After around two and a half years, Battlefront 2’s live service model is finally coming to an end. There have been many updates that have added substantial content to the game including the final update that launched April 29th. In it was a new map, a new way to play the existing Supremacy mode, and additional customization options added to a variety of characters. One of these options is a new skin for Darth Maul: the Old Master skin based off of his appearance in Star Wars: Rebels.
A skin for Darth Maul has been one of the most highly requested additions to the game. After two and a half years of waiting, you can finally unlock one additional skin. But, there is a catch: you have to eliminate 5,000 enemies. Not 50 enemies, not 500 enemies, but 5,000 enemies. And, you can not unlock the skin by playing any of the solo modes that are in the game. You either have to play against other players and hope that you get the chance to play as Maul as well as hope you can survive long enough to get kills as Maul. Or, you can do what I did and only play the cooperative mode and get your kills against the AI which still requires a good amount of skill and luck. From the start, you are already being forced to play a certain way within a certain mode with little freedom of choice.
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I played for around an hour and was able to complete four matches of the cooperative mode. I did some basic math using data gathered from my time playing the game and was able to calculate that it will take me fifty hours of game time to unlock the skin if I can perfectly recreate the conditions that happened.
From booting up the game to finishing the fourth match, it took around an hour and five minutes. Let’s just call it an hour. In that hour I was able to play four matches where, as Maul, I eliminated thirty enemies in the first match, twenty-five in the second match, forty-six in the third match, and zero in the fourth match.
The fourth match brings up a major issue. Sometimes you may play a match and not even get to pick the hero or villain that you want to play as because someone else is already playing as that character. In the first three games, I was able to amass the 4,000 battle points needed to play as Maul, respawn (frankly, you are making your character commit suicide which is a bad mechanic), then choose to play as Maul. After two and a half years, there was never a queue system or a fair way to offer those who first amass the needed points to have dibs at who they want to play as. Rather, you have to literally kill your self once you get the needed points and hope that you beat your teammates to the spawn screen. I was able to do this for the first three games, but in the fourth game I was still gathering points while someone had killed themselves and spawned back in as Maul. The rest of that match saw me playing as a character that I didn’t want or need to play as.
This leads to a forced rivalry between you and your teammates. In these four matches, I saw players either leave the game immediately once I started playing as Maul while others waited in the spawn screen hoping for me to die. I noticed one player not spawning in for a little over one minute as I was fighting as Maul. I was very close to death, but was able to survive a fight by taking out a Wookiee warrior. Literal seconds after I defeated the Wookiee, the player spawned in as a normal class. I assume he was hoping for me to die so he could take my place as Darth Maul. In a mode where you have to work together to complete your objective, players are now leaving teammates to die rather than backing them up. Some of the deaths that happened to me while I was playing as Maul may have been avoidable had my teammates helped me. But, I noticed that my teammates would not always spawn next to me but would rather fight on the opposite side of the map. This may have just been a coincidence, but I assumed that they were hoping that I would be overwhelmed and killed-allowing them to play as the character.
There is more forced competition as you are trying to be the first to kill an enemy rather than letting your team get a kill. There was a match where, as I turned to face an enemy, my teammates would shoot them from long range. Since I am a melee character, I have to primarily get up close to an enemy to get the elimination. But, my team would consistently kill the enemy before I could reach them. This led to me doing what I mentioned others doing earlier and leave my team behind in hopes of finding AI off by themselves that I could prey on. Again, I decided that the best way to play was to avoid helping my team rather than work with them.
I also did something even worse in another match. When you are playing a defense match, you have around two to three minutes to defend the first objective. If you fail to defend the first objective, you go to the second objective and two or three minutes are added to the game time. This continues all the way to the fourth objective. In one match, we were about to win by defending the very first objective. It rarely happens, but we were all working together to defend the three command points. Since I needed kills as Maul which requires me to play longer, I ran away from the battle to let the AI push us back to the second objective. I threw a match just so I could work toward unlocking a skin.
There are more devious things that you can do as well. Like I stated earlier, you can earn your 4,000 points and still not be able to play as Maul. If this happens, you can just sit in the spawn screen and tap the spawn button over Maul’s face for however long you need to. If the current player playing as Maul dies, then you will immediately jump into the game as Maul. I know someone was doing this when I died as Maul, because they almost instantly spawned in as Maul after me. Players will not even play the game so that they can unlock a skin. Rather than playing the mode, they will instead tap a button for minutes just to get the chance to play as the character. It is also possible to lead enemy heroes toward a Maul player to get them killed or leave the player behind in hopes that he perishes in a fight. These methods are very toxic and have been a possibility since the game’s launch. With this challenge, these methods are more tempting to use so that you can get the precious skin.
A video posted in the Battlefront subreddit by FattyBoiMason345 demonstrates the conflict between players perfectly. Mason is playing as Maul in coop and charges into the spawn area of the AI. After dispatching a couple enemies, the door to the spawn location locks behind him, trapping him inside. The door will only open if an AI walks toward the door. Mason turns to see a teammate approaching the door. Now, we will never know if the teammate knows he can’t open the door or not, but the teammate approaches the door, then walks away and watches Maul die behind the door. And, on top of this, the teammate respawns at the same time-most likely so he can respawn as Maul and take Mason’s place.
Again, the player may have tried to open the door at first before turning away. But, the player still respawned-most likely because he knew that Mason could not survive. It definitely is not the worst thing you can do, but it shows this toxic approach to the game that is being promoted with this challenge.
These challenges are also unfair to newer players who are not only at a disadvantage based on skill alone, but also because veteran players have access to a star card that will increase their battle point yield by twenty percent. Even if you are as good of a gamer as a higher level player, you will still be earning twenty percent fewer points than those who have already grinded for this card. This problem has been in the game since launch.
Modern Warfare is a game where challenges and unlocks only apply to weapons and abilities that you can use at almost any time. If you want to unlock a new skin for your Kilo assault rifle, no one else is going to take the gun from you. You are free to use it in almost any mode with no risk of losing the ability to use it. Or, you can always use a grenade, or a killstreak, or, in a more applicable case, a certain operator. If you decide to play as Mara, your team could also choose to play as the same person. You are not fighting your team for exclusive control of these things. You are almost always free to use whatever you wish.
And, with the battle pass system that more games are adopting now, you unlock items by just spending time doing almost anything in the game. You can play competitive or cooperative matches and you can use whatever gun or ability or operator that you want to use. Doing any of these things will collectively work toward progress in the battle pass. This allows you to do almost anything that you want, and you will still be rewarded for doing so.
This final update to Battlefront 2 has been riddled with different problems, and I hate to see the game end like this. The past year has seen many positive changes to the game, but that all seems to be undone with this one update as players are behaving in more toxic ways and as the game is continuing its tradition of having as many problems as it has fun content. The ex-community manager has mentioned that the team is looking into changing the challenge, which is great, but it is still confusing as to why this was put into the game in the first place as well as how long it is going to take. It is eerily similar to the problems at launch where you had to grind for hours just to unlock the ability to play as Luke and Darth Vader-possibly the two most iconic characters in Star Wars. The entire final update seems to contain some unfinished or poorly thought out additions mixed in with good content. Hopefully the team will be able to return and clean up some of the mess that was left behind before moving onto their next project.