I didn't think it would be going like this.
"Star Wars Battlefront," a reboot of a popular video game series first released in the mid-2000s, came out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC to mixed reviews in November 2015. No game had ever done a better job of matching the looks and sounds of "Star Wars," but the game was criticized for its lack of single-player modes, an expensive season pass that locked out players from new content if they didn't pay an extra $50 and because it only covered the timeline from the Original Trilogy and basically ignored the other movies.
So when publisher EA announced "Star Wars Battlefront 2" last summer, it looked like they learned from their past mistakes. The new game, which came out in November of last year, launched with a single-player campaign telling a brand new story in the "Star Wars" cannon, featured characters and worlds from the Prequel, Original and Sequel trilogies and would release all future content for free. They also planned to make the game a live service, a relatively new term in the video game lexicon but essentially meaning it was going to receive frequent updates to stay fresh and keep players engaged.
It was a great time to be "Battlefront" fan.
While EA had learned from past mistakes, that didn't stop them from making new ones. The most egregious one being that they locked their progression system — basically the backbone of the entire game — behind a loot box system that encouraged you to spend real money to get random in-game items to build up your characters. So if I wanted to upgrade my Luke Skywalker character, I could grind for 80 hours and hopefully get what I was looking for or I could spend real money and see my odds greatly improved.
Although the game at its core — gameplay, graphics, content — was better than it's predecessor in every way, it was immediately criticized as being pay-to-win. I don't know the sales numbers, but EA admitted they were lower than they expected and lower than the previous game. Their stock dropped because of it and gamers were petitioning Disney to pull the "Star Wars" license from EA.
So the game's developers spent months reworking everything from the progression system to its menus.
That work has now paid off. The new progression system that launched in March and April completely fixed "Battlefront 2's" launch issues. The loot boxes have been removed from the game and progression has been streamlined. The more I play as Luke, the more I can upgrade him.
This past week was the one year anniversary of the game's release. If the game had launched last year with the progression system we have today, and no loot boxes, I think it would have sold much better and the conversation surrounding the game would be completely different.
The downside to getting this new progression system is it practically killed EA's plans to make "Battlefront 2" a live service. We have gotten some new content each month, but not much substantial since December when the characters of Finn and Captain Phasma, along with the planet Crait, were added to tie into the release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
With the progression system updated, the developers are finally starting to work on new content for the game. The character General Grievous from the Prequel Trilogy was added late last month. My favorite character, Obi-Wan Kenobi, comes to the game Nov. 28 along along with the planet Geonosis, the first new large map added to the game since Crait last December. Then in January and February we're getting the characters of Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker along with a new large-scale game mode that sounds like it will adapt the popular Conquest mode from the beloved original version of the series in which you have to capture different points on the map.
With EA's 2015 "Battlefront" game, they stopped releasing new content for it a year after it released. This time around, they've already announced plans to support the game with new content past what's already been announced as coming in January and February. Ideally, EA will continue to release new content for the game through December 2019 so they can have new worlds and characters inspired by next year's "Star Wars: Episode IX." In between now and then, I would love to see them bring back some of the "Rogue One" content from the last game like the characters of Jyn and Krennic. Disney also has two live action television series in the works for their upcoming Disney+ streaming service the game could pull content from.
If you ask most gamers about "Battlefront 2's" reputation in the gaming community, a lot of them would probably only talk about its botched launch. Games have recovered from terrible launches before and it would be great if "Battlefront 2's" legacy ultimately ends up as the game that turned around its disastrous launch and truly became the game "Star Wars" fans have been asking for. And like Princess Leia after she was handed the plans to the Death Star, I have hope.
Dusty Ricketts is the editor of The Destin Log and The Walton Sun newspapers and can be reached at email@example.com. He is currently playing "Star Wars Battlefront 2" and "Red Dead Redemption 2." You can find him to play online through his PlayStation Network ID, DustRAG316.