Star Wars Battlefront II's latest update brings microtransactions back to the game, allowing players to spend premium currency on cosmetic outfits. It's an improvement over the ability granting loot boxes from early access but pricey skins add an unwelcome new grind to a game.
Microtransactions in Battlefront II initially allowed players to use a premium currency called 'crystals' to purchase loot crates that dropped random star cards. Star cards are equippable boosters that can reduce the cooldown on player skills or buff stats like health.
The notion of being able to buy tons of loot crates to gain advantages over players set off a firestorm of controversy. EA temporarily disabled the ability to purchase crystals hours before the game launched.
The implementation is remarkably understated. Instead of buying loot boxes, crystals are now used to buy character skins directly. These range from different alien races for classes like the Officer and Heavy, to new appearances for heroic characters.
If you've been desperate to play as Yoda with his hood up or Kylo Ren with a scar on his face, now's your chance. The game still lacks the ability to customise First Order and Imperial Stormtroopers and Republic Clone Troopers. If you're not keen on spending money for crystals, you can still purchase them using credits you earn in game.
Battlefront II's always been a grindy game. During the game's early access period, a Redditor calculated that it would take up to 40 hours to unlock hero characters like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, although the unlock costs were adjusted for launch.
A recent patch unlocked every hero character in the game, eliminating an annoying grind. The new cosmetic items bring that grind back. While new alien races or human soldiers cost as low as 5,000 credits, epic skins such as a new look for Rey based off The Last Jedi cost upwards of 40,000 credits.
That's as much as certain hero characters like Chewbacca cost during early access.
A round of Galactic Assault grants about 400-700 credits depending on your score. If you want to grind matches specifically for a skin, assuming you have no credits at all, that's a lot of matches. Assuming you get 500 credits every match, that would be 80 matches.
Additional credit rewards from daily loot crates and completing challenges speed that process up a bit but if you want to avoid buying crystals, be prepared for a slow climb uphill.
Then again, that's the point. If you want to avoid the grind, I guess you'll just have to buy the crystals.
The game is coy about where players can actually purchase crystals now. You used to be able to buy them right from the main screen but the option is now tucked within the character customisation screen itself.
When I first booted up the game, I genuinely thought they'd somehow forgotten to add the feature back in. If you do choose to buy crystals, the description for each pack stresses that they "can be used to acquire valuable in-game appearances."
Players were never going to welcome the return of microtransactions to Battlefront II - even optional, they're pretty crummy - but they should take some heart in knowing that EA's keeping their new implementation pretty low key.
Character cosmetics don't threaten gameplay balance the way that Star Cards did. The shift away from loot boxes, which are designed to exploit impulsive players, is also welcome.
It's still not great though. The skins are pretty underwhelming and their cost adds another steep grind to the game.