With a month to go until launch, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is already steeped in backlash. The game’s first open beta kicked off this weekend, giving players their first taste of its random loot drop system, which hints that players may be asked to pay up in order to progress.
In Battlefront 2, loot crates contain a number of different items, including objects for crafting, in-game currency and something called Star Cards. As Electronic Arts explained back in June, these offer upgraded versions of basic stats and abilities for the multiplayer mode. Star Cards are crucial for anyone who wants to develop the most powerful characters and ships possible, but they’re only obtainable through random loot drops.
Here comes the rub: Players can purchase loot crates outright using the currency, called credits; crates cost 1,100 credits each. And, as is typical in these types of games, people really set on upgrading as fast as possible have the option to buy them with real cash and get it over with. (This option isn’t available in the beta, mind you.)
The problem that players have with this is that the number of credits loot crates cost incentivizes them to purchase them outright. Credits come from loot crates, but they’re also awarded after winning a match. But players have only received somewhere south of 180 credits for their victories, according to those who tried the beta this weekend.
Even though it’s not required to spend real world funds to win Star Cards, doing so takes far less time than the free method. Considering that Star Cards are the primary upgrade method in the Battlefront 2 multiplayer campaign, those who refuse to pay for loot crates could be at a disadvantage when facing those who have bought them and upgraded more quickly. The stats inequalities could make it more difficult to win the credits needed for those free loot crates in the first place.
When loot crates contain cosmetic items — think Overwatch’s skins and sprays — it’s less likely to cause an uproar. The opposite is true when a multiplayer game locks away items that affect gameplay behind random drops, however; players are already outraged that they may be forced to pony up in order to stay competitive, creating a “pay to win” scenario.
“It's not just the loot crates (which do deserve criticism too) but the entire progression system seems fucked up,” one Redditor wrote about Star Cards. “Of course buying the loot crates gives you more/better abilities, but the fact that you can equip more Star Cards as you level up is ridiculous. A level 15 Heavy is just inherently better because he has 3 bonuses as opposed to everyone else's 1.
“If you pay a ton for max level unlock and then play enough to be able to equip them all, you'll go into the game with a huge unbalanced advantage.”
Loot crates that randomly give out progression-related items are becoming a much more common occurrence in big releases this year, it seems. Even review aggregation site OpenCritic is siding with dissenters, announcing plans to add labels that indicate how a game handles additional paid content.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 won’t launch until Nov. 17, so it’s possible EA could tweak the credit drops or other parts of the progression system. We’ve reached out to EA to confirm and will update when it comes back.