A publisher as big as EA knows communication is key. Yet, they somehow botched it when it comes to Star Wars Battlefront 2’s loot box system. Today, EA finally decides to talk in detail about it. Here’s some of what they had to say.
On the most powerful items. “As a balance goal, we’re working towards having the most powerful items in the game only earnable via in-game achievements.”
Ok… That doesn’t say much. Is EA talking about contents from loot boxes here, or the standard progression system we see in most multiplayer games? Better weapons at higher levels aren’t what’s causing the uproar. We’ve seen the same system at work in Call of Duty and Battlefield for years.
On how players can earn crates. “Players earn crates by completing challenges and other gameplay milestones, or by purchasing them with in-game credits or Crystals, our premium currency.”
The question of how quickly we earn crates is still an open one. If we’re swimming in crates, fine. Good job. But we shouldn’t have to feel the need to buy them just to compete with other players.
On how exactly the Star Cards work, especially the rarer ones. “You have to earn the right to be able to upgrade Star Cards and unlock most Weapons. You can only upgrade or unlock them if you have reached a high enough rank, which is determined by playing the game.”
That sounds a little better.
On creating a possible mode that puts everyone on a more even playing field. “We also have heard some players are looking for a way to play where all players will have the same set of Star Cards with flattened values.”
I still think EA and DICE are missing the point here. The problem isn’t the loot box (crate) concept. It’s what’s inside them. One example is the Fire Control Cycler Star Card for the Interceptor Class in Starfighter Assault. Here’s what it does:
Rate of Fire Increase
1st tier – 5%
2nd tier – 10%
3rd tier – 15%
4th tier – 20%
And the same pattern is seen across several Star Cards. The progression from tier to tier is way too steep. The amount of damage being dulled out by someone with the fourth tier of this card far outstrips the damage by someone who only has the first tier or doesn’t have it at all.
If EA and DICE will not ditch these stat bonuses, they need to take a hard, long look at the bonuses they give. A better tier breakdown would look like this:
1st tier – 5%
2nd tier – 7%
3rd tier – 9%
4th tier – 10%
The jump from 5% to 20% is way too extreme and ventures right into the pay to win territory. Or at the very least, pay to win faster. A slower ramp between tiers would at least feel a bit more balanced.
At least we know EA and DICE are listening. It would be nice if we didn’t need to cause an uproar in the first place. And it’s simple. Static abilities that can influence the core gameplay (especially in competitive modes) should not be placed inside purchasable loot crates. Period.