By: Imran Chaudhry
Personally, I loved the EA reboot of Battlefront back in 2015; despite all its flaws, it was hours upon hours of fun using both online and local multiplayer features. However, I do agree with most people when I say that EA made a mistake in adding lots of content in paid packages, demanding more money from you after having paid a full AAA price to shoot your friends on your favourite Star Wars maps. Did EA learn its lesson from the huge amount of backlash that the 2015 reboot garnered? Yes and no. First off, they (selectively) listened to the fan base and added a story heavy, single player campaign focused around Iden Versio and the ‘Star Wars’ from the Empire’s point of view. Whether this story will be any good, time will tell, but I’m hopeful for a memorable campaign.
Now, I say that they ‘selectively’ listened to the fan base because whilst they have added a campaign and have gotten rid of the much-hated season pass (hooray!), EA have found an even more complicated way to get more money from you and ultimately cause their entire fan base to turn on them.
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Microtransactions are the bane of any gamers life in the year 2017. With them being highly popularised through games such as Destiny and Overwatch, many publishers saw this method of charging players for more, usually cosmetic content as a big cash cow. This means that these days, if a AAA game is released, it is almost guaranteed to have some form of microtransaction in the form of loot boxes or rare skins. Now I’m not saying this is bad, I enjoy Overwatch’s loot box system and know friends who have bought loot boxes during events to guarantee the event skins. However, when microtransactions go from cosmetic fun to pay-to-win advantages, a game becomes unfairly unbalanced and potentially a waste of money to those who cannot afford the base game and the extra microtransactions.
Back to the point, what EA have implemented in their new game Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a very complicated, multi-currency pay-to-win loot box system in which you can buy in-game currency with real money, and use this to purchase loot boxes. Thanks to the guys over at Gamespot we have a simplified version of the economy. There are three in game currencies:
  • Credits – earned from playing matches, completing milestone challenges or getting duplicate Star Cards. They can be used to open loot boxes.
  • Crystals – earned from paid for microtransaction packs and certain milestone challenges. They can be used to open loot boxes.
  • Crafting Parts – earned from playing matches, opening loot boxes and completing milestone challenges. These are used to craft new Star Cards or upgrade the ones you already own.

 

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So what are Star Cards? You can use them to upgrade class specific heroes, troopers and vehicles. Unlocking weapons is achieved either by loot box or killcount requirements. Finally, unlocking more heroes requires you to spend credits on them. That’s right, you have to unlock the awesome heroes you’ve wanted to play ever since the game was announced. Confused yet? I know I am. Again, our friends at Gamespot discussed the controversy in their weekly podcast ‘The Lobby’ where they talked about the fact that anything you earn in-game requires you to pull out and focus on the loot crates, and these purchasable loot boxes give you player advantage rather than just cosmetic skins. Another controversy is the gambling aspect it brings to games played by very young people, as they spend real money to gamble on whether a loot box will give them the skin or advantage that they want.
It is important to note that Polygon writer Owen S. Good has played the game and poured more money than most would into it, and states “there is no straight line for either path: paying to win, or playing to advance”. This essentially means that you can pour your money into this game and not advance too far ahead of people playing without paying, and you cannot grind through this game without having to use the loot box system if you spend money or not.
One of the main causes of outcry from the beta round feedback, other than the overwhelming and confusing economy, was that heroes could cost up to 60,000 credits to unlock, which meant hours upon hours of grinding in order to get to play even one of your favourite Star Wars characters. However, EA have reduced these costs by 75% before the main release this Friday. A good move by EA, however there is a lot more to fix before this game can be judged by its good points rather than its bad ones.
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Ultimately, I’m still very excited for this game, but will be holding off buying it until these controversies are resolved and calm down. It’s a shame that this game has been such a disastrous release for EA, as I am sure the campaign and gameplay are truly fun and an incredible experience, and I look forward to playing as Iden Versio in the future.

Update 17/11/17

So, EA in a surprising turn of events announced hours before the release of Battlefront 2 that the microtransaction system will be disabled (but not permanently), and all progression will be gameplay focused. Read an excerpt below, and the full statement here:
“We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”
An interesting turn of events in a very messy release, ultimately it looks like the microtransaction system will be back, and we hope it’s tweaked in order to provide a fun player experience rather than a disastrously unbalanced game.
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