What we had to see at G-Star was a demo specifically for the event, so there wasn’t much more to play around with and the business model hasn’t been selected. Our usual battery of benchmarks largely confirmed my expectations: The Z2 benefits hugely from its upgraded processor, the Snapdragon 801. There are a couple of freak numbers in the table — especially the poor Quadrant and SunSpider scores. It’s a tad heavy, but with a high-res display, decent battery life and excellent performance, it’s not a bad device for the $399 asking price. While the slate’s 4,500mAh battery isn’t oversized for an 8-inch tablet, it lasted between 13.5 and 14 hours in our standard looping-video rundown test from a full charge (I ran it a few times to be sure I was getting an accurate result). Altogether, it’s a nice bundle of goodies for a total price of a standard retail game or expansion. Even if you have $150 to blow on a game, you must weigh whether it’s better to spend $150 on a preset bundle as we have here or to buy a lesser edition and then use the leftover wad of cash to buy specific items that you want from the in-game store. https://mr.castop.net/
I asked Blackphone about this change, and was told the original bundle was an introductory offer for anyone purchasing the device within the first three months of launch. I used it frequently over the holiday period to Skype with relatives and friends, and I estimate you could stay on a call for around three to four hours from a full charge. You will have three significant restrictions, however: the lack of access to the new earring slots, lack of access to any gear with “Planewalker: Water” affixed to it (around 15% to 20% of the expansion’s gear rewards), and lack of access to the Manguo League. But some of the restrictions (the quickbars, the head slots, the fact you can’t choose money boxes as quest rewards) are purely annoying to anyone who’s seen another F2P game. Hybrid models that give players the choice between microtransactions or a regular subscription have turned the industry on its head.
But the Guild Wars model is an anomaly in the genre; far more common is that money-grubbing, annoyance-laden hybrid model that Western MMOs love to adopt. I’ve had the luxury of using the featherweight tablet for an extended period of time — enough to fall in love with its petite profile — but I haven’t had to drop a cent for the pleasure. Honestly, it’s just not enough to even begin to seduce me into that price range. The price point is easy enough for a lot of people to swallow even if they’re only casual players. I’d be a lot more interested in the second minion slot and the exclusive Bloop minion, as this system is the biggest draw of the expansion for me. I was fully expecting RIFT: Nightmare Tide to be out by the time I sat down to write this, but then the delay happened and I had a little unasked-for breathing room to figure out what I was going to discuss while we waited for the expansion to come out.
If you’re planning to play Nightmare Tide but are short on cash, then going free wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. The first thing we notice here is that the price has jumped into the “giant collector’s edition box with pewter statue” range, except that it’s fully digital. The rest of the edition has a lot of neat toys, but nothing I’d say is “must have.” There are aquatic-themed dimension decorations, a cosmetic helmet, a new portrait frame, an additional bank slot, and some accelerators. There are no “must haves” here, merely a lot of extra stuff that will probably be forgotten within a month of launch. The 8.4-inch Galaxy Tab S is currently selling for $340 at Expansys, making it the cheapest of the lot. It contains all of the other edition’s goodies and benefits, as well as a special shark mount, a 36-slot bag, a new dimension, a crab combat pet skin, an infinite-use black dye, themed cosmetic weapons, and the ability to summon others to you. It contains all of the expansion unlock essentials of Typhoon, but then it adds several lovely features.