able to discern where it's coming from twists what was once hilariously adorable into something much scarier.
The upside to Ewok Hunt, aside from the thoroughly entertaining gameplay, is that it means there's a possibility for similar add-ons in the future on Battlefront II. According to Global Community Lead Ben Waithe, there's been a lot of positive feedback surrounding this mode. Could there be potential future variations on this theme in the future, only with similarly hostile species like Tatooine's Tusken Raiders or bothersome Jawas? Fingers crossed that's the case because the best thing about Ewok Hunt is that it offers a slightly twisted take on an endearing childhood relic. Anything that can teach you to fear what you once loved is something worth building on.
Initially rolled out on April 18, Ewok Hunt was intended to only be made available to Battlefront II players for a limited time—but thanks to popular demand, it's returning for this weekend only. So grab your spears and your Wistie pouches and take to the forest. It's stormtrooper hunting season. Yub nub, b*tches.