There’s been a good deal of discussion around the crate system in Star Wars Battlefront II. Many players are concerned the loot drops are just pay to win in disguise. But are they? For this video I’ll look at the game’s unlock system in-depth and examine a number of factors that influence gameplay. First, let’s actually define Pay to Win. In my opinion, Pay to Win games offer players the ability to buy weapons, abilities, and other augmentations that provide a significant advantage over other players. The worst of these games make such boosts only available through in-game purchases. Much of the concern over the crates in Battlefront II comes from their design in the game’s Beta, which was a little too pay to win for my tastes. Many players voiced their opinions, and developers responded, making several positive changes to the structure of the crate system in the final release of the game. So, how does it stack up now? If you’re unfamiliar with the progression system in-game, star cards are the big ticket item.

These cards augment or replace existing abilities – think of them as perks. Everyone starts with one open slot for a star card. As you progress and obtain more star cards for that particular class, your star card level increases. This means you unlock more slots and thus can augment more abilities. You can have a maximum of three star cards active at once. Star cards come in four levels – common, uncommon, rare, and epic. Epic star cards are not available in purchasable crates, and can only be attained through upgrading them. Aside from class specific star card levels, players also level up in their overall rank. It’s a combination of these two stats that decides when a player can upgrade their star cards. The process also requires crafting parts that are obtained through crates and other challenges. It sounds like a complex system, but you get the hang of it quickly. In Star Wars Battlefront II, crates can contain several items – hero star cards, starfighter star cards, vehicle star cards, victory poses, emotes, or weapons.

You can purchase crates with credits earned in-game, or purchase them with Battlefront II’s premium currency, crystals. So, I spent about 35 dollars to see just how big of an advantage it got me. That netted me a couple dozen crates. I spent most of my crystals on the more expensive trooper crates, since they’re focused on the game’s main classes, where you’ll be spending most of your time. I unlocked several uncommon star cards, and a few rare star cards. I didn’t get any weapons in the crates. The actual bonuses afforded by star cards are interesting, but the differences between the various tiers aren’t really that noticeable.

Perhaps your abilities reset at a slightly faster rate, or your grenade’s radius is slightly larger. They’re not really gamebreaking differences. It’s important to mention that simply playing Battlefront II will let you eventually unlock the same abilities, it just takes more time – that’s no different from the system used in Rainbow Six Siege for Operators. In fact, I found myself using some common star cards over rarer cards simply because I liked the abilities or attributes more. You can craft common star cards yourself from spare parts, which you receive every day for free just for logging in to Battlefront II. Where purchasing crates with actual money does become beneficial is unlocking more slots for star cards.

The more crates you open, the more your card level increases, and the more slots you have available. Admittedly, this does give you an early advantage, but it won’t last. Regular players of Battlefront II will quickly catch up, especially if they go after medals and missions, which reward them with credits, crystals and crates. The progression system also prevents players from upgrading star cards until they reach certain requirements in star card level and overall rank – so while I satisfied the star card level requirement, I still have many hours ahead before I rank up enough to actually upgrade a star card to epic. This keeps my abilities in check, and avoids the big pitfalls of games that are truly pay to win. The best players and those who are dedicated will rise to the top, and stay there, regardless of how much money someone puts into the game. Skill and tactics will always decide the outcome of a battle. I also didn’t feel any of the uncommon or rare abilities individually made my character into some kind of unassailable super soldier, though having space for three star cards did let me play the way I wanted to.

The easiest way I could explain it is perhaps getting early access to some of the perks in Call of Duty, or the specializations in Battlefield. Everyone can unlock them eventually, but it’s nice to have them when you want them. For some players that’s worthwhile, and no different than the shortcut kits we’ve seen in previous EA games. I also think it’s important to recognize Battlefront II isn’t a serious, competitive game. It’s definitely more on the casual side. When used effectively, standard hero classes are way more powerful than even the most decked out grunt, and they’re available every game to anyone who does well and scores enough points. Interestingly, the item I wanted most from the crates doesn’t impact gameplay at all. I’m talking about emotes. I think they’re fun cosmetic bits that give Battlefront II way more personality, and if we’re being completely honest, I’m sad I didn’t unlock more of them. If there was an emote only crate, it’d probably spend money on that.

I think if developers spent more time creating cool cosmetic items for players in the vein of Overwatch, that’d be a much more compelling reason to purchase crates, and would avoid the pay to win debate entirely. The Star Wars universe is so rich with potential for cosmetic items. Still, it’s also important to consider every post-launch hero, map, ship, and weapon will be free for everyone who owns Star Wars Battlefront II. I’d much rather have a minimally invasive loot crate system over a premium pass that breaks up the community any day of the week. So, if I were to rate the loot crate system in Star Wars Battlefront II on a scale of The Emperor being the most evil to Qui Gon Jin being the most badass, I’d probably rank it as Guy Fieri – we want so desperately to hate him, but in the end have to admit he’s not really that bad and we kinda like him. So, welcome to Flavortown. What are your thoughts on the crate system in Battlefront II? What would you change? Tell me in the comments..

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