The Resident Evil 4 remake released its free The Mercenaries DLC, a “reimagined” original game mode that lets players take on enemy flocks in timed challenges, along with a perhaps less welcome addition: microtransactions.
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You can now purchase Weapon Exclusive Upgrade Tickets, which provide access to “a weapon’s exclusive upgrade at any time, regardless of the weapon’s level.” You can also trade for them by swapping with the Merchant 30 Spinel gems for one fast-pass ticket and 40 Spinels for a second.
But the DLC version offers “Not only that, but once unlocked, the upgrade itself is free of charge!” the Steam description continues. How generous!
An “exclusive upgrade,” in RE4’s case, refers to a weapon’s unique, final upgrade. The brain-blasting Striker shotgun’s exclusive upgrade, for example, doubles its ammo capacity, and the serrated Combat Knife gets a 1.5x increase in its attack speed. You typically unlock these by fulfilling all of a weapon’s upgrades and then purchasing the last one, the exclusive, with a heap of pesetas (the most expensive exclusives cost 100,000 Pesetas).
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But RE4’s new microtransactions let you cut corners on already cut corners with real money, offering those Merchant tickets in sets of one ($3), three ($7), and five ($10). There are multiple sets of the ones and the threes, too, so you could theoretically buy an upgrade for every single weapon you use in the game.
These upgrade tickets are not limited to The Mercenaries DLC, which you can download now for an arcade-style, slaughterhouse challenge; they will be “available across all of your saved data,” their Steam descriptions say.
Since RE4 is a single player game, I’m not particularly offended by this. I’ve already debased myself by purchasing the $70 Deluxe Edition of the game, which lets you start the game out with the Sentinel Nine handgun and Skull Shaker shotgun. Both helped immensely while crashing through the game’s nasty village starting area.
The Deluxe Edition also includes these “sporty” sunglasses for Leon, which certainly feels “pay-to-win” to me. Personally, I have trouble winning in RE4 unless Leon looks like a pretty Oakley-sponsored princess.
So, though I like making games easier for myself, I can understand why some people are frustrated with what seems to be Capcom making an unnecessary reach for extra cash. But you could probably make the same argument about the Resident Evil 4 remake overall, which feels like the studio’s eight hundred thousand millionth reissue of the 2005 game.
The good news is, you don’t have to buy any of it. Whether or not you’re comfortable with them, and other than a need for price transparency across all industries, RE4’s microtransactions are reminders that we don’t have to buy all this shit corporations tell us we need but that we don’t actually need.