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EA Reacts to European Regulators Classifying Loot Boxes as Gambling

EA Reacts to European Regulators Classifying Loot Boxes as Gambling

Electronic Arts’ responded to select regulatory bodies in Europe now classifying loot boxes as gambling. The discussion took place during the conference call where EA released Q4 and fiscal year 2018 results. EA is notorious for including, sometimes seemingly malicious, loot boxes in their games. Star Wars Battlefront 2 was the most recent loot box controversy that the gigantic game company stirred up and the latest announcement by countries like Belgium could put this relatively new revenue stream for video game developers in jeopardy.

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Belgium had a complete ban on “games of chance” since 1999 until 2010 when illegal games of chance began getting out of control. The Gaming Commission was instituted to regulate any games they considered to be gambling. The Belgian Gaming Commission reviewed a total of four games, Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and CS:GO and found all but Star Wars Battlefront 2 were classified as “games of chance”.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 removed their loot boxes during the investigation, which avoided any backlash over the game that brought about so much hate from the entire gaming community.

The Double-Edged Sword

EA’s products weren’t the only games mentioned in the investigation but EA’s CEO, Andrew Wilson still felt compelled to make a statement during the call. He stated, “We strongly believe that our games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world, and take these responsibilities very seriously. We care deeply that our players are having a fun and fair experience in all of our games, and take great care to ensure each game is marketed responsibly, including in compliance with regional ratings standards. We welcome the dialogue with Minister Geens on these topics, as we do not agree that our games can be considered as any form of gambling.” https://bit.ly/2rt7dwg

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The company is putting on a strong face for investors as FIFA Ultimate Team is still incredibly profitable. However, losing out to a market like Belgium could have a bit of an impact on their earnings. With a population of a little over 11 million, it can be compared to losing out on a market with the same population as the state of Pensylvania. 

The Battle Isn’t Over

EA has a global reach and isn’t expected to give up without a fight. Gamers and governments all around the world have recently been contemplating if loot boxes are a form of gambling. Before more European countries follow suit and classify loot boxes as gambling, EA will need to aggressively campaign in order to convince global policymakers that what they’re doing is different than a trip to a casino.

Microtransactions and loot boxes are a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are companies like Blizzard that use loot boxes for their massively popular first-person shooter, Overwatch. Blizzard is able to release free DLC’s and consistently support their creation because of the steady revenue generated by their loot boxes. On the other hand, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and their original loot box system that was essentially “Pay to Win” for multiplayer. This blatant money grab threw the gaming community into an uproar, and for a good reason. Gamers don’t want to put their time into a game, only to be trampled online because a person dumped extra money on loot boxes. 

There’s no telling what the future will hold for loot boxes but this is a monumental development for the gaming community around the world. Gigamax Games will keep an eye out for any more news on this battle against loot boxes and what this means for the video game industry as a whole.

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Information on New Battlefield Leaks

Information on New Battlefield Leaks

News broke early this year that Electronic Arts will release the new Battlefield in fall. At that time there were details available but fans speculated that it could be a new Battlefield: Bad Company. Unfortunately for those looking forward to a new Bad Company, reports came in from GamesBeat that the next game will be called Battlefield V.

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Known as Battlefield 2 internally, it changed names before word reached the public. The report from GamesBeat also made it clear that this would not be a remaster of the 2005 Battlefield 2. It insists the upcoming entry will be an entirely new game set during WWII. EA is expected to make the official announcement soon. The new title will be playable at EA Play in June and as for now, is still slated for release in the fall of 2018.

Back To World War II

Battlefield V will be set in World War II, much like the most recent Call of Duty: WWII. Many were happy that CoD took the jump back in time to the 1940’s but it’s yet to be seen if audiences will be as excited for Battlefield V’s visit to second world war.

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EA proved that the gaming community was ready for a change with the success of Battlefield I. No previous Battlefield game ever went back to World War One and it ended up being an extremely good move for the company. Selling faster than Battlefield 4 and it even reached over 25 million players as of December.

Apparently, there is still a heavy appetite for historically based first-person shooters. The market has been flooded in recent years by modern or future warfare. There was a rumor floating around that the developer, DICE, was working on a Vietnam War series but this was found to be false. The developer did say that they will remain open to fan feedback and may consider bringing the series back.

Comments, concerns, questions? You can always reach out to Gigamaxgames@Gmail.com with any input!

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Sources:

http://bit.ly/2F4Mcld

https://venturebeat.com/2018/03/01/new-battlefield-2-follows-call-of-duty-back-to-world-war-ii-this-year/amp/

Anthem From Bioware Gets “Delayed” Until 2019

Anthem From BioWare Gets “Delayed” Until 2019

Unfortunate news for anyone excited about the upcoming action RPG, Anthem. Gamers are going to have to wait an extra year for the ambitious title to come out. Anthem was initially slated to be released in 2018 but now the game that shares many qualities with Destiny will release in 2019. EA confirmed the delay in their quarterly earnings calls with investors. Although, BioWare is claiming that this move is not a delay.

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Right before the call, EA spoke with the Wall Street Journal, confirming a recent report from Kotaku that claimed Anthem was delayed. While speaking with the Wall Street Journal, EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen said that this was not actually a delay, but when the game was supposed to come out all along, going on to state that people were “just trying to make a story.” However, this story doesn’t seem to be line up because the company had previously slated the game to release on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018.

The World Needs Details

EA did not go into further detail into why their latest IP is now expected to drop in 2019. The initial Kotaku report claims that it was due in part to issues with development. Their statement to Wall Street Journal seems to suggest that BioWare instead wants to wait for a less saturated period for their launch window. Their earnings report made no mention of the news either, so it seems they are sticking to their guns continuing to insist it was not a delay.

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In other Anthem news the executive producer behind Dragon Age, Mark Darrah recently confirmed he had joined the project, maintaining his role as executive producer. BioWare has recently gone through a ton of restructuring after the critically frowned upon launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda. While there’s not much hope we’ll hear about an Anthem release date anytime soon, we’ll be sure to deliver all the latest news surrounding the game so be sure to check back for more information.

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EA Plans to Launch New Game Streaming Service

EA Plans to Launch New Game Streaming Service

Seeing the success of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu inspired some of the leading game companies to emulate the idea. Sony used their own game streaming service, PS Now to some extent to show that it is possible, but more work needs to be done to make it a viable application. While speaking at the UBS Global Technology Conference this week, EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen said you can expect the company to launch its unannounced streaming service within the next 2-3 years. According to Jorgensen, the company doesn’t plan on doing this alone and is working with an undisclosed partner.

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The Time Is Now To Do It Right

Jorgensen also said one of the variables holding back streaming in recent years was the lack of widespread data centers. If your home is located relatively far from one of these facilities, then your streaming quality immediately goes down. He credited the work of companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple, saying that thanks to these companies and the data centers they’ve created, EA now has the confidence to build their own game streaming service.

The CFO also noted a host of other issues that needed to be addressed while they develop their platform. He added that internet speeds were going up in a lot of places, but not everywhere. This fact is one of the biggest downfalls of streaming services. Jorgensen also made it very clear that he doesn’t see game streaming replacing console gaming anytime soon if not ever.

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The Idea Is Building Steam

Interestingly enough head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, has been openly discussing Microsoft’s own plans to release a game streaming service. Maybe not so coincidentally, the company stated that their service will launch around 2020 as well. This would match up with EA’s timeframe also indicating that these two gaming powerhouses could be working on perfecting the medium.

With streaming becoming the norm for most peoples TV and movie watching, it is no surprise that gaming companies would want to get in on the action. Ultimately, this work could pay off big time if the service hammers out the issues that currently plague services like PS Now. An incredible amount of effort is needed, but we’re confident EA has the resources to put together a decent game streaming service (whether or not you agree with their sometimes shady business practices). We’ll be keeping a close eye on their work so be sure to check back with GigamaxGames.com for all the latest in gaming news and industry updates!

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EA Acquires Respawn Entertainment and Titanfall

EA Acquires Respawn Entertainment and Titanfall

Despite working with EA for most of Titanfall’s lifetime, Respawn Entertainment wasn’t actually owned by the gaming giant. As of today, EA announced that it has purchased the California based developer and their mech-based FPS.

EA has been the publisher for all of Respawn’s games so far, which includes last year’s hit Titanfall 2. Also announced today was that the studio is working on a new Titanfall game, a third person Star Wars title, and a VR game that has not been detailed. Not much has been said about the next new Titanfall but Respawn previously expressed interest in continuing the series. Currently, the only details known about the Star Wars title are that it is being directed by Stig Asmussen, who was previously the director of God of War III. This is good news since EA recently shut down Visceral Games, the studio behind Dead Space that was also working on a Star Wars title.

The Offical Word

EA CEO, Andrew Wilson, said in a press release “We’ve seen firsthand the world-class caliber of Respawn as a development studio with incredible vision, deep talent, and an inspiring creative mindset,” He continued “Our longtime partnership is grounded in a shared desire to push the boundaries and deliver extraordinary and innovative new experiences for players around the world. Together, we’ve brought this to life in the Titanfall franchise, and now with the Respawn team joining EA, we have exciting plans to accomplish even more amazing things in the future.” (http://bit.ly/2hoC104)

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Why Did Respawn Sell?

In an open letter on Respawn’s website the CEO, Vince Zampella, detailed the decision to sell the company, which specifically notes that he will remain acting CEO. “While it wasn’t necessary, going with EA made a lot of sense,” he said. “With Titanfall and Star Wars, EA has been a great development partner that supports us and doesn’t interfere with our process for making games or studio culture. EA will provide us with more resources, access to new technologies, and expertise that we can tap into that will help us make better games, and Respawn will retain the same creative freedom and culture we’ve always had. We’ve been talking closely with the leadership at EA and we share their values and vision for the future of being a developer-focused company that puts the players first.” (http://bit.ly/2zK2uNt)

EA was an integral force in getting Respawn Entertainment off the ground after its founders, Zampella and Jason West, were fired from the Call of Duty developer, Infinity Ward. The deal cost EA $151 million dollars in cash and up to $164 million in equity. Performance indicators could also raise the cash figure by another $140 million.

While many may worry that EA will ruin the Titanfall series, it must be remembered that EA was acting publisher for the series already, meaning they made a ton of major decisions for the previous games already. This move makes sure the studio has the resources necessary to continue making great games for fans of their beloved series. It will be exciting to see what the talent at Respawn will make with the vast resources EA has to offer.

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So, About That Single-Player Star Wars Game

So, About That Single-Player Star Wars Game

News broke late yesterday, 10/17/17, that Electronic Arts will be shutting down Visceral Games. Well known for games like Battlefield Hardline and Dead Space, this studio was working on another highly anticipated title and people are worried about its future. Visceral has been developing a new action-adventure Star Wars game that EA compared to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. However, now with Visceral dissolving, the fate of this Star Wars project is up in the air.

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The studio was working on this single-player Star Wars game since 2013. It had a lot of people excited and EA expected to release the game in 2019 but now it has been pushed back without any information on when it could eventually be released.

A brief look at the E3 2016 preview of Visceral’s Star Wars project.

The Official Word

“Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe,” EA”s Executive Vice President Patrick Söderlund said. He continued to explain, “In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.” http://bit.ly/2l0clZ1

This ‘pivot’ in design and the fall of Visceral forced other EA studios to take over the development of the Star Wars project. The shift in direction could create an interesting final product, but that would only be if it ever reaches market. Söderlund offered a few details on who will be taking lead on the project. He stated, “A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project,” http://bit.ly/2yuvQvK

Few Details But Many Questions

Electronic Arts may have offered extremely few details throughout the development process of the new Star Wars game but they did have an incredible concept and was working with some incredible talent. Amy Hennig, former Naughty Dog creative director was working on the new title, co-writing the Star Wars adventure with Todd Stashwick.  An update from the site Polygon, shed some light on Amy Hennig’s future at EA. A company representative explained, “We’re in discussions with Amy about her next move.” http://bit.ly/2yuvQvK

Our thoughts are with every team member affected by the closing of this renowned studio but EA did say they will be shifting as many of the team over to other projects in the EA family.  With the EA Star Wars project still in limbo as of now, Gigamax will be keeping a close eye out for any developments. Be sure to check back as the dust settles from Visceral Games closing.

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Sources:

https://www.polygon.com/2017/10/17/16490960/ea-closing-visceral-games-star-wars-game-delayed

https://kotaku.com/ea-shuts-down-visceral-games-1819623990

https://www.ea.com/news/an-update-on-the-visceral-star-wars-project

Gamescom 2017 Is Finally Here

Gamescom 2017 Is Finally Here

Taking place in Cologne, Germany, Gamescom 2017 is Europe’s largest gaming event and is unofficially touted as Europe’s more consumer friendly version of E3. gamescom, latest games, new releases, gaming conventions, gigamax, gigamax games, gaming newsKicking off with briefings from Microsoft and EA, the event has officially begun. Opening to press on August 22nd, there has been a flood of information about the latest games and gaming news and it’s only the first day. The event opens to the public August 23rd and runs until August 26th.

Important Words

Even the German Chancellor Angela Merkel stopped by to hang out with cosplayers and she shared some very important words with the gaming community.

“Computer and video games are of the utmost importance as cultural assets, as a driving force for innovation and as an economic factor, which is why I was also very pleased to come to Cologne to provide this developing industry with my recommendation,” Merkel said. http://bit.ly/2vnnYs

Big Crowds, Bigger Games

Crowds are expected to reach into the hundreds of thousands, all coming out to see what’s new in the world of gaming. With the first Press Day out of the way, gamers are starting to get a better picture of what they can expect.

With only a handful of major press conferences planned for the show, Electronic Arts (EA) and Nvidia will be taking center stage at Gamescom 2017. However, that’s not all attendees and all those throughout the gaming community can expect to come out of Europe’s largest game conference. Take a look below to see some of the major press conferences being featured this year at Europe’s largest game conference.

Microsoft: Xbox One X

Microsoft didn’t opt for their conventional press conference this year and instead showed up early to the party with a live stream on Sunday, August 20th. They mentioned the Xbox One X pre-orders, and the list of the more than 100 confirmed Xbox One X enhanced titles coming to the console. A new Middle Earth: Shadow of War trailer was premiered and an all new cinematic trailer for Assassin’s Creed Origins made it to the stream as well. Those excited for Sea of Thieves will be happy to know it will support cross play between PC and Xbox. Microsoft also said they are publishing remasters of Age of Empires II and III and people can expect a completely new sequel, Age of Empires IV.

For more information, you can watch the archived livestream below.

Electronic Arts (EA) 

EA held their EA Live Show keynote a day before the show opened to the press on August 21st. They showed off brand new footage of Star Wars Battlefront II, gamers were excited to get a bigger taste of this highly anticipated title. Need for Speed Payback also made an appearance so fans of the classic racing series got a glimpse of what the latest game may offer. Of course, Battlefield 1’s DLC was featured as EA continues to build on their successful shooter. This is just some of the incredible content featured at EA’s Live Stream, you can watch the entire stream below.

Nvidia 

In a unique move, Nvidia held a hands-on event for the press for some of the most renowned PC games. They didn’t live stream the event, however they are expected to release a video later this week. Once that is available, check back here to see Nvidia’s unique press conference.

Nintendo 

Wednesday, August 23rd Nintendo will be opening up their Press Conference with new gameplay of their unique take on classic Mario, Super Mario Odyssey. Yoshiaki Koizumi, the game’s producer will hold a special developer discussion seemingly to discuss the development process and what actually went into this reimagined Mario. This will be featured along with Splatoon 2, Mario Rabbids, and Pokken Tournament. Once it becomes available, check back here for the stream.

This Is Only The Beginning

This is only a small taste of what Gamescom 2017 has to offer. As the event heats up, more news from the biggest names in gaming are sure to reach the press and public. Gigamax will be watching this event closely and will be sure to update this page and release more content as information becomes available. Be sure to check back soon for more updates coming out of Cologne, Germany.

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Star Wars Battlefront 2: EA Details Space Combat

Star Wars Battlefront 2: EA Details Space Combat

The next big gaming press conference, Gamescom, is opening its doors next week and as a preview, EA detailed what plans they have for Star Wars Battlefront 2. To start off, EA will release a brand new trailer and give a live demonstration of the upcoming Starfighter Assault mode. This new variant of combat is a new experience for the sequel after many fans complained that the first game’s aerial fights were a bit lackluster.

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EA’s plans for the new dog fighting mode go far beyond that of the first games. Starfighter Assault itself is a multi stage mode that features ships and characters from the first three Star Wars movies (4,5,6). The demo the development team is showing off will be fought on Fondor: Imperial Shipyard map. EA also detailed that there will be fighters, bombers, and ships that will be unique to certain heroes.

Building It Better From The Ground Up


The gaming studio also wants fans to know that flying will be a better experience overall in Star Wars Battlefront 2. Some of the ways they plan on improving aerial combat include better controls, deeper customization, and making ship selection role based which impacts team gameplay. The gameplay reveal will happen on August 21st at 12:30 PM ET and 9:30 AM PT.

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Fondor: Imperial Shipyard will be one of the maps available to players looking to try out the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2 beta in October. Dog fighting won’t be the only combat featured in the beta, a more standard Battlefront 2 mode will also be playable on the Theed Galactic Assault map.

As for Gamescom, the event runs from August 22-26th in Cologne, Germany. It is by far one of the biggest international game conferences and manages to pull in hundreds of thousands of gamers and industry experts each year. Plenty of news is set to come from this year’s event so be sure to keep checking back with Gigamax for all the latest updates!

Sources:

https://www.ea.com/en-gb/games/starwars/battlefront/battlefront-2/news/space-battles-gamescom

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5 Biggest Announcements From E3 2017

5 Biggest Announcements From E3 2017

E3 2017 has finally wrapped up but in its wake are plenty of huge games to be excited for in the coming months. Between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, it’s hard to decide which company had the best conference between these big 3 and we certainly can’t forget Bethesda or EA. That’s why we’ve decided to pick the biggest announcements and pile them into a convenient list. Don’t forget to let us know your favorite E3 announcements in the comments below!

Xbox One X

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Right off the bat, Microsoft wanted fans to know that they were going to make up for last year’s lackluster performance. Announcing that the Xbox One X is more powerful than the PS4 Pro was a big move on the company’s behalf and it paid off. They immediately followed this up with 44 games that were all impressive, indicating that software is going to be a huge focus for the new console and more importantly improving their sad list of exclusives. (RIP Scalebound)

Anthem

Initially revealed during EA’s press conference, Microsoft raised the hype to unprecedented levels by showing this beauty of a gameplay trailer. Exoskeletons, an environment that has its own ecosystem, loot, friends… THIS GAME IS GOING TO BE GREAT! Zip through the sky in your custom exoskeleton and show nature what missiles feel like or go on dungeon like instances with your party. We can’t wait to play this game. Did we mention there’s loot.

Creation Club

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One of the biggest things stopping us from using mods in Skyrim and Fallout is that you lose the opportunity to gain trophies or achievements. Bethesda has officially announced their remedy to that situation and it is called creation club. Install mods without fear and earn all the satisfaction possible. The only downside to this is that these “certified” mods will cost you and they are not always cheap, bringing back a model that did not go well when implemented on PC.

Monster Hunter World

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Sony surprised us all when it announced that the popular Monster Hunter series would be returning to Playstation consoles. Nintendo has long held a monopoly on these games and it’s time for the big boys to get it back. A flashy trailer was shown off to make sure the crowd was excited and the later gameplay demos confirmed that this title will have us obsessed. Also there are no more loading screens in the hunting zones (YES!).

Super Mario Odyssey

We’ve long been Nintendo fan boys here at Gigamax so this Number 1 E3 2017 announcement may be a little biased. But did you see Mario become that T-Rex with his hat?! Super Mario Odyssey looks like an amazing next step for our overall wearing friend and we could not be more pleased with his new mind control powers. Nintendo is approaching the open world a little differently this time around by having Mario enter the real world and mingle with us in the big city. This is our favorite announcement from E3 and definitely are most anticipated title of this year!

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Star Wars Battlefront II New Trailer & Details

Star Wars Battlefront II New Trailer & Details

Following a leak from earlier last week, EA officially launched the trailer for Star Wars Battlefront II. In a surprising twist, the story will take place from the perspective of the Empire following the events of  Return of the Jedi.

The trailer offers a look at various cinematics throughout the game and shows characters from various eras of the series. Some of these iconic heroes and villains include Rey, Yoda, Kylo Ren, Darth Maul and Luke. This is an attempt to correct one of the major criticisms of the last game, which was that battles only occurred in the original trilogy.

EA followed up the trailer with more details going over their plans for the game at last week’s Star Wars Celebration. After the lackluster launch of the previous title, Electronic Arts has taken fan criticism and turned it into a completely new experience for the series that covers both single player and multiplayer.

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The Story We All Deserved

The story follows the adventures of an Imperial that goes by the name Iden Versio, a female storm trooper in inferno squad, a special ops group for the empire. After watching the Death Star explode from the ground at the battle of Endor, she swears revenge on the rebels and seeks to keep the Emperor’s war raging on. Inferno Squad is made up of  an array of different troops like snipers, pilots and commandos capable of completing the toughest of assignments. Iden is a well rounded protagonist, able to switch between any of the roles. This means players will be able to experience all the facets of the game in the story.

EA hasn’t forgotten multiplayer though, DICE is building the online component for the upcoming shooter and it’s the biggest project they’ve ever tackled. Capturing moments from every era of Star Wars lore, Battlefront II is a celebration of the series 40th anniversary. DICE plans on making everyone feel like a hero this time around attempting to capture the hero’s journey that is prevalent in the movies. From Storm Troopers to Jedi, everyone will have the chance to feel like they’re making a difference.

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New Systems Coming To Battlefront II

Heroes will now be offered with a new resource system that has yet to be detailed but will allow more people experience these powerful characters. Classes are also making their way back into the game from the old PS2/Xbox era games. These roles are officer, assault, heavy and specialist as well as droids like the Trade Federation’s talkative battle droids. Of course everything will be themed for the era it represents, so players won’t see an Imperial soldier on the battle of Kamino.

Space battles are also making a return to the game and ships are being treated like character classes. Upgrades can be unlocked through use of these iconic vehicles such as X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Boba Fett’s Slave One, Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon and Obi Wan’s Jedi Star Fighter.

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What We Still Don’t Know

DICE and EA have yet to announce any multiplayer modes but the larger maps will have support for up to 40 players. Maps will include locations like Theed, Starkiller Base, Takodana, Hoth, Yavin, Tatooine, Endor and Kamino. While the trailer shows clips from within the game, no shots were shown from a first person perspective or of any actual game play so fans still have a lot to look forward to.

It seems as if the studios working on Battlefront II are trying to rectify all the issues people had with the previous entry. Where the first lacked content, the sequel seems to come packed with a wealth of experiences that seek to immerse players in the Star Wars universe. DICE also announced that their will be no season pass for the game and their DLC plan will be detailed shortly. Maybe the studio will learn from popular shooter, Overwatch and support the game through free updates and make money off of loot boxes. Whatever they decide to do, Gigamax Games will be covering all the news and updates regarding the game so don’t forget to keep checking back!

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