The last X-Wing has left the station and the Death Star is shutting down: Star Wars Battlefront II will no longer receive big content updates. While the servers will remain up, the game will not be supported in a major way by Dice or EA moving forward. Released back in November 2017, Battlefront II has had a controversial and rocky life. But after years of updates, patches, and fixes, it became a game that players enjoyed. Eventually.
Let’s take a look at how things went for Battlefront II from launch all the way up to earlier this month.
- In October, EA and Dice ran a beta for Battlefront II. While the game seemed to be a big improvement over EA’s previous Battlefront game, Star Cards and how microtransactions would work were a hot button issue among beta players. (The beta also had some nice looking leaves. )
- Later that same month, after the beta and before the game’s release, the developers detailed some of the changes they were making to how Star Cards and loot crates would work at launch based on player feedback from the beta. Among the changes were the removal of epic loot from crates and a minimum level requirement for upgrading Star Cards. EA and Dice would spend the next couple years walking back microtransactions, dealing with Congress and fighting lawmakers around the world about these loot crates.
- Even before launch, some countries began investigating loot boxes in games like Overwatch and Battlefront II. In Belgium, the loot crates in Star Wars were a key reason for the investigation.
- Players who preordered the game or who had EA Access played the game three days officially release, and many didn’t like how long it was going to take to unlock hero and villain characters like Yoda and Darth Vader. Some players calculated it would take 30 or 40 hours of grinding to unlock one of these special characters.
- EA first defended the decision, famously replying to a Reddit post with the comment “The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.” This comment became the most downvoted comment in Reddit history. Later that same day EA announced it would be reducing the in-game cost of heroes and villains by 75%.
- Facing mounting pressure from fans, critics, websites, and governments EA and Dice removed microtransactions from Battlefront II just hours before it launched. While players could still grind and earn chests from playing, they couldn’t buy chests using real money.
- On November 17, Star Wars: Battlefront II was released. In Kotaku’s review, Heather Alexandra found the action in both the online and singleplayer sections of the game to be outstanding but also wrote how frustrating the game felt at launch.
“[Battlefront II is also]... a testament to some of the most insidious and predatory design decisions of recent years, crushing the excitement under a mountain of poor decisions. Battlefront II had the easiest job in the world: deliver a multiplayer Star Wars game and improve upon a hyped predecessor that under-delivered. Unfortunately, the game delivered at launch—perpetually couched with the fact that EA could change its economy and patch its systems and fix so many of these problems—manages to fuck that up.”
- Battlefront II’s release was buggy, including one involving broken score screens. Players also found the grind for loot crates boring, with one man even building a tiny machine that helped him grind in-game instead of playing.
- About two weeks after launch, in response to complaints about grinding and bugs, EA, and Dice boosted multiplayer rewards and fixed some of the issues the game launched with, but players were still not happy with the current state of Battlefront II. Around this time, some US politicians began looking into loot crates in games like Battlefront II.
- On December 13th, an update added a few more story missions to the solo campaign. These missions tied into the then-upcoming film The Last Jedi and also tied up some loose threads from the original campaign. These news missions were..fine.
- 2018 started off with a small patch in January that helped rebalance the in-game playable Wookiees. Many players found them overpowered.
- In February, EA faced more political heat as a US Senator publicly asked the ESRB to re-investigate loot boxes and crates in games like Battlefront II. This came four months after the ESRB stated it didn’t consider loot boxes to be a form of gambling.
- After removing microtransactions hours before the game released, EA and Dice brought back the ability to spend real money on in-game items in Battlefront II on March 16. However, players couldn’t buy crates containing powerful Star Cards. Instead, only cosmetics could be purchased for real money. While these new microtransactions were an improvement over what the game launched with, they still took a long time to earn without buying.
- The following week, after months of fan complaints, Dice finally unlocked all heroes and villains in the game, meaning players no longer had to grind for these special characters. Now anyone could play as them in a match, assuming they played well enough to earn sufficient points during the game.
- Later in March, a new game mode was added to Battlefront II featuring the surprisingly scary and deadly Ewoks. Ewok Hunt was a big hit with fans and felt like a small but important turning point for the game.
- In mid-May, a new season of content started focused around Han Solo. The first half of the season left fans worried, since it recycled old content and added very little.
- Also in May, Dice updated the way menus in the game look, ditching holograms and letting players see characters and their outfits fully rendered. This was a minor improvement, but one fan had wanted for a while.
- While things seemed to be improving in mid-2018 for Star Wars: Battlefront II, there were still some issues. At one point in July Dice had to remove The Emperor from the game entirely after players figured out how to shoot his lightning through walls. It would take over a month for The Emperor to be fixed and returned to the game, leading to lots of fan anger and debates about how long hotfixes should take.
- In August, a screenshot sparked a wild series of fan speculation and developer confusion. It started when fans spotted a small object in one screenshot that seemed to show a Droideka, a popular robot from Star Wars. Fans got excited about a new droid being added, but Dice stated it had no plans to add one. Eventually, the developers figured out that what fans had spotted in the screenshot was an old asset that wasn’t supposed to be there.
- A big update in November added a ton of new Clone Wars content to Battlefront II. A whole new planet, Geonosis, was added, as well as Obi-Wan Kenobi, joining General Grievous, who had been added the month prior.
- In late November, the Federal Trade Commission in the United States announced it would be investigating loot crates in games like Battlefront II.
- Building off the late 2018 Clone Wars update, Count Dooku was added to the game in January. Fans quickly modded the new character and removed his head, a reference to his death in Episode III.
- In March, a big new game mode was added to Battlefront II. This new mode, Capital Supremacy, featured both on the ground infantry warfare and fighting inside large spaceships. The new mode was good, when it worked.
- Also in that same month, Jedi Master Yoda finally got the ability to block, leading to one of the best Kotaku headlines of 2019.
- In May, a law was introduced to congress by a US Senator that would look to ban loot boxes from games designed for children under 18. The ESRB pushed back against the law, citing how countries like Sweden and New Zealand had determined loot boxes weren’t gambling.
- Also in May, the original actor who played Chewbacca in multiple Star Wars films passed away. Fans honored Peter Mayhew by donning a specific Chewbacca skin that had the Wookiee wearing a bandage, a reference to Force Awakens, the last time Mayhew played the character. Dice also updated the main menu of the game, adding that same bandaged Chewie in what appeared to be a small nod to the beloved actor.
- After first getting their hopes dashed in 2018 when it was announced there were no plans to bring Droidekas to Battlefront II, the droids were added in June. Players loved them and almost instantly began doing wild and cool tricks with the new robots. It was also another example of how the game had turned around in the eyes of many players.
- During that same month, at a UK Parliament hearing about gaming and loot boxes, a representative from EA claimed that their games don’t contain loot boxes, but instead “surprise mechanics” and that these are “quite ethical.” The phrase “surprise mechanics” quickly became a meme.
- Later in September, Dice added the long-awaited Clone Commandos to Battlefront II. These popular troops became fan favorites after starring in the Republic Commando game back in the early 2000s. The new Commandos were tough and were a lot of fun to use in combat. The same update also added a new way to play, Instant Action mode, and made further balance changes to the game.
- In December, just in time for the release of The Rise Of Skywalker, Dice updated the game and added some new content that tied in into the latest film. The new content was well received and was a sign of just how improved the game was in 2019 compared to 2017.
- The loveable droid BB-8 and their evil counterpart BB-9E were added to the game in an early February update. The droids popped up in a lot of online clips, as they were shockingly powerful combatants who could take down the likes of Darth Vader and Obi-Wan.
- Later in February another loveable character was added: A playable Ewok class. While Ewoks had been playable before in the Ewok Hunt mode, they were now selectable on certain maps during other standard game modes. Their short height and speed made them deadly and dangerous foes. Also, the empire got a new boring spy person. Who cares.
- March of this year saw the global COVID-19 pandemic hit large parts of the world in a big way. In response, many countries began going into temporary lockdowns, forcing many folks to stay home for weeks. To help make the lockdown a little easier, EA and Dice offered double XP to Battlefront II players stuck at home.
- Also in March, Baby Yoda appeared in Battlefront II thanks to a talented modder.
- In April, nearly three years after Battlefront II first blew up the controversy around loot crates, the ESRB announced that all ratings on video games will now say if a game contains loot boxes. While Battlefront II isn’t the only game that has loot boxes, it certainly played a role in the ESRB’s decision.
- The massive Scarif update, originally planned for a March release, was delayed until late April. However, when it finally arrived, fans enjoyed it. This update would also end up being the game’s last massive content release.
And like that, after many years of free updates, patches and events, Battlefront II will no longer be updated. While fans will continue to play the game for years to come, Dice and EA will move on to different, new games.
In 2020, with countless updates and fan-favorite maps and characters added, Battlefront II has evolved into something far different than it was in 2017. Across Reddit and Twitter, diehard fans are saddened to hear the game will no longer be updated with big new maps or weapons. For some, it felt like the game had really become something great. Many don’t want support to end, with some offering to pay for future DLC. From its troubled launch to its latest changes, Battlefront II shows how live games can be terrible messes that fans hate and wonderful things that grow better over years of updates and support.