Lockboxes seem to be a current topic. Implementations may differ between games, but I’m coming to view them rather skeptically in Secret World Legends. In that game, the lockboxes are known as Infernal Caches, drop randomly from enemies, and can contain a variety of items: cosmetics, pets, mounts, weapons, potions, and distillates. What are distillates you ask? Ah, think of those as injectable XP for your weapons and/or talismans.
The enemies in SWL don’t drop much loot that I’ve noticed, other than the occasional infernal cache. You get random items, experience, and currency by completing missions (a system I do like) and as I mentioned previously, you feed XP into your weapons and talismans to level them up. This is similar to leveling a legendary item in LoTRO, with the huge difference that deconstructing a legendary in LoTRO gives you some random amount of experience back, but does not in SWL.
So if you level up a green item, fuse it to blue, level that to max, repeat, then find something you’d rather use (say it has different/better stats for your preferred role), your previous item is treated like nothing special when you assemble or fuse. The UI does give a warning at least.
I’ve found infernal caches reliably give some currency (shards), potions, and distillates. I’ve always received shards and distillates, the other stuff appears to be much lower chance. Those distillates are a major portion of the item improvement system, so being able to open these infernal caches is important.
But they require a cache key, and those are on sale for about 150 Aurum. In real money, each key is around $1.50. I say around because when you buy Aurum, you get a slight bonus buying larger amounts.
I’m not 100% sure if cache keys are obtainable in game, from dungeons/lairs/raids or what have you. I think they can be purchased at auction, but what is the source? Are they like EVE Plexes which can also be bought/sold but if you trace back to the genesis of the item, somebody bought it with real money?
Patrons (subscribers) get 1 cache key per day, and since I’m a Patron via previous grandmaster status, I get my cache key per day and use it. It isn’t a problem to find an infernal cache – I don’t even play that much per week and I am sitting on 40 of them, after opening 10 from keys I bought plus 1 every day, just from questing around Kingsmouth, the starter zone!
I think it’s fair to say that on average, I get an infernal cache from a random mob I had to kill while completing a mission. So they aren’t exactly rare since mowing through the enemies for a typical mission will result in at least one cache. As far as improving items, a cache is about as much as a mission reward – roughly, as caches tend to drop distillates while missions reward items.
There were missions (Appetite for Destruction, defending against waves of 20+ mobs) where the monsters dropped 4 caches, as in the pic below:
It wasn’t uncommon to kill a group of 4 zombies and find 2 caches from them:
I don’t mind supporting games I like, so I bought 10 keys and worked down my pile of caches. However, I’m not buying $60 more keys to open the other 40 caches.
I get that companies need monetization strategies, but tying RMT to item quality improvement (the only way to an item’s quality, for 2500 Aurum i.e. $25 per item) and throttling the opening of the reasonably common infernal caches to 1 per day for Patrons (without buying more keys) just doesn’t sit well. The distillates that are basically in every cache are a huge boost to item advancement!
I’ve seen complaints about advancement tied to gamble boxes, well I can see and understand the issue now. I’m not sure what other games do but I’m used to the random boxes from LoTRO, they are rare drops indeed. And the LoTRO gold/silver daily rewards are fairly minor as well. I think there would be an uproar if locked boxes started falling 20% of the time and each one included heritage runes. Oh, keys are for sale in the item store and subscribers get one per day. Because that’s kind of the system in SWL.
I mean, you can get by ignoring them but all your gear, both weapons, all talismans, won’t advance and nearly the same rate without distillates.