Black Ops 4 is a potentially great game marred by monetisation issues. Along with the hugely unpopular decision to introduce loot boxes four months after launch, Activision has introduced several laughable microtransactions such as £20 hammers and £1.79 smiley face reticles (yes, really).
Now, things have taken a turn for the worse yet again, as the hugely promising Days of Summer update has locked nearly all the update's new weapons behind loot boxes.
As detailed in the patch notes for Days of Summer, the new weapons – including a Vendetta sniper rifle, S6 Stingray tactical rifle, Peacekeeper assault rifle, Locus bolt-action sniper rifle and Ballistic Knife – sound pretty damn awesome. Less awesome is the fact only one of these can be earned completely for free via Black Ops 4's tier system: the Vendetta sniper rifle, which unlocks at tier 50. The other four are tucked away in Reserves (the Blops 4 term for loot boxes, previously known in COD as supply drops).
Not only is this a major buzzkill if you were hoping to actually get your hands on the new content, but putting the new weapons in loot boxes smells of pay-to-win. While players can earn some Reserve Cases through grinding Contraband tiers, there's already so much guffcontent included in these – including the possibility of earning duplicates (albeit with a guaranteed unearned item every third duplicate) – that players stand very little chance of unlocking the weapons.
In theory, the probability of earning one of the update's weapons should be heightened by the Weapon Bribe at tier 25 in the Contraband Stream (with the guarantee of no duped DLC weapons). The problem with this is players can receive a MKII weapon instead of a gun from the update. So even with the Weapon Bribe, it's fairly chancy as to whether you'll get the desired item.
If you wanted to purchase your way to the only weapon bribe available in the tiers, this would cost you 2500 CP – the equivalent of about £28.58 (for 2600 CP – the closest you can get), and you still might get a MKII weapon. You would then be left with the lottery of opening Reserves if you wanted one of the update's guns.
Of course, if a player were desperate to unlock one of the update's new weapons, they might be tempted to speed up the process by splashing out on Reserve Crates – the paid version of the loot boxes.
The sad thing is, other than the ugly monetisation, Days of Summer actually looks like a great update for players. There's a free multiplayer map, Blackout map changes (plus an attack chopper), a new 50v50 Blackout mode called Ground War and bonus Zombies content, just to name a few of the additions. But all this has been overshadowed by the meanness of hiding the new weapons in Reserves. A familiar theme for Black Ops 4.
Needless to say, the whole episode hasn't gone down well with players, and the Black Ops 4 subreddit is currently awash in posts complaining about the update. The general feeling is that despite some prior dubious monetisation, Treyarch has really overstepped the mark by putting guns in Reserves.
Some have speculated the weapons could become earnable in the upcoming Contracts (in which case this controversy would be more of a release timing bungle on Treyarch's part), but I personally have my doubts.
Given the way monetisation has been handled by Activision for Black Ops 4, I'm now concerned about the company's plans for the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which we already know will have COD Points added in post-launch. In a title where players will already be feeling heavy nostalgia for some of the characters, any microtransaction controversies have the potential to be amplified tenfold. Time to Ghost?