The Origin/EA Access trials for Star Wars Battlefront II went live yesterday and I decided to take some of my trial time to take a closer look at progression in the game now that we have all the details. In recent weeks, I wrote about the initial implementation of loot crate-based progression in SWBF2 and also weighed in on the changes made to that system in response to the overwhelming negative feedback it got. But now that I can actually look at the launch version of the game for myself, I wanted to share my findings. I’ll break these down into categories.
As EA described, weapons are basically earned through gameplay, specifically, through challenges. Want to unlock a new weapon? Defeat X amount of enemies as its associated class. Want to unlock attachments for that weapon? Defeat enemies while using said weapon. That’s it. I say basically because the crates you can buy (for credits or real money) do list weapons as being a potential pull item. Does this mean you’ll be able to get lucky and maybe skip the ‘kill X enemies’ bit and get one of the weapons as a drop? Possibly. Could it also mean that there may be weapons added in the future that only come as drops from crates? I suppose that’s possible too. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on. But for the moment, there are only four weapons (three plus the default weapon) per class to unlock, so there’s not much to worry about right now. If you were concerned about other players being able to pay their way into weapon dominance, you can consider yourself at ease (for now).
One thing that does bug me though is that the default weapons don’t have attachment options. What gives?
Star Cards are the most significant form of progression that interacts with the loot crate system, but you can and will get Star Cards through gameplay challenges as well. EA’s claim that you’ll only be able to craft Epic Star Cards once you have the required level is accurate as far as I can tell. I have a Rare Specialist Star Card and in order to upgrade it to Epic, I’ll need to have a Specialist card level of 25 (combined rank total of all cards in my Specialist collection) and a player level of 20. There isn’t anything stopping me from buying a bunch of loot crates with money and fulfilling the Specialist card level requirement, but the player level requirement will still need to be met purely through gameplay.
The impact of RNG has been mitigated some by awarding players class and ability specific crates through the challenge system. As you complete challenges for your class, which can be as simple as playing a given class for a certain amount of time, you’ll be rewarded with crates containing a set of cards for the associated class or even crates specific to a certain ability. For example, if you get 5,000 assist score using the Scan Dart ability for the Assault, you’ll unlock a Scan Dart crate. The game basically splits the card collection into Boost and Ability cards. Boost cards are mostly the same across the different classes, but Ability cards are where you’ll get upgrades or replacements for specific abilities. I imagine something like the Scan Dart crate would grant you the Improved Scan Dart Star Card, so these ability specific crates should help you out if RNG isn’t on your side.
Star Card values have been mostly flattened, too. The one Boba Fett card many complained about that allowed him up to 100% reduced damage while channeling his Rocket Barrage in flight has been nerfed all the way down to 15% at Epic and its values flattened to start out at 8% at base rank. The same is true for the Reinforced Hull card for ships, which tops out at 20% now. There are some cards that break this rule a little bit, for example, you might find something that follows a 5-15-20-40% progression, where the Epic bonus is double that of the Rare bonus, but I’d wager you’d still be doing pretty OK with the Rare version, and more cards are reasonable than questionable from what I can tell. Things are definitely much saner overall.
This category is new, but worth noting as I’ve noticed players expressing frustration with hero unlocks in SWBF2. I guess we assumed they would all be fully unlocked to play, but it turns out some heroes must be unlocked with credits and only credits. They can’t drop from crates and they aren’t unlocked through challenges. For me, at least, I don’t really have an issue with working to unlock certain heroes (6/14 launch heroes must be manually unlocked right now), but the potential problem here is the cost. Hero unlock costs range from 20,000 credits at the low (Iden Versio) to 60,000 credits at the highest point right now (Darth Vader). That’s a lot of credits to save up.
I’ve read speculation that these are just prohibitive costs for the trial, but I’ve not seen anything to verify this, so we’re going to roll with these being the final costs at launch for now. It’s true that you can get plenty of credits through challenges, but these are finite and would still leave you a huge grind for other heroes, especially if EA adds new ones that are also locked behind a credit wall. At roughly 300-ish credits per match of Galactic Assault, you’re looking at almost 200 matches just to unlock a single high cost hero like Darth Vader. You’d have to be saving your credits that entire time, too. Spending credits progressing your class through buying crates will just make the grind for a new hero take even longer. This is definitely going to be a pain point that should be addressed sooner rather than later.
CURRENCY & CRATE ACQUISITION
Unless I’m missing something, there’s been a step backwards here. You’ll gain more credits per match than you did in the beta, roughly 300 or so for an average length game, but crate costs have all gone up. Trooper crates are now 4,000 credits each, so you’re looking at roughly 12 matches for one of those. Starfighter crates and Hero crates are 2,400 and 2,200 credits, respectively. You can get Trooper cards in the other crates, but they aren’t guaranteed. It's also worth noting that each crate guarantees crafting parts as a drop now, which is awesome.
There’s also no bonus credits for match performance. The time based system we saw in beta looks to be the current implementation, as well. There’s been a good deal of complaining about this, but my feelings are mixed. I don’t want people AFK farming for credits and not caring about trying harder or anything, but I also feel having a variable gain rate is a really bad idea for an RNG-based progression system. Good players would unlock things faster and be able to destroy worse players that much more. It only exacerbates the inherent issue these FPS progression systems have always had to deal with, but it’s even worse than it would be in say, Battlefield, since Battlefront’s Star Cards are often explicitly upgrades, not sidegrades. I do think DICE needs to investigate this further and come up with a middle ground solution if possible. Perhaps a catch-up system for those lagging too far behind or bonuses that scale with matchmaking rating. If you went 40-0 killing a bunch of players who have a much smaller collection than you do and/or are less skilled than you are, then you might not end up with as large of a bonus at the end of the game with the reverse being true if you manage to excel against better players. I’m just tossing some ideas out there, but I definitely think this is something where a workable middle ground could be found. It’s just important to ensure that the less skilled players don’t get left behind.
Two things that really bugged me that I’ve noticed is that EA’s claims of rewarding players with crafting parts for duplicates and that you’d be able to scrap cards in your collection appear to be false right now. Instead of crafting parts, you’ll get credits for duplicates. I’m not too sure which is better after giving it some thought, but it’s certainly not accurate to EA’s publicly stated information on the subject. I also haven’t seen anywhere in my collection to scrap cards. I don’t know if this just isn’t live yet or if EA reneged on this, but I was disappointed to find out I couldn’t scrap anything.
Right now, I’m hoping we get a day one patch that addresses as many of these issues as possible, but overall, I’m OK with the foundation of the system laid out here.
Have you played the Star Wars Battlefront II trial? What’s your take on the progression system now that you’ve played the game some? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!