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I just started playing this game a few days ago. Was trying to finish a quest near Meridian earlier today and a rift started to form almost right next to me. I've been ripping through mobs with my ranger and feeling good about myself. So I figured I'll just draw out the rift mobs, kill them and go back to questing.
A few mobs came out the rift, I send in the pet and started shooting at them. Next thing I know, my pet is dead and I was running for my life with another player. Finally got away far enough with almost no health left. I resummon my pet and was getting ready to go back in. Then I saw 20-30 people coming out of nowhere, game started to lag a little and gets a lot more epic.
Smaller mobs didn't die all that fast even with all these people. Think they were elites. Then a huge boss pops out, everyone attacked it for like 5 mins straight. It finally dies, glad I wasn't playing a melee. A green gun drops, better than what I had. I roll need and get it. And everyone gets a purple stone. Not a bad experience for a F2P game. :)
Those are zone events, and sounds like it was a major event. Rifts and zone events are generally broken up into two categories, major and normal/minor. Minor events are normal enemies, maybe an elite boss at the last stage on rifts and definitely one at the end of minor zone events, whereas with major events/rifts most mobs are elites. Majors, of course, provide better rewards. --- Stop complaining. I could have done this more painfully. - Dryad from Sacred 2.
Well, from what I can tell. The in game store and the NPC vendors are full of gears that can be bought with credits which can be bought with real money as well as in game gold. But none of the dungeons/raids are blocked off for any player.
My philosophy with F2P games is that pay to win doesn't really affect me if I only PVE. I think there are plenty of fun to be had just PVEing. Not reading any guides but explore the game world and discover everything on my own.
BiS gear is never put up on the cash shop. If a new tier shows up, only then does the previous tier get put in the shop. They're also horribly overpriced and in the case of PvP gear, prestige gated so you can't equip them without earning the appropriate rank during which you'd already get alot of the PvP currency you'd need to get it without paying with real money.
The only arguably pay to win part is that you have to buy additional souls if you aren't a veteran. It gives you access to 4 additional souls (one for each class) and they greatly expand your options. It costs approximately $20 or with the current price of REX, the item that you can buy from other players to get credits, about 2000 of the in-game currency. Aside from said souls, most of the shop stuff is quality of life improvements like extra bag slots, portable bankers/AH, exp potions stuff like that.
Vanity items like costume/wardrobe gear and, arguably, mounts comprise a significant portion of the offerings as well. In terms of total items sold they probably outnumber "quality of life" items by a sizable margin.
Regarding P2W aspects, pricing on the items is steep. A "Set 7" PvP staff costs 3k credits while a "Set 8" staff costs 6.6k credits. For reference you can get 3250 for $20 (USD) pricing those items at, approximately, $18.50 and $37.00 apiece. PvE gear is perhaps even worse with the two listed L60 raid staves costing 18,750 and 37,500 apiece or $115 and $230. The blue quality items are much more reasonably priced, but they're also much more easily acquired in-game. To the best of my knowledge there have been no changes to how in-game currencies work to make it more attractive to pay those high RL cash prices to acquire the gear than it is to just play the game and purchase them normally.
Personally, I don't really view the souls being purchase required as P2W. It's more akin with them wanting you to pay for expansions as per games like Lord of the Rings Online, except in this case all expansion content but the soles, which are indeed strictly optional, are provided free of charge. Also, regarding in-game currency equivalency pricing of REXes varies from server to server, and they only provide 1250 credits apiece, so while you can have another player "gift" you the souls after they pay the 3,500 credits for one you're still looking at $25 for the credits or up to around 3,600 platinum for the necessary credits. Not having a character at 60 I can't say as to how "expensive" that is in the grand scheme of things, but from what I've seen gathering the money for that if only from farming "old world" crafting materials is reasonably do'able if mind-numbingly boring. --- Stop complaining. I could have done this more painfully. - Dryad from Sacred 2.