How to fix Star Wars: Battlefront 2
Despite the controversy surrounding EA and DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2, I recently stumped up the cash, traded in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and picked up a copy. I guess I’m a sucker for the Star Wars brand, but I really just wanted a video game that immersed me into the world of these movies that I have loved so much for so long, and (seeing as EA recently shuttered Visceral Games and left their troubled Star Wars project handing in the balance) Battlefront 2 looks like it’ll be the only option for quite some time.
Truth be told, I’m having a blast with Battlefront 2; it’s gorgeous to look at, the gameplay is a vast improvement from my experience in 2015’s Star Wars: Battlefront, and the environments are essentially fantasy tourism for Star Wars fans, allowing you to wander through Mos Eisley and into the infamous Cantina, or explore areas of Maz Kanata’s castle (albeit amid screaming blaster fire and thermal detonators) that were only afforded passing glimpses on the silver screen.
However, this doesn’t mean that I agree with EA’s business model or their implementation of loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront 2. It’s hard to argue against the fact that, at the game’s launch, its in-game economy was “pay to win” at its ugliest, offering gameplay altering upgrades called “Star Cards” inside of loot boxes that could be purchased using either the in-game currency or your hard-earned cash. Purchasing more loot boxes would give you more Star Cards, more opportunities to acquire rarer and more powerful Star Cards, more crafting materials to craft and upgrade Star Cards, and more of the in-game currency to buy even more loot boxes. The system was undoubtedly incentivising players to invest real money in order to gain a significant advantages on the battlefield, and this just isn’t acceptable in a competitive game of any kind. It’s startling that no one at EA was raising the alarm bells well in advance of the game’s November 2017 launch.
Even the collector’s edition struck a nerve with parts of the video game community, offering some of Battlefront 2’s rarest weapons and modifications (one weapon and one mod per class) for a premium price. If you wanted to earn these same weapons without purchasing the collector’s edition, it would require earning 500 kills per class and a hefty time investment. The community responded with distaste and distrust, voted with their wallets, and Battlefront 2’s sales saw a significant decrease over its predecessor.
So how would I fix it? First of all, I would immediately take the collector’s edition off sale, as no one should be able to simply buy the best weapons in the game. This is probably the easiest change to make as it requires no changes to the actual game itself, but it would at least be the first small step and a sign of EA and DICE’s intent to address some of the game’s larger problems. It wouldn’t placate the majority of Battlefront 2’s naysayers, but it would be a start.
Secondly, I would remove all of the game’s Star Cards from the in-game loot boxes, tying them instead to bounties and objectives within the game. Allow players to see what requirements they need to meet in order to earn the Star Cards they want, and let that dictate their playstyle or their class/weapon choices for a few games. Higher level Star Cards would require players to reach a higher level to unlock the appropriate bounty, and then complete more challenging objectives or meet more stringent criteria to earn the loot they desire. You could even take a leaf out of Destiny’s book and have some random post-game rewards, with some Star Cards only available on specific maps. This would give players a reason to stay in the playlist until the map that contains their desired card pops up, or even stay and play on a map that they would usually try to avoid. Overall the game would benefit from having something to work towards.
Despite these changes, Disney and EA would still want a slice of that delicious micro-transaction pie, so how would I implement lootboxes into Battlefront 2? I would unashamedly rip-off Overwatch’s system, as it is without a doubt the best implementation I have seen to date. In my version of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 loot boxes would only contain cosmetic items. This could be problematic with a Star Wars licence, as Disney are very protective of their characters and the overall Star Wars lore and continuity, but I think there is a way to implement desirable cosmetic items that remain true to the Star Wars universe, and I believe alternative costumes and skins are the way to go.
Within this kind of system, the Han Solo ‘hero’ character could receive his Empire Strikes Back attire or his trenchcoat from Endor, Luke Skywalker could unlock his Bespin attire or Tatooine garb, Boba Fett could receive a (sure to be controversial) Jango Fett armour skin, or even a Sabine Wren from Star Wars: Rebels skin if they were feeling particularly adventurous… there are even countless Star Wars comic books and literature that Disney and EA could mine for cosmetic items and ideas. The possibilities are as vast as the Star Wars universe.
I firmly believe that Star Wars: Battlefront 2 can be turned around and the damage to the Battlefront brand as a whole can certainly be repaired – the game is just too much fun to be left to rot – all it would take is a little time, a little patience and a lot of imagination.