Tag Archives: Free-to-play

NOT A Review: Heroes of Dragon Age [Android]

Heroes of Dragon Age is a Free-To-Play strategic, CCG-inspired 3D combat game from EA Swiss Sarl.

Here the goal is to build the perfect squad, using a combination of tabletop-like figurines based on characters from across the beloved Dragon Age universe, including rare dragons, giant golems, and other devastating creatures – each with unique abilities, stats, and factions.  Once gathered you can then send your squad out to face epic quests and boss battles, giving you the chance to relive places, times, and storylines straight from the franchise.  And of course, there is also the online leaderboard, where you can fight for eternal glory by facing your squad off against other random players’.

The premise has a lot of promise, however despite the slight strategic elements present, the gameplay is simplistic to the point of being non-existent, and fails to deliver.  It is not helped by the limitations placed upon the game by the Free-To-Play model either – unfortunately at the end of the day, it is almost impossible to advance in the game without paying for premium content, making this a strictly Pay-To-Win title.

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HDA +

  • Impressive graphics and character designs.
  • Random drawing of characters as ingame rewards.  Supposedly all of the characters have a chance of being drawn – but non-paid drawings have extremely lower chances of winning you the higher grade and the more useful characters.  This strangely gives the game an almost addictive quality, since you are constantly wanting to reach that next “just one more” reward drawing.

HDA –

  • Restrictions and the Free-To-Play gameplay designs makes this game almost unplayable without paying.
  • Difficulty of the main story quests makes it impossible to proceed in the game without the more powerful higher grade characters – and unfortunately the higher grade characters are next to impossible to obtain without paying.
  • The same problem exists for the leaderboard side of the game, where you are faced off against players with much higher grade characters, making it impossible to compete without higher grade characters of your own.
  • Elements like character factions and abilities add supposed depth to the gameplay.  However any depth proves to be artificial, since all strategy are overpowered and rendered inconsequential by the grade of your characters.


NOT A Review: Marvel Puzzle Quest – Dark Reign [Android]

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign, from the developer Demiurge Studiosis a variant of the game Puzzle Quest, a gem-matching puzzler with RPG elements. Some mechanics have been altered to fit the game into the Free-to-play model, however, the simplistic core gameplay remains virtually unchanged – enter a battlefield with your chosen hero characters, and then match up lines of three or more gems of the same colour to attack your enemies, with the goal of lowering their health to zero, before they do the same to you.

Initially I had avoided the game, being skeptical of  its F2P model, having heard complaints of it being pay-to-win.  However my skepticism proved to be unfounded.  Everything ingame can be unlocked with minimal effort (for the most part), and all without paying a single cent.  And indeed the game does an amazing job drip feeding its players little chucks of carrots, with ingame currencies and free new playable characters being awarded at every possible turn.

Being definitely NOT a fan of mobile or F2P titles, I have to say my current addiction to this game surprised the heck out of me.  But, at least I’m not playing Farmville or Candy Crush, thank god for that.

[EDITED 30/01/2014:  The game was patched today (Data: 175039.0.175039), with changes to the gameplay which completely destroyed the Free-To-Play playability of the game for me.  This game is now unfortunately absolutely Pay-To-Win.  Previously you were given three chances to defeat your opponents in the live events, giving less powerful players the chance to rechallenge and wear down more powerful opponents with repeated attempts.  If your opponents proved to be more powerful, you were also able to give up on a challenge before your three chances were used up without losing points or ranking on the leaderboards, giving even lower-tiered teams a decent change of earning high level tier rewards.

However with this patch you are now only given one single attempt per opponent, and you now immediately lose points and ranking placement upon losing.  Experiences will vary, but from the few hours I have played since the patch I am sad to report that the team with the higher tier and level heroes will pretty much always win, giving the average player no chance of winning useful rewards unless they are willing to pay.  NOT impressed at all.]

MPQ +

  • Marvel license.  All the Marvel characters you have grown to love (and hate), complete with alternate costumes.
  • Non-restrictive / non-intrusive Free-to-play gameplay.
  • Evolving storylines – story events introduces regular new story elements and characters.
  • Regular competitive events with tiered rewards.

MPQ –

  • There are light strategy involved, but unfortunately most of the gameplay is heavily based on luck.
  • Competitive leaderboard gameplay requires minimal skills.  The more you play, the more points you will accumulate, so basically the more time a player has the higher they will rank.  This can get frustrating for the more casual players, or for those of us with jobs and lives.  With the changes to the game it is now heavily biased towards players who are willing to pay.  The main storymode is still playable for your average Free-To-Play player, but sadly it is no longer plausible for non-paying players to remain competitive in the live event portions of the game, which unfortunately is where all the new and more powerful and interesting characters are unlocked.


Champions Online: Blood Moon Rising

Champions Online‘ has recently relaunched itself as a hybrid-F2P title under the moniker ‘Champions Online: Free For All’.  To be honest, I have never been a fan of the whole F2P movement, and have always hated most of the things associated with it, things, such as like in-game item shops and XP potions.  However this one time, I find myself strangely in support of, and indeed applauding Cryptic’s switch to the hybrid-F2P model.

Instead of doing the obvious today and talk about ‘Free For All’, I thought I would instead bring to your attention, the return of the ‘Blood Moon’ event from 2009.  This special event heralds the return of one of the worlds most evil villians – Takofanes, the Undying Lord!

“There is a chill wind blowing through Millennium City.  The moon has taken on a sinister aspect, staining the sky a bloody red.  The superhero Witchcraft, of the Champions, warns that this is a dire portent of an approaching mystical threat.  There have been sightings of strange creatures emerging across the world, those of savage werewolves and flesh-craving zombies.  Even worse, they bear with them the tidings of a great evil returning to the world… Takofanes, the Undying Lord!

When Takofanes last strode across North America he killed all who crossed him to swell the ranks of his undead army.  The first attempt America’s superheroes made to stop him resulted in the death of half a dozen of them.  A second more concentrated attempt managed to drive Takofanes from the battlefield, but he could not be defeated.  Now Takofanes has returned once again with hordes of his minions, citing prophecies of doom and proclaiming his coming reign over humanity!”

This was by far one of my favourite MMO events of all time.   It came with an interesting background story, and was amazingly atmospheric, with graphical changes which affected the entire game world.  The event offered perks and activities across all the zones, and was available for players of all levels.  Not only that, the event also made some permanent additions to the game, including the introduction of an exciting new powerset, as well as a brand new PvP mini-event that featured zombies (and hey, who doesn’t love zombies?).   This truly was an amazing event, and I look forward to its return- infact, at the time of this posting, this event should already be live.  Currently the event is scheduled for two days only, but is set to return as a regular monthly event.  With ‘Free For All’ relaunch, and now the return of ‘Blood Moon’, there has never been a better to try out (or return to) the exciting world of ‘Champion Online’.

NOTE: Blood Moon will start at 4pm PST / 7pm EST on Friday, February 25, 2011 and will end at 11:59pm PST / 2:59pm EST on Sunday, February 27, 2011 and should return with each full moon for one day.

You can check out ‘Champions Online’ at <http://www.champions-online.com/>.


Patience, Grasshopper

Personally I find it comforting, seeing a few online titles clinging on to the old good subscription-based model of gaming, from the older titles like Ultima Online and Fallen Earth, to the more recent titles like DC Universe Online, Final Fantasy XIV (kinda), and the upcoming Rift.   The market has changed a lot since the early days, and is now dominated by a whole new generation of gamers, with a whole new outlook and a whole new set of demands.

Games are fast becoming more bite-sized and faster paced, with the market becoming dominated by micro downloads in the form of DLCs and Apps.   The old all-you-can-eat subscription-based model is quickly falling out of favour, with demands for the F2P models on the rise.  Today more and more online games are either being released with as F2P, or in the process of converting to.

While I am personally not a fan of the à la carte style of the F2P models, I can certainly understand and appreciate their appeal.   However what I fail to understand is just why people are so negative towards subscription-based games, especially games that are new to the market.   It annoys me seeing all the complaints about the apparent lack of content, especially when compared to older games on the market, and how the sub and the game should be avoided until it becomes F2P.

Unlike in the past where players were in it for the long haul, and their main focuses were socialisation, exploration and role-playing – it seems to me that a lot of players nowadays, especially the more vocal ones, have the tendency to bypass a lot of the content.  Contents such as the lore, the side quests, the exploration, and the socialising – instead focusing on power-levelling to max level, and what they perceived to be “endgame”.  And when these players don’t find the same max level gear and raid instances popularised by established games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest, they post angry negative comments on forums, complaining about how the game is NOT worth paying a subscription for, how they would NOT go back to the game until it goes F2P, and then rage-quits before their subscription payments even starts.  It is highly ironic that a lot of these very same players, would make the same complaints when they are introduced to F2P games, and would rage-quit those to go back to their reliable subscription-based World of Warcrafts and EVE Onlines.

In my opinion, this not only have a negative impact on the ongoing development of these newer games, but also affect the stability of the communities that plays them as well.  I say stop with the negativity!   Have a little patience and give the developers a chance, support them with subscriptions and give them a regular source of income to work with.  Give them a chance to develop proper contents for their games, instead of focusing their time on item shop fluff, or rushing around looking for their next projects. Subscribe for a month or two at least and enjoy the games for what they are.   It will not only give the studios a chance to polish and grow the games, but will also tell the publishers that the games ARE worth keeping and maintaining.   Remember good things can take time – it’s true for cheeses and wines, and it’s certainly as true for our online games.


Champions Online F2P Announced!

Yet another MMO have gone F2P, with the latest being Champions Online.

While I am not normally a fan of the P2P-to-F2P conversion, I actually do believe this is a good move on Cryptic’s part.  Unlike other recent conversions like Everquest 2 and Lord of The Rings Online, Champions Online’s game-play designs and mechanics are actually well suited to the F2P model.

Champions Online, in case you did not know, is a super-hero MMO based on an old pen and paper RPG, and was developed by the folks who made the original City of Heroes.  Champions Online is a fast paced action RPG of sorts, set in a rich comic book world, with an insane amount of customization options.  Costumes options are limitless, with thousands of costume pieces on offer, and with new parts and pieces being unlocked or added to the game constantly.  Powersets too are completely customizable, offering players the option to mix and match powers from different sets, allowing complete freedom as to how your characters develop.

And then there is the Cryptic Store, their excellent ingame item shop.  Their shop offers affordable and mostly customisational items which help enhances the look and feel of your characters, but in ways which does not demean or punish those without.  This, in my opinion, makes their item shop one of the few have been done correctly, and is the perfect foundation for when their F2P system launches early next year.

The game will switch to the F2P model beginning in Q1, and will offer two membership levels, the Gold, and the Silver.  Gold will retain the current $14.99/month subscription, but will offer free adventure packs and updates, among other perks.  Whereas Silver will be driven by sales of adventure packs, costume pieces, item slots, and other perks such as unrestricted chat and veteran rewards.  All this might change of course prior to launch, but at this stage it is nice to note that there will be no level, zone, or major gameplay restrictions for Silver members, so F2Pers can enjoy most of the content alongside their Gold member friends.

For more info check out their official site at: http://www.champions-online.com/f2p


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