There’s been a lot of controversy around Battlefront II, and that’s putting it nicely. The gaming community has made it clear time and time again that they don’t want microtransactions or loot boxes in their $60 games, but it’s painfully clear these business models aren’t going away. We can protest as much as we want, but they cost next to nothing for studios to implement. Regardless of the (good) fight the core gamers are waging online, one thing they don’t take into consideration is that they are the minority. Casual gamers make up a pretty sizeable chunk of sales, and as Ubisoft has just proven – microtransactions are surpassing their digital distribution sales – they’ll subsequently spend money on microtransactions and loot boxes.
I’ve played some Battlefront II, and I thought I should share my initial impressions with you guys. Before I do that, let me be clear: I don’t like microtransactions and I don’t like loot boxes. I wish they weren’t part of the gaming landscape… but they are. Knowing this, how you decide to speak with your wallet is entirely up to you, but I’m going to try and help you make as informed a decision as possible.
How Prevalent Is The Card System?
Anyone who thinks they’re going to play this game and escape the card system are absolutely fooling themselves. It’s your primary progression system, and the acquisition of cards is done via loot boxes… and yes, you can buy loot boxes with real world money. But how terrible is this system, really?
EA needs to do a bit more tweaking, I think. There’s a few different kinds of crates you can buy with credits earned in-game, but the most expensive, and most important one is undoubtedly the Trooper Crate, which provides access to new weapons and abilities and costs 4,000 credits. Sounds like a fairly high number, and it is, at least a little. Each round of online play will last about 10 minutes, and sometimes you can earn as little as 200 credits, or as much as 400 (these numbers are based on my personal experience with the game, and they seem to vary based on actual in-game performance). This means that at the very least, if you’re a really great player, it’s going to take you over and hour and a half to obtain a Trooper Crate. Keep in mind, this is without obtaining credits through other means.
Along the way, you’ll also earn credits by completing certain incentivized goals the game has set up, and boosts the amount of credits you earn in a fairly substantial way. In fact…
A majority of the discussion online has been centered around key characters, such as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, originally costing 60,000 credits. That’s an insanely substantial grind, and it was what ultimately made me say, “Nope, not buying this game.” After the backlash online, they’ve revised the hero costs to be 75% less, so Vader and Luke are now 15,000 credits apiece. I’ve probably spent 3 and a half hours in multiplayer thus far, and with the credits I’ve earned in game as well as the challenge rewards credits I’ve earned, I’ve already unlocked Darth Vader and I’m halfway to Luke Skywalker. So, the grind here has been pretty reasonable.
It’s worth noting that the game does have a number of heroes and villains unlocked at the start, such as Rey, Kylo Ren, Han Solo, and Yoda. Honestly, I wanted to experience these characters more than the others, as I’ve already spent a good amount of time playing as Luke and Darth in the last game. I’m not excusing the devs for gating characters in the first place, as it clearly shouldn’t have been done, but unlocking them doesn’t seem to be a chore… at least not yet.
The beta didn’t shine this game in the best light. 90% of my playtime was spent helping a ship get from point A to point B, which was way too linear for my liking.
The multiplayer I’ve experienced in the full however feels much, much better.
If there’s one thing about the last Battlefront that was frustrating, it was that the previously designed levels, as much as I loved them, were probably too open for their own good. Stick your head out but a little, and someone’s going to start picking at you from a mile away. Of course, servers allowed up to 40 people to participate. I think games are up to 28 now, and the maps, while still allowing plenty of room to breathe, have been crafted a bit more carefully. They’re tighter, but not to the point of inducing claustrophobia. There’s a lot more cover when traversing from point A to point B. These are pretty solid improvements.
One thing you’re not going to see is Walker Assault… at least, not as you knew it. This time, Rebels must work their way to points on the map which have rocket launchers. Someone needs to pick it up, give it a moment to warm up, and then let loose. If they manage to pull this off before getting pulverized by the opposition, and the hit is successful, the AT-AT’s systems will be temporarily compromised, allowing your team to start draining its health.
I haven’t really spent enough time to determine what the balancing issues are, though, so I can’t really comment on that just yet. But overall, in some ways, I’d say the standard multiplayer this time around is better than ever, especially the Heroes vs. Villains mode.
The star this time, however, are the flying maps. Flying takes a little getting used to but feels great once you do, and the level designs are jaw-dropping. Remember that place from Episode II where all the clones were being made? That facility out in the rough ocean where the rain was pouring like crazy? You need to see this map in action.
I’ve spent about an hour, hour and a half in the single player mode, and I’ve been having quite a bit of fun with it. One thing that’s an absolute strength is that they’re changing the method of play every so often. One minute you’re utilizing a flying droid to get around a rebel base, the next you’re running around going ‘pew-pew’, and the next you’re flying and dogfighting. I’ve heard that it’s a 5-6 hour campaign, so that’s not going to be worth the price of admission for most people alone. Thankfully, this new iteration of Battlefront is relying on a single game mode, and is offering a number of different options between the campaign, the arcade mode (pretty much Skirmish), and the numerous modes of multiplayer. This actually feels like a complete package (minus the loot box stuff, of course).
The arcade mode has a pretty stupid time gate on it, though, because the developers don’t want you to earn credits through it all day without ever touching multiplayer. They’ve said this is to prevent people from messing up the multiplayer system by earning too much too quick, but their intentions couldn’t have been more transparent. They just want to make sure you still have an incentive to buy loot boxes than to find an easily grindable way to earn them yourself.
Keep in mind that these are only my initial impressions with the game, but I’m going to echo what most other reviewers have been saying. Battlefront II, from a gameplay perspective, is a solid experience. I’ve spent more time these last two years playing Battlefront, and I see myself spending hundreds of hours on this game, too. Could it be better? Absolutely. Would I recommend this to everyone? No, not with the current progression system. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for hating this game because of what the publisher has done. It’s a shame that stuff has to paint part of the picture as a whole, but it does. But for me, for my money, Battlefront II is a blast. I’m having more than enough fun playing the game as-is. Unlocking weapons through a grind was part of the last game, too, and microtransactions weren’t part of that equation. Now that they are… well, you’re still grinding for new weapons. Most of the additional weapons I personally couldn’t care less about… not in the last game, and not in this one.
Here’s hoping that EA makes more changes in the future so that more and more people feel comfortable hopping aboard, but as someone who really enjoyed the last Battlefront game, I’m extremely happy with the current product (as in, now that they’ve reduced the amount of time to grind for heroes).