I feel bad for DICE. Buried beneath the controversy, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is an improvement over its predecessor in mostly every department. Its presentation is of the absolute highest standard, making their beautiful first stab at Star Wars somehow look ugly by comparison, its shooting has been overhauled and it plays like an altogether deeper experience than 2015’s shallow effort. While it’s difficult to say just how much of an input DICE had in the decision to go ahead with Battlefront 2‘s ill-advised microtransactions, suffice to say that they probably didn’t want their years of hard work to be undone by loot boxes.
Even with EA’s recently announced changed and reductions to the cost of its heroes, this game is still sullied by the forced insertion of its supply crates. EA and DICE have stated that this is a work-in-progress, and that tweaks will be made post-launch in response to player feedback, but Battlefront 2’s progression system is so deeply linked to these supply crates that it’s difficult to see how the powers that be could change things around without causing even more problems in the process.
Battlefront 2‘s greatest weakness is its Star Cards. Being given to the player in the aforementioned randomized, purchasable crates, these cards are separated between Boost and Ability Cards, with both providing tactical advantages that impact upon gameplay. These cards can not only be unlocked, but they can then also be upgraded by way of combining them with other cards and crafting materials, which are also unlocked via supply crates. As if that wasn’t enough, your ability to unlock two extra card slots in the game is based around reaching a certain card level, only achievable by obtaining more cards, and oh boy is this thing a mess.
Now, allow me to preface this by conceding that, no, it isn’t that difficult to unlock these three card slots and then max out three cards to fill in said slots. However, some of these cards are demonstrably more useful than others, and if you’re handing over the cash in order to get your hands on a slew of Star Cards, then chances are you’re going to have more chance of getting your hands on the more advantageous abilities.
For instance, my Heavy is currently rocking a fully upgraded ‘Brawler’ boost card, which grants me an ability refresh and a health regeneration of 100 if I kill an enemy with a melee attack. I have killed one enemy with a melee attack since playing, and I have never been killed with a melee attack, so I can safely state that this card is basically useless. I’d much rather have the card that regenerates my health 40% faster, or shortens my ability recharge times by 28%, but here I am.
While the Boost cards are the same across all classes, they’re each only usable for the class you specifically unlocked them for. This means that even if I’ve got a fully upgraded Marksman Boost card for my Assault class, I can’t switch it over to my Sharpshooter class and vice versa. This means that there are even more cards to unlock, with each one able to be upgraded several times, and each one having a demonstrable impact upon gameplay.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is pay to win. There will be some who argue against that, and who say that skilled players will always triumph over those who have paid for swifter access to certain abilities, but the fact remains that if you’re buying your way to better abilities faster than your competitors, then that’s a notable advantage. What baffles me is that along with sullying an otherwise perfectly good game with these loot boxes, EA / DICE have also opted to make the items included in them painfully dull. With so much fan service available in the Star Wars universe, it’s baffling that Battlefront 2’s loot boxes instead contain thrilling items such as thermal detonators or ion torpedoes.
It’s infinitely more exciting to open a box containing board shorts for McCree than it is a new grenade for your boring Rebel fighter.
— Paul Tamburro (@PaulTamburro) November 14, 2017
Battlefront 2 isn’t the best shooter I’ve ever played, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. However, its microtransactions peek from around every corner, sullying what could have otherwise been an excellent sequel and leaving a sour taste in the mouth. Hopefully other companies learn from this failed experiment in the future.