Soooo having gotten past level 40 on my vampire chick, I've finally encountered the portion of FW that I'd been wondering about since I started.
PWE, as I've said before, is absolutely rapacious about slurping money out of your wallet - and they're very good at it. Which has had me feeling slightly uneasy since I started playing FW - this is all TOO reasonable, TOO possible to play... for free.
But now, after level 40, I've found the Pay2Win aspect.
And I like it. Yes, I like it.
I like it because it doesn't affect me at all, which renders FW effectively, truly F2P for me. It means I can spend money on fluff when I feel like it. It means that whatever cash I want to drop on FW won't be to counter the OMG PLZ LEMME SKIP THE GRIND PLZ.
Out with it nugget, how does the P2W aspect actually work!
Well, once you hit L40, you get to do two quests in the Arena of Souls in Lunagrant Forest - the area, not the instance. After you've completed those two quests, you go back to your class trainer, and you'll be able to train Masteries and Resistances. You'll need 15 gold (not soulgold, gold) on hand in order to complete the next quest - train a Mastery or Resistance level to 5 - but this quest is effectively a free 5 levels of either Mastery or Resistance, since upon completion, you're refunded with 15g.
Each level of Mastery or Resistance up to L20 increases the power of what you train by 1%. After that, according to forums (the game's not been out that long in English), it becomes 2%, presumably at L30 it's 3%, etc.
Masteries and Resistances increase your base damage for that given mastery/resistance independent of gear. They're a direct buff to your character. And in a fight which presumes gear and class are equal, the one with the higher mastery will always win. Hello, Pay2Win!
The pricing is as follows:
L1 Training: 1g
L2 Training: 2g
L3 Training: 3g
L4 Training: 4g
L5 Training: 5g (By which point you've spent 15g)
L6 Training: 6g
L7 Training: 7g ... and so on.
FW's mechanics control the 'base' worth of gold through another quest series involving a cash shop item. That cash shop item (Mercury Statuette) costs US$0.50 (20 Eyrda leaves), and, if you aren't lazy and go off and do a quest with it, will return 5 - 6g in well... gold. If you are lazy, it only returns 3g, but it's immediate and you don't have to do anything. Now, presuming that you aren't lazy, and you do your quests (which have a daily cap, even though they're associated / only possible with a cash shop item), you'll get an average of 5g per statuette, IF you buy the statuettes from the cash shop. (Players tend to sell the statuettes for anywhere from 3g 50s to 4g.) So what this means is...
L6 Training: 6g (US$0.60)
L7 Training: 7g (US$0.70)
L8 Training: 8g (US$0.80)
L9 Training: 9g (US$0.90)
L10 Training: 10g (US$1.00 - and by which point you've spent US$4)
But that's not really very much nuggeet! And that's true. At L10 it certainly isn't very much. But (I believe, not sure yet) masteries go up to L100. And there are ?8? masteries and ?8? resistances. Consider that the pattern continues, and I'm not sure that L20 = 20g, it may be 40g - basically no one who's trained that high has posted stats on it yet, so it's all up for speculation. But with that in mind, this begins to look awfully like the classic Wheat and Chessboard problem. Only the wheat is coming directly from your wallet.
Nugget, you crazy thing, you LIKE this?!?
Well, yes, I do. You see, I'm playing on Storm, which is a PvE server. No world PvP, all PvP is duels or guild 'wars' - which are consensual affairs. I don't have the mindset where I need to 'keep up' with other people - I just need to keep up with *myself* to an extent where I am happy. And that whole thing about the whales in F2P models applies - I really don't care what the whales do, as long as they do the spending that makes PWE say yes, yes, we shall continue this, it is indeed viable - leaving me able to potter around the rest of the game.
If you care about being the biggest kid on the block, and care that it isn't 'fair' that people can buy power, you won't like this. If you play on a PvP server, you probably won't like this (PvP kinda goes out the window once you are PvPing with your wallet). But as far as I'm concerned, I don't care if someone spends US$100 to kill mobs faster than I do. All gear in FW is Bind on Equip, so though you could say, 'But eventually it will inflate until you HAVE to cash shop to do instances!' well... that's not true. You can just buy the gear. And again, the whales principle applies. And really, there aren't all that many whales out there.
What's more, if this works out, it means that FW will NOT constantly drain my Willpower Resource to not buy stuff to make the grind less horrible - precisely because there's a steady stream of income for PWE from masteries and resistances.
And what's best of all, to me, is that this system is honest and transparent. You get exactly what you pay for. You don't play lottery after bloody lottery at $0.50 in the HOPE that you'll perhaps get a stat upgrade.
Pay2Win - long live the honest whore.