Tuesday, October 13, 2015

EA's $50 DLC Bundle for Battlefront and Why It's a Bad Thing

EA has made me an unhappy fan once again. This time with Star Wars. How dare they!

The Star Wars: Battlefront open beta has ended after a day extension. Many gamers and bloggers are typing up their review of the new title as we await for the release date a month away. In the midst of the day long extension, EA announced that they would have a $50 season pass for Battelfront. It does not bode well for gamers.

The season pass will give up to 4 DLC, which will contain some form of new content, at about a $14 in savings compared to buying the DLC separately. The current news hitting reputable sites and forums is that the DLC will range from weapons and characters to game modes. Yeah. Certain game modes may not be available with the base game and will require you to buy DLC in order to play.

So before I hear the cry's from fanboys and girls about why this is normal practice, just hear me out. I'm fully aware that games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and even Borderlands have done the same thing. It's becoming a common practice with games today to offer additional content after the main story ends. Here's the problem with doing this to Battlefront: there is no single player campaign.

Announced earlier this year, a number of us seemed to be okay with having Battlefront as a multiplayer experience. It's something new for first person shooters (i.e. no solo campaign), and you can still play against NPC's solo in Survival Mode. But the game was designed to be played with multiple people. You can't really avoid that.

Because the content is all multi-player, in order to progress your character (I'm assuming you get a default character - the beta didn't allow you to choose and you got thrown onto Rebels or Empire) you have to be up to date with the content. And if game modes are not made available with the base game, as news sources are reporting, you're screwed.

You have paid $59.99, or $79.99, or $129.99 depending upon the version you selected, for a game that is incomplete.

While EA did away with a pre-order bonus for the game, if you buy the DLC you get a 2 week head start on Battlefront and an in-game emote. So, thanks for that. Massive eye rolling is ensuing. Doesn't matter. This post isn't about the non-but totally now exists pre-order bonus.

EA is essentially telling gamers that if you want the "full" Battlefront experience, it's $100 minimum. You have to buy the game AND the DLC. You won't get all of the content up front. You won't get all of the game modes. You won't get all of the maps. A map or two that you have to buy? Okay. Still not happy about that, but okay. Knowing that it's going to be multiple maps and potentially game modes, not cool. I realize that EA has neither confirmed nor denied that this is the situation, but it's hard to ignore the news when it's coming from Kotaku and Forbes. Removing a single player campaign should have been a sign to EA that said "hey, we should probably just give them all the maps up front to balance out the fact that we took away a huge chunk of content."

Essentially, Battlefront is an incomplete game.

I can understand having DLC for smaller things, such as a weapon cache or maybe alternate clothing options for your character (they did showcase customization as an option, but it was locked for beta. Maybe DLC clothing?). With Borderlands 2 and the Pre-Sequel, DLC provided new characters and additional story-modes but they didn't affect the main game. You didn't have to buy these optional pieces to enjoy the story. The primary game was chock full of content that anything else was a nice extra. Did you need to buy Tiny Tina's Dungeon to get to the end boss? Nope. There was still 100+ hours of content to run through before DLC's, and even then I'm sure we didn't experience everything the game had to offer.

But when your entire game is based on an "online only" premise, you have to give people access to the game modes and maps. This isn't Call of Duty where there's a single player campaign which is, for all intent and purpose, the core of the product. If your game is meant to be online multiplayer, you have to give people access to play the content. Simple as that. Adding in DLC of maps and game modes that would prevent people from playing is ridiculous.

My other big concern is the online only aspect. Many issues can crop up that can prevent you from playing a game you paid for. You could have trouble with your internet connection, or if there's a driver error (which Origin kept insisting that my Intel drivers were out of date, even though they were updated to the latest version 2 weeks prior), the game servers are down, the matches are full, or you get booted by jerks in the game. Think of every potential problem with having an online only game, and imagine how that would affect your play time if you were relegated to the whims of EA and other gamers. It's not a pretty picture, is it?

I wanted to like Battlefront. I wanted to give this new system of play a chance. I wasn't a fan of the super-simplistic menus, but I could see the draw for those new to the franchise. The graphics were clean, even at low system settings. The sounds were inviting and engaging - they enhanced the feel of the Star Wars universe. The battle at Hoth was as epic as I imagined it to be. Balancing issues aside, the challenge was worth it when you saw the final AT-AT fall.

But now knowing that I'm going to be forced to buy DLC to get all available game modes and maps for an online only product, nope. I'm out. Can't do it.

If EA wants to clarify what exactly gamers are getting from Battlefront, go for it. I'd like to see their response to the concerns. For me, this is a no go. Not buying. Maybe when it's on sale for $20 with all DLC.

Thanks once again EA for ruining a good thing.

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