|Despite Nexon's sticky influence, Ghost in the Shell is turning out to be a highly polished piece of work.|
As of this writing, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online has reached open beta and is now free to play. It also continues to be consistently patched with new content and bug fixes. In the last two patches alone, they have added eight new weapons, two new maps, a new game mode, a new operative, new cosmetic options, and the ability to customize your Tachikoma tank with meaningful upgrades.
Yes, the game is still grindy, but despite this article's tagline, they have actually instituted some measures to make it a little less painful. There are now daily and monthly "missions" to complete that earn significant bonuses to your in-game currency, and XP and GP boosters now have higher yields. They have also added boosters that can be bought for real money if you want to unlock all of the best goodies faster.
Since this game can sort of be described as "grind-to-win", this puts the game into a grey area where it almost touches upon pay-to-win, but not quite. The best weapons and mods continue to be the most expensive purchases, and the fastest way to get them is to buy the real-money boosters. Of course.
I can't fault them too much for this though; the operatives are so fragile that even the stock free-to-play weapons can easily kill with a few well-placed hits. Tactics and skill are still the trump cards here any way you slice it, though the higher tier weapons do noticeably improve your performance a little bit.
Fortunately, the game is also highly tolerant of people who do not want to pay real money but still want to compete. If you log in consistently every day (even for a minute, without entering a match) you will earn a booster, and the bonuses on those boosters will continue to increase in magnitude until they get insanely high. It is possible to simply stockpile these boosters until you have a large chunk of time at your disposal, and then play for a few solid hours while earning mad cash.
They have also fixed the annoyingly temporary nature of the "chipset" upgrades that you can install into your operatives. The temporary ones are still around, but now mainly serve as trial upgrades you can test out before purchasing the permanent ones from the market. The prices are surprisingly reasonable here and they are bought wtih in-game currency rather than real money, so it is quite easy to get exactly the build you want on your characters and keep them that way permanently.
They have also fixed issues with lag and hit registration. The weapons feel ridiculously responsive now, and it is possible to use hip-fire effectively with most weapons. The days of spraying someone at close range and not landing a hit are effectively over. The servers even feel more responsive than most triple-A titles out there, which is very encouraging.
Now for the bad. The migration to free-to-play has unfortunately thrown open the doors to hackers, and while there aren't many of them yet, their presence is quite concerning due to the fact that the game has a dedicated anti-cheat client that is required to be open at all times. It is possible to report these guys, but that's really not enough. I hope the developers take a lesson from Blizzard and institute a zero-tolerance policy the way they did with Overwatch, because hacking is certainly something that could derail this game's success when it finally launches.
The developers have also taken some curious liberties with the lore by adding characters that never appeared in the anime. Maven was the first, and now they've added some guy named Kuro. While it's good that they're taking strides to expand the content and give players more to work with, it's a bit odd that they're sharply straying from the source material like this.
Regardless, Ghost In The Shell is still continuing to impress me. Nexon must be throwing a lot of money at the project to have it develop so quickly, and based on the quality of the updates so far, I imagine it's going to be in good shape once it leaves beta.
I will continue to report as it develops.
|Most recent blog posts from Peter Thomas...|
|Masters - August 03, 2016 (03:43 PM)
Thanks for doing this; I completely forgot about this game. Time to head over to Steam.