Star Wars Battlefront II
Star Wars Battlefront II looks superb, even on an ageing PC such as mine. It absolutely exudes Star Wars ambience, with its aesthetics and sound design. If you are looking for a game that show cases the cutting edge of game graphics, then look no further. However, I cannot praise the game play and mechanics in the same ways as its visuals. Star Wars Battlefront II is hobbled by a progression system that is tied and potentially undermined by its loot crate mechanic. Furthermore, I won’t say “this is a real shame” as if it’s something that just happened by accident because it patently isn’t. The game was design this way. EA elected to block player progression and then provide a means to circumnavigate it, through the spending of additional funds.
Weapons and characters in Star Wars Battlefront II can have their base skills upgraded. In most games with a similar mechanic, as you level up you earn skills points that you then spend to unlock modifiers and upgrades. Here they are dependent on star cards which are only available from loot crates. Theoretically you could simply earn everything you need by grinding through the game and earning the necessary currency and depending on chance. However, it would be a tortuously slow process. Naturally, paying for additional loot crates is the solution that EA have seen fit to implement. You can therefore spend additional money over the cost of the base game and gain modifiers that give you a significant advantage.
Even if you set aside for a moment the questionable ethics of this business model, Star Wars Battlefront II has no match making system in place. Thus, a new player will immediately compete against those who have purchased a clear advantage. These manifests themselves as reduced timers for weapon over heating or quicker weapons lock on in space combat. The net result is that the new player will die more frequently. Even those adept at the FPS genre will find that they have to play far harder for less results. Whether the player has the patience to plod through the game until they have unlocked all the necessary skills without paying for them, ultimately come down to their temperament. All I have to add to this sorry state of affairs is that fun and success should not be the prerogative of those who pay extra. This is supposed to be a “game”.
There is a single player campaign with this instalment of the franchise and from what I’ve seen so far, it is not too bad. The voice acting is solid and the story from an imperial perspective is enjoyable. EA have also made it clear that all future maps and DLC for the game will be free but given that your performance through any additional material is dependent on the skills that you’ve unlocked, we are forced to return to the issue of the loot crates and how not using them diminishes your success in the game. The sad reality is that this system gates player performance and therefore player fun. So, I cannot personally recommend Star Wars Battlefront II. It is immensely enjoyable in principle and embodies Star Wars in many respects but is flawed by an unpleasant and egregious business model.
NB. I shall post an update to this post when I've completed by ten hour trial.