February 25, 2024

Helldivers 2’s microtransactions are actually good

It’s healthy to be skeptical when you see microtransactions in games. Many titles cross the line from fair to exploitative, almost forcing players to throw in money that could buy another full game (or more) to actually have fun. So when the first messages surfaced Hell divers 2‘s microtransactions had people wary. At first glance, the now popular live-service shooter uses some familiar strategies. There are both free and premium battle passes with items that can affect gameplay and some currencies to analyze. Plus, no roadmap had been released at launch, so it was hard to gauge how terrible microtransactions could be.

But after about six hours of play, there doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about. While you put money into it Hell divers 2 This will allow you to get ahead of other players a bit, but it won’t have a major impact on the gameplay. Most importantly, all currencies in the game can be farmed, with only one available for purchase. Developers at Arrowhead Game Studios have created a system that gives certain players the ability to smallest edge, but it’s not unfair, nor does it condemn players to a vicious cycle in microtransaction hell.

The game has four types of currency: application forms, medals, monsters and super credits. The first three are only available through playing missions. While you can find Super Credits (SC) in loot containers or through the battle passes, the main way to ‘earn’ them is with real money. You can then use them to unlock upgraded armor in the Superstore. Some only offer cosmetic changes, while others give you a higher armor rating or passive bonuses.

I can understand why people are concerned about premium currencies like Super Credits. If you spend money on a game, why do you need to spend extra? Look at Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, a full-priced game that still offers microtransactions for optional cosmetics. Sure, you don’t need any new outfits to beat the campaign, and three outfits cost about $10, but the entire game will cost you $70. Why spend anything more than what many people can afford? Games have been using microtransactions for years, with studios pushing things like loot boxes and DLC to get people to pay more than the base cost. People seem to be tired of the grind, with live service efforts like Halo Infinity, Diablo ImmortalAnd Marvel’s Avengers crash hard.

Enter the Super Credits store Hell divers 2
Image: Arrowhead Game Studios/PlayStation PC LLC via Polygon

The Acquisition Center menu in Helldivers 2. We are in the Superstore tab, which shows a number of armor sets and helmets that can be purchased with Super Credits, the game's premium currency.

The current premium battle is coming to an end Hell divers 2
Image: Arrowhead Game Studios/PlayStation PC LLC via Polygon

It may take some time to build up the other currencies. For example, monsters are collected in various places on the maps, but you can easily lose them if you die and don’t loot your corpse after a respawn. These are used to unlock ship modules, which give you permanent upgrades such as a larger magazine or fewer cooldowns. The game doesn’t explain this thoroughly, so if you don’t focus on anything other than the main objectives in each mission, they’re very easy to ignore. Despite some confusion, all Hell divers 2 currencies just force you to play more of the game in the first place, and that’s all you can ask from any game.

Microtransactions are everywhere in video games as teams look for more ways to fund increasingly expensive development timelines, and it’s easy to take advantage of users. Battle Royales, free-to-play mobile games, and many EA sports titles are especially guilty of creating systems to siphon off money. Regardless of whether the microtransactions go so far as to be pay-to-win, they can easily prey on people with loot boxes, which are akin to gambling, for the chance to win premium prizes or currency. Diablo Immortal is a recent example of game developers’ money grubbing, with too many different currencies to keep track of and the chance to increase the chances of obtaining legendary gems, all working together to create an unscrupulous system where people spend thousands dollars in the months surrounding launch and still couldn’t get the boosts they wanted.

Live service titles such as Lot 2 are closer to what Hell divers 2 offers in the realm of microtransactions, and could be a sign of what the latter could become if developers aren’t careful. Most of what you can buy with Silver Lot 2‘s premium currency is purely cosmetic, although you can spend 2,000 silver (so about $20) to skip a new expansion campaign. One of the bundles currently in stores costs around 2,000 silver per character, so while it’s completely optional, the FOMO (fear of missing out) you feel when you see all the flashy skins will create a lot of pressure to sink into real money. Then we don’t even take into account that you have to invest money every time a new expansion is released. Be one Lot 2 fan doesn’t need all your money, but it certainly helps.

The Steeled Veterans menu in Helldivers 2. This is the premium battle pass, which shows options for items such as armor for 18 medals or an assault rifle that has already been claimed.  Featured are 100 Super Credits for 7 medals.

Image: Arrowhead Game Studios/PlayStation PC LLC via Polygon

I’m worried about that Hell divers 2 will introduce more complex systems to bring in more money over time, but right now there’s very little here that feels unfair. Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt said on X (formerly Twitter) that the team doesn’t want to force anyone to pay more if they don’t want to, so hopefully it stays that way for the life of the game.

It’s certainly not pay-to-win because of one very important aspect: the game is PvE. When you compete against other players, including some who have staked hundreds of dollars, you might feel like you had an unfair advantage. However, inside Hell divers 2, everyone works together. Not only does it fit into the game’s patriotic story, but it also creates a system where you don’t have to be competitive with other players. Maybe someone on your team might have better armor or a more powerful weapon, but that won’t help you in the end?

Over the weekend, Redditor PathsOfRadiance posted a video of a player ducking in front of a projectile to prevent it from hitting his party member. It’s the kind of self-sacrificing move you see at the end of an action movie, where the hero slowly fades away in the arms of the person he saved. Naturally, Hell divers 2 is a video game, so the stakes are a lot lower, but this player was also wearing heavy armor, so he immediately got back up and continued shooting. Maybe this person had been playing for a while, or maybe he threw money into the game. Either way, it benefited the entire team, not just the individual. You are not here to ‘win’. You are here to do your part in a much greater effort.

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