Every now and again something controversial from the gaming world will spill into the mainstream media. Now granted it's normally that an 18 rated game that can't legally be sold to children is corrupting our youth and the moral fabric of society or some four year old has spent a fifth of the United Kingdom's GDP on Candy Crush but this time it's a little different. For once the media are jumping onto something that has upset gamers themselves. I believe we're all witnessing the most Ill judged attempt at a payment model for a AAA game in history.

The payment system for Battlefront 2 at a glance appears to be positive to gamers. There is no season pass and future content is delivered to everyone for free. This means the community won't be fragmented and everyone can continue to play together when new maps are released. This system is financially supported by loot boxes which are an optional purchase. This seems like a great way to treat gamers, though, when we look at the detail things quickly unravel.

Loot boxes aren't new. They exist in a number of games already. In Blizzard's free to play hit Heroes of the Storm players purchase loot crates using gold earned in game, by purchasing them with real cash or by levelling. These crates give players random cosmetic items and the occasional hero (though heroes can be directly purchased with gold or cash). It's a system that works extremely well and a player can genuinely play the game and be competitive and not pay a penny. Loot crates have also appeared in full retail games especially the Call of Duty series. The main focus of these loot boxes is to provide cosmetic options and the occasional weapon through in game currency earned through playing or real cash. The one important point is that these games aren't, to use the popular term, 'pay to win'. These boxes offer no real gameplay advantage (though some may argue that some of the Call of Duty weapons offer a gamer a slight edge in a minority of situations) and spending £1,000 may give you a prettier player with all the extra cosmetic options but not a more effective or powerful one.

Following the backlash which included negative publicity from mainstream media, threats of investigation into gambling practices by Belgian authorities and the mass outcry of gamers, Electronic Arts decided to remove microtransactions temporarily and introduce a better system. Now the cynics amongst you will probably say that this was done so that launch and Christmas sales were impacted as little as possible for micro transactions being reintroduced shortly after. On this occasion I'm on the side of the cynics. So has the removal of microtransactions made a difference? I'll pick up on that later on in the review.

A common criticism of the first current gen Battlefront game was that it lacked a campaign. The developers have added a campaign this time around and unfortunately it's not good news. The campaign itself follows Iden Versio the commander of an imperial special forces unit at the end if the original trilogy. In fact the start of the game is weaved around events at the climax of Return of the Jedi. On a technical level you could argue that the campaign delivers, as environments are diverse and often full of life and there are extensive cut scenes showing off the game's engine. Sadly that's as positive as I can be. The game rapidly jumps from one environment to the next in a way that prevents you ever fully taking in your surroundings. It feels more like an attempt to fit as many things into a very short campaign as is possible. This leaves us with a story that is very thinly stretched over the game's levels. At the end of each gameplay section, which pretty much all feel too short, you are treated to a hefty cut scene that ties you into the next section of gameplay. The game feels more like a series of unrelated chunks of gameplay with an attempt to stitch them together with a flimsy story. The writing and character development make matters worse. Character motivations are rarely believable and there is little opportunity to empathise with the game's lead. This is further undermined by gameplay sections where you play as different characters. The frustrating thing is that this is a huge opportunity that has been missed. The Star Wars universe is rich with lore and mystery and we get a bland badly smashed together piece of gaming. For each highlight of the game, such as the well done space battles there is an equally poor stealth mechanic. Fortunately the story is short at around 5 hours and so if you are determined to get through it you won't waste too much time. If you enjoy short and bland this could be the game for you.

I've spent most of my time in multiplayer playing the Galactic Assault mode. This is the showpiece of the game where two teams of twenty players recreate some of the most memorable battles from the Star Wars universe. Well, you would experience these battles if the games map rotation worked properly. In my first 3 hours of gameplay I only saw 2 different maps. What doesn't help is that you can't choose which map to join nor can you vote for a map at the end of a game. I started to believe there were only two maps until I looked it up and found there were eleven! After a good chunk of gaming time I've now played about half of the maps. Personally I don't think the maps are as interesting as they could be. Whilst the environments are well done and a good representation of the films, the objectives feel a bit simple. Most maps consist of the attackers holding a point until a bar is filled before moving onto the next. When you compare this to other objective based games, such as the War mode on Call of Duty:WWII the game comes up short. Now it could be that the maps I haven't seen offer more variety but it feels like I'll never get to find out.

The mode itself gives you four different classes to try: assault, heavy, officer and specialist. Each with their own set of weapons and abilities. In fairness each class does have it's own distinct feel and playstyle. For example the officer uses a pistol, can buff the health of nearby allies and can place down a sentry gun whereas the heavy uses rifles and can use a personal shield or a minimum for devastating effect. Abilities are modified by the use of 'Star Cards' and this is where the progression system falls apart. Each class has three slots for Star Cards which initially appears to offer a good deal of customisation. The difficulty is that these cards can be acquired from either loot crates or crafting. Crafting materials are also found in loot crates and from some of the game's challenges. So basically ability progression is locked behind the purchase of loot crates. To make matters worse the number of cards you can equip is dictated not by the level of your character but instead how much loot you have for the class. If you want to get that second card slot open you'll need to get more loot for that class. Now if the gear was flowing this wouldn't be an issue, the problem is that the credits needed to unlock loot crates come in at an absolute trickle. Those of you who have played free to play mobile games will recognise this pay model. The bigger insult here is that in free to play games give you loads of loot initially to get you hooked. Battlefront 2 doesn't even do that. Even though you've paid £50 for the game you get very little. This is probably the worst payments system I have ever seen. From a gaming point of view there is nothing more disappointing than saving the credits for a loot crate only to get loot for a class you don't play, or even worse a duplicate for a card you already have. Now clearly this system was set up to encourage you to spend more and more real life cash. With microtransactions disabled it is very obvious that the rate that credits are awarded is set way, way too low. If the credit rate was doubled or even tripled i'm not sure if it would be enough. A progression system that relies purely on chance can never be a good thing and there is little to look forward to. In other games of the same genre you often look forward to hitting a certain level or rank to unlock a new weapon or ability. In Battlefront 2 you are waiting for yet another roll of the loot dice. The shame is that this was avoidable. Had the loot crate's offered purely cosmetics and the progression been similar to other similar games like Battlefield or Call of Duty the game could have been a success. The massive variety of aliens and imagery from the films would have given near endless options for cosmetic options and i'm sure would have generated a huge amount of income.

There are numerous other issues with the game, you can't craft cards between battles meaning you have to drop from multiplayer and then rejoin, which is made worse by the excruciating load times. The game is buggy, i've suffered numerous crashes, in campaign my characters have fallen through the floor or floated off into the sky. On one occasion the game switched into a fast forward mode and everything seemed to run at double speed. In hindsight it's a shame this bug didn't remain and i'd have got through the campaign quicker. In short the game feels rushed and could have spent longer in development.

Overall i'm advising gamers to steer clear of the game. A short and ill thought out campaign, uninspiring multiplayer and the most predatory microtransactions system i have ever seen and i'm including the free to play mobile sector when i say that.