Star Wars Battlefront 2: From Pay-to-Win Debacle to Hidden Gem? Can the Franchise Break the Curse?

Star Wars Battlefront 2 launched amidst one of the most significant controversies in recent gaming history. Microtransactions, loot boxes, and the pay-to-win controversy nearly sank the game. Yet, dedicated development turned it into a genuinely enjoyable Star Wars experience years later.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 launched amidst one of the most significant controversies in recent gaming history. Microtransactions, loot boxes, and the pay-to-win controversy nearly sank the game. Yet, dedicated development turned it into a genuinely enjoyable Star Wars experience years later.

But the recent Aspyr blunder with the Battlefront Collection casts a new shadow, raising the question: Could the Battlefront name itself be cursed, and can the franchise ever break free?

The Launch Disaster

Star Wars Battlefront 2’s launch wasn’t just disappointing; it triggered a wave of backlash that sent shockwaves through the gaming industry. The root of the problem lies in its progression system. Iconic heroes like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker were locked behind an excessive grind or loot boxes purchased with real money.

Star cards, essential for upgrading abilities, were also tied to loot boxes, giving players who spent more a significant advantage. EA’s attempts to defend the system with comments about fostering “pride and accomplishment” only inflamed the situation further.

  • Darth Vader Behind a Paywall: Locking iconic characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker behind excessive grinding or loot box purchases angered fans who felt they should be core to the experience.
  • “Sense of Pride and Accomplishment”: An EA developer’s infamous Reddit comment minimising the pay-to-win concerns became a rallying cry for an outraged community. See “most downvoted comment in Reddit history”…
  • The Ripple Effect: The backlash against Battlefront 2 didn’t just impact the game itself; it brought loot-box practices under scrutiny from governments worldwide, triggering discussions about potential gaming industry regulation.

The Road to Redemption

To their credit, DICE and EA eventually overhauled the core issues. Following a barrage of negative press and player boycotts, loot boxes were reworked to contain cosmetic items only. Progression became skill-based, levelling the playing field. Moreover, a steady stream of content updates brought fan-favourite heroes, maps, and modes to the game.

The introduction of the Clone Wars era, in particular, resonated with fans and became a significant turning point for the game’s reputation. While the initial damage was done, it seemed DICE was slowly winning back a portion of the sceptical player base.

  • The Clone Wars Arrive: The introduction of maps, heroes, and modes based on the beloved Clone Wars era of Star Wars was a significant turning point, revitalizing player interest.
  • Heroes Unleashed: Over time, all heroes became freely unlockable, making the playing field fairer and more focused on skill.
  • Passion Project?: While it took time, it became clear that a core team at DICE genuinely loved Star Wars and poured that passion into Battlefront 2, eventually winning back a portion of the fanbase.

Battlefront 2 Today: A Far Different Game

Star Wars Battlefront 2, in its current form, truly does offer a compelling multiplayer experience. It captures Star Wars battles’ chaos and cinematic feel across iconic locations from the entire saga. Whether engaging in massive ground assaults on Hoth, piloting starfighters in thrilling dogfights, or duelling as legendary Jedi and Sith, the game caters to various playstyles.

A constant influx of content featuring beloved characters and nostalgic settings helped keep the experience fresh and engaging—unfortunately, this steady stream of content ended with EA cutting the cord in 2020.

  • Spectacle of War: From the chaotic clashes on Hoth to the tense lightsaber duels in the Jedi Temple, Battlefront 2 delivers the cinematic feel of Star Wars.
  • Choice and Variety: Whether you want to dogfight in an X-wing, command an AT-AT, or unleash the Force as Darth Maul, the game offers diverse playstyles.
  • The Power of Nostalgia: Maps, characters, and vehicles pulled from across the Star Wars saga resonate deeply with fans, fueling that “just one more match” feeling.

The Aspyr Blunder

The recent release of the Battlefront Collection, handled by Aspyr, was another stumble for the franchise. Broken online matches, technical hiccups, and a general lack of polish plagued the Collection at launch.

Players couldn’t help but feel a sense of irony seeing a Star Wars Battlefront release marred with game-breaking issues. This blunder further damaged the fragile trust DICE had worked hard to rebuild over the years.

  • Server Instability: Online multiplayer, the core of the Collection’s appeal, was plagued by disconnections, lag, and matchmaking issues, making it nearly unplayable for many.
  • Broken Features: Even basic quality-of-life features were missing or malfunctioning. The lack of aim inversion options in the settings menu was a baffling omission.
  • Technical Hiccups: Players reported graphical glitches, performance dips, and audio issues across both games included in the Collection.
  • Community Frustration: This blunder further damaged the fragile trust that DICE had worked hard to rebuild over the years. Players felt that the Star Wars Battlefront franchise was once again synonymous with disappointment.

Is Battlefront Cursed?

The core question now is whether Battlefront 2’s history, including the disastrous launch and the Aspyr debacle, has irreparably damaged the franchise’s reputation. After years of improvement, players might understandably be wary of ever again trusting a “Battlefront 3” announcement. Could the stigma attached to the name negatively impact sales, even if the hypothetical new game is well-made?

Moreover, might EA and Disney themselves be hesitant to greenlight another project, fearing another round of public outcry?

  • Trust Issues: Will players ever fully trust a “Battlefront 3” announcement without fearing predatory microtransactions or a launch riddled with bugs?
  • Stigma of the Name: Could another Battlefront title, even if well-made, suffer simply due to the negative associations attached to the franchise?
  • Publisher Hesitancy: Might EA or Disney be hesitant to greenlight a new Battlefront project, fearing another wave of negative press and potential controversy?

Battlefront 3: What Would Break the Curse?

If a Battlefront 3 ever sees the light of day, it needs to nail several vital elements to succeed. A commitment to a fair progression system, devoid of pay-to-win mechanics, is an absolute must. Launching with a strong roster of iconic characters, maps, and modes would build excitement and avoid the “drip-feed” content model that plagued its predecessor.

Focusing on polish, with fewer bugs and technical issues, would go a long way in establishing trust. Finally, an open line of communication with the community, like the developers eventually established with Battlefront 2, would be essential from the beginning.

  • No Loot Boxes, Period: The shadow of pay-to-win looms large. Progression must be based on skill, and cosmetics could be monetized without impacting gameplay balance.
  • Fan Favorites at Launch: Core characters, maps, and modes from the get-go. Build excitement around the iconic Star Wars moments, not a slow drip-feed of content.
  • Focus on Polish: A smooth launch focusing on core gameplay and fewer bugs would go a long way in building initial trust.
  • Listen to the Community: DICE found success once they embraced fan feedback. A Battlefront 3 needs that open communication from day one.

Final Thoughts

Star Wars Battlefront 2 has had a turbulent journey, shining an example of the dangers of predatory monetisation and the potential for redemption in the gaming industry. However, its lingering stigma and recent missteps with the Aspyr Collection place the future of the Battlefront franchise in doubt. Could a potential Battlefront 3 break the curse?

It seems like an uphill battle, but perhaps, with the right approach and a laser focus on the fan experience, a new instalment could finally deliver the Star Wars multiplayer experience many have been waiting for.