Is the force strong with this one?
The worst levelling system I have come across in a game, ever. I am all for innovative thinking and trying to be unique, but this is not that, this seems to be an attempt from EA to make money, but the gaming community have called them out on it and we have ‘temporarily’ won. Now we have got that out of the way, let’s try and be a bit more constructive shall we?
As you will have read in my campaign review, I quite enjoy this game. As a Star Wars fan I can safely say that they have the overall atmosphere and the feel of the characters nailed. This transfers wonderfully to the multiplayer experience, with every game feeling like a battle scene from the movies. You have dead troopers all around you, bits of droid flying all over and you get that feeling of excitement when you hear a light-saber charging up ready to help out your team. There are multiple modes to choose from, each has its own style of play.
Galactic Assault is the most played game type, and sees two teams of up to 20 players battle it out in an offense/defence scenario. This game type is a lot of fun and is where I have spent most of my hours playing. There are 11 different maps which are from different times throughout the Star Wars timeline, all are fantastically well thought out, vast and varied in play style. You build up points to have the chance to play as tougher combatants such as Wookie Warriors, or in some cases control vehicles. Or if you choose to save more you can play as one of the various Heroes available in game (provided you have unlocked them).
Starfighter Assault sees players take to the skies in objective based space combat. You have 2 teams of up to 12 players, backed up by 20 AI controlled ships for back up. This mode is complete carnage but a whole lot of fun. In this mode I found myself completely immersed in the action, building up points to eventually take control of one of our Heroes ships, such as the beloved Millennium Falcon, or Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle.
Strikes are a smaller game type, which features a more intimate battle with no heroes available. It is 8v8 in a best out of 3 either attacking or defending objectives. This was basically a game of dodge the grenades, I did not have fun with this one, it did not suit my playstyle at all. I can see why a lot of people would go for this however.
Heroes v Villains is a game which is a great chance to practice using the unlockable characters. It is 4v4 and you play as either a hero or a villain. Each round will highlight one player from each team as a target, and the first target to be killed means that team loses the round. This game is also extremely fun to play, however you start to realise in this mode how unbearably overpowered some of the characters can be. Darth Vader is a prime example, who seems to be able to attack you from a great distance, pulls you into the air leaving you vulnerable to attacks from his team mates. And because of the levelling system in game, people who have pre order bonuses or who have opened a bunch of loot crates will have a highly noticeable advantage over players who are just starting out.
Blast is similar to Strikes, however there are no objectives. It is simply a death match on a smaller map. This wasn’t for me, I got bored playing it. But again I can see why some players may stick to this game type.
The gameplay is really the saving grace of the whole multiplayer experience; I have had an absolute blast playing these last few days. There are 4 basic class types to choose from; Assault, Heavy, Officer and Specialist. I found myself gravitating towards Heavy from the outset, as this class really suits my style of play the best. In Galactic Assault I would provide covering fire around the objectives when attacking, or would get in amongst the action when defending. As a heavy you have a fast firing, almost Gatling gun as your arsenal, which allows you to supress the enemy from a distance. You also have an impact grenade and a retractable shield to provide extra support for team mates who are activating the objective. You also have the ability to boost your main weapon damage for a short time, or in my case change its firing type to explosive rounds, however you are unable to move when firing this way. These abilities all depends on the cards you have which I will get on to shortly.
I did also enjoy playing as the Officer, using a pistol and playing the objective with the use of a strategically placed auto-turret. All of the classes feel well balanced, some of the abilities are a lot stronger than others but all seem to have their weaknesses such as loss of movement or your weapon becoming very hard to aim. Then of course you have the chance to play as a Hero, the Heroes can be very over powered, and you will often see a Hero on the score screen with kill streaks of 20+. Darth Vader again is the most broken Hero and must be avoided; he can be killed but requires half the team to focus fire it seems. For me the most fun to use is Yoda, he is so small and quick, while being incredibly powerful. Han Solo is also a lot of fun, as his blaster is insanely powerful and accurate.
Now the part that I’m sure everyone is waiting for, this has caused controversy around the gaming world, that now some governments feel like they need to step in. The levelling system in this game is ridiculous. You level your main level up in the normal way, by earning XP from games, however this level really doesn’t need much. The controversy is around the individual class upgrades, or Star Cards as they are known in game. To obtain these cards, you need to either open the now infamous ‘Loot crates’, or you can build them using crafting materials. For now the only way to get points to open crates is through playing the game, you get roughly 300-500 per game, and from completing milestones. The standard ‘Trooper Crate’ costs 4000 points, and gives on average 4 items, some can be more points, and there is the chance of duplicates. This makes the levelling system complete chance, unless you simply collect crafting materials to get cards. As for the heroes, you can unlock them using points, for instance Darth Vader costs 15000 to unlock. However this then means while you grind that out you will not be able to get any cards other than crafting them to upgrade your standard classes.
This is causing a lot of people to not play the game, and you can see why. Imagine when micro transactions come back, people who have the cash to spare become instantly more powerful on the game, as they can unlock every single item using a credit card, this makes levelling up pointless, as it should be a sign of skill and effort put into the game, not of your social status. This is a trend that can be seen in other EA titles, look at Fifa and opening packs, yes there are more ways to get packs but loading on some Fifa points and getting the best players by chance is the easiest way. Hopefully something will be done globally to stop this; however I don’t hold much hope.