I have done nothing but play Star Wars Battlefront II’s multiplayer over the last two days. While I’m reserving my full thoughts for my final review of the game, I’ve greatly enjoyed my time so far with it and I can’t wait for servers to go live on launch day. Instead, what I want to dive into is the game’s new progression system which has been drastically overhauled since the open beta last month.
I, like many others, had concerns with the character leveling system in Battlefront II after the beta. The consensus among numerous people seemed to be that while the gameplay was a ton of fun, the game leaned too heavily upon the loot crate system that served as a gateway to almost all of the unlockables. Since then, EA and DICE announced that they would be drastically changing the system for the launch of Battlefront II, but this was still met with some skepticism from fans. Luckily, the changes that have been made have now ended all of my worries.
Knowing that the build of Star Wars Battlefront II that I would be playing at this recent event would reflect these changes to the system, I came into the session with the specific goal of trying to see if the new system was “pay-to-win,” or at least exploitable by microtransactions. Over the course of my two days with the game, I poured all of my in-game credits and unlockables into one character class — the Assault class — to see if it would give me a clear advantage over my competitors. At the end of the two days though, I felt no better than anyone else I was playing against despite my class being some ten to fifteen levels higher than the average player.
The smartest change that DICE has implemented in this new version of Battlefront II’s progression system is that you can’t upgrade your Star Cards unless you are of a certain overall level. While each class within Battlefront II has its own level, the broad leveling system from the first game has returned. This level is what allows you to level up the Star Cards that you then apply to each of your character classes.
There were many instances where I had enough crafting parts — the currency needed to upgrade Star Cards — to increase the level of a certain Star Card, but I was unable to due to my overall level being too low. The game was essentially forcing me to play more matches before being allowed to further increase the bonus that a Star Card would allocate. This new function alone essentially ends any chance of Star Wars Battlefront II giving clear advantages to those who pour money into the game. Instead, it benefits those who spend the time actually playing matches.
The other change that I noticed in my time with Star Wars Battlefront II was that loot crates regularly gave me far more credits and crafting parts than in the beta. This let me purchase specific Star Cards that I wanted to equip rather than rely on random drops from loot crates. Having this access to more currencies allowed me more freedom to customize my own character and choose the upgrades/abilities that I wanted to equip.
The only instance in which you would even be able to argue that Star Wars Battlefront II is pay-to-win would be in the way that you level up each class to fill each of the three potential Star Card slots. Each character class has three potential Star Cards slots with the first one being unlocked at level one, the second being unlocked at level five, and the final being unlocked at level ten. In theory, if someone were to pour money into the loot crate system within Star Wars Battlefront II, then they would likely be able to unlock each of these Star Card slots faster than the average player. Still, even when I had all three of my Star Card slots filled and I was fighting against players who had only one, I still felt no clear advantage on the battlefield.
By the end of my two days with Star Wars Battlefront II, my Assault class character had reached level seventeen whereas the average class level that I saw from other players was somewhere between five and seven. Despite this difference, I felt no stronger than anyone else. If I had a good match, it was because I played wisely and got the drop on my enemies. If I had a bad match, it was because I flat out sucked. Even though I was a higher level, this only allowed me more options to alter my playstyle compared to those around me.
DICE has been upfront about how they want to give players more options within Star Wars Battlefront II, and the Star Card system is reflective of that. I’m sure there will be certain combinations of Star Cards that players will discover after launch that will be optimal to those looking to dominate, but I found myself mixing my sets up quite a lot during my fifteen or so hours with the multiplayer.
While higher level players will potentially have more benefits in the long run of Star Wars Battlefront II, they aren’t much different than those seen in other multiplayer games. Higher level players will almost always have access to more guns, more upgrades, or other bonus items. It’s no different in Star Wars Battlefront II.
DICE deserves a lot of credit for listening to fan feedback after the open beta and making changes to prevent the loot crate system from getting out of hand. It’s rare that you see a studio change a system like this so close to launch, but the adjustments that have been made have turned Star Wars Battlefront II into a vastly better product than what the general public saw in the game’s trial period.
When Star Wars Battlefront II launches next week on November 17, I expect most players to agree with me and see that the fears of a pay-to-win system have been quelled. If the progression system was something that was keeping you from potentially snagging the game at launch, don’t let it be a deterrent anymore. While I have yet to play the campaign of Star Wars Battlefront II, the multiplayer once again has me excited and eager to pour dozens of hours into it once it releases.