Atlas Reactor, the online tactical combat game that we described back in April as Overwatch meets XCOM (but neither of those things) was originally announced as a free-to-play game. But following an open alpha and a couple of weeks of closed beta testing, Trion Worlds announced that it was switching to an exciting new system of monetization called “buy-to-play,” in which players pay a single, up-front sum of money, and are then granted unlimited access to the full game.
Yes, there's a bit of an ironic zing in there for you, although to be fair about it, a premium-priced online combat game in this day and age is a relative rarity. But Trion has now decided that it wants the game to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, beyond the free-to-play Early Access period that's quickly counting down on Steam. That means making it free: Not by reverting to free-to-play, but by adding a separate “free mode” that will give players the experience without giving away the farm.
“You can play the game for free, using Freelancers from the weekly free rotation,” the developers explained in a blog post. “This rotation is unique per player. As you play you’ll earn reward caches, in which hundreds of cosmetic banners, icons, emotes, titles, skins, styles, taunts, and more can be found. There will be a limit on how frequently Free Mode players can open a cache.”
If you like what you see (and play), you can purchase Atlas Reactor at any time, which will permanently unlock all Freelancers, do away with the limitation on opening caches, and enable custom and ranked games, and entry in tournaments. Purchase prices currently start at $20.
Trion also announced changes to the player progression system intended to address complaints that, despite being buy-to-play, it still feels like a free-to-play game. The Store section is being removed, and all items in it will be acquirable through gameplay rather than purchase; a Collection menu, which will track the progress of your account and Freelancers, will take its place. Crafting and inventory are being dropped, Freelancer and account level caps are being removed, and credits are out as well.
The player progression revisions and Free Mode are both set to go live on August 9. Any ISO and crafting materials in your inventory after the changeover will be lost (purchased or crafted items won't be), so spend it if you've got it.