Assassin’s Creed Origins Microtransactions Are Gross

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Screenshot by Jack Fennimore Pictured: A screenshot of Assassin's Creed Origins and definitely not a two-bit mobile game.

Assassin’s Creed Origins so far is pretty good. However, no matter how good the game is, that doesn’t stop its microtransactions from being so gross. Not only do the microtransactions prey on those seeing cool stuff and feeling compelled to buy it so they don’t miss out, but it also takes advantage of the game’s often slow progression in order to get you to buy what are essentially cheats.

Author’s Note: These opinions do not reflect Heavy as a whole.

assassins creed origins microtransactions, assassins creed microtransactions loot boxes, assassins creed origins dlc

Screenshot by Jack Fennimore

First of all, you don’t just buy the microtransactions with money. No, first you have to pay for Helix Credits (with the base pack at 500 for $4.99) and then pay for the microtransactions with them, which already leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. Apparently the middle option, which costs $19.99, is the most popular among players. Also the $49.99 pack is the “best value” according to Ubisoft because buying a game for $60 doesn’t give you enough game, apparently.

assassins creed origins microtransactions, assassins creed microtransactions loot boxes, assassins creed origins dlc

Screenshot by Jack FennimoreAssassin’s Creed® Origins

The gear and pack shops offer powerful legendary weapons in addition to cosmetic DLC. These weapons offer some of the strongest abilities in the game. I managed to snag some weaponry in the main game with the same attributes, namely the weapons offered in the Gold Edition, and their poisoning effect makes them effective against opponents even a few levels higher than you. This means that instead of hunting for items from random drops in the game in order to get stronger, most of which are common with a few epic tier items here and there, you can just buy legendary ones. So the usual claims that the DLC are just cosmetic and don’t affect the game go right out the window.

Not only that, but you can buy Drachmas used to buy and upgrade weapons in the game, materials used to upgrade armor, and Ability Points to invest in new skills. Drachmas are easily found in the game, but the shop essentially turns them into the vapid regular currencies featured in so many mobile games that aren’t really all that useful and just falsify a sense of progression while the Helix Credits are the premium currency that actually get stuff done. The materials are found from animals and convoys running around the outskirts of towns or roads, both of which can be a pain to kill as animals are strong and convoys are on horseback. As for the Ability Points, they’re only found by leveling up which takes a long time. This makes them especially tantalizing as nearly all of the main missions recommend you being at a certain level as enemies even five levels higher than you are way to strong for you to kill.

I remember a time where you could just press a button combination at the title screen to get more resources.

In selling these items, Ubisoft devalues your time spent in the game by putting a price on time saved. As game critic Jim Sterling said in his video on Middle Earth: Shadow of War’s similar microtransactions, allowing you to skip stuff implies that the stuff isn’t worth playing. It’s more valuable to not play the game. The fact that these microtransactions in particular are called “Time Savers” in the store really hammers this home.

You could argue all you want about how the microtransactions are optional, but the fact that the resources are so slow to acquire makes it seem like they were designed that way to make the microtransactions as tempting as possible. They, as Sterling put it, invented a problem and is selling us a solution. Even if the gameplay was truly balanced to allow you to have fun without the microtransactions, buying them essentially unbalances it. So what’s the point?

assassins creed origins microtransactions, assassins creed microtransactions loot boxes, assassins creed origins dlc

Screenshot by Jack Fennimore

But that’s not all! You can also spend credits to reveal the locations of Stone Circles, Tombs, and Hermit Locations, most of which are otherwise out of the way and can only be found by scouting around with your eagle Senu. Ubisoft has long been accused of just shoveling repetitive busywork in their games that doesn’t really add much value. In giving players the “option” to make the busywork less repetitive and boring, and finding stuff like the Stone Circles is pretty boring and annoying, they pretty much admit – no they actually admit – that the stuff they put into their games is repetitive busywork.

Wow, I didn’t even get into the loot boxes.

assassins creed origins microtransactions, assassins creed microtransactions loot boxes, assassins creed origins dlc

Screenshot by Jack Fennimore

Oh yes, of course Origins has loot boxes! Each one offers a random weapon or shield. Once per day, you can acquire one Heka Chest by completing a mission. But if you want more, you have to cough up 3,000 Drachmas per box. Now I opened up two boxes from the missions and got a legendary scepter and an epic Predator Bow, so their offers aren’t insignificant. But you’ll have to dig through a lot of boxes if you have a preferred weapon (I myself have been stuck with a pretty crappy Hunter Bow and am in need of a replacement). Now the boxes don’t hit you over the head by trying its hardest to get you to buy it, but it does insidiously lead you to the shop. You can buy the boxes with Drachmas earned in-game, but you could always mosey on to the shop to get more Drachmas. Their subtle nature combined with the randomized loot drops not guaranteeing the item you want is especially predatory for those prone to gambling.

I’d like to take this time to remind you that all of this is in a game that not only costs $60 on top of it all but also offers a season pass and came in five different collector’s and deluxe editions including one that costed $800. Oh, and they also sold a $59,000 pair of headphones.

Gross indeed.

Now Assassin’s Creed Origins is still pretty fun, but it sucks that is has to be fun in spite of its microtransactions. Making tons and tons of money off of selling an Assassin’s Creed game, one that had a lot of hype after its brief hiatus no less, is simply not enough for Ubisoft. It had to go in and introduce this economy into the game that devalues the experience as a whole and could potentially exploit those with impulsive tendencies.

Just because your game’s title has two asses in it doesn’t mean you have to be one.

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Well I hope you’re satisfied Jack. You’ve gone and enraged a fanboy with anecdotes. 😏

Seriously though, I couldn’t agree more. The amount of repetitive, low quality ‘filler’ missions has always bothered me with Ubisoft games. Several years ago I used to say they were oblivious to the proverb ‘less is more’, but it’s clear now these missions are being used to increase the grind and tempt buyers into parting with more cash.

In older games you’d unlock an area, all side missions were visible in that area and you could pace yourself. In AC Origins, this has been turned into a constant game of whack-a-mole. Complete one side mission and sometimes two more will pop up. Often they’re at a much lower level so you feel compelled to finish them before going back to the main quest line.

Ultimately I don’t think this is a great long term strategy. I own every game in the Assassin’s Creed series but I’m now utterly fatigued by the Ubisoft formula. Ubisoft develop the best open-worlds in the business, but their amazing environments are undermined abysmal side-mission design, poor narrative technique and sometimes releasing incredibly buggy games just to hit a deadline.

William Worth

I totally 100% DISSAGREE with you. A friend and I are hardcore AC fans and both of us have ACO. As a matter of fact I bought him ACO so that he could experience along with me. The only difference between him and I are that I work about 70+ hours a week while he runs an online antique business from his house. The amount of game time that we can spend varies extremely between the both of us. I rarely get a chance to game for over 2 hours. Usually I’m able to play about an hour and a half every other day and if I’m not exhausted I might play 3-4 hours on the weekend. My friend however is able to game as long as he likes at his own leisure. This is why I greatly appreciate the micro transactions. If I took the time to level up and grind my way to victory in every game it would literally take me years just to play even 2 games. I compensate the “cheating” as you might call it by playing games on their highest difficulty. This creates the prefect balance. Although I might have the coolest gear and strongest weapons I still have an extremely hard time defeating the bad guys. Let me tell ya something… I do have the coolest gear and strongest weapons in ACO and you know what… It doesn’t make the slightest difference really. I am having an incredibly hard time climbing the pyramid of baddies because in ACOs hardest difficulty setting the game is relentless. My friend however is able to play his game for hours at a time. While he is at 80+ hours I’m at a wimpy 20+ hours. He was also able to get everything that I got and then some. While the ACO store offers some pretty cool weapons and armor,the best of the best is only obtainable by playing the game. My friends weapons are way better than mine and his armor (at the moment until I complete the quest) is better than mine as well. My point is that these micro transactions are a God send. They able me to experience a game in a reasonable amount of time. Instead of me taking several months to complete a game I can do it in about a month. And because I can do that I am able to experience all of the cool games that I want to play. I don’t believe Ubisoft is doing anything wrong. According to my friend ACOs progressive nature is perfect. Its not to hard and its not to easy either. The grinding is perfect as he describes it. Not only is it perfect, but the quests that you grind through are fun and entertaining. If someone wants to spend their money what business is it of yours. If the person is happy about their purchase than that’s all that counts. I’ve been a HUGE Ubisoft fan for years and I always will be. Thank you Ubisoft for allowing me to be able to actually experience ACO!

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