When EA revealed that Star Wars Battlefront 2 would not only feature a full-fledged campaign mode and free DLC, many fans whooped and clamored at the notion of the Worst Company in America Award winners finally having a change of heart. Could it be that EA have finally changed their ways? Do they care about their fans? Well, they’ve published indie games recently, that’s good! They gave Mirror’s Edge a second chance! It was a bit pooey, but that’s not necessarily their fault. Have EA finally taken a miraculous turn from fiddle-playing robot Satan to a sparkling Jesus Christ? Hahaha, no.
You see, EA is like that guy on Fiverr who dresses up as Jesus Christ and calls your mate’s mum some form of profanity for a few quid. You can pay a pretty penny for him to give you a laugh and a tickle, but if you want the really good stuff, you’ll be wanting to pay double, if not triple, the price. EA’s dress-up Jesus is an act, a mirage of sparkling heavenly goodness, and nothing has shown this more than their treatment of microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront 2.
In order to try and wring every penny out of their customers, EA have obviously introduced loot boxes into Battlefront 2. Like everyone is now. There are loot boxes in Activision’s Modern Warfare Remastered for God’s sake! In Modern Warfare Remastered, however, the items found in said loot boxes are purely cosmetic and while it may be repulsive to inject microtransactions into the remaster of a decade-old game to fill Activision’s insatiable corporate gluttony, they don’t harm those who play the game normally.
Battlefront 2, on the other hand, is a different tale. In what could only be considered a massive punch in your Marksman-H training remote, (Get it? It was a Star Wars joke.) Electronic Arts have decided to put Battlefront’s unlockable Star Cards inside the game’s loot boxes.
“Why does that matter?”, you say. Well, let me tell you. The Star Card system in the original Battlefront game was an unlock system that allowed players to equip weapons or extra abilities that they would otherwise not have access to. Purchasable through credits earned from completing matches, the items available in higher tiers were some of the most unbalanced weaponry seen in recent multiplayer shooting and, judging from DICE’s record with weapon balancing, the sequel will probably be the same. While the last unlockable gun in a game is never the best weapon per se, Star Wars Battlefront proved that combinations of Star Cards could lead to an immensely overpowered build, and Battlefront 2 has locked all of that behind microtransactions.
It goes without saying that when unbalanced items are locked behind a high virtual paywall, players are going to have to earn their way to become scummy little game-breakers. As soon as you remove that skill or time barrier and replace said barrier with the option to pay, it immediately becomes pay-to-win.
Loot crates will be available to buy with real world money, and as they add more weapons through updates and DLC you can be sure that they’ll also be locked behind loot boxes, too. With loot rarities and being able to purchase more expensive boxes with chances of better loot, Battlefront 2 will quickly become a battle for who has either the most time, or who has the most money they can lob into EA’s bursting bank account.
I’m personally not against the inclusion of loot boxes and microtransactions in games, in fact, for the most part, I’m all for it. Overwatch’s myriad of skins, voice lines, and sprays are all part of what makes that game so fun, addicting and endearing; Blizzard could learn to stop locking huge chunks of skins behind specific schedules though. Injustice 2 is a game that does a very similar thing to Battlefront 2 by giving you pieces of gear for characters, although not only are their effects not active during ranked play—and can be turned off in casual—but NetherRealm’s fighter throws countless amounts of loot boxes at you so often it can be exhausting to open them all.
If anything, Battlefront 2 shows that EA are likely never going to change. While they may not be as transparently money-hungry as the voracious change-thieves Activision, EA will keep finding ways for consumers to throw money at their feet like desperate men at a seedy strip club. From Ultimate Team to Dead Space 3 and now to Star Wars Battlefront, EA are the best in the business at grabbing your wallet and slapping you with it.
Only time will tell if Battlefront 2 will end up as bad as it’s starting to look like. After all, between now and launch day there’s definitely time for the company to make substantial strides towards making their game consumer friendly. As it stands right now however, EA are some very Hungry, Hungry Hippos, but their marbles are your paychecks.