By Roman He
As the title suggests, we’re about to critically examine one of the most controversial games in the gaming industry. It’s been almost three years life spawn and achieved perhaps one of the biggest comebacks in gaming history.
But first of all, I would like to introduce myself. My name is RomanHe and I am very happy to join the beautiful community of individuals who run The Esta La Vida Blog. I am a movie lover, self proclaimed Star Wars expert and passionate gamer ever since the very beginning of my introduction to gaming (I am looking at you the original Gameboy.)
But that’s enough from my side, let’s get into it.
STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT II (2017) a timeline:
Yes, you read that correctly. 2017.
“He’s clearly talking about that EA mess, isn’t he?”
“Not the 2005 original one?”
“That PaytoWin thing. I remember those microtransactions.“
If you’re into gaming, you have probably heard one of those claims mentioned above, that circulated the web for years. Those sayings were really present all the time until only a few months ago. But let us not skip that much already and go back to the good old days in June 2017, when EA DICE released that jaw dropping trailer of its latest shooter in a galaxy far far away.
DICE was very well known for large scale shooters, but was forced to a rashly release of 2015’s Battlefront, which pretty much angered everyone in the community. The potential for a second one therefore was huge and that trailer.. oh my god. “is that Yoda fighting Darth Maul?” This game was really ment to fulfill everyones dreams of Star Wars Battles right at our very home.
17th November 2017.
This is the day. I was standing in line at my local electronic store to get my own hard copy of the game. Something I was looking forward to the most, since its first announcement (note: Yes, I still do hard copies most of the time, speaking about old fashioned.) The waiting time of the installation had probably lasted as long as the building of the Cheops Pyramide, at least in my mind.
The Star Wars music played during the loading screen. The goosebumps were permanent there. After a short orientation phase in the main menu, I jumped right into the next open server game I could find.
Graphics top, everything else a flop?
The first impression was.. amazing. The amount of detail DICE has put into this game made it so vibrant, almost real. I grabbed my DC-15 blaster rifle and was about to kick some Clankers’ ass right in the middle of Naboo’s picturesque capital city Theed, which we’re all familiar with, due to Star Wars Episode I and Episode II. To be fair, my poor trooper got shot not even 90 seconds after setting foot in the drop zone, because I was admiring the architecture of the city, more than focusing on scrapping those metal heads.
For me, the game at a first look, was perfect. It took me almost 2-3 hours to realize some bugs, which first, didn’t bother me at all. After some time, this just got more and more annoying until it got frustrating. Lightsaber blades just vanished and made the hero you just grinded your battlepoints for, became useless and not more than Bantha fooder on the Battlefront. AT-ST tanks just disappeared next to me and left me alone against an upcoming rebel strike force and much more.
I had enough for the first time and decided to give it a break to watch my progress so far. While playing, I gained a total of 1,300 Credits. What first sounds like a total win, turns out to be more frustrating later. 10,000 credits to unlock my boy Darth Vader. Another 10k for Luke, Chewy and some of the other heros. Really?
Thats at least a full 50-60 hrs of grind to unlock the majority of the main heros.. So far so good. I tried to open some of the loot crates, I earned through progression, to cheer myself up a little, but the frustration continues. I did not manage to get one single piece of “rare loot” in 15 crates. I was really upset, when I saw the first enemy trooper on the ground with fully upgraded epic loot. He must have invested some serious money to receive this at day one. Thats enough for one day, I thought to myself. 60 bucks for nothing but pay to win and a massive grind job for the most iconic heros. All the enthusiasm that was built over the last months was vanished within a couple of hours. I was comforting myself with the very shallow singleplayer campaign.
Those days I was very busy following several Battlefront Youtubers about the recent happenings. The mood overall was very clouded. Tons of bugs and there was literally no source of communication from DICE, whether if they will fix something, or even received the cry for help from the community. But then, finally. Not even a week after launch and the first major shitstorm, DICE quickly removed all of the microtransactions in the game. This solved the pay to win aspect, but left the game with a hole. At this state there was absolutley no possibility for proper grinding whatsoever, because you couldn’t get your heros, troopers and vehicles to the fullfilling epic status.
With the theatrical release of The Last Jedi, DICE dropped the first major content for the game in December 2017. Along with a story update we got two more heroes as well as the iconic location of Crait. The content was good and the map again very liveable and realistic, but what they really did is put a band-aid on a rotting flesh wound. The game was still an unplayable mess.
Therefore DICE dropped the bomb.
DICE knew, that they had to do something in order to save the game. So they tried something, that was really, really sensitive. The developers promised to completley re-work the whole progression system – the progression system of a Multiplayer game. This can be compared to a surgery on the open heart. At this point really no one knows what might come, but since many players have abandoned the game for obvious reasons, this was DICEs only possibility to avoid a total loss. Along with this announcement, DICE hired community manager Ben Walke, who was more or less sent into a battle against thousands of bloodthirsty Star Wars fans. Not really a job for everyone.
Quo vadis, Star Wars Battlefront II?
It took DICE almost three months to completely re-adjust the whole progression system. During those three months the remaining community was very bad and misbehaving on the usual platforms like Reddit and Twitter, but Ben Walke did an outstanding job by talking to every single one of them as far as he could and helped as much as possible.
After the overhaul it was a basic, but fair and solid progression system, that rewards people by earning points for kills and playing the objective. DICE also fixed several bugs and made all vanilla heros available for everyone. Now Star Wars Battlefront II was back in the race. It definitely had 3 flat tires, but it was back on track. DICE could finally focus on what they could do best – Creating breathtaking content.
The next few months brought back microtransactions, but only for cosmetics. Thats how it originally was supposed to be, and therefore brought the community a bunch of trooper variations and hero skins with it. Along with the cosmetics, DICE released Ewok hunt which lets you play the furry bear-like creatures from Episode VI against imperial stormtroopers. The objective was to eliminate all bucket heads before the imperial rescue ship arrives. Most of the time, all the ship does, was collecting imperial corpses, that didn’t made it through the “slenderman alike” dark night. The first games creeped the shit out of me. The limited flashlight sight and the Ewok screams *yub nub* in close distance.. this was entertaining and horrifying at the same time.
In May, there follows a Han Solo Season, which was dedicated to the Spin Off Solo: A Star Wars Story, with even more free content.
Summer 2018 was the next big milestone for Star Wars Battlefront II, when creative director Dennis Branvall entered the stage at EAPlay and announced, what every Star Wars fan was hoping for. Battlefront goes Clone Wars and with it a massive content drop over the next months until February 2019. Promised was a long requested, non-linear game mode, the dust planet Geonosis as well as General Grievous, Obi Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku as playable heros . At this time literally no one in the community was thinking about the mess DICE has put into this world not even a year ago.
According to Ben Walke the player base at early 2019 has never been higher for Star Wars Battlefront II. The fact that the game was available for maybe 25 to 30 bucks at this time only encouraged more and more players to re-visit the game, or give it an actual try after the horrific launch.
Another milestone was, the fact that the content launch trailer for the battle of Geonosis, which dropped in november 2018, reached over 4.6 million views on YouTube, while the Battlefield V launch Trailer, who dropped at almost the same time only reached 2.3 million. Star Wars Battlefront II at this time was over a year old, while Battlefield V has just released. Battlefield, DICEs flagship was surpassed by a one year old game, which had a disastrous launch. Talking about a statement.
In the following months Battlefront was at its peak, with monthly content drops inlcuding maps, skins, challenges, new reinforcements and more. Players now where able to visit the ferocious planet of Felucia and play with the infamous Droideka or the fierce Clone Commandos.
Just before the end of 2019, DICE announced Rise of Skywalker inspired content with two more heros and a brand new map, along with more Sequel and Original Trilogy content. There was also a re-release of the game called “celebration edition” due to its second birthday, including all available skins. The game now offered a huge variety of big and small modes, with even fuller lobbies than ever.
After this again massive content drop, it became a little silent around DICEs office. Most likely due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. A sour taste was left, when Ben Walke announced his resignation as community manager for Star Wars Battlefront. He got an internal job offer he couldn’t refuse (speaking in the voice of the godfather) and there was no announcement of a new community manager at all, which clouded the good mood the community had after the last year.
28th april 2020
After the announcement, that Battlefield V’s support will be cut at summer, everyone in the Battlefront community “had a very bad feeling about this”. With the release of the Scarif Update, which brought Rogue One’s famous beachy planet to the game.
Shortly after, DICE announced that there won’t be any more content for Star Wars Battlefront II. Just like this. More or less out of the blue. Only a couple of months after the game had its player count peak.
The community was devastated. It somehow felt like re-animating a patient, bring him back from the dead, just to kill him once and for all. It just felt so wrong. It seemed that all the involved developers from DICE had so much planned for the future of Star Wars Battlefront II. Everyone could feel all the blood and the energy, that was put into that game from the developers. DICE didn’t want it to fail, but it somehow had to end. During EA’s budget call, somewhere there was made this decision, that left us all speechless.
How’s the future looking?
a couple of days after that terrible news, many people were left without no clue what the future holds. The battlefront developers moved to help save DICE’s porous flagship Battlefield, who recently had announced Battlefield 6 to be launched in 2021.
But that is of course not considered good news for all the lovers of the Battlefront Franchise. The numbers proof, that this is indeed quite a significant player base count, since DICE has sold not less than 33 Million copies of Star Wars Battlefront (1 & 2 combined) over the last four and a half years. As a comparison Battlefield V has sold a total of a little over 7 million since launch.
Yet still no sequel has been announced from DICE. Why is that so?
Well everything at this moment is pure speculation, so please take everything with a pinch of salt. The major show stopper at this point is, that all the developers focus on Battlefield 6, therefore there won’t be a lot developers available at DICE until the end of 2021. Another major issue could be, that the franchise license DICE received for a total of 10 years, will expire in 2023. Creating a multiplayer game, starting from the scratch will take at least one and a half years. Multiplayer games also need permanent support and content for at least another 2 years. All we need now is basic maths, to understand that DICE won’t start working on a possible STAR WARS Battlefront III, before they get the confirmation for a prolongation of the existing license. All we know is, that DISNEY at least has no interest in publishing games by themselves.
Summarizing we can say, that DICE did definitly not create a perfect game, but the direction was absolutley the right one. The DICE learned from their mistakes and they paid the price. The game raised like a phoenix out of the ashes and became one of the best and the most authentic Star Wars video game title.
While we wait for a possible new game to come, all we can do is be patient and enjoy what we have and what Battlefront II has to offer. The lobbies are full and the game is really enjoyable for a quick casual shooter. Most important, there are no more microtransactions at all. So don’t believe those “nay-sayers” and give it a try. You can get Battlefront II in sale for less then 10 Bucks.
All we need to do now is be careful not to get stabbed by a berserking Ewok in the middle of the night. *yub-nub*, *yub-nub*. Wait, what was that?