Halo 5 has multiplayer microtransactions and the Internet is alight with concerns that 343 Industries had added a pay to win system into the multiplayer.
In Halo 5 multiplayer, there is a Requisition System (REQ) which spans the game’s two multiplayer offerings, Arena and Warzone.
After playing in a match of either Arena or Warzone, you are awarded REQ points based on your performance and the end result. You can then use those REQ points on purchasing REQ Packs. These packs contain different things like unlockable weapons, armour, skins, assassination animations and other items (think Battlefield Battlepacks and you’d be on the right track). You will also get REQ Packs for ranking up your Spartan Rank and complete Commendations throughout the multiplayer modes.
If, however, you don’t want to go through all that to get REQ Packs, you can instead purchase them for real world currency as a time saver and matter of convenience. When purchasing REQ Packs with real world currency, some of the proceeds will go towards prize pools for the Halo Championship Series which in itself probably doesn’t mean much for the majority of players.
Halo 5’s development chief Josh Holmes has published a post on Halo Waypoint to address the pay to win concerns and explain how the REQ system works in more detail. For a start, only cosmetic items like the skins and assassination animations can be used in Arena
While players will earn REQ Packs across both Arena and Warzone, only cosmetic items can be used in our Arena experience. This is to ensure that all players start with the same weapons and abilities as part of our vision for the balanced, competitive play in Arena multiplayer.
When it comes to Warzone though the player vs player vs AI game mode that supports 24 players and was announced at E3, things change a little. In Warzone, you can use all your vehicles and weapons you obtained from your REQ Packs. There is a catch though, to use any of your REQ Pack items in Warzone, you first need to earn them through the modes REQ Level and Energy systems which rises based on player and team performance. So while you may have an awesome weapon from a REQ Pack you need to earn the right to use it in a Warzone match. The more powerful the item, the more energy points it costs to bring it into the battle. For example at E3 (subject to change and balancing development), a Storm Rifle costs 2 energy points while a Mantis mech costs 6 energy points and the Phaeton Forerunner ship costs 7 points.
The REQ System is designed to generously reward players with a steady stream of content to keep gameplay fresh. We’ll be continuing to release new REQ content, post launch, so there are always new toys to play with. All REQ content in the game can earned through the regular course of play in multiplayer. We’ll also give players the option to purchase REQ Packs as a matter of convenience, with a portion of the proceeds going toward prize pools for the Halo Championship Series. Stay tuned for more details on Halo 5 esports plans later this summer.
So while you may spend real world money on REQ Packs, you still need to play each round to have the right to use them. The balance that 343 Industries needs to get right is how easy/difficult it is for someone who doesn’t want to use real money microtransactions to unlock REQ Packs through gameplay and, do those who pay gain any upper hand by choosing to lay down additional cash?