Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade Reportedly Offering Full F2P Mode
MMORPG.com is announcing that Behaviour Interactive's Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is getting a full free-to-play mode in the very near future and has an interview with Producer Nathan Richardsson to go with the news.
(It should be noted that the interview talks about "today's announcement," but other than on MMORPG.com, we can't find any indication of the news -- not on the game's Steam page, website, social media ... nothing. Given the depth of the interview, though, we'll assume it's legit news and hope that a full, formal announcement is forthcoming.)
According to Richardson, the "Free to WAAAAGH!" version of WH40K:EC will allow players to play a limited set of classes from all four of the game's factions. Free players will advance at 1/3 the rate of paying players. With a $20 purchase, they can unlock a fuller version of the game -- though not with as many features as the full $50 game. As a bonus, when you do buy, you'll get that extra 2/3 XP you missed out on while you were playing for free.
Richardsson says the F2P rollout will come as a soft launch in February -- which ends tomorrow. So ... soon(TM)?
Long-time MMOBomb readers might remember us talking about Eternal Crusade a long time ago, when it was still in development and the original F2P version only allowed you to play as a limited, weaker subset of the Ork faction. I heavily criticized that move for a couple of reasons -- first because it would unbalance the Ork faction against the other three factions by boosting its population and second by not letting F2P players who were interested in one of the other factions test drive those. We raised the issue in an interview with Behaviour, who said, "we haven’t ruled out limited trials for other factions. We may allow free access from time to time if a given factions’ population is low."
In the MMORPG.com interview, Richardsson admits that the old version was "too restrictive," though he also puts forth the notion that "Some would say that we’re opening it up too much compared to the paying player." If I were to read between the lines, it would sound to me like there's some debate around the office as to whether this is the right move.
I've had issues with half-assed F2P implementations in the past, so opening up all factions and implementing a lower XP gain rate is probably the best way to go. One might quibble at how slow the progress will be, though. Most F2P games offer something like +50% or +100% to XP for "subscribing," while Eternal Crusade essentially offers a +200% bonus. The fact that you get all that "backlogged" XP when you do buy might be a decent enough compromise.
Regardless of what you think of the game's F2P implementation, this move is almost certainly being done to boost Eternal Crusade's flagging reputation and sales. It abandoned the PlanetSide 2-style open world combat that was promised during development and, according to nearly every review I read, was riddled with bugs at its way-too-soon launch. It's got mixed reviews on Steam and, apart from a surge in September and October, maxes out at 1,000 concurrent players on Steam. Richardsson even admits that the move will be a boon to matchmaking.
Two years ago, I was pretty pumped for Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. Now, with the issues it's faced and the features it's removed, I'm far less excited. Free to WAAAGH might draw me in enough to see if it's at least playable, but I don't think it'll be enough to get me playing it to any great degree. What about you guys?
About the Author
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.
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Free to play option is still in testing and it won't become available to everyone at the same time. The first wave will have people who have registered at their website and/or got an invite through some other means. Then after some time it will become available to everyone on steam.
200% more experience for payd players may sound harsh, but you have to keep in mind that there's literally no vertical progression in this game. You only get more tools and options for deeper specialization as you unlock more stuff.
What else... Oh, about "limited set of classes". The only class that won't be available to free players is Jump Assault, the most specialized and advanced class in game. All other classes (main line infantry, heavy ranged infantry, melee assault, support; also melee stealth and specialized anti-vehicle infantry for Eldar) will be available to free players without any limitations (along with unlockable "elite" versions of each class).
No idea what was the logic here. Perhaps they didn't want "the newbs" getting frustrated by the most difficult class. Or maybe they felt that they're giving away too much for free, but didn't want to limit the tactical options and thus locked out the most specialized class.
Just wanted to clear some things up since I own the game and closely follow its development through all the ups and downs. Yeah, and it isn't called "free to WAAAGH!" anymore since all the factions are available.
"This update also has the limited progression, class restricted free way to play the game that we're putting into testing. It is not accessible to anyone yet unless with a key from us, or one of our partners.
As current players, if you are subscribed to our newsletter, you can expect to get a key for the free version some day to give a friend or try it out yourself during our soft-launch."
It was also confirmed to become premium you need to spend 20$ on rtc or purchase a bundle of equal or greater value than 20$. A notice was given to all new players who logged in which stated the following.
"You are now a premium player. WIth this you gain 3x rates for all currencies and xp earned in game. (Excluding rtc) Access to stormboy, assault marine, raptor marine, and swooping hawk. (Essentially you need to be premium to use jump pack classes.)" Not an exact quote but all information in that can be confirmed.