Atlas Reactor's Free-to-Play Model Is Dramatically Underpowered

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor


I'm going to start talking about Atlas Reactor by talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic. Deservedly so, SWTOR has gotten a lot of flak for its free-to-play implementation. From hotbars to head slots, SWTOR lets you know very quickly that you're playing a subpar version of the “real” game, and you'll have to pay real money to get something resembling the full experience.

That being said, you can play for at least a few hours in SWTOR without encountering something that resembles a pay gate. I talked a little with Massively's SWTOR guru, Larry Everett, who tried “starting over” with a free account, and he said the restrictions didn't really bother him until around level 40. For me, I think the hotbar restrictions would bug me a lot sooner, but in any case, you can play for a good while before feeling heavily restricted. Once you do, you can buy a few things piecemeal to make your experience more enjoyable. It's not perfect, not by a long shot, but it at least doesn't make you feel like a second-class citizen right out of the gate.

That's not the case with Atlas Reactor's free-to-play mode. Trion Worlds' new tactical PvP game lets you know after your first match that it wants you to pay up. In my case, I gained two levels after that match and got two Loot Matrices, similar to the loot boxes you get for leveling up in Overwatch. I opened one and then was hit with my first barrier: Sorry, but as a free player, you can't open another one until 36 hours have passed.

In the world of pay-to-win mechanics, this is hardly the most egregious sin ever. But it gives Atlas Reactor a feel not unlike mobile games, with their timers that you can circumvent for a small fee. But wait! There isn't even a small fee I can pay! It's buy the full game – currently $26.99, discounted from its full price of $29.99 for the least expensive package – or nothing. No $2 loot keys, no way to grind up currency to unlock, nothing. Those games at least give you a way to keep playing. Atlas Reactor just makes me want to log out and wait, which is exactly what I did.


(And let's take a moment to question the oddness of a 36-hour timer. Why not 24 or 48 hours? When I opened my first Loot Matrix, it was 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Was I suppose to set my alarm clock for three in the morning on Friday so I remember to open my other Loot Matrix at the optimal time?)

This is a recurring theme with Atlas Reactor's free mode, which feels like an even worse variant of much more popular free modes for paid games. Free hero brawlers or MOBAs let you grind up currency to buy heroes if you don't want to pay for them, or you can shell out a few bucks to get them immediately. “Free trial” games like World of Warcraft and, arguably, SWTOR, let you enjoy the game for a few hours before you feel like you need to pay.

Atlas Reactor has eschewed these well-accepted conventions – which once were present in the game before the switch to a B2P model – for something that doesn't work for anyone. I can't even chalk this up to the old chestnut of “greedy developer”; I'm not sure how beneficial this is to Trion Worlds, if it earns the company more money than a standard “earn stuff through currency” system would. I suppose a half-assed free mode is better than no free mode at all, but not knowing what freelancer I'm going to be able to play from week to week is a major downer. There's little point in practicing and earning random prizes through Loot Matrices if I know it could be a month before I get to use my chosen freelancer again.


This is Atlas Reactor's greatest sin and why it fails as a F2P game: By not giving players the ability to earn currency with each match, and offering them some control over their loot selection, there's nothing to work toward apart from random rewards. Setting goals is a major factor in F2P games; when you need 5,000 Gold to unlock a new hero, you cherish each win as bringing you closer to that singularly attainable goal, and it's like Christmas when you finally unwrap your new toy. There's no way to do that in Atlas Reactor F2P unless I get duplicates in my loot boxes and cash them in for ISO – something I only learned by reading the FAQ for the game because my ISO total is still sitting at 0 and I had no idea how to increase it – and even then, I can't unlock new freelancers with it. Don't like this week's offerings? Tough luck, either shell out ~$30 or go play something else. I'll choose the latter.

Oh, and the game itself? It's kinda fun, but is definitely a niche game, no matter what anyone says.

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In this article: Trion Worlds, Atlas Reactor.

About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (20)

qwer 6 years ago
The game is perfect, but the model doesn't do it justice. Try the game out with a friend code for free 7 day full access and you can make a REAL call for yourself instead of letting someone else tell you what to think.

Whoop whoop 6 years ago
Love all these people saying it's B2P when it started as F2P, they're trying to hard to defend it. Get out of denial, the game is gonna be dead in half a year.

Orxid 6 years ago
Cmon guys, they fixed loot matrixes cooldown.

Razer 6 years ago
Sounds more like try it before you buy it, or a demo. I find the option to buy every character at a flat, reasonable price to be vastly preferable to the usual bullshit of paying unlimited amounts of money to advance slightly faster. I would probably buy this game if it didn't have more microtransactions on top.

trionisshit 6 years ago

View 1 reply
Who? 6 years ago
Everyone that has an issue with the f2p model needs to chill their shit. Think back to when smite had those packages in the beginning, for 20/30 bucks that offered all champs forever and ever amen. This is kinda like that with the exception of no in game currency being a crewed. At least if your thinking about it as an in game currency currency. Yes i said that twice. Exp you get for your account (lol player lvl comparison here) and your freelancers come with bonus's. Each freelancer has 2 things they can customize. Their mods and their catalysts. You can earn mods with any freelancer getting to their respective lvls of like 4,6 and so on. You may use those mod tokens for any freelancer's mod unlockables. Exp is the currency for ftp's. If you want more than that be happy they are offering a forever and ever amen offer such as the one they have now. They will take it away eventually and change the monitization trust me. When that gets here tho i'll be drinking all the tears of those that must shell out for their freelancers they want. The game's revolutionary in that its a one of a kind gem. never before has a concept for a game liek this been introduced and made this much headway. We should be thankful such a game was even made to begin with. For now,suck it up and deal with that pay wall and learn if u even like the damn game. If you do then you should consider buying it while you can. Good day :P

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Rudolf 6 years ago
This game is good! This article is bias. The only things you can get from box are: skins, currency to buy the skins, emoji. Nothing wrong from my point of view. Just like your life, you can decide to walk (free player) or you can decide to drive (b2p player).

wat 6 years ago
Last I knew this game's "free to play" version was intended to be an unlimited trial/demo which is not the same as a legitimate free to play game. So what exactly is the purpose of this...

The only reason they even made a free version was because of it's abysmal player numbers and lack of interest, but it's also Trion so they have to find a way to try to force people to give them money like they do with all of their other games. The solution is free trial with heavy restrictions.

The game will either die because of it, or eventually go full-on free to play. I'd be shocked if it survived very long in it's current monetizing state being that it's confusing for people who think it's actually free to play, they try it and discover it's actually not, quit and never go back from disappointment.

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Moboru 6 years ago
On steam its publishet in free games. So all commenters stop shit talking that its not F2P. Personaly i just pick up this game and decide to try it.
At start i was losing and dont geting any money, then i started to think maybe i need win to get rewardet. Okay try my best finaly win... nothing... okay gonna try again. Win=nothing. Ohh boy i was dissapointed.

Soo whats the point? Wins or losse you get xp. No ranking, only race for lvl.

And if you call f2p mode a extandet demo. Then this demo is just for busting players who buy game. Some freelancers works like rock paper scizors. And f2p allways pull lossing sign. Because b2p know all your free pool.

Game will live some time. But not gonna be populiar as dota or lol.

If you dont planing spend 30€ on this game, dont bother with F2P. (Better try Duelyst)

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Drago 6 years ago
I think this site needs to make up it's mind what FTP is. Again this game is not FTP and yet it's covered.

JustMeAndMyOpinions 6 years ago
The game is not free to play. I thought a "Journalist" would know this...

At least it's better than Leagues & HotS payment models, where you can't buy a pack of all the heroes/freelancers/champions. The game does however, get quite dull reallly soon.

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F2p 6 years ago
I uninstalled after learning no unlock for free2play. No time to waste for this

ASD 6 years ago
I don't play atlas reactor but from reading up on it and investigating on it and checking it out I can see why it fails as a free 2 play game. Probably because if it's brought up as a buy 2 play game then it's ment to be a buy 2 play game. Yeah the dev can change the business model if he/she thinks it's for the best but the saying is if it's not broken then don't change it. Lately it's like everyone has to change stuff it's like everyone can't keep their hands off changing things. I agree some change is for the best but certain things really shouldn't be changed but idiot people say oh let's change this anyway we can con the consumers into giving us more money but it's just destroying their product even more it's pretty obvious.

Mernix 6 years ago
It's buy-to-play game. The free mode is like an extended demo. Very few b2p games have demo version, let alone an extended one.

Ingeneral 6 years ago
"This is Atlas Reactor’s greatest sin and why it fails as a F2P game:""

Maybe that could be because it's not a free to play game and its actually a, wait for it, a buy to play game.

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