Outside of most reviewers taking the story to be “mediocre-at-best” I’m seeing a lot of complaints about the Star Card system. Take IGN for example, emphasis mine.
Battlefront 2’s Star Cards may be one of the worst progression systems I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing in a PvP game. With the exception of new weapons, which are unlocked by getting a certain number of kills with each class, all class leveling, ability customization, and upgrading is funneled through a randomized loot box system with tediously high in-game credit costs if you don’t spend real money to skip over the grind.
There are three crates you can buy, each containing three or four cards: one with hero cards for 2,200 credits, one with starfighter cards for 2,400 credits, and one for a Trooper crate for a whopping 4,000 credits with cards for the much more frequently used base classes. Since heroes and starfighters are used way less often and can still rarely be found in Trooper crates, that quickly became the only type I wanted to buy.
Credits are primarily earned through playing multiplayer matches, with a 10-minute match getting you roughly 250 credits, based on match length and performance. That means it would take an average of just over two and a half hours of in-game time to afford a Trooper crate. Those pathetic returns on playing make trying to build up a Star Card collection a grind.
What’s worse, a lot of the places you can get credits outside of regular matches provide paltry amounts. You get a free crate each day you log in that gives a measly five Crafting Parts and 125 Credits; One-time achievements can reward more credits, but then can’t be repeated have already started to dry up for me; and an Arcade round rewards 100 credits per win, but it’s pointlessly restricted to a max of 500 per day - less than a quarter of the price of the cheapest available crate.
Cards also come in four levels of rarity and power, and you can make specific ones with a special Crafting Parts that are included in crates. A base card takes 40 parts, and it only gets more expensive from there - but you can’t actually craft the better versions until you level up both your overall account by playing matches, and the card’s specific class by earning more cards for them.
That’s right: leveling a class has nothing to do with playing as the class you want to level. Instead, its level is tied to the amount and power level of the cards you have for it. Not only does that level affect what you can craft, it also influences how many cards you can equip for per class.
That means despite enjoying and wanting to specialize in the Heavy class, it took me nearly a dozen loot boxes to actually find a card for it. I could craft cards for the Heavy with the small amount of Crafting Material I had collected, but so far I’ve been able to create nothing above the weakest versions. Even then, I had to craft a bunch of cards I didn’t actually want in order to level up the Heavy to the point where I could equip three cards at a time for it.
While the different guns can often feel like a player-preference choice, with later unlocks not necessarily always being the better option, the Star Cards always represent some sort of power boost. They don’t feel so significant that they will make or break you in a match but being killed by a player only to see they were using a full loadout of max-level cards I don’t have still felt awful.
Undeniably, this system allows you to fast-track your path to in-game power with real money. But even if there weren’t any real-money microtransactions, this would still be a frustrating, unintuitive, and obnoxiously slow way to progress through a game. Pay-to-win or not, it’s just bad.