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Wuthering Waves Microtransactions: Gacha system explained

Wuthering Waves is a free-to-play gacha game fuelled by microtransactions, but here's what you're getting into!

Baizhi from Wuthering Waves, casting a magic spell.
Image credit: KURO GAME

Wuthering Waves is the latest anime-style action-RPG threatening to soak up all of your free time, dropping as it is on both PC and mobile devices - whether you’re at home with a monitor or out and about with a phone, you can never escape.

Like many other free-to-play RPGs, you collect characters in Wuthering Waves via a “gacha” system. This means that you pay a select amount of in-game currency in a special store for a random chance at items and character unlocks. It’s called gacha because of the system’s similarity to Japanese “gachapon” machines, where you insert coins into a slot in exchange for a random toy from a displayed set.

The best characters often have a very low chance to appear and the amount of money you can spend is theoretically endless, meaning the monetisation tactic is controversial both for how it can gate off many of a game’s strongest (and therefore some of the most fun) characters, and how it can tempt players to overspend.

Wuthering Waves, like developer Kuro Game’s previous release Punishing: Gray Raven, is very focused on fluid, party-based combat, and thus on its characters - so you will most likely feel compelled to visit the in-game store for more.

Compared to the amount of story content on offer, and owing to the fact they’re mostly if not completely PvE, gacha games like Wuthering Waves can sometimes feel relatively lightly monetised compared to other mobile games, competitive games with multiple battle passes and skin stores and free-to-play games on consoles.

However, the unfortunate reality is that to receive everything in Wuthering Waves you would need to spend far more than the asking price of a traditional RPG. But the classic apologist response to this is that you’re not supposed to get everything, but rather enjoy the characters and weapons you do find and fit them into the framework of your adventure.

With that said though, one of the main considerations you’re likely to make when deciding if you should start playing Wuthering Waves at all, is its gacha system. Knowing how you collect new characters, and the kind of experience you can expect when interacting with the loot box system, is key to your enjoyment of any free-to-play game, so here’s how the microtransactions work.

How do microtransactions and the gacha system work in Wuthering Waves?

If you’ve ever played Genshin Impact, the gacha system and microtransactions in Wuthering Waves are very similar.

To continue the gachapon analogy, the different ‘machines’ you can put your in-game money into are called Convenes. These Convenes contain different pools of characters and character-equippable weapons that you can be randomly assigned.

Some Convenes stick around all the time, whereas some are seasonal and change periodically to include new characters and items.

Characters in Wuthering Waves, called Resonators, can be of either 4-star or 5-star rarity. 5-star Resonators are the most powerful and valuable characters, and therefore the most sought after. There is usually a limited number of 5-star characters within a specific Convene, with more rotating in once the season changes.

In the closed beta of Wuthering Waves, the drop rate of 4-star items within a Convene was 6%, while the drop rate of a 5-star character is 0.8%. Which as you can see is a big difference.

Many games with random chance packs, including card games like Hearthstone as well as gacha games like Tower of Fantasy, contain what’s colloquially known as a “pity timer”. If you don’t get lucky and get a 5-star character after a certain number of spins, the game will “take pity” on you and give you a good drop. This is to stop players going on huge loss streaks based purely on bad luck.

Again based on the closed beta, the pity timer in Wuthering Waves is set to 10 for a 4-star item and 80 for a 5-star Resonator. This means you will get at least one 5-star character in every 80 spins.

However, for new players, there will also be a Convene with a limited selection that you can only spin 50 times. In this Convene, you're guaranteed at least one 5-star Resonator within those 50 spins.

The in-game currency that you feed into the gacha Convenes is purchased with real money, and there are a few different types. With your real money you buy "Astrite", which is then used to buy different types of "Tide" which can then be placed into different Convenes.

If you think that's confusing, that's because it is. Free-to-play games often put players through these chains of multiple in-game currencies to abstact the amount of real-money they're spending and make each individual spin harder to quantify in real-money terms.

We'll see how much Wuthering Waves relies on this system, and how hard it is to pull the best characters, once it drops on mobile and PC, but not on Steam, on May 23.

If you're interested, you can get yourself some 5-star items by pre-registering before the game's release.

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