A fresh update from EA, publishers of the controversial Star Wars Battlefront II, has hinted at a brand new progression system in the game—but it’s very light on details.
We’re taking a look at what the system could look like, and, perhaps more importantly, what it won’t be.
The previous state of Battlefront II
The story of Battlefront II is one fraught with controversy. Even before release, there was pushback from the community as a result of reports from beta testers that the microtransactions in this AAA title were well above and beyond what was acceptable.
Statistics like the fact it would take 40 hours of gameplay to earn the iconic Darth Vader as a hero unit flared the ire of gamers and Star Wars fans everywhere, while the integration of “pay2win” star cards did nothing but feed that fire.
Community reactions were disappointed at best, vitriolic at worst, and while EA did make some changes to the progression system, it was apparently not enough. Many fans boycotted the microtransactions, or even the game entirely, and critics lashed out at the title in droves. The damage was so bad that EA company stocks dropped significantly (if only briefly) as even investors started to doubt the success of the title.
EA, to its credit, did react quickly—dropping stock prices tends to light a fire under even the most out-of-touch executives.
“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,” read an EA statement at the start of this year.
“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.”
It appears this is just the beginning of the changes for Battlefront II.
What’s the future of Battlefront II progression?
The update from EA makes very little mention of what the changes may be, simply saying that the changes will be “significant” and that they address the problems that the community have highlighted.
Most of these concerns were centred around the afore-mentioned microtransactions and lootboxes. The progression system was inherently based around earning Star Cards, which could only be unlocked through lootboxes: purchased through experience points or with real money.
There are many other games that use this kind of system, but in Battlefront II, there was a significant balance difference. Experience points came slowly and rarely, leading to the 40 hour statistics for earning Darth Vader.
This was later increased so that players could “level up” by unlocking cards more quickly. However, there were still issues with the random nature of the lootboxes; it was perfectly possible to open a dozen lootboxes and never quite get the card you were looking for, leaving you in the dust behind other players who simply got more lucky.
It was perfectly possible to open a dozen lootboxes and never quite get the card you were looking for.
No matter how well you played or how many experience points you earned, simple luck of the draw could put you behind objectively less skilled players.
Considering how vocal the community has been over this issue, this is almost certainly what the “significant changes” are going to be based on. This might include:
- A new system alongside lootboxes that guarantees player stage progression at certain levels
- A revamp of the experience point system that gives you more for less
- A lowering of the experience point cost for lootboxes
- Changes in the percentages of card drops
- A more robust card crafting system
However, EA has previously said that turning off the microtransactions entirely was just a temporary measure, and these changes could also be an attempt to re-integrate them. They aren’t stupid—they know that the microtransactions were what caused these problems in the first place, but leave it to EA to find a way to sneak them back in without causing as much critique.
Ultimately, this is all speculation, and we’ll have to wait until March to find out what the changes will actually be. I remain skeptical however, and EA will have to do something pretty incredible to bring Battlefront II back from the brink. There’s only so far that a lootbox-based progression system will go, after all.
What do you think the big changes for Battlefront II will be? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!