Progression skippers are the worst "bonuses" for ultimate or deluxe editions

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bigsocrates

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Edited By bigsocrates

When I bought my PS5 it came in a bundle with the Ultimate Edition of Miles Morales. I was fine with that because it had the PS5 remaster of Spider Man 2018, and I hadn't played that game's DLC yet. I did so soon after I got the PS5 and now I'm making my way through the main Miles Morales game, which is just as good as everyone said it was.

But the Ultimate Edition came with some other extras as well. A few cosmetic unlocks, which are fine, but also early access to one of Miles' gadgets and some extra skill points. I found that very annoying.

Good games should be balanced for the average user, and that's true not just for difficulty etc... but for progression. In a well-designed game you should get gadgets and skill points at a satisfying pace that both matches the challenges the game is throwing at you and also allows you to unlock new abilities at a pace that keeps the game feeling fresh and fun. There's also the small sense of accomplishment you experience upon leveling up and getting access to new stuff. Progression skippers let you bypass this in exchange for money, which feels both yucky from a "microtransactions are bad" perspective and counterproductive. Why not just give me a code that lets me skip to the final cut scene in the game? Or better yet, sell me access to that cut scene and I can just never launch the game at all.

That's obviously extreme, but my point is that the game should be balanced for optimal progression. Obviously there have always been cheat codes, like for extra lives in Contra/Gradius or extra money in Sim City, but those were generally used either in games that weren't actually well balanced (Contra and Gradius were balanced for the arcades, which is to say they were designed to suck quarters not for optimal home console fun) or that were fun to mess around with outside of normal progression (Sim City is a great mess around game for a lot of obvious reasons.) A lot of cheat codes would lock you out of story progression or give you bad endings or otherwise indicate that they weren't really the way the game was meant to be played, they were just there as a fun bonus.

Skill point cheats don't fix pre-existing balance issues or create new fun, they just make the game easier, and they also screw with the pacing of the later game. In Miles Morales you are supposed to get the gravity well gadget at a certain progression point, but if you got it through the Ultimate Edition you just don't get anything there. It takes away a reward beat from the design. Likewise it's easy to max out the skill trees for what's available (because skills are also level gated) so you end up with very bad pacing of skill points vs available skills and it can reduce the fun of leveling up later. You're downgrading the difficulty early, when the game is already very easy, and also messing with progression later on. Joy.

Who is this stuff really for? Who likes this stuff? Are there people who are like "oh boy, I get some extra skill points to start with, that makes me special, better drop $20 extra"? I have bought other Ultimate and Deluxe editions in the past but it was always for other content, like DLC, or soundtracks, or whatever.

A lot of games have these little perks and they always suck. At best they're irrelevant. Sometimes they're annoying, like in Miles Morales where I haven't spent the extra skill points so the game bugs me every few minutes saying I have unspent skill points. Sometimes you can turn them off in the menu, and you can always just not download the DLC if it's separated out from something you actually want (like extra costumes or other ultimate edition content) but if you start a game with it installed you've just got those points now. At worst it feels like the main game has hampered progression to make it more appealing. I love the Forza Horizon games, but the VIP pass (which gives you extra spins for cars in various ways in different games) often makes the game feel more in line with how it should be, rather than just feeling like an extra.

These are bad bonuses and they should go away. That's not even getting into repeatable progression boosters like Ubisoft has put in a number of their games, which are much worse and more predatory. Game progression is a core mechanic and it shouldn't be something that's carved up for extra cash. There are lots of other things that can be sold as microtransactions or deluxe edition content etc...

This ain't it, chief.

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deactivated-60a530ec4d635

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The last game I bought that also featured the same type of "extra content" was RDR2. They would make camp upgrades cheaper and the money you would earn from hunting and herb gathering was also increased.
I also don't really like those "upgrades", but in hindsight I find it kind of funny they did give you those bonuses in RDR2, seeing as how that game ends and any camp upgrades are basically meaningless at the end of the game.

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goosemunch

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The worst offender that I've seen was Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package, which came out a year after the original game and included all the additional content.

I got the Full Package not knowing that it unlocked all the end game weapons and vehicles from the start. It didn't inform the players that the gear weren't part of the base game and gave no option to opt out. The game was definitely not balanced for it and trivialized the whole thing. The mission where you finally get to fly the VTOL was supposed to be an empowering "hell yeah" moment, but instead it was completely deflating.

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Efesell

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#3 Efesell  Online

I don't mind things like this being part of the microtransaction lineup, if you wanna spend your money not playing a game you bought then like go wild my guy, but yeah it's definitely a profoundly boring "bonus" to include in the big expensive version of the game you buy upfront.

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AV_Gamer

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It really depends on the game and how they do the extra bonuses. For example, live action games like WOW, Destiny 1 or 2 and so on can benefit for bonus boosters in order to get the character within a level that everyone else is playing on so they don't feel under powered when starting from the beginning. At the same time, single player games that have level or power up bonuses can take the challenge out of the game and make it too easy, which in turn make it boring. Usually, what I do is play though a single player with no cheats or bonuses, and after I finished the game and if want to play it again, then I use the bonuses to breeze through it.

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ToughShed

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This is also a huge pet peeve of mine. The bonus should be something a little silly or fun or a nod for the super fan, not something that skips gameplay. In most of these modern games too you already are overpowered and get everything by the end, skipping the early progression curve makes them so flat.

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bigsocrates

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@goosemunch: That sounds really annoying. I actually could see a use case for unlocking everything in that game (I don't know if the saves were compatible from prior versions but it's a decent mess around game regardless) but it obviously should have been a clear option when you start a new game. Just "Would you like all weapons and vehicles unlocked yes/no" would fix what sounds like a game-breaking decision. And then you could also have the ability to trigger it from a menu if you start without it but decide you want it at some point. Regardless, that kind of thing should always be optional.

@efesell: In theory I don't care if people spend money to skip parts of a game (though I think cheats should just be free like they were in the olden days) but in practice it's actually very bad because games are balanced in favor of people who spend the money, like some of Forza Horizon's spin stuff. Ubisoft games are infamous for being grindy in order to induce people to spend money on boosters and EA games have pulled that as well. Even if you don't buy the stuff it can screw up your experience. Now Miles Morales is not balanced like that, and the rewards are minor upgrades, so it doesn't have that issue, but I've definitely played games that seemed like they were intentionally extending the grind just to try and get dollarydoos out of my wallet. Not that I've ever been tempted because I know myself and I'd just feel crappy about doing it.

@av_gamer: Live Service boosters to allow people to play new content are different, and are usually not locked behind premium versions, they're generally just part of the product or offered as microtransactions. Yeah, if you want a leveled up character to play with your friends that makes sense (though it should be free, as it generally is with purchase) but in that case the game is not misbalanced, it's just letting you skip outdated content, kind of like buying the sequel to a game without playing the first one.

Most of these pre-order or deluxe bonuses aren't enough to actually do what you're talking about. For Miles Morales there's a New Game+ mode, and 3 skill points won't matter anyway or let you skip content. The boosts generally aren't enough to let you breeze through anything. There may be a couple examples out there (like what @goosemunch was talking about) but for the most part a New Game+ mode is a better way to accomplish what you're talking about.

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LapsarianGiraff

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imunbeatable80

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@goosemunch: i feel like this happened in a burnout game i recently played.. i bought some deluxe edition and every bonus car came in my garage and it made all of the "earn new cars" trivial since i was given some of the best cars in the game.

Its a bummer, because i want to experience the rank up/level up progress that makes sense with the game. Its like having a cheat installed that you cant remove and you just have to actively pretend you dont have the unlocks

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El_Blarfo

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Seriously. Any game that offers a reward that is basically "You can stop playing!" has some serious design issues, at best. At worst, something nefarious is afoot.

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FacelessVixen

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For my intents and purposes, I'm not on board with the notion of paying more to play the game less, especially with an RPG (or games with RPG mechanics) where I like leveling/grinding/farming to a fairly high extent.

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SigFigg

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Anthem's Pre-Order edition gave you a weapon set that you could start off with that was so good there was no reason to use any of the other weapons in the game

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apewins

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Yeah it's absolutely ridiculous that the people who pay more for these games will get the worse experience by having completely fucked up progression from the start, usually without any option to turn it off. I usually buy the deluxe edition because the price difference isn't much, I want to support the developers and often there is also good stuff included, even these time savers might be fun on repeated playthroughs, but not on your first one.

A recent example is Resident Evil 2 remake. The first few hours of that game are easily the best because of the tension and lack of guns. So you barely make your way to the police station and encounter your first item box. If you have the deluxe edition, the item box contains an extra pimped out weapon that does increased damage called "Samurai Edge (Albert Model)". You might be very confused about a fancy gun with a strange name just lying around at the start of a Resident Evil game, especially when you just got a regular gun just five minutes ago and you're having fun with it. You have limited inventory space so you have to decide which gun to go with and now, instead of investigating the mysterious police station your first order of business is to figure out what this weird gun is doing there and if it would be better than the one you're using. In the late game you might assume that a newer gun is better, but this is the beginning of the game! So I had to stop playing and go Google what that thing was. Then I decided to ignore it for my playthrough, but every time I went to the item box it was there, reminding me that this is just a game.

Bonuses also frequently mess with the narrative of games. Take Fallout: New Vegas. At the start of the game, you've just been attacked and been left for dead in the desert. Yet as soon as you have control of your character, you find that you have pockets full of high-quality weapons, armor and money. It's weird that the bad guys didn't take those away from you when they tried to kill you. Or another example, Sleeping Dogs. Your typical mafia rags-to-riches story. You start out as a lowly errand boy, expect when you have all these bonuses, everything's already unlocked and you've got more money than your boss. So why would you run errands for him for a couple of hundred Hong Kong dollars when you already have half a million in the bank and the fastest car in the game in your garage?

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Ry_Ry

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I'm honestly a little annoyed that Demon's Souls got items exclusive for the digital pre-order and deluxe edition with no other way to get them.

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wollywoo

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These are basically cheat codes. You should find them by randomly turning pages in old gaming mags or passed from your friend written down on a napkin or something. You shouldn't be paying money for them. I don't really get it because I never had any interest in min-maxing stats in games anyway.

This is very funny and on-point.