Star Wars: Battlefront 2 finds itself embroiled in controversy over loot boxes when Electronic Arts should be celebrating the game’s impending release. PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC players are up in arms over the Star Wars shooter’s pay-to-win microtransaction system plus the amount of time it takes to unlock certain heroes and the mega publisher’s responses aren’t helping.
Loot Box (Dis)advantage
EA Access and Origin Access subscribers on the Xbox One and PC were able to go hands-on with Star Wars: Battlefront 2 via a 10-hour trial that released last week. This is a full-fledged version of the game with access to first few missions in the campaign and the entire multiplayer component, which includes allowing players to purchase in-game currency ranging from $5 to $100 and then purchase Loot Boxes.
The Loot Boxes reward players with Star Cards, perks that can be equipped for the various in-game classes, along with scrap to craft Star Cards. Developer DICE implemented a gate system in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 that prevents players from equipping the most powerful cards from the start. However, purchasing $100 worth of Loot Boxes gives players the ability to equip level 1 cards that grant statistical advantages right from the start, like stronger abilities or faster ability cooldowns or better resistance to damage.
YouTube user XfactorGaming purchased the $100 package during his Origin Access trial and was immediately given a statistical advantage over other Star Wars: Battlefront 2 players. This allowed him to level his account up to level 12 in just four hours. By comparison, I used the entire 10-hour trial, with two hours spent in the campaign, and only reached level 9 after purchasing Loot Boxes with in-game credits and no real-world money. Though I am a decidedly average player, the advantage gained is obvious.
This advantage built in the early stages of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 will continue in the latter stages of the title’s leveling system. DICE made the decision to remove Epic Star Cards from the Loot Boxes and only make them available from crafting. However, individuals who purchase the $100 will ultimately receive a huge amount of scrap needed for crafting. XfactorGaming’s video showed he had over 4,000 scrap in his wallet after four hours. I earned less than 500 scrap after 10 hours. This gives players like him a huge head start toward the level 2 cards that become available at account level 10, the level 3 cards at account level 15, and the epic quality Star Cards as soon the level 20 gate is reached.
Heroes and Villains
Beyond the issue with the cards is the cost to unlock Heroes and Villains in Star Wars: Battlefront 2. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader cost 60,000 in-game credits to unlock. A Reddit user calculated this will take approximately 40 hours of gameplay to earn enough credits to unlock just one of them. This obviously went over like a lead balloon with the game’s community, and the following response from an EA community manager is currently racing towards 300,000 downvotes, which is a Reddit record.
“The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.
“As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we’re looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we’ll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay.
“We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets.
“Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can.”
The controversy over the cost of unlocking Heroes and Villains gets worse when it was pointed out game journalists invited to a Star Wars: Battlefront 2 event to review the game saw a different cost for heroes than the public. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker were listed as costing only 10,000 credits in a video posted by Star Wars HQ.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is a gorgeous game that feels much improved over DICE’s original effort. Unfortunately, the controversy over Loot Boxes and hero unlocks is turning what should be a launch week celebration into a public relations disaster. How Electronic Arts and DICE respond will be interesting to watch, as they will likely increase the credits earned per match and/or reduce the costs of Loot Boxes and Heroes. However, the promise of free single and multiplayer DLC in December appears to be doing little to assuage the community at the moment.
[Featured Image by DICE/Electronic Arts]