DICE's much-anticipated, and impressively civil, Reddit AMA (that's Ask Me Anything, sort of like a Q&A) for the controversial Star Wars Battlefront 2 has now occurred. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't the bringer of too many revelations.
Battlefront 2's executive producer John Wasilczyk, associate design director Dennis Brannvall, and producer Paul Keslin were all on-hand to answer questions from the reddit community, and the whole thing passed on by with the effortlessly evasive slickness of a well-oiled corporate PR machine.
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Hundreds of questions were posed by redditors, and 30 were answered during the discussion. Unsurprisingly, many of the community's tougher questions were gracefully avoided, with the general message of the evening seeming to be 'we'll keep an eye on the data and make adjustments later if need be'.
One of the biggest concerns around Battlefront 2 at present is just how long it will take players that don't want to dabble in loot crates to acquire everything in the game. It was, after all, recently reported that it could take up to 40 hours just to unlock one character - albeit via data which didn't take into account the game's full range of ways to earn credits.
"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," said Wasilczyk. "But as more players come in, that could change.
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"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."
Requests from AMA participants to hear DICE's internal averages were sadly ignored - particularly disappointing given that the highest-rated question throughout the AMA had been, "In the numbers you all have run, how many hours would it take the average user to unlock all items available at release without spending additional money?"
Other key questions that were left unaddressed included inquiries around whether EA would lower the number of microtransactions in the game, or why the company had opted for loot boxes that affected gameplay, rather than being purely cosmetic.
Brannvall did address the inclusion of microtransactions in general, however, saying that they are "there for player choice, but won't be a requirement to play or succeed at the game. And like everything else, we'll continue tweaking and tuning until we achieve these goals".
DICE highlighted several other areas that it's keen to investigate further, too.
In answer to one user's point that loot boxes "ruin the feeling of accomplishment, are a form of gambling, and are obviously an incentive for players to buy credits using microtransactions", Brannvall said, "I think crates can be a fun addition as long as you don't feel forced to engage with them in order to progress. I feel that's where the issue is with our game right now and that's where we'll look to solve as quickly as we can. We're looking to add additional ways to progress your favourite character or class, while allowing crates to be a fun thing for those who want to engage with them."
Sadly DICE failed to pledge any definite near-term steps it would take to improve what many see as serious shortcomings with Battlefront 2's current progression system.
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Instead, Wasilczyk said DICE would 'look at' the rate that players are unlocking Crates and Star Cards "and will continue adjusting values to make sure that players are able to progress towards their goals without it feeling like a grind". That, it turns out, was a recurring theme. Brannvall noted, for example, that if crafting parts didn't seem like they were being given out quickly enough, "we'll look into changes to fix that".
Keslin, meanwhile, addressed the amount of credits players can earn offline by saying, "We will be looking at data continually and make adjustments to make things as balanced as possible". Brannvall assured fans concerned about the pay-to-win potential of Star Cards that DICE is "looking at results from millions of matches and will be continuously rebalancing items, unlocks, and matchmaking to create a fair, fun experience for all of our players."
All in all, the AMA offered little in the way of concrete action to address complaints around Battlefront 2 in its current state.
Wrapping things up, Brannvall did at least make one promise, "We were incredibly saddened by the negative response from you, the community on reddit about the game.
"In fact, we hated it, we truly did, because we want to make a game that you love. We've made a really cool, fun and beautiful game but it was overshadowed by issues with the progression system. We will fix this."