Earlier, we announced our Best of E3 awards, with Swordsman taking the award for Best Gameplay. The game is currently shifting from closed to open beta, making it perfect timing to announce that Hero's and Starter Packs are available for purchase. While the game is free-to-play and only requires Perfect World's launcher, Arc, the Hero's Pack is like a collector's edition for a free game. Purchasing a pack before open beta starts also means access to an open beta headstart.
The Hero's Pack includes: Blazing Stallion Mount, Blade Apprentice Scroll, Ring of Valor, Nomad Body Fashion, East Sector Treasure x600, Nomad Head Fashion, and Mithril x10. The horse does look pretty sweet. The Apprentice Scroll grants a companion at level 25, giving you your very own minion to boss around. For the fashionably disabled, the Nomad Body Fashion will help you become the stylish fashionista you've always wanted to be. The Ring of Valor not only gives you stat boosts to start with, but it can be upgradeable to grow with you. The East Sector Treasure is a way that will allow you to summon a boss, Tien Bokgan, which is the fastest way to acquire 5-star gear. While the mithril sounds like you'll be getting a headstart on an ore collection, its only point is to sell to the first vendor you find in exchange for in-game cash.
One interesting thing that Swordsman is doing, is that the Hero's Pack and the Starter Pack do not have overlapping content. Purchasing the higher priced Hero's Pack does not mean you get anything from the Starter Pack at all. It has its own set of rewards. Here's a quick rundown of what purchasing a Starter Pack will give you: Goathide Pack (15 slot bag), Bonus Pack (filled with items to let you upgrade your gear), Boost Pack (health potions, exp pills and other similar consumables), Wind Prayer Scroll x10 (allows for porting to town or a custom point you've set), Big Goldstone (item to vendor for in-game currency), and Roar Scroll x10 (special scroll that allows you to speak in the "Roar" channel, which everyone will see your messages -- something that surely won't be abused).
With free-to-play MMOs becoming more accessible, this is one way they can offset costs without charging for a base game. Since free-to-play games generally come with cash shops, it can be expected to see one in Swordsman. Whether it's also "free-to-win" is another matter that will be seen soon enough as open beta means more eyes are on the game. There are sure to be players who might purchase one Hero's Pack, but several Starter Packs during their journey to the top.
How do you feel about free-to-play and Swordsman's model of purchasable packs to upgrade the experience? What about purchasing consumable packs, like the Starter Pack? Do you enjoy games that allow purchasable ways for the game to be easier, or do you prefer cash shops only sell wares that do not impact gameplay?