The Last Jedi has proven to be quite the divisive movie with fans. Critics seem to near universally love it, but fan reception has been more divided, with what seem to be an either ‘love it or loathe it’ approach. As a mega Star Wars nerd, I saw it three times in the first 24 hours. The first time, I loved it. The second time I liked it. And the third time, I found that I was mentally pulling it apart in terms of what I loved and what I really didn’t like. Today, I still feel torn, but I definitely don’t just love it or loathe it.
No massive spoilers here if you haven’t yet seen the movie, but one of the biggest gripes was that the opening crawl seems to suggest that the First Order has conquered the galaxy in the minutes between the end of The Force Awakens and the beginning of The Last Jedi. For me, this is partially understandable. People had naturally wondered whether Starkiller Base—aka Death Star 3.0—was representative of the First Order sinking all its resources into one project, or whether it was just one (major) facet of its military power.
For me, that opening crawl of The Last Jedi addresses this instantaneously: Starkiller Base was just one part of the First Order’s military might. If you read some of the detailed dissent online, you’ll soon encounter this complaint that the First Order doesn’t have enough Star Destroyers and other military hardware to conquer the galaxy. The follow-up wonders how they managed to do it so quickly. It honestly pales in comparison to some of the other gripes I have with the movie—like the weird space physics, or that bloated prequel-like section on Casino Royale (yeah, I know that’s not the planet’s name)—but it’s a problem for some people.
Well, if you haven’t bought Star Wars Battlefront II, or you have no intention of playing the new free story DLC, I have some minor spoilers for you that’ll help make sense of it all. First of all, it confirms something that’s heavily hinted at in The Force Awakens: The First Order kidnaps children and indoctrinates them into becoming stormtroopers. Nasty stuff.
During the same cutscene towards the end of the Resurrection epilogue missions, Iden Versio and her daughter who’s most definitely not Rey (as if she ever was going to be Rey), find information that confirms the size of the First Order’s military: it’s bloody vast. Those kidnapped children are used as a way to suggest military numbers beyond imagination (though this isn’t explained in greater detail), while there’s a screen with red blips indicative of the First Order’s “capital ships”. I counted 65 blips, which is either representative of 65 capital ships, or 65 fleets (though the former seems more likely given the grouping). In fairness, these blips start out with 27, then it switches to 65 for the final fame before it cuts away, so there might even have been more than 65 if the numbers kept swelling off screen.
Bear in mind that the First Order has wiped out the New Republic: Starkiller Base destroyed their core worlds, and the fleets above those worlds. What’s more interesting about this particular cutscene is that those capital ship blips are on a star map, and aside for a large strip in the centre, they seem to already be strategically positioned around the galaxy. In terms of the timing, this cutscene happens just before the destruction of Starkiller Base, meaning it looks like the First Order has military control of the galaxy before the end of The Force Awakens (let alone at the start of The Last Jedi).
During the final cutscene, General Leia Organa sends Iden’s daughter, Zay, on an urgent mission to make contact with allies in the Outer Rim. Outside of this little canonised storytelling nugget, Iden’s epilogue was a mostly underwhelming affair, which was dominated by funnelling combat, terrible AI, and sparse storytelling. What fares better is the new Crait map on Galactic Assault. I’ve only been able to have one round on it (because matchmaking without filters means you’re at the mercy of an algorithm), but it ended with a fantastic stalemate inside the abandoned Rebel base that my team (the First Order) finally pushed past during overtime.
We couldn’t destroy the three generators required for victory, unfortunately, but this Crait map felt quite different to the other Galactic Assault maps I’d played, too. Again, the best bit is if you’re still playing Battlefront II, you can play all this content for free. I spent a couple of hours trying to get a taste of the new D’Qar map for Starfighter Assault but, again, the matchmaking screwed me, and I kept reconnecting to the same server that was playing from the start of the rotation (the prequel era).
I’ll update this story if I can find a game over the break, but that’ll rely on either luck or me playing through at least parts of a rotation to get to the new map. If only the free DLC included server browsers.