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Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have a very sly way of sneaking in microtransactions into Rise of the Tomb Raider right under everyone's noses. In a recent Q&A some of the details about the 300 Expedition Cards were revealed and how they can vastly alter the game.
The news broke over on the Xbox news wire where Rise of the Tomb Raider's creative director Noah Hughes explained how the replayability in the game works and what the role is of the Expedition Cards. Hughes states...
Once you’ve mastered the mission, challenge your friends and the community to beat your high score. You can include the Expedition Cards you want featured, and others can use these Cards even if they don’t have them in their collection. Finally, you can replay the game in Chapter Replay, which will let you keep the skills and equipment that you acquired on your first play-through. When combined an estimated 30+ hours to gain 100% completion on the single-player story
According to Hughes there are 300 different cards that alter the gameplay, ranging from modified weapons to various gameplay modifiers such as getting extra lucky with scavenging materials. There's something in there that affects just about every aspect of the gameplay, including goofy elements like the big head mode, reminiscent to the cheats featured in games like Golden Eye, Perfect Dark and Timesplitters.
The Q&A never explicitly says that the 300 cards are purchasable as microtransactions, but you find out about them when it's revealed that these cards are bundled into the season pass and that additional cards will be made available to those who purchase the season pass. In other words, these cards have real-world monetary value.
As mentioned over on the store page for the Rise of the Tomb Raider season pass...
[...] In addition, a steady stream of outfits, weapons, and Expedition Cards beginning on Day 1 and continuing over four months will keep you customizing, expanding, and challenging your friends to new adventures.
This will be a way for Crystal Dynamics and Square to keep making money on a single-player game. It's a neat little trick especially after they announced that the game would no longer have its standard multiplayer deathmatch.
In a previous report we did note that Rise of the Tomb Raider would have some sort of “competitive” component. Well, according to Hughes the competitive component comes in with the Expedition Cards and the additional challenges that will extend the game's replay values beyond that of the core story mode and the included difficulty settings.
These challenges can be setup similar to the likes of EA's previous implementation of the Autolog social feature in a couple of the Need For Speed games.
Whether or not gamers will actually be inclined to purchase the cards will depend on how engrossing the game actually is. A lot of people were inclined to use the Real-Money Auction House in Diablo 3 after Blizzard implemented the feature as a way for those who couldn't beat the harder difficulties on their own. It will be interesting to see if some gamers opt to purchase the cards instead of unlocking them the natural when the game launches on November 10th for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.