Which is rather odd, coming from someone whose other MMO 'love' is Guild Wars - which is pretty much at the other end of the spectrum. Where what you get, you pay for with skill.
More specifically, I love how FW has built the entire game architecture around its cash shop.
Yes, it's Pay2Win, just like any other CS game.
You want the BEST gear? The BEST character? Pay for it - either in cash, or in scads of time. And it works beautifully.
It works beautifully because you can indeed pay for it in scads of time. Unlike other PWE games, there really is no NEED to use the cash shop. If you play 18 hours a day, every day, you most certainly won't need to use the cash shop. This is rather different from say, Jade Dynasty, where if you wanted to play 18 hours a day, every day, without using the cash shop, it would be so agonising as to be impossible. (Yes, I know China's JD doesn't have cash-shop-fuelled, PWE-approved bots. I don't even want to think about what JD would be like without those bots - or espers, as they're called.)
By 'pegging' the prices of RL currency to in-game currency, and further balancing that by making mobs and quests give untradeable currency, PWE has solved the inflation problems that plague this genre in one fell, elegant swoop.
And it isn't just the triple currency system which makes it shine. It's how they've thought out and integrated every single thing that has anything to do with economics, the game economy, and currency. They haven't just limited their economic controls to their trio of virtual currencies, one of which interfaces with real cash. They've elegantly tied crafting, consumables, gear drops and the player propensity to trade and hoard stuff into the system as well. And they've even created a crafting system where the crafted items are valuable at least half the time. Sometimes extremely valuable - and sometimes even more valuable than 'set' pieces even with their special bonuses. It's really nice to be able to sell the stuff you make for a decent price, to other players, and at least break even from crafting, if not always make a profit. (Gear is in the Diablo/WoW style, with both randomly statted pieces, and set pieces with random stats and set bonuses.)
What's more, it's because of this thought and integration that every single piece of gear in FW is BoE. No BoP gear. Ever. There *is* BoP stuff... but this BoP stuff is advanced crafting materials used to make potions and consumables. And it's bound because they want people to join guilds - and guess where these things can be bought? Ayup, higher level guildhalls.
Guilds (or more specifically, guildhalls) in FW require daily tradeable gold to maintain, in addition to other various point system scoreboards. For those of you who've MUDded, it's very much like the old 'rent' systems you'd find in some MUDs, with the main difference being that only guilds pay rent - players don't.
But back to the pure-BoE gear.
Even with gear being pure BoE, people do still run instances for gear because it is, after all, cheaper than buying it off the auction house - if you don't count the time you spend in instances hoping that something with stats you can use / the set piece you're looking for will drop.
What it means, though, is that you really, really, REALLY don't need to kill something(s) over and over again with people you can't bloody stand, just to get more/better stuff so you can... rinse and repeat.
But what, you ask, are you paying for, O gloriously juicy one? Are you pimping your yous out with your wallet? Should you not be buying crispy battered chicken instead?
Nah, I'm not paying to be THE BEST. On the level of cash shop whales, where spending goes into the thousands, and sometimes even tens of thousands, I have neither the means nor the desire to compete. What I find myself spending money on is mostly (lol) bags for my packrattitis, and stuff like that. Since I started playing FW slightly over 6 months ago, I've dropped US$50 on it - and I haven't even spent most of it yet. Meaning, I've bought the currency, but I think I've only actually *used* US$15 of that $50.
I do like earning my in-game tradeable cash by myself, even if it only exists because *other* people are spending money. It isn't the 'I'm too leet to cash shop' mentality - it's more of the, 'I currently don't feel any burning NEED (unless I'm feeling really lazy)'.
At levels 70-80 (my highest toon ATM is 60), I have a feeling that I *will* drop a bit of cash on my gear to bring it up to a standard of passability that satisfies me. However, PWE has designed FW so well that I know that I don't HAVE to spend that cash...
...if I play 3 times longer than I do now. XD
But hey, put it like that, and I'm suddenly very sure that I'd much rather drop the cash on it!
Interestingly, because of the odd mentality in CS games, people are somewhat more easygoing in instances than they are in subscription games, and CSing is NOT seen as being compulsory if you want to get into groups. There's a curious ambivalence when it comes to players who CS, not least because there are arena rankings as well.
On the one hand, people are happy that things die faster (as long as the things aren't themselves), when they're with a CSer. And on the other hand, there's the desire to poke one's nose in the air and say, 'All people who use the cash shop are clueless nubs, and not leet like meeeee...' But the end effect is that people in FW are pretty forgiving of gear that isn't all that good - vs gear that is poorly chosen but expensive. Poorly chosen expensive gear is met with vocal derision, due to the CS dynamic, and of course - envy! He blew all that cash on his gear, and it's stuff that's totally shit for his class? NOOOOOOOB!!!!
All in all, I'm surprisingly - and incredibly - happy with Forsaken World, despite its being the polar opposite of Guild Wars. Never thought I'd say this, but I love them both!
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.