We've been waiting a little while for an explanation of how Tides of War - Battlefield 5's new live services system to replace the premium pass - will actually work. The developer has been pretty cagey on the subject, which is unsurprising in the wake of the backlash over Star Wars Battlefront 2's loot boxes - a mistake DICE said it "can't afford to make" in future.
Now, DICE has finally peeled back the curtain on Tides of War's monetisation and progression systems. As promised, the emphasis seems to very much be on cosmetic microtransactions, and avoiding accusations of "pay-to-win" game mechanics.
In terms of the game's economy, Battlefield 5 will have two types of currency: "Company Coin" (which can be earned through daily missions, special assignments and Career Rank progression), and a purchasable currency called "Battlefield Currency". The latter may only be spent on cosmetics, while Company Coin can be used to buy skill tree upgrades and new gear. If that all sounds like a confusing mess, the infographic provided by DICE helps explain it all.
According to the post, Battlefield Currency will not be available at launch, as DICE wants players "to get hands-on experience with their Company, the progression system, and earning Company Coin before introducing premium currency". Call me cynical, but maybe it's because DICE also wants to avoid any immediate bad publicity in the crucial weeks following launch.
On this point, however, reaction to the game's economy largely seems to be cautiously optimistic. Players seem fairly content that everything can be bought with in-game currency, but others have highlighted that currency drop rates and prices have not yet been revealed. A low in-game currency earn rate could make it difficult for players to afford cosmetics, and as Reddit user FWEpicFrost notes, should Battlefield 5 include timed shop events, players may have to spend real money if they want to claim a cosmetic before it's too late. On top of this, if in-game currency is scarce, players may need to prioritise spending Company Coin on guns and skill upgrades over pretty things. Unless you're all about style over substance - I won't judge.
In the post, however, DICE emphasises it believes "real-world money should not enable pay-to-win or pay-for-power". The focus on cosmetics should avoid this issue - but whether players will take issue with other aspects of the monetisation system remains to be seen.
Beyond the game's economy, the post also details a little more about Battlefield 5's progression system, which seems rather frag-mented. As previously mentioned, one of the ways to earn Company Coin is by moving up Career ranks, but this is only one of the categories of progression within Battlefield 5. There's also Class Rank, which like in previous games improves with how often you play a specific class, and unlocks additional primary weapons along with Combat Roles (formerly Archetypes). There's a "deeper level of customisation", allowing players to create more specific equipment loadouts for specific combat scenarios.
Weapon and Vehicle Ranks seem fairly self-explanatory on the surface: you can rank up specific weapons and vehicles as you play them, with higher ranks allowing you to access specialisation options such as improved fire accuracy or durability. As previously mentioned, however, the catch is that you then need to spend Company Coin to actually unlock these specialisations. Nothing's ever easy, is it?
Chapter Rank, meanwhile, is earned by playing the story elements of Battlefield 5, and will give players "Chapter rewards", a mysterious term that won't be detailed until the first Chapter arrives sometime after launch.
Back to waiting for news again, I suppose.