Star Wars: Battlefront 2 will soon be graced with the revamped progression system promised during the intense fallout over its original loot box system. And even though the premium currency is returning—which EA said would happen at the time—it sounds like a big improvement. I doubt it'll be the most popular update of all time, but it definitely won't result in the most downvoted Reddit comment in history.
Before Battlefront 2 released, stat-boosting Star Cards were acquired by opening loot boxes which could be purchased with two currencies: Credits, earned by playing, or Crystals, purchased with real money. Pretty much no one liked that idea, and just before launch, EA removed Crystals from Battlefront 2.
I was glad to see the premium currency go, but axing it didn't make Battlefront 2's progression system better—it just removed the most offensive feature while leaving the consequences of that feature intact. You still had to open loot boxes to get anywhere, and I found it slow and unnecessarily complicated.
We'll no longer find Star Cards or "any other item impacting gameplay" in crates. Instead, gaining a level in a certain class, ship, or character by earning XP will unlock a Skill Point that can unlock or upgrade an "eligible Star Card."
Crates will not be purchasable with Credits or Crystals. We'll still get crates from daily logins and completing milestones and timed challenges. They will only contain cosmetic items and Credits.
Appearances are "new looks" that will be available for purchase in April. They can be obtained with Credits (earned by playing) or Crystals (the premium currency). "If you’ve ever dreamed of being a part of the Resistance as a Rodian, your chance is right around the corner."
Existing players will keep everything they've already earned when the change takes place.
The Battlefront 2 Progression update, which will release next week on March 21, revamps the whole system. Star Cards will no longer be found in crates at all. "Instead, you’ll earn experience points for the classes, hero characters, and ships that you choose to play in multiplayer," reads the press release. "If you earn enough experience points to gain a level for that unit, you'll receive one Skill Point that can be used to unlock or upgrade the eligible Star Card you'd like to equip."
The crates will still be there, but they won't be purchasable with any kind of currency, Credits or otherwise. You'll earn them through daily logins, as well as by completing milestones and challenges, and they will only contain cosmetic items and Credits.
So far so good. But what about the return of the premium Crystals? According to the press release, the only things you'll be able to buy with real money are "new looks for your heroes and troopers." You'll also be able to buy these 'appearances' with Credits. Crucially, there is no apparent randomization: you're choosing what you want and buying it "directly" with either in-game currency or premium currency.
The new appearances are more like standard microtransactions, then, except that you can also acquire them with Credits. That's not too bad.
There are a number of unknowns that could change my feelings about the update. For example, we don't know how quickly players will earn experience points, or how many credits (or dollars) the new appearances will cost. Assuming that none of the barriers to progression or space outfit collection are too high, though, what EA has presented today addresses many of my problems with Battlefront 2.
In the months after the Progression Update releases on the 21st, EA also says it will continue to make balance tweaks, as well as add new modes that will introduce "several standout, brand-new ways to play." Oh, and after the Progression Update, you'll get to keep anything you've already got in Battlefront 2, regardless of how you got it, so nothing to worry about there.