As I awoke today from my troubled slumber, groggy from my indulgence of fermented vegetable products during the previous evening’s escapades, my beleaguered eyes caught a glimpse of an announcement that, within the wildest dreams, I would never have believed to be true. After falling foul to a barrage of negative feedback regarding their implementation of pay-to-win microtransactions into wildly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefront II, EA and DICE have publicly revealed that they are, for the time being, removing all semblance of the corrupting microtransactions from the game, as they attempt to drastically counteract the deluge of negativity that has all-but consumed Battlefront II as of late. It’s a move that I, for one, celebrate, and upon my examination of the numerous discussion threads and forum posts dedicated to the topic, it would seem that the majority of gamers are also popping the champagne in celebration of the evisceration of EA’s smarmy microtransactions from Battlefront II.
However, while I and many others rejoice as the removal of microtransactions from EA’s marque holiday-season shooter, that does not mean that Star Wars: Battlefront II has suddenly transformed into an all-time great free from error and misdirection. In fact, EA’s backtracking has helped to highlight the other fundamental flaws that plague the entirety of Battlefront II’s design philosophy. While DICE GM Oskar Gabrielson proclaims that the implementation of predatory, pay-to-win microtransactions overshadowed what was/is, ‘an otherwise great game’, the harsh reality of the situation is that there are still a plethora of additional flaws plaguing Battlefront II, several of which prevent the game the subscribing to the ‘great game’ philosophy touted by Gabirelson. It’s important that we don’t lose sight to this – we cannot let the corporate leviathan that is EA pull wool over ours eyes with regards to myriad of other issues that prevent Battlefront II from attain the venerated status EA so desperately wishes it could.
Before I proceed, however, I feel that it is a necessity to notify you all that I have indeed played Battlefront II somewhat extensively, with around 20 hours invested into both the single and multiplayer combined at the time of writing. As such, I have an appropriate level of invested knowledge regarding the game, including both its positive and negative attributes. I am not, I must proclaim, a typical internet buffoon ravenously tearing apart a game they’ve never once played like a blood-crazed shark eager to sink its teeth into a piece of bloodied meat that crosses its path. So, without further ado, let us continue.
Despite the temperamental eradiation of Battlefront II’s abhorrent microtransactions, the game is still riddled with cancerous tumours that prevent it from achieving anywhere near to the greatness and success I, and many others besides, once believe it could do. The primary issue that has arisen after the enveloping mists of the aforementioned microtransactions dissipated away is the game’s disreputable technical state. Throughout my twenty-plus hours with Battlefront II, I experienced several bugs, the majority of which I encountered during the game’s singleplayer, including juddering visuals and broken audio soundbites. These were, undoubtedly, incredibly frustrating, yet upon close examination to other users’ experiences, it would seem I have got off somewhat lightly. Many users have reported bugs, ranging from the mildly aggravating to potentially game-breaking. While I doubt that the level of technical inconsistency is as widespread as the internet has us believe (remember Assassin’s Creed Unity? While that game was a buggy mess, it was frankly blown way out of proportion), the issues certainly seem to be prevalent to a degree.
This is, honestly, inexcusable, especially for a publisher/developer combination like EA and DICE. The technical fiascos from several years ago that consumed several high-profile titles and companies were supposed to be a wake-up call for the industry, a warning that releasing games in such broken states was unforgiveable in this day and age. In fact, it was so bad that games like the aforementioned AC: Origins had a negative impact upon their respective franchises, resulting in decreased sales later down the line and the loss of customer loyalty. I had hopped, like many others am I sure, that those days were behind us. Unfortunately, Battlefront II proves otherwise. This cannot go unpunished… we cannot allow this to stand. Rather than settle down and celebrate the temporary removal of microtransactions from the game, players must instead keep the pressure on EA and DICE and force them to fix the bug-ridden cesspool that is currently Battlefront II. This needs to be addressed, for it sets a bad precedent for the industry.
However, Battlefront II’s technical deficiencies are not the only problem facing the game since the removal of microtransactions, and thus preventing it from attained the revered status prescribed to it by Gabirelson. After playing through the entirety of Battlefront II’s singleplayer, I was left shocked at just how bog-standard and uninspired the experience was. While I wasn’t expecting a narrative experience akin to the great Spec Ops: The Line or Bioshock, I was hoping for an enjoyable and well-written campaign that shone a light upon the less-explored areas of the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately, what we got was one of the blandest shooter campaigns I have seen in a very long time. In fact, for many parts of it, I wasn’t sure it I was playing a game or watching a very poorly directed fan-flick. It feels as if the writers wanted to write a screenplay rather than a game, something that is evident by the campaign’s continued usage of cut-scenes and lengthy cinematic exposition. The game and the story are two separate entities, with no thought given towards intertwining them both in order to create something exciting and memorable. The singleplayer is simply a glorified fan-fiction expository meant to contextualise the rest of the game. It holds the game back, and prevents it from succeeding, irrespective of the other issues at play.
I could go on and discuss the troubled multiplayer progression system, but I feel like it’s time to stop and conclude this article. The removal of the game’s microtransaction system is certainly good news indeed. However, as I have demonstrated, Battlefront II is far from perfect, even which them temporarily resigned to the dung heap. I only pray that the community keep up the pressure on EA and DICE. While some things like the singleplayer cannot be fixed, many others still can be. There is a future for this game, one that can be bright and plentiful like the bountiful plains of Naboo. However, for that future to occur, we must keep up the proverbial complaining, even if certain subsections of the community wish us not to.