How to fix the Progression System in EA’s #StarWarsBattlefrontII

Introduction

I’m a huge fan of Star Wars and the video game developer DICE. It’s in my personal interest that the newly released title, Star Wars Battlefront II, published by Electronic Arts (EA), is successful, innovative, and most importantly, fun. The weeks leading up to launch and the game’s release itself have been nothing less than turbulent. There are many complaints and many concerns, but I’d like to focus on what may be the most important issue and how it can be corrected: the progression system.

Much of the criticism about Electronic Arts’ Star Wars Battlefront II game revolves around the multiplayer progression system. It’s slow, it contains randomized elements, and it’s been described as a “grind”. I want to put forward my proposal for a progression system that would be rewarding and visible. My system would reward players based on the classes they play and their performances as well as their time commitment. It would also provide a Loot Crate system that would be fun as an extra experience rather than an essential part of the progression system itself.

Step One: Remove Crafting Parts

In Battlefront II, Crafting Parts are necessary to obtain new Star Cards, abilities and modifiers that let you customize and improve your in-game skills. Star Cards are applied to infantry classes, heroes, reinforcements, and vehicles. In this sense, they affect, even minutely, the values in combat of each and every element of multiplayer.

Crafting Parts can be used to purchase a Star Card or to upgrade it. This shouldn’t be an issue in itself, but they can only be obtained through several in-game challenges, and Loot Crates. Loot Crates offer randomized rewards in exchange of your credits, a form of gambling where you don’t know what you’re going to get. Since Crafting Parts are primarily obtained through these Loot Crates, your income of them is variable and random. They are not rewarded by your time or effort, but rather by a slot machine function in the game.

The removal of Crafting Parts would remove one convoluted currency to make the players’ experience easier to understand and more rewarding. This leads directly to step two.

Step Two: Allow Star Cards and their Upgrades to be Purchased with Credits

With Crafting Parts removed, something has to take their place. The game’s primary currency, Credits, should be used for the purchase of Star Cards and their upgrades. The prices of Star Cards could be easily tweaked to determine the best pacing for progression. Since the income of Credits is easily determined by the completion of challenges and match participation/performance, there would be much greater clarity in the progression system for players to see their actual progress. They could choose what they want to purchase and work in each match to get closer to their goal.

Since the Star Cards would be purchasable with Credits, their upgrades should be too. If players could upgrade their Star Cards with Credits instead of Crafting Parts, they would benefit from the same positive experience that I mentioned above, the ability to see their own Credit income per-match and know the precise distance to their target purchase.

The game should continue to lock bigger and better upgrades behind progress walls, but these barriers should be easy to understand and satisfying to clear. This leads us into step three.

Step Three: Level Classes based on Milestones

At the moment, the level of a class, hero, ship, or reinforcement is directly related to the total number and tier of Star Cards. In my opinion, this is not a rewarding system; players have to open Loot Crates in hope of gaining Star Cards for their favorite classes and characters. If not, the only other option is to purchase Star Cards you may otherwise dislike in the hopes of nudging up the level of a class or character. This system intentionally encourages players to spend Crafting Parts on Star Cards they may never even want just to help them level up their classes.

The level of every element of multiplayer, be it a ship, hero, or class, should be based on Milestones. Milestones could be expanded to add tiers and targets for players to progress towards. At the moment, crafting a Star Card for the Assault class adds one level to the class. What if instead, levels were rewarded for completing Milestones like “Get 100 Kills as Assault” or “Play 10 Matches as Assault”. With this system, players would know exactly when they can expect to level up and unlock a new Star Card slot or a new upgrade Tier.

The Milestones themselves should have Tiers. If the maximum level of a class is 30, there should be 10 categories of Milestones, each with three tiers.

 Milestone Tier I Tier II Tier III
 Matches Played 10 50 100
 Hours Played 1 5 10
 Kills 50 200 500
 Score Earned 10,000 50,000 100,000
 Battlepoints Earned 2,500 10,000 25,000
 Milestone VI  Target I  Target II  Target III
 Milestone VII  Target I  Target II  Target III
 Milestone VIII  Target I  Target II  Target III
 Milestone IX  Target I  Target II  Target III
 Milestone X  Target I  Target II  Target III

The examples in the table above, like “Matches Played”, would immediately award you a level on the hero, class, or vehicle you complete a Tier in. For example, playing as the class Officer in 10 matches would award you with the Tier I Milestone, “10 Matches played as an Officer”. This would level up your Officer and perhaps give you a credit bonus as an additional reward. With a Milestone system like this, players could easily and comfortably level up their heroes, classes, vehicles, and reinforcements. Other examples would include “Kill 50 Players as Rey”, “Earn 10,000 Battlepoints in an Interceptor”, and “Earn 100,000 Score as an Enforcer”.

Step Four: Replace the contents of the Loot Crates

The very first thing in relation to Loot Crates should be the removal of all progression items from Loot Crates. Remove the Crafting Parts, remove all Star Cards, and remove Weapons. With these gone, all that’s left in the current game’s Loot Crates would be Emotes, Victory Poses, and Credits. At the moment, the game does not have enough cosmetic customization to make Loot Crates an exciting endeavor. Until the game’s cosmetic system is expanded, Loot Crates could only contain the current set of Emotes and Victory Poses.

Until content is added, Boosts could be introduced. As an incentive for players to purchase Loot Crates, each Crate should come with at least one guarantied Boost. A Boost could be a consumable that when used, gives the player a multiplier for Credits or Milestone progression.

Boost Multiplier Active Length
Double Credits Income x2 Credits 4 Matches
Triple Credits Income x3 Credits 2 Matches
Double Milestone Progress x2 Milestone Stats 25 Minutes
Triple Milestone Progress x3 Milestone Stats 10 Minutes

If every Loot Crate contained a single boost, the multiplier of Credits or Milestone Progress would be a big incentive for players to purchase a Loot Crate. The Boosts could be consumables usable at the start of a match, perhaps on the spawn screen.

The future of Loot Crates and their potential presence as a real-money product would be dependent on the content produced and released by the developers. If a cosmetic system is added to the game, similar to that of the first EA Star Wars Battlefront title, then the Loot Crate system would not impede or disrupt progression but instead, complement players and their experience. Players with extra credits, or those satisfied with their current load-out of Star Cards, could focus on purchasing Loot Crates to expand their Star Wars experience.

Loot Crate cosmetics could include tons of authentic Star Wars items such as battalion armor colors, vehicle skins, starfighter squadron skins, hero skins, and much more. Star Wars is a massive universe with infinite cosmetic possibilities for Loot Crates.

Conclusion

This is just a single example of a progression system that could improve the experience of players and reward them for their time and effort. With the removal of Crafting Parts and the use of Credits as the primary currency, players could easily purchase and upgrade the Star Cards they want while maintaining a consistent income of credits throughout the game. If the levels of all classes were based upon the completion of Milestones rather than the total number of Star Cards, players would be consistently rewarded with the advancement of their classes by participating in games with them. Milestones such as Hours Played and Players Killed would allow players to level up their favorite classes, heroes, and starfighters they way they want to rather than depending on the accumulation of Star Cards they may not necessarily want or need. Finally, the removal of all progression items from Loot Crates, and their replacement with boosts and future cosmetic options would make Loot Crates a fun goal for players with Credits to spare. With new helmets, hero skins, and squadron colors, cosmetic Loot Crates could give the game more Star Wars depth.

If you took the time to read through this, thank you so much for your time. I hope EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II can get back on the right track and become the game that everyone wanted. If the progression system is improved, the technical issues are corrected, and the loot crates become cosmetic, I know I’ll be very pleased.


UPDATE: Removed references to Battlepoint Boosts. Feedback suggested that these would have a negative effect on multiplayer. Thank you to those who gave me your thoughts!