Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a fantastic Star Wars shooter. It's gorgeous, has a ton of fun solo and multiplayer content, and includes some of the most iconic locales and characters from Star Wars' entire history.
There's just one problem: Its progression system is totally busted.
In spite of Battlefront 2 being a $60, big-release game, you might be playing for dozens of hours before you earn the right to simply battle as Luke Skywalker.
A Galactic Grind
As with most online shooters, playing Battlefront 2 online earns you in-game credits, which you can spend on crates (the game's version of loot boxes, each filled with power-ups and cosmetic items), or on characters.
The problem is, locked characters such as Luke and Darth Vader cost as much as 60,000 credits each. According to a Reddit user who did some very detailed math, that amount could take you roughly 40 hours to earn. Again, that's 40 hours of grinding to enjoy a feature that should come standard in a full-price Star Wars game.
An EA community representative issued a response on Reddit, stating that "The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes."
The post was flooded with downvotes and negative responses from gamers who say they simply don't have time for all of that.
"I get 3, maybe 4 hours per week free to spend on video games," said user SadStarWarsFan. "I shouldn't require a sense of pride and accomplishment to play as a hallmark character in my favorite franchise."
The system feels especially punishing because even if you own a character, you still have to rack up a certain amount of battle points throughout the course of a match in order to bring them into battle. During my time with the game, few things were more deflating than going on a hot streak and earning enough points to play as Luke Skywalker, only to realize he's not part of my collection yet. I'd much rather show off my "pride and accomplishment" via a rare, cool-looking skin, not with a character that should be playable out of the box.
To be fair, you can only unlock heroes through in-game credits, and not crystals: a premium currency that you can spend real-world money on. Still, it feels like something insidious is at play here.
Since folks will be likely saving up their credits in hopes of buying heroes, they won't be spending them on crates, which provide essential in-game items that make your troopers and vehicles more powerful. If you want to save your credits and still get a decent amount of crates, you'll likely be tempted to drop some cash on crystals.
The Light Side
It's a shame that this progression fiasco is dominating the Battlefront 2 conversation right now, because there's a ton to love about the actual game. Unlike its fairly anemic predecessor, Battlefront 2 is filled with a ton of fun things to do right out of the gate, from epic 40-player multiplayer showdowns, to offline arcade challenges, to a full-on single-player campaign.
The game finally represents every era of Star Wars, and whether you're fighting on the treetops of Kashyyyk or the icy corridors of Starkiller Base, its environments are absolutely breathtaking. Sound design is predictably top notch, with punchy, authentic blaster noises and film-accurate scores that make it easy to get lost in the action.
It's also simply more fun than the first Battlefront, with more fluid player movement and blasters that feel incredibly satisfying to fire. And while the large-scale Galactic Assault and Starfighter Assault modes are the real standouts, I had a blast with the totally bonkers Heroes vs. Villains mode, which is the only place where Rey and Yoda can duke it out with Kylo Ren and Darth Maul.
And then there's the single-player campaign, which lets you play as Imperial commander Iden Versio in an original storyline that follows the collapse of the Empire after the original trilogy. While I'm only a few missions in, the campaign's engrossing, lifelike cutscenes and healthy gameplay variety could make it the playable Star Wars movie I've always wanted out of a Battlefront game.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 hits PC, PS4 and Xbox One on Nov. 14 for folks who buy the $80 deluxe edition, and Nov. 17 for those getting the standard $60 version. Our advice? Wait a few days to see how EA handles this character-unlock mess before you invest. Here's hoping we can focus on the joy of battling Stormtroopers, and not the dread of battling a busted progression system.
Image Credit: EA