You’ll notice pretty quickly upon entering the first hub city of the free-to-play action RPG Eternity Warriors 3 that the land of Udar has a counterproductive economy. Coins are plentiful, but don’t really buy you much, mostly skill updates. Any actual commodities you might want, on the other hand, you have to pay for with purple gems. Even though all your loot is sold for coins, things as basic as healing potions still have to be bought with the gems, which is strange, because you can only accumulate gems very, very slowly, with the first chapter of the game giving you only enough gems to buy one healing potion. It would be almost impossible to accumulate the resources to fight through the game’s single player campaign at that rate, let alone compete in PvP matches. Unless, of course, you buy the gems at 3-5 cents apiece.
This is the same dual-currency system that allowed FarmVille developers Zynga to open up their own line of credit cards, and it exists solely to make it so that the amount of money that you’re actually spending on in-game purchases is as abstract as possible. However, the gem-to-dollar conversion rate of Eternity Warriors 3 is so ridiculous that it probably cancels out the psychological misdirection. Assuming you buy the gems at the most cost-efficient rate ($20 bundles at about 3 cents a gem), healing potions cost about 31 cents per potion, energy potions cost about 38 cents per potion, and revive potions cost about $2.19 per potion. You get loot from doing quests, but you can also generate some high-level loot by buying offerings to the gods, which look a lot like slot machine tokens, conveniently enough. An offering to the Silver God runs about 63 cents and an offering to the God of Gold runs about $3.13.
You don’t have to pay for any of this stuff, but if you don’t, you’ll find yourself sorting through a lot of really mediocre loot, being asked to play the same levels over and over again to get good enough to fight the bosses, and generally having no resources and not very much fun. Upon first starting up the game, I was notified of a special limited time offer: a full set of epic armor, a legendary weapon, 5 revive potions, and 40 silver offerings for 5000 gems. It really doesn’t take that much math to work out that buying 5000 gems would cost about $160. Not patient enough to just nickel and dime its players, Eternity Warriors 3 literally asks you right up front if you want to pay 160 dollars and get it over with. Do the developers really think that playing their game with a lot of epic loot you haven’t really earned is worth the price of every Torchlight and Diablo game combined, a year’s subscription to World of Warcraft, or a 3DS?
In addition to buying revive potions before battles start, you can also revive for $2.19 upon your death, and here’s how that racket works: the major bosses in Eternity Warriors 3 are much, much harder than you, even though the quests in between are more or less at your level. However, one of the main mechanics of the game’s combat is a powerful block or dodge feature, depending on which class you choose. This means that just about any attack can be avoided if you get the timing right. See where this is going? Even though the bosses are inappropriately strong and can easily kill you in a couple hits, you can still extend the battle with them by blocking or dodging most of their hits, and hypothetically you could never get hit and win. This means that you’ll be tempted to use the 31 cent healing potions to keep yourself in it, and especially tempted to revive your character and give yourself another shot. To add insult to injury, when the death screen appears, the button to spend money to revive yourself appears directly over the block button, which you’ll probably be rapidly pressing as you die.
In a fairly-balanced game that was actually made in good faith, I could praise the strategic blocking and back-and-forth boss fights as a decent new feature for the Diablo-like genre. Unfortunately, Eternity Warriors 3 isn’t really designed with much care or consideration for being a fun game. Instead of a persistent system of overworlds or dungeons, the quests warp you to boring timed levels where you have to progress room-by-room and wait for the magical walls to come down before you can advance. The level design is mostly generic, snaky corridors and the loot is shabby and doesn’t offer enough variation. For a game so fixated on selling you “epic loot,” they don’t really want to show you what this epic loot might actually look like. As of my writing this, there’s a fusion tournament going on, and everyone is supposed to compete to see who can fuse the best items together. It’s completely bizarre until you realize that it’s basically a competition to see who can spend the most money. The grand prize? Wondrous Boots of Fortitude, and 25 silver offerings. The Wondrous Boots of Fortitude just look like plain brown boots, you can’t see their stats, and to win these boots, you’d have to fuse more and better items than almost everyone else in the tournament. Instead of something interesting, exciting or visibly powerful, the grand prize of the tournament is a variation of items that are available right at the start with a new adjective.
Eternity Warriors 3 is an important example of how in-game transactions can corrupt video games, because it’s obvious while playing it that artistic vision and good gameplay are taking a back seat to slapping on a bunch of exploitative microtransactions and waiting for the cash to roll in. Because it’s so brazen, this game might very well make more money than hundreds of labors of love this year, but that doesn’t mean it should be your money. Play a game that respects you instead.
A malicious free-to-play, pay-to-win action RPG that draws more influence from FarmVille and Las Vegas than it does from Diablo or World of Warcraft.