Update November 14, 2017: EA has responded to this controversy by slicing the cost of heroes by 75%. Original article below.
I've written about my displeasure with Star Wars Battlefront II's egregious progression systems before, which incentivize and encourage spending on randomly-generated loot crates in order to progress, but since the game's beta, a couple of things have changed.
First of all, regardless of how much cash you spend on loot crates in Battlefront II, you will be gated by a global level in order to level up your cards, and thus, your power, putting a limiting factor on the "pay to win" nature the game seemed to present in its previous beta. Read all about that over here.
However, now that Battlefront II is in a trial period via EA Access, we've gotten a glimpse at the full breadth of its systems. Oh boy.
It turns out that you can circumvent the global ranking gates through sheer luck, getting higher-level cards out of packs you pay for, without earning them through play. Some of the higher-level abilities cut cool down speeds by half, grant extra defensive skills, and even provide faster access to more powerful hero classes in battle, granting non-trivial advantages. Essentially, you will always have an advantage in Battlefront II if you pony up extra cash. That's just one reason why people are currently angry, though.
Eventually, people realized that to gain access to certain heroes, such as Darth Vader, you'd have to spend tens of thousands of in-game credits for the privilege. A loot crate for character progression generally costs up to 4000 credits, and in each multiplayer battle, you generally earn around 200-400 credits, boosted by the odd challenge completion. Generally speaking, though, the progression system essentially asks you to choose between advancing your base classes, or saving up to gain access to some of the franchise's most iconic heroes. Or well, you know, spending money on the game's loot crates for additional credits.
Redditors have worked out that you actually get less credits for playing objectives and winning, than you do for purposefully dragging out the length of a battle, which just makes it sound as though these systems were shovelled in with reckless abandon rather than consideration for how they might affect regular play. Another redditor worked out that it takes around 40 hours of playing multiplayer to unlock a single hero. EA is effectively punishing those with limited free for not buying loot crates in this instance, which don't even guarantee credit accrual.
EA has responded to the various criticisms, although the community doesn't seem particularly placated, given that this comment has hundreds of downvotes.
Update, November 13, 2017: EA's response now has hundreds of thousands of downvotes, making it the most downvoted comment in reddit history. Impressive.
Our goal involves creating a compelling progression path for all of our players. There's a lot of content at launch with even more coming via live service, and we'll continuously adjust our progression mechanics to give players a sense of accomplishment as they explore all of Battlefront 2.
Heroes earned through Credits: The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes. 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.
Credits Earned: We're looking at the results daily and will be continuing to tune this to ensure that players feel a meaningful sense of reward for the time they spend with Battlefront 2.
We appreciate the conversation here, and our team is working to make the best choices possible for the game and the players. We will provide more details and updates as we can.
I appreciate that Battlefront II will have a live service, delivering additional content that won't split the player base in the same way a season pass or map pack system would, but these systems are far too exploitative and aggressive. Overwatch has very firmly proven that you can have a purely cosmetic system that doesn't punish players through gameplay disadvantages, locking content behind incentives to pony up additional cash.
We're not part of the review program for Star Wars Battlefront II, so I'm quite happy to say from our time with the trial that the game is amazing. It's stunningly gorgeous, the gameplay is tight and satisfying, and the creators at DICE have truly elevated the idea of what a Star Wars game can be. For EA to squander it all by punishing regular gamers to chase high rollers is just... depressing.
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