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Paladins' new loot box progression system looks a whole lot like Star Wars Battlefront II's

To say that Star Wars Battlefront II has taken quite a bit of heat over its handling of loot boxes would be an understatement, but that recent kerfuffle hasn't prevented Hi-Rez Studios from introducing a similar progression system for its free-to-play hero battler, Paladins.

Called Cards Unbound, the update, which is currently in testing, the system involves upgrading card abilities by increasing their strength on a level-based system for each individual card. The only catch is that, in order to upgrade a card, you need to secure more of that card from randomized loot boxes.

At least initially, Hi-Rez says that loot boxes won't be available for purchase directly. In a direct nod to "some recent questionable moves by full-price games," Hi-Rez says that isn't "comfortable" charging for card chests (its version of loot boxes) until it can tune the economy, and it expects adjustments. At initial release, the studio says, Radiant Chests and Champion Card Chests won't be purchasable with Crystals, the game's premium currency. Instead, players will only be able to unlock chests with gold earned from playing the game.

Still, card chests will eventually be purchasable with real money, prompting pushback from players over the pay-to-win potential for the system. For its part, Hi-Rez claims the move will make the game a better experience for everyone. "The vast majority of our players will never spend a dime. Regardless of how much money you have in your wallet, we want to make sure you have a great time. Our number one priority as we introduce Cards Unbound is that the free-to-play experience feels great," the studio says.

Though comparisons to Star Wars Battlefront II are obvious, there's one major difference worth pointing out: Paladins is free-to-play, whereas Battlefront 2 is a full-priced game. The system will also see all players equipped with level one versions of every card from the start. Perhaps in an attempt to address pay-to-win concerns, Hi-Rez says that Ranked Mode will see all cards locked to level three, leveling the playing field for everyone. The more casual QuickPlay mode is where all card levels will be allowed.

Despite its differences, comparisons to one of the gaming world's hottest controversies in some time, while it's still at the top of gamers' minds no less, is unlikely to draw many supporters.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to

  • Fair play to Hi-Rez since it is a F2P game not a AAA title and at aleast you get a card to start off with + being locked to Level 3 means by then people should have figured out what the cards do and how to upgrade them.
    I'm curious to see how they handle the transitional element when they finally do enable purchases with real currency.
  • Exactly... People need to understand a free game isn't a paid for game!
  • Devs need to learn that nobody is interested in a pay-to-win game. Paladins is fine game but with this kind of mechanics, it will just be a forgotten one.
  • Tell that to the free games that actually have enough funding to do Superbowl ads.
  • Lol yeah. It's a catch22 as it's the 'whales' who spend a tonne amount of money in F2P games that keep them a float and now big publishers want a slice of that pie with AAA games costing 60 to 100 bucks. But recent event's have shown that these greedy publishers are not beyond the might of gamers who have a conscience. It's all about balance, for example there was a F2P MMORPG that has a massive following - Martial Heroes. It was pretty slick then they started getting greedy by imposing harsher xp penalties for player deaths (to sell a premium item that enabled you to revive without xp loss). Imposing a level treadmill that was so steep you had to bulk buy premium items after reaching higher levels to level up in a timely manner. So on it went on and until people said enough, stopped buying these items and they went bust. They got bought over and the company coming in fudged up the account transfer, they transfered accounts but not the characters. So they too went bust lol. I'm not sure if the south korean version is still running anymore.
  • Another major difference is that Hi-Rez isn't EA and therefore don't have the same history of predatory practices and MTX BS.