DICE’s upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was criticised during its beta phase for locking core progression behind loot crates, causing EA to revise its system before release. Producer Paul Keslin has since opened up more about the revisions ahead of its 17th November launch, going into more detail of what’s to come.
In an unexpected move from EA, Keslin opened up to famed YouTube critic Joe Vargas, better known as Angry Joe about loot crates and the state of microtransactions within Star Wars: Battlefront 2. “It [is] mainly fans, be it YouTube videos, forums, reddit, anywhere” that are to thank for the upcoming changes that Keslin goes on to describe.
“The beta, I think as you know, was definitely a place where we’re experimenting with things,” he said. “It was meant for us to try out stuff ahead of time so that we can tweak and change those things ahead of launch. What you saw in beta was absolutely our attempt at something, then it's open to fan feedback and how do we react to it and how do we tweak things to make a better experience?”
During this testing period, all of the games progression, including abilities, weapons and equipment, was locked behind loot boxes. While intended as a sense of progression to get players to “try things that they're not normally going to try,” this resulted in people being punished for what would be considered worse luck or someone who is able to afford to buy more using real money. This pegged Battlefront 2 as a ‘pay-to-win’ title at the time.
“We've seen at EA, in some games passed, if you allow players to too single-mindedly focus down a certain path, they'll try out two/three things they know they like and then not engage with the rest of the game and they might stop playing the game early, and we would prefer players are playing our game for a long time to come. We've put a lot of time and effort and love into these things – we want to make sure people keep playing them.”
As for changes since the beta, DICE has changed the length of Strike Mode from the previous one round to three, buffed the Flametrooper’s damage and amended the Star Cards system to lock epic cards behind actual progression, eliminating the pay-to-win element – up until that point, that is.
“We've also tiered the other rarities of other Star Cards so that you have to play the game, hit a certain player rank – but also a certain rank within a certain class hero, starfighter, etc – to unlock the next tier of Star Cards that you can use.”
Another gripe from players was the sense of reward for individual performance, in which the beta held a block sum of credits awarded for a team at the end of a match. This is set to remain the same, with Keslin describing that the team “still [has] the system in place where the time you spend in a match means how much you'll get rewarded, because [they] want players to have a level playing-field of progressing through crates at a kind of similar pattern.
“Where skill comes into play, is how quickly are you completing those Challenges, which fuel you getting more credits, more crafting parts, more Star Cards at a faster rate than unskilled players,” added Keslin. “You don't get it directly in the round per se but you get it in the speed at which you're completing all of the Challenges in the game.”
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 hits shelves next week, on November 17th, retailing for £50/$60.
KitGuru Says: While these answers won’t satisfy everyone, the fact that EA is finally listening to its fans is a good turn in itself. Loot crates and microtransactions are here to stay however, and EA isn’t the only developer out there pushing them. Has Keslin quelled your worries about the upcoming Battlefront 2?