Despite not being that great of a player, I'm a huge fan of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. One of the things that I particularly enjoy are the Supply Drops that the game doles out at fairly regular intervals.
These are loot crates that contain weapons, armor and other goodies that you can use with your character. Loot is available at three different levels – enlisted, professional, and elite – and the higher the level of loot, the fancier it looks and the more interesting it has the potential to be in terms of its modified statistics. Basically, supply drop weapons give you the chance to slightly customize your playstyle. For example, perhaps using a submachine gun that's modified to have a longer range at the cost of some of its handling characteristics in a class designed for multiplayer arenas where there might be longer sightlines.
Armor is completely cosmetic, and simply lets you play dress up dolly with your avatar. Yet, there's something about this that really appeals to me. I love having a cool-looking avatar, so the fact that I might get a piece of armor that'll help me improve my looks is a strong motivating factor to play the game. Yeah, maybe that might sound shallow, but I just enjoy that aspect of Advanced Warfare.
This week – a month following the Xbox versions – Activision has made available Advanced Supply Drops to buy for PlayStation 3 and 4. Each drop contains three items, with at least one weapon variant, and one item of professional or elite status. They each cost $1.99, or you can buy 10 for $19.99 and get three extra for free. And last night I couldn't resist the temptation, and ended up dropping $40 to get two packs of 10 (plus the free stuff).
I have quite mixed feelings about doing this. Let's face it, $40 isn't a trivial sum of money, and, ultimately, what did this get me?
Well, I spent about an hour opening up the Supply Drops and looking at the contents, and then spent another hour or so changing around my Create-a-Class setups using my new weapons to replace old ones, and also creating a few new classes that I wasn't able to before. I also spent about half an hour messing around with my new armor items trying to find interesting new combinations of gear to give my avatar a new look. I'll no doubt play around with these items some more, and all told I imagine I'll get another hour or so's play out of them, before I settle on a set of looks and classes I'm happy with. I guess I'm talking about time to help justify the money I've dropped on these items, but the more I do this, the more I think I've wasted my cash on a rash and pointless purchase. Or did I?
This is my problem with DLC content like this - it just never feels substantial enough. There's nothing tangible being bought, so it's hard not to let feelings of buyer's remorse creep in the moment I've opened up all the goodies and finished playing with them. I had a distinct feeling of that last night. Almost feeling suckered by what is ostensibly a gamble on a bunch of loot crates in the hope of getting something cool. I did get a bunch of cool stuff, but even so. I paid quite handsomely for the privilege, and the results are hard to truly quantify in terms of value.
Others might scoff at me for buying stuff that I can earn in-game - albeit at a snail's pace compared to the instant gratification I got last night. Or indeed accuse me of "paying to win." There is some small degree of truth to that. I did get a few guns that'll help me improve my game by a tiny, marginal factor, although as I've already said - I'm not the greatest player, and I'm pretty sure the difference between me using my new elite shotgun with a slightly faster fire rate compared to the enlisted one I was using is negligible in the grand scheme of things.
But in the end, the way I rationalize it to myself is that I could have bought all manner of things, from some amiibos for my desk to delivery food as a treat this weekend, but I didn't. I instead dropped money on intangible DLC content that nevertheless has some kind of practical value in terms of the enjoyment that it gives me, and the use I'll get out of it playing what is currently my favorite game. It's all just stuff, and in the end everything can be seen as a waste of money unless you're investing it, and even that can be a gamble.
So does that make me a sucker? I guess it depends on who you ask. Some feel that DLC like this is inherently a waste of money, and they'd prefer a world without it. Others spend small fortunes on in-game items that offer little other than prestige cosmetic value. In the end, it's all in the eye of the beholder.
Ultimately, CoD: Advanced Warfare is a game I put many, many hours into, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The money I spent has enhanced my enjoyment of the game, and gave me a good few hours of fun. It's expensive fun, but it's fun nevertheless - and at the end of the day, fun is what gaming's all about. How you place a value on that is totally up to you - whether you pay $60 for a game, only play free-to-play games, or spend a fortune on whatever takes your fancy.