Star Wars Battlefront II is not only on the horizon, it is now so close you can almost hear the sounds of those screeching TIE-Fighters and dying Gungans coming out of that Origin icon on your desktop (or the digital store of your favourite console of course if you’re that way inclined).
You can even play right now as a 10-hour trial mode is now available, which lets you play the entire Multiplayer component and all its maps along with new Single Player campaign, providing you’ve forked out for Origin or EA Access (of course, chuck more money at EA).
Due to the current trial, I’ve been able to watch Star Wars Battlefront II being played by my favourite streamers a week before release, and it certainly looks like a treat. But something concerns me about the in-game loot boxes you can acquire through playtime alone and through hard earned real life dollar.
Popular Twitch streamer, Shroud, boasted on his channel this evening about already having Darth Vader unlocked, his character already up to Level 15 and several Blue “Star Cards”, and this was all down to loot boxes, $180 worth of them to be exact. The Twitch chat was screaming “Pay 2 Win!” and “Cheater!” and in my opinion, rightly so. Star cards are unlockable “abilities” that can make you harder to lock onto when you’re in an X-Wing for example, or being able to reload (vent) your blasters 20% faster.
These cards have three levels of upgrade, white, green and blue, and you can scrap your lower level cards to upgrade other cards. Loot boxes potentially give you enough material to make several blue cards. The better the card, the more likely you are to bring the pain to those ridiculous droids from The Phantom Menace. Anyone could see that Shroud was having fun dominating the servers with his souped-up weapons and advanced upgrades, and this is the problem, people will lap this stuff up and the cycle will continue.
I could write a whole separate article on loot boxes and their appeal in many modern game. To some degree I think they are a healthy addition providing they only add cosmetic items and maybe, at a stretch, unlock different characters and weapons so long as they don’t break the game too much. But in Battlefront II’s case, this is definitely in the vein of “Pay 2 Win” and is also in defiance of the community’s concerns over the loot boxes. The developers themselves tried to settle everyone down and advised in a blog post ““As a balance goal, we’re working toward having the most powerful items in the game only earnable via in-game achievements.
Crates will include a mix of of Star Cards, outfits, emotes, or victory poses.” No mention of enhancing your characters with crazy good abilities, eh? Well I guess it will be more satisfying taking down those types of gamers with skill-alone! Ah who am I kidding? I rarely end up at top the leaderboard anyway so it probably won’t feel that different!
Moan over, I’m reserving playing the game myself until I’ve finished my Skaven campaign in Total War Warhammer II, but despite the loot box blunder, I’m still very excited about Battlefront II. I’m a sucker for the Star Wars Franchise and if the last game is anything to go by, you won’t get any gaming experience as true to the movies as you will in this first-person shooter. Star Wars Battlefront II is on general release November 17, November 14 if you pre-ordered the Elite Trooper edition.