Original Image Sourced from IGN - Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds Official Visual; Ni no Kuni Logo Sourced from IGN Africa

With the recent release of Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds last May 25th, 2022, gamers all over the world have been talking about it. This game is one of the most anticipated mobile game releases for the season. Some people have been giving reviews already. The big question on everybody’s mind for Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds… is it pay-to-win?

We here at Spiel Times would be taking a look into Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds and be giving our verdict on this question. Read down below to see our in-depth analysis and our final decision!

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What is Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds?

To start things off, let’s begin by introducing the game!

The Ni no Kuni series is a series of games published by Bandai Namco and developed by the Japanese company Level-5. The games fall under the RPG genre and share the common similarity of adventuring in fantastical and magical lands. The anime-esque visuals and cutscenes make it a fan favorite for the quality it delivers.

Image Courtesy of IGN – Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds Official Visual.

Introducing Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, a role-playing game made by the company Netmarble. It was made for Android and iOS and released in Japan on June 10th, 2021. The year after, on May 25th, 2022, the game was officially released globally.

The game boasts a new mechanic implemented into the game. The addition of blockchain integration and cryptocurrency elements allows players to not only play but also possibly earn as well. This new form of system is something not present in previous iterations of Ni no Kuni games.

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Ni no Kuni: The Gameplay and Mechanics

As for the game changes, unlike the previous Ni no Kuni games, players have the option to choose their classes. There are five classes in total (Swordman, Witch, Rogue, Engineer. Destroyer). They also allow character customization.

Image Courtesy of Netmarble’s Ni no Kuni Crossworlds Official Promotional Art

The main combat system as well is a bit different than the past games. It combines the aspects from both Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. Players can attack with their own weapons while also using their familiars to aid in battles against the enemies. The familiars are cute little monsters that can turn the tide of battle with their unique abilities and skills.

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New Additions

Aside from the usual RPG game elements, what makes it significantly different is the crypto-based Gacha mechanic. The Gacha mechanic allows players to summon things like equipment, familiars, costumes, and accessories. 

In the game also exists resources called Territe tokens and Asterite tokens. These are tokens that you can get from different areas of the game. Territe tokens are a resource you get from PvE (Player vs Enemy) interactions such as completing tasks. Asterite is for the PvP (Player vs Player) portion of the game, requiring players to play the in-game PvP modes. Furthermore, in-game items can be traded for these tokens as well.

Image Courtesy of Marblex Official Website

These two tokens can be then used for trading for the developer’s cryptocurrency, Marblex. And from that, it can be converted to other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The mechanic provides a bulk of the in-game monetization.

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Paid vs. Free-to-Play

The game includes an aggressive approach to monetization and Gacha-implementation. This fact makes it very hard to argue that it is not pay-to-win. The game still allows free-to-play players to enjoy the content, however, most of the upgrades to improve your gear, weapon slots, and familiars are gated by these payments. 

Screengrab from Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds – MMORPG | Official Launch Gameplay – YouTube Video by Gaming Mobile YouTube Channel

The implementation of Gacha rolls further skews the divide between paid and free-to-play players. Since it is a random pull that uses up resources, there is no assurance that you will be able to get the loot you hope for. While the alternative of course is just buying it in the store.

While it most definitely is possible to not spend on the game, it is arguable that you won’t be able to experience as much fun. The competitive PvP aspects would be an uphill battle as you will constantly compete with the best of gears and setups. The time it would take to earn for those through grinding will be long and harsh. Considering that the game had just been released, the amount of effort to catch up as a non-paying player would only exponentially grow. 

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Other Controversies

To the surprise of many, the features for cryptocurrency-based Gacha roll were something that was not expected in the initial trailers at all. This led to the fanbase having a strong negative reaction towards the game’s current state. Many argue that the inclusion of these mechanics significantly harms the legacy of the Ni no Kuni series.

The current state of the game at the moment is that many of the high-paying players, the “whales” are the ones at the top of PvP ladders. Due to this, it severely limits the opportunity for free-to-play users to earn Asterite Tokens. They are unable to win tokens since they are unable to beat the paying players with the significantly upgraded gear and familiars. It has led to a deadlock-type situation that has yet to be resolved.

Image Sourced from MMOByte Article ‘Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds is Officially Dead ‘, Image by ByteStix

Another big issue is the sudden increase in bots in the game. It is likely that due to the blockchain integration of the game, it has caught the attention of people willing to farm cryptocurrency for money. As a result, bots have overrun the MMO, creating long queues with frustrating waiting times.

Only a month after release, many players have already voiced their frustrations online. Some have also resorted to review-bombing the game on the Google Playstore. Despite this, major changes and fixes have yet to be seen by the developers. If they fail to address these major issues, they will risk having more of the gaming audience abandon Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds.

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The Conclusion

Image Sourced from Ni no Kuni Netmarble Official Website Gallery, Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds Official Art

So after everything is said, is Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds actually pay-to-win?

Our answer is Yes

Players who wish to compete in-game competitively but without the money to back it will be heavily gated by the in-game monetization. The existence of the cryptocurrency creates a heavy imbalance in the realm of PVP inside the game.

While of course, it is still very much possible to have fun and enjoy the game, there could only be so much one could do. Due to the nature of the game, you might be dependent on Gacha rolls to make up for what you miss out on not paying. However, for that method, luck can only get you so far.

Ni No Kuni: Cross Worlds is available for play and is exclusive to PC and mobile.

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If you have any questions regarding Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, feel free to drop them in the comments below. For more content, stay with us, here at Spiel Times.

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