So this week has not been great for Battlefront II. Players are boycotting, canceling preorders and starting a storm on the Battlefront subreddit. They’re mad that the final game is a player-unfriendly mess of loot boxes.

The reviewers seem to agree with them. From Game Informer’s 6.5 review:

Star Wars Battlefront II is big, bombastic, and fun. It is also diseased by an insidious microtransaction model that creates an uneven battlefield, favoring those who are willing to spend real money to gain an edge over players who are just here to enjoy the Star Wars experience.

Among all the vitriol, it’s worth taking a step back to examine where EA and DICE went wrong. This is something I previously explored in my newsletter about loot boxes, which you should definitely subscribe to.

As I see it, Battlefront II made two unforgiveable mistakes.

Progression is linked to gameplay balance

This is the root of Battlefront II’s problems. If DICE truly wants to save this game, it needs to change this before anything else.

In Battlefront II, playing the game earns you credits to spend on heroes or Crates (loot boxes). Crates have Star Cards, which offer quantitatively better stats like firepower or shields. Players can also purchase Crates with real money.

The problem with this system should be immediately clear. DICE wanted players to receive rewards and feel a sense of progression and achievement. That’s fine. The problem is tying progression to balance. Progressing makes you objectively more powerful than someone who just picked up the game, skill be damned.

This is horrible for new players. Your choice becomes A) grind tons of matches while underpowered to catch up, or B) pay for a bunch of loot boxes that might not give you what you need.

DICE should made progression unlock just cosmetics or prestige levels or anything else that doesn’t affect balance. Balance is critical to a multiplayer game. If players feel like they can pay to win, the game is useless.

Grinding matches does not seem realistic

I won’t be conspiratorial and say EA is trying to force you into paying for loot boxes. However, even after the recent hero price cut, one Redditor guessed it would take 4,000+ hours to unlock everything.

To go back to Reiner’s review:

Even if a player spends a day playing the game to earn credits to buy a couple of crates, they may walk away with unwanted things like emotes or victory poses rather than cards that help their cause. The same currency is also used to unlock heroes like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker – a frustrating conflict of goods that makes progress feel endless and hopeless.

This is the second mistake. If you want to say the loot boxes are optional, they should actually be optional.

Maybe wait to buy this

I am not purchasing Battlefront II. It looks pretty cool, and I’m a giant Star Wars fan, but this game just seems mean.

What about you all? Where do you stand on the new Battlefront?