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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

Lucasfilm has weighed in with its reaction to the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot crate controversy.

In a statement issued to The Washington Post, a Lucasfilm spokesperson said the production company supported EA's decision to withdraw (for now) the ability to spend money in-game.

"Star Wars has always been about the fans," Lucasfilm stated, "and whether it's Battlefront or any other Star Wars experience, they come first.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

Star Wars Battlefront 2 launched with 60 per cent fewer physical sales than Star Wars Battlefront 1.

Battlefront 2's big budget release was ruined by, arguably, the biggest controversy in gaming this year. The game's in-game loot boxes and, to a lesser extent, the high requirements needed to unlock the game's roster of heroes sparked an eruption of anger from fans which EA has been unable to contain. The publisher has U-turned on both fronts - but many fans still consider the game to include pay-to-win mechanics.

In a dramatic and unprecedented move last Friday, EA temporarily switched off all in-game purchases just as Battlefront 2 went live - although it was too late to reverse fan feeling towards the game.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

There was one crucial aspect of the Xbox One X experience we could not cover in our hardware review: to what extent is this actually a 4K games machine and what is the difference in the experience up against Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro? Since then, the X upgrades have rolled in, giving us a better picture of how the machines compare, but what we've been lacking is an apples to apples stress test comparison based on EA's Frostbite technology - one of the most advanced rendering engines on the market. FIFA 18 is impressive but hardly a challenge for the hardware but Star Wars Battlefront is perhaps the game we've been looking for. The results are certainly illuminating.

In many respects, we're looking at a virtual re-run of what we saw recently with Bethesda's Wolfenstein 2. The id Tech 6 engine shares a clutch of technologies also found in Frostbite, designed to maximise the visual return on all systems while targeting 60 frames per second action. First amongst them is dynamic resolution scaling, where both Wolfenstein 2 and Battlefront 2 adjust pixel-counts on the fly in order to sustain performance. PS4 Pro tops out at 2560x1440 on both titles, while Xbox One X pushes further - much further - delivering a maximum of 3840x2160, or full-fat 4K. That's a 2.25x increase in pixel-count, a surprising uplift bearing in mind the respective specs of the two systems.

Of course, dynamic resolution scaling could conceivably close the gap, but the variance in resolution between Pro and X remains wide: based on several measurements we took, the range varies between 1296p and 1440p on the Sony console, rising to an 1800p-2160p window in the same scenes tested on Xbox One X. The numbers are stark then, but another technology shared with id Tech helps to mitigate matters to a certain extent - temporal anti-aliasing. The Frostbite implementation isn't quite as intensive as id's, but it does the job in smoothing off the jaggies and eliminating the most obvious, glaring signs of upscaling.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

Blimey, there is hope. Because of a rising tide of discontent surrounding pay-to-win content in loot crates in Star Wars Battlefront 2, the ability to spend real money on them has temporarily been removed. Loot crates can only be bought with credits earned by playing the game.

This is a stop-gap measure until EA studio DICE can come up with a permanent solution people will be happy with. "The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we've made changes to the game," DICE boss Oskar Gabrielson said last night. We don't know whether it will take days or weeks or months.

But what can DICE do to fix loot crates and progression in Star Wars Battlefront 2? I see no other way than to stop beating around the bush and completely separate progression from the contents of loot crates - rip it right out - because it's here the real problem lies.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

Last night, EA made one of the most dramatic U-turns in its history: temporarily turning off controversial microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

The decision came after a wave of negative publicity about the reaction to the game's loot crates from fans. In short, you can pay for a multiplayer advantage in the game. Not cool.

Now, the FIFA community, which has its own gripes about the way FIFA 18 works, is wondering what it would take for EA to turn off microtransactions in FIFA Ultimate Team, the most popular mode in the world's biggest sports video game.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

EA has switched off Star Wars Battlefront 2's microtransactions following the intense fan furore over their implementation into the game.

The ability to buy loot boxes with real-world money disappeared from the Origin, PlayStation and Microsoft stores in the early hours of this morning. Shortly thereafter, EA released this statement from DICE boss Oskar Gabrielson:

There's no word yet on when loot crates will return.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

UPDATE 4:45PM: In response to Eurogamer's request for comment, EA has issued the following statement:
"Creating a fair and fun game experience is of critical importance to EA. The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront 2 are not gambling. A player's ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all. Once obtained, players are always guaranteed to receive content that can be used in game."

UPDATE 4:15PM: According to Dutch news outlet NU.nl, the Dutch Gambling Authority has now launched an investigation into whether games with loot boxes are games of chance.

In the Netherlands, games of chance are subject to licencing laws - however there is currently no licencing system for online games. The investigation is still in the research phase however could result in games containing gambling to be banned from sale until new laws are brought in.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

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.

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'.

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

While EA continues to fight Star Wars: Battlefront 2 fires ahead of launch this Friday, there are others who sniff an opportunity. In this case it's rival mega-publisher Activision Blizzard, whose StarCraft 2 Twitter account had a pop at Battlefront 2 overnight.

Pop number one: "Number of hours it takes to earn the full StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Campaign: 0."

Pop number two: "Number of hours before you can play ANY Co-op Commander in StarCraft II: 0."

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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005)

Let's get straight to the burning issue, shall we? Towards the tail-end of Star Wars Battlefront's release, EA made noises that it was thinking about doing away with the traditional season pass that accompanied its big ticket console games, a model its multiplayer shooters had been stuck with for some time - with numerous associated problems. The base games often felt a little lacking, and more painfully the player base was split - an issue that had an impact on long-term players as numbers dwindled and were spread too thin.


The answer? In Star Wars Battlefront 2, EA and DICE's first big step away from that older model is loot boxes. Given the fire and fury that's surrounded the game in the run-up to release, both parties may well wish they'd have kept things as they were.


It's hard to make too many excuses for how they've been handled. In Battlefront 2 all future content drops and updates will be free, but its loot boxes most certainly are problematic, offering more than mere cosmetic enhancements, and instead giving players a chance at earning credits, crafting parts or Star Cards - all of which proffer an advantage on the battlefield. Pay to win? If you're flush enough, and impatient enough, you can spend your way to a suite of Star Cards and a horde of cash that could well give you the edge in a firefight.

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