By Jeric Salvador
I love For Honor. I originally wasn’t too interested because I generally dislike a lot of Ubisoft’s practices but after playing it hands-on, I had a change of heart. After a few hours of playing my friend’s copy, I can honestly say I think it’s one of the most original and intuitive action games in recent history. Once I had my fill of swinging axes into samurai skulls and kneeing knights in the face, I decided this was going to be my next big game. This all changed when I learned about the game’s microtransactions and Champion Status feature.
The full-priced game launches with a $53 season pass promising early access to six new characters. My beef actually isn’t with the season pass, as no player in his right mind is going to purchase it. At such a ridiculous price, it gives you a few cosmetic upgrades, some extra gear boxes, one week early access to six upcoming characters, and a month of Champion Status. Aside from the unique cosmetic equipment, and the rather expensive elite outfits, nothing here can’t be bought with in-game currency. The six upcoming characters will come at no extra cost (via WWG), which I think is magnificent.
My issue lies with Champion Status. Champion Status is a limited time boost to, essentially, everything the player obtains through battle. It grants the player +25% XP, extra loot, and extra Steel. Steel is the universal currency in For Honor, which can be purchased for cash and earned through gameplay. Unlike Rainbow Six: Siege, there is no separation between premium currency and in-game currency, which I think is odd.
A week-long Champion Status subscription costs 4000 Steel. The smallest stack of Steel you can purchase in the game store is 5000 Steel for $6.99. Of course, you don’t have to purchase your subscription with real money, but it definitely feels odd to spend currency just to make it effectively. You could argue that it’s just a boost that is not at all necessary to enjoy the game, but For Honor has a truckload of unlockable gear that costs an equally large amount of Steel.
The reason I have such a problem with this is because it simply cheapens a lot of accomplishment. You can earn everything through enough grinding, but as a player, it irks me to know that I could be playing more efficiently if I just dumped money into the game. Perhaps, that expensive piece of gear I wanted could be grinded out in a matter of hours, but someone else could have just bought it for $5.
I’ve always had an issue with unlockables being purchasable with real-world cash since BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger came out in 2009. As soon as you make unlockable features purchasable, the challenges associated with these unlocks come with a dubious air about them. As a player, I cannot help but think, “maybe this would be easier to obtain if they couldn’t make money off of it.” The same goes for Street Fighter V’s pricey Fight Money items and Uncharted 4’s multiplayer unlocks. With For Honor, maybe these items would cost less Steel if they weren’t so profitable.
This isn’t quite as bad as, say, buying skill points in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (via Eurogamer), as one can argue that purchasing Steel has very minimal bearing on gameplay, but it still creates a sort of class divide that, in my opinion, is disrespectful to players who have already spent full price for this title. $80 is a lot for a game, and I refuse to buy it, knowing that someone will be rewarded more because they spent more.
What’s especially sad about this is that this model, based off of Rainbow Six: Siege, isn’t inherently terrible. The Steel and Champion Status model would work perfectly in a free- to-play game. Let It Die, for example, is a free-to-play game, in which you can obtain almost everything without paying a cent, but a monthly subscription fee grants you certain luxuries and speeds up the grinding process.
I get why Champion Status exists. Buying a timed boost gives the player incentive to come back and play again tomorrow. It both keeps the money flowing and keeps the community alive. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, and you want a proper bang for your buck, you won’t like the feeling of being ripped off.
Featured Image: For Honor by Ubisoft