This week Electronic Arts announced the official Star Wars Battlefront II Progression update, a long overdue overhaul to how the game handles its Star Cards, experience points, and crates. Progression will be simplified, linear, and not at all affected by randomized loot boxes and microtransactions - things that EA killed the game with at launch, helping make it one of the most disappointing Star Wars games ever.
The update rolls out across all platforms March 21 and later in April, the real-money microtransactions return, but this time they will only be for cosmetic items, items that players can also earn with in-game credits. These changes are needed and are a positive move for this game and whatever else EA has in the works on the Star Wars brand.
In reality, they're also way too late, shouldn't have been necessary in the first place, and don't affect the other problems with the game - like its story and generic gameplay mechanics. The buzz has come and gone and Battlefront is no where to be see amongst Let's Players on YouTube and streaming services.
Crates no longer include Star Cards and cannot be purchased. Crates are earned by logging in daily, completing Milestones, and through timed challenges. Inside of these crates, you'll find Credits or cosmetic items, such as emotes or victory poses, but nothing that impacts gameplay.
There's something to be said about EA and the dev teams working hard post-launch to make changes, add content (that's all free, by the way!), and trying to rectify the situation they were saddled with pre-launch. On the other hand, anyone with a brain saw this coming and beating gamers into the ground with greed can only get you so far.
Nobody thinks opening crates/boxes/card packs for real-money is fun or rewarding in terms of what players want from video games. Sure, if this was gambling, EA would be doing right by the Star Wars license. But players who love Star Wars, shooters, action games, or simply wanted more of what fans loved about the original Battlefront games aren't getting what they deserve in a full-retail product.
A Wild Idea: Stop With Random Loot Box Rewards Entirely!
Disney knows this, hence the last minute talks between them and EA to drop real-money pay-to-win mechanics hours before launch. But still, this is two games in a row for Electronic Arts under-delivering on Battlefront. Overly simplified game mechanics and a total lack of depth hurt the first game and the followup, which promised three times as much content, was somehow even less impressive.
Take the wonderful visuals and sound design out of the game - which do right by the Star Wars brand - and Battlefront is the most generic, dated shooter on the market under the "Triple A" umbrella. Throw in a nonsensical story with straight-up bad gameplay at times, chock full of weak gimmicks, and there's a problem with the overall direction.
And for DICE, who have done a tremendous job with the Battlefield games, it's so shocking they couldn't just apply that formula to Star Wars and go bigger. They went the opposite direction and it's hard to attach blame.
As for something else from EA and Star Wars, they killed the story-driven game fans were waiting for from Amy Hennig (Uncharted series) and Visceral Games (which EA added to their mass graveyard of developers). So we're zero for three and that's very very very bad for the Star Wars brand. Disney cares more than most about perception and buzz and EA is hurting it so things will be changing. That's why it's so easy to believe the rumors and reports that Disney is in talks with other developers and publishers about making more Star Wars games and better ones.
With all cylinders firing on Star Wars film, television, and merchandise production fronts, EA is holding them back. The idea was to have game of the year contenders that everyone loves and to do so annually at a minimum, not examples of what NOT do do with video games - examples which are even hurting the future outlook for other EA games (like the upcoming Anthem from BioWare).
As for Star Wars: Battlefront 2, if you still care, there's some very good things happening: No more star cards
These changes are a major step as we continue to improve the core of the game and add new content. And there’s a lot more to come. In addition to continued balance patches, we will also add a number of modes to Star Wars Battlefront II in the coming months, offering several standout, brand-new ways to play. Some of these, like the recently released limited-time Jetpack Cargo, are radically different than anything you've experienced in the game before, and we're excited to surprise you with what we have planned.
In the end, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 still has a dumb story, generic gameplay, and a poorly thought out progression system (why are we even using "Star Cards"?) and it's totally acceptable for EA to keep releasing games in this state based on a film release schedule and not based on when the games are ready. So, either EA needs taken out of the Battlefront picture (unlikely) or they need a drastic overhaul in direction when it comes time for Star Wars: Battlefront 3 and whatever else is in the piline, like Respawn's unannounced Star Wars game that we expect will be unveiled at E3 in June. They can still turn it all around.
What do you want from Star Wars: Battlefront 3 and future Star Wars games? Who would you pick to develop other Star Wars titles? Share your thoughts in the comments!
- Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017