Earlier this week, Electronic Arts responded to heavy consumer criticism regarding Star Wars Battlefront II hero costs by giving those hero unlocks a drastic price reduction. This has done little to quell growing consumer anger, which made it all the more interesting that EA also promised in that same statement that it would hold an AMA on the Star Wars Battlefront subreddit.
Today is the day and a handful of the Battlefront devs did take to the subreddit, as promised, for the DICE Developer AMA. Executive Producer John Wasilczyk, Associate Design Director Dennis Brannvall, and Multiplayer Producer Paul Keslin took part in the question-and-answer session from Reddit's community. And while some of the answers proved somewhat difficult to find, given Reddit's constant downvoting of any developer post, Shacknews was able to gloss some of the key points from Wednesday's session.
- Wasilczyk on continuing to adjust the loot crate system: "I think this concern has come through loud and clear. We're going to continue adjusting the crate systems, content, and progression mechanics to hit a point that gives players a great, balanced experience at all skill levels. We're working on expanding the number of ways that players can progress, putting more control in their hands and providing more options and choice in the way people play. There's not much in the game that we wouldn't revisit to improve the game for as many players as possible."
While Wasilczyk has committed to ensuring that shooting for loot crates and Star Cards don't feel like a grind, he does note that the dev team will be overseeing this issue over the course of the game's launch period.
- Wasilczyk on how long it takes to unlock everything: "We've seen the speculation about how long it takes players to earn things - but our averages based on the Play First trial are much faster than what's out there. But as more players come in, that could change. We're committed to making progression a fun experience for all of our players. Nothing should feel unattainable and if it does, we'll do what it takes to make sure it's both fun and achievable. As we update and expand Arcade mode, we'll be working towards making sure that players can continue to progress without daily limits."
(Editor: This is sounding like there's a stark difference between the QA world and the wild. Numbers from QA testers that are tasked with running through the game daily to gauge how long the average unlock takes can be deceptive, since said tester is tasked with testing the game at least eight hours a day. The total number of hours a tester comes up with, compared to the average Joe that picks up the game on day one is going to differ somewhat drastically. So it's entirely possible to reconcile Wasilczyk's statement. Yes, the numbers probably aren't as bad on their end, but the numbers can still feel like a grind to the end user. To support this argument a little more, Brannvall notes that the 20 percent of a player's score that goes into their Credit reward is "likely not enough." It is very likely wires have been crossed here, so let's see how this translates with user feedback after the game releases.)
- Wasilczyk on rewarding player performance: "The new system in Battlefront 2 has more depth and complexity than Battlefront 1 and required updates to how we think about all of this. We've made a lot of changes and credit rewards are part of that. We're working on updates to the end of round rewards system and that will affect how a player's match performance yields credits. Right now it's not weighted enough to reward performance."
- Brannvall on how soon progression changes can be implemented: "It depends on the type of change, it's difficult to give you specific dates but as we get closer, we will. The credit based on performance I mentioned in another question (we are changing the percentage of your score factored into your credit reward from 20% and increasing it) is a quicker change, while larger progression overhauls might take a little longer."
(Editor: This is supported by the fact that EA was able to adjust the hero unlock costs so quickly, but some of the other changes aren't quite so easy, since they might require some code changes that can potentially break other aspects of the game.)
- Brannvall on customization: "Nothing is too late. As you've noticed, we weren't able to get the customization system into the game in time for launch. I'm actually having artists and designers walk up to me today showing me cosmetic stuff they really want to get out there. I think we have probably the best looking Clone Troopers ever made and I know players really want to customize them (I know I do). I can't really commit to a date just yet, but we're working on stuff and I believe it will change the game tremendeously on all levels."
In terms of cosmetic materials, Brannvall notes that the team is floating around designs from various eras of Star Wars beyond the trilogies. In addition to comics and TV shows, Brannvall expresses a particular affinity for the Clone Wars, so that might be something to look out for in the future.
- Brannvall on the lack of squads: "I don't believe in just taking a feature from one game and tossing into this one. We've tried it several times and it doesn't work that way. We don't have the same levels as Battlefield, our environments and what you expect from the planets we build are different, nor do we have the same game modes for the same reason. That being said, we're currently prototyping an update to our spawn waves that allow parties to stay together and spawn on each other. No timeline yet, but we'll let you know."
(Editor: Battlefront II feels very "every man for himself" at the moment, so any changes that encourage more teamwork will feel welcome.)
- Keslin on capping offline Arcade Credits: "As we want to let players earn Credits offline via a more relaxed game mode, we needed to also find a way to make sure it wouldn't be exploited in a way that would impact Multiplayer. Because of that we made the decision to limit the number of Credits earned to stop potential abuse. We will be looking at data continually and make adjustments to make things as balanced as possible."
(Editor: As a design goal, this makes sense. Unfortunately, because EA tied loot box purchases with real money, the goal no longer makes sense. When gameplay-affecting bonuses can be picked up with real money, the "curbing abuse" argument doesn't hold much water anymore. Abusing the system just becomes a little more expensive.)
- Keslin on private servers: "This is something we hear a lot and will continue to consider. We know there are folks out there that want to either run their own competitive events or find a safe space to take screenshots / create crazy videos. Those are things we're excited to see you all do so it will continue to be on our radar."
Brannvall closed the AMA by lamenting the negative response to the game and pledging to fix the issues surrounding the progression system. Whether publisher EA will help or hinder those efforts remains to be seen. For anyone who missed the full AMA circus and want to subject themselves to anger overwhelming, visit Reddit.
Also, we recently reviewed Star Wars Battlefront II and had our own issues with it. Check out that review and our video review below.