Go figure. I leave a for a few weeks to move, which by the way, went smoothly and I’m completely settled in now. Now however, everyone seems to be in a panic mode about something. But again, this involves an issue that we have dealt with for years, not something that will end the game industry as we know it.
Yes folks, I’m talking again about the evil trend of “microtransactions.” Or as we are now calling them, “loot boxes.”
Look, loot boxes are nothing new. We know that. I’ve seen them go all the way back to when Team Fortress 2 and eventually Counter Strike GO introduced them to the gaming masses. I didn’t even think of them at the time because as I played exclusively on console, they didn’t matter much to me. But when playing Mass Effect 3 they were added to a console title, but only in multiplayer. Again, since I didn’t play any of its multiplayer, I didn’t care that they were added.
But here we are in 2017, and now we see loot boxes being added to single player gameplay. Forza Motorsport 7 added them to the game’s single player modes, and even to its car collection mechanic. However, the mainstream press went off on a rampage over it, going as far as claiming Forza Motorsport 7 as a “free to play title that we have to pay $60 for.”
Ah, mainstream press, anything to generate a controversy and get their ad-worthy clicks, huh?
I will get to the Forza 7 matter in a bit, but I want to mention about how these criticisms can be considered too extreme. I remember when Injustice 2 came out, and everyone was upset about how the game’s gear system would be based on loot boxes (or in this case, Mother Boxes) and that people would have to buy them in order to get the best gear in the game. However, this is not the case. There were even those who worried that these Mother Box buffs will end up ruining gameplay online, but there is an option at each game that allows you to turn OFF the loot perks before each match.
Sure, there is a premium currency that is obtained via real word money called Source Crystals, but they are used only for cosmetic features, such as shaders and premiere character skins. These crystals can also be earned at each new level, so there is no need to purchase them unless you are lazy and want to speed up collecting everything. In fact, since playing Injustice 2, I did not spend ONE DIME on source crystals, and it doesn’t look like I ever will.
That brings me back to Forza Motorsport 7’s “prize crates.” The game has several types of crates ranging from “mods crates” valued at 15,000 to 50,000 credits, to “mixed crates” that cost anywhere from 70,000 to 150,000 credits, and three elite crates that change over time. Their prices go from 150,000 to 300,00 credits. How many of these require real world money to purchase?
So yeah, we’re really playing a “free to play” game when we are not forced to spend additional money on these crates. All of them are earned by way of in-game currency. In fact, the only things available to purchase on the Xbox store are the Fast and Furious pack (which is free for owners of the Deluxe or Ultimate Editions) the VIP pass, and the Car Pass expansion.
And on a side note, as I know people are going to bring up what Turn 10 did with the VIP system, and I agree wholeheartedly on it. Limiting the double bonus to only 25 races (by way of 5 Legendary VIP Boost cards) was pretty dumb, but at least they responded to our criticism, and will be going back to the way it was before: making the double bonus permanent, even going as far as giving VIPs one million free credits and four free cars. I think they learned their lesson there. How many companies have done that?
I will say as far as Forza 7 is concerned, people overreacted with the way the game handles their prize crates. It’s the same way I feel about loot boxes in general, Injustice 2 included. If they are earned by way of in game currency, I am fine with it. If they are purchased with real money and are just used for cosmetic purposes (provided they are not limited use. I’m looking at YOU, Destiny 2,) then I am fine with it.
It’s when they affect the main aspect of the game that I will get worried about using them. And that brings me to Middle Earth: Shadow of War.
I’m going to get this out of the way now before you bring out the pitchforks. I absolutely LOVE this game. I know I went crazy about how good the Nemesis system was in the first game, and War seems to take it to a whole new level, and I was originally going to defend this game’s use of loot boxes as it looked like it originally used the in game currency (Mirian.) But then I came across a second tier of currency (gold) that is purchased with real money. I don’t know if it can be grinded in the game or not, as I’m still in Act 1 and a lot of these crates cannot be opened until Act 2, but if that’s the only way to get them, then I have a concern.
That concern is taken to a whole new level when I read that to get the game’s true ending, you need to either grind for a long time to get the highest-level followers, or purchase them with gold. If that is the case, then yes, I will be angry about it, which is a shame because so far, the game is quite good, and what I expected from the series.
I will be keeping a close eye out on if Shadow of War really does go down that path, but as far as Forza 7 is concerned, people need to do a lot more research before their write their poison pieces. Is it really worth it to spread all that fear, uncertainty and doubt when your cause for so much concern doesn’t really exist?
Currently Playing: Forza Motorsport 7, Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Waiting For: Xbox One X, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Wolfenstein II