It’s been quite entertaining for the past few days over at Reddit. Everyone has been coming from all sides to get back at Electronic Arts and DICE for the inclusion of loot crates, limiting a mode, and the pay-to-win approach just like what we see most of the time in free-to-play games on mobile. Star Wars Battlefront II is set to launch tomorrow worldwide.
I have been reading a lot of stuff regarding about Star Wars Battlefront II’s progression system and how it can be really a grind for all players. We might not have the time to spare in playing games, I mean, who here does not have any backlogs? For sure all of you still have some games to complete, because I myself still have a lot of games that I need to finish. But really? Putting 4,000 plus hours for a game just to unlock all the base content or spend $2,100 (Php 40,000+) to get everything? Hell no! This is just utterly insane. No one is going to spend much time or even the cash to just get everything unlocked. Well, unless if you’re Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, but that’s not the case here.
It’s been a few days since the press got their copy from EA, and the people who pre-ordered the Elite Trooper Deluxe edition already got their gritty hands 3 days early from launch. But how is it really? The multiplayer? Because that is the concern of all, not some, but of all gamers and Star Wars fans alike. There has been a lot of memes and hate posts all over social media, and that’s natural for people to react to shady tactics like this. I am one of those, but in the bright side, I did not cloud my judgement for the game when I reviewed it. The experience I got was great, especially in multiplayer. What the other outlets said about Star Wars Battlefront II being a hard-ass grind, that’s true, but for the calculation of hours in getting the base contents unlocked is not something I’m leaning on at the moment.
I took some time in digging and going through the Star Cards and played a decent amount of hours in the multiplayer. Here are the good and bad things of the overall game itself:
THE GOOD STUFF
It’s given. This sequel has better modes and locations, and the inclusion of the classes makes it tactical and encourages players to choose the playstyle they prefer with their unique set of abilities, perks, and weapons.
Now, this is highly subjective, and certain characters are just uninteresting. But when it comes to the Star Wars lore, Battlefront II’s story seems to add some missing puzzles but still leaves us speculating. It even broadened the story of what happened in the Battle of Jakku which was a nice thing to add especially after the lackluster mode in the first Battlefront.
Star Cards Do Not Have A Substantial Advantage
This is where it gets shady. It’s a straight up fact that it’s covered with pay-to-win all over the game, but is it really? Partially, it is pay-to-win, you can purchase Crystals, the in-game currency your real money is going to be converted with, and buy all the loot crates you want. But will that give you a huge advantage over players? In a small gap, yes, but overall, no. DICE has made massive changes with Battlefront II, including the overpowered Star Card of Boba Fett that reduces damage 100% with the Death From Above card – which is now only 15% on Level 4 / Epic rarity status.
I have played with other players who have better Star Cards than I do. How can I tell? Every time you get killed by a player, an information box shows at the upper right side of your screen. You will see what weapon was used, and the Star Cards used and its rarity level. Even if they had Star Cards with a level of 4 (Epic) or 3 (Rare), I was still able to place first and got awarded with MVP and most points. As for the rarity of the cards, Epics are only obtainable through playing, not in loot crates.
The kind of Star Cards right now are Boost Cards and Ability Cards. The Boost Cards improve your health regeneration delay, lowers the cool down for specific abilities, and such as gain specific health points after killing an enemy. With Ability Cards, specific cards for classes can get weapons with cool downs, while the other cards improve your current equipped ability.
For the Heavy class, you can replace your Combat Shield with the Improved Combat Shield card that starts with a health point of 200 – Level 1 (Common). Please note that adding the Improved Combat Shield ability does not boost your standard Combat Shield’s health points. So for example, if the Combat Shield is around 150, equipping the Improved Combat Shield will not add the 200 but completely replacing the Combat Shield ability – including its health points. As you progress through and get Craft Points (obtainable through challenges and crates) and reach a certain Rank level, then you can upgrade the card to its next rarity. Or if you’re lucky with your loot crate, you’ll get it replaced with the higher rarity level iteration of that card.
But you ask, isn’t it still a big disadvantage for us especially if the player already has the Rare and Epic type of the card? As I have said earlier, there is only a small margin of advantage here. While the shield is placed in front of the Heavy class unit, players can exploit the class’s weakness from the sides and from the back since turning with the combat shields on is slower. Other cards only give a small boost to certain perks, and by checking the other cards, they don’t give any significant upgrades on current class characters – it’s in acceptable figures.
This is where a question of skill comes in. In a shooter game, even if the player has the most powerful weapon or a deck of stronger cards does not entirely mean the player is already better. Yes, they’re in a spot where they can easily one-hit you with their guns, but in Star Wars Battlefront II, weapons are unlocked through achieving milestones such as kill 500 enemies with the Assault class. Weapons in Battlefront II do pack a punch, and it’s great that it’s not acquired through buying more crates or in-game credits as players will have to work their asses off to unlock the weapon. This means players who want to burn their cash for loot crates won’t get powerful weapons.
And in my overall experience through the hours I have invested in Battlefront II’s multiplayer, I placed first and even got rewarded MVP in 60% of my matches even If I was against players with better cards. I wasn’t in any way in a spot where I was overwhelmed with players who have rarer cards than I do.
It’s not game breaking.
Not Entirely “Pay-ToWin”
Now this is a bold statement coming from me. Considering Star Wars Battlefront II’s state as pay-to-win is already accepted and globally hated, but for those who experienced the game’s multiplayer (not the beta, please, but the current build and patch) can say that this isn’t entirely pay-to-win. Players without Star Cards are practically securing first place and second place in the matches (I play in US-Oregon and US-Virginia), and that pointed me that it’s not certainly unfair for players who are going to the traditional path of progressing and unlocking Star Cards, getting Credits and Craft Points, and the like.
This is entirely a subjective view as I know not everyone might have experienced the same thing I went through in Star Wars Battlefront II’s multiplayer. Some of you might have felt that you were overwhelmed by players who have better cards, or might not. But this is what I witnessed firsthand while playing Battlefront II, and it was a great experience throughout.
THE BAD STUFF
Great Story But A Lackluster Experience (Gameplay)
The campaign was huge add-on! Everyone prayed to have a single-player story-driven campaign in Battlefront again, but sadly, the gameplay approach was your ordinary shooter. You start the game, defend this person here, kill a bunch of Stormtroopers there, finish the game, then repeat. If you’re asking if this is a linear experience? No, it is not. It’s semi-linear, you can approach at different angles if you want (through stealth) but that’s limited to certain missions in the game. And the only things that saved campaign were its story and space battle.
Microtransactions and Loot Crates In General
This method has been exploited by many, even the likes of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and yours truly – Electronic Arts. In a business perspective, it’s entirely a good way to earn more money from the games they make as one of the studios under EA mentioned that producing and making games have become expensive, and with the cost of keeping the base prices to $60, they needed to make a source of income in a different way – through DLCs, microtransactions, and Loot Crates.
DICE and EA ditched the paid DLCs and rather made all upcoming content, maps, and updates for free – but in exchange, they had to resort with microtransactions and loot crates to earn more. While according to the developer and publisher, this is just an option for players to choose, and if they decide to not purchase any Crystals then of course it still wouldn’t be a problem. In this current generation, it’s not entirely bad to make more money to develop more games in the future. But exploiting the loot crate system in a way that forces players to buy more to have an edge in a game is entirely unacceptable.
It becomes a sizable drawback for players who wanted to progress in the traditional way, and they would get a huge disadvantage against players who’s throwing money to loot crates. If it’s cosmetic, yeah, sure it’s better, but if it affects gameplay? You better make sure the cards, credits distribution, and all those stuff are evenly distributed and can be accessible to both kind of players. If not, be prepared for players who will knock on your doorsteps with pitchforks and a bunch of gasoline containers. It’s gonna get ugly.
Arcade Mode Limitations
Alright, this move was a bit foolish, in my opinion. DICE producers already explained in their Reddit AMA the other day that they do not want players to exploit Arcade mode for credits that could potentially harm the players in multiplayer. This is actually a thoughtful move, if that’s from a developer’s standpoint, but limiting the credits earned in Arcade mode to 500 and applying a duration before the players can earn credits again is just dumb and absurd. This is not free-to-play, this is a $60 game that everyone is going to pay for.
DICE is already taking feedback regarding about this approach and will definitely check further options in improving Arcade mode. Hopefully.
Credits Distribution – It Becomes A Hard Grind
This is the only thing that’s disappointed me the best, the game’s Credits distribution. Now, Credits are earned through completing challenges, the campaign, and as well as multiplayer matches. You expect to get 600 or more Credits for performing well, but in reality, the distribution of Credits in multiplayer is utterly ludicrous. You performance doesn’t matter, even if you placed first, you will only get around 210 Credits but that entirely depends. But according to DICE, the time you have spent in the match will also take into account – and did not add any calculations for us to get at least an idea how it is calculated. The predecessor had a better distribution system for Credits as it ties in with your score from the match.
For example, in Battlefront I, you earn 5,500 points, you get 550 Credits in total after the game. If this was implemented, it would have been more easier for players to earn Credits, however, DICE wants the progression to be slower to keep players going back to the game for the unlockables (Star Cards, emotes, weapons). I just hope this will change a few days after launch.
I guess that’s about it. But to be clear, I am not defending the publisher or the developers, Star Wars Battlefront II itself is a great game, however, with its current loot crate system I know it can be improved over time. As we constantly voice out our feedback and criticisms, we can get the developers to listen and make massive changes that can balance the game and making it a better purchase for all of us.
Overall, Star Wars Battlefront II is great, just like what I said in my review. I won’t convince you to buy the game, I would rather recommend you to try it out first if you’re skeptical. If you have a friend who has the game, borrow it for a couple of days and test it out for yourself. It’s better to judge a game through experience than merely bandwagoning on the hate train.
Disclaimer: EA provided us a pre-release code of Star Wars Battlefront II for the PS4, and I will personally buy the game tomorrow to make sure that there is no “bias” and “paid to give a good score” connotation in this. I am also a consumer just like you and everyone else.