EA revamps Battlefront 2, introduces new leveling systems and cosmetic upgrades

By now, I assume that you’ve been briefed on the situation: Electronic Arts published Battlefront 2 late last year and ran into clashes with Star Wars fans and Battlefront fans before the game even launched. The company planned to make the game all about progressing through the use of Star Cards, a reward for grinding for credits to open loot boxes. Star Cards gave players benefits – some tangible, some less so – over the competition, and it was possible to spend $100 on in-game currency to unlock high-level Star Cards to make your level 20 character very powerful.

There was a lot more that came out of the woodwork as the game continued to undersell on store shelves, including alleged multiplayer matchmaking practices that pitted powerful players against newer ones, absurdly priced heroes, and a single-player story that wasn’t universally well received (however, Dane Remendes spent a substantial amount of time with the game and found it to be fun and entertaining). Well, it’s time for all that to change as Electronic Arts and DICE have announced a major revamp to Battlefront 2’s progression systems, and it is the next step to earning back player trust.

To recap, when Battlefront 2 launched, it did so without having Crystal vouchers on shelves to purchase, and with direct monetisation of Crystals turned off (credits will do fine). Almost all of the initial furore came about when the game was pre-released to EA Origin Access subscribers a week ahead of schedule. The only way for players to progress their character was to grind out Star Credits from multiplayer matches or single-player missions, and eventually purchase loot crates to earn Star Cards or crafting parts. Crafting parts were used to upgrade third-tier star cards into Epic-level cards, which were more powerful and valuable.

In a blog post on Electronic Arts’ website titled “Revamped progression is coming soon”, DICE shared their long-term plans for the series, as well as how they were going to revamp the progression systems, starting on 21 March 2018. They are as follows:

  • Star Cards, or any other item impacting gameplay, will only be earned through gameplay and will not be available for purchase
  • Experience points for any class, hero character, or ship type that you play in multiplayer will earn experience points for that specific unit
  • Experience points can be combined into Skill points which can unlock or upgrade an existing Star Card
  • Loot crates will no longer include Star Cards or crafting parts. Crates will instead hold cosmetic items, emotes, victory poses, and credits
  • Crystal purchases with real money will return. Cosmetic items for your characters will be available for purchase with credits or crystals, and new characters will also be available

DICE in addition announced that they were working on balance patches, new game modes, and better balancing. Up to now, they’ve been rushing around trying to get both the balancing right and working on the progression system, which caused a major upset in the delivery of new content. This kind of a turnaround is positive one, and one wonders what could have been if the game had launched with these systems in place beforehand.

However, I’d be remiss not to point out the possibility that Electronic Arts planned for this all along. In Blake Jorgensen’s 2018 address during the company’s earnings call at the end of January, he announced that the removal of microtransactions and crystal sales from Battlefront 2 “does not affect our projections for revenue in 2017”. The popular theory at the time was that because EA never adjusted their outlook for in-game earnings as they have done every quarter since FIFA card packs became a thing, they had already bet that there would be a backlash against their plans for Battlefront 2.

It’s not a bad move, to be honest – if things tank, you technically didn’t lose money that you never planned to have; if things succeed, you beat projections made by analysts and your own company’s accountants, which makes for a good story.

In addition, leaks from gamers datamining the installation files revealed the existence of multiple outfits for multiple characters, different body types, new characters, and arcade maps that had not been released yet. The video above by Uninspired Zebra was the first to show off working in-game menus for character customisation, and this was back in late November 2017. At the time DICE had barely mentioned character customisation, and EA was on record saying that customisation “wasn’t canon”, that players didn’t want it, that they were afraid of violating the canon, and we ended up with pink Darth Vader mods because people wanted to prove Blake Jorgensen wrong.

The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see, the future is.

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