I was debating picking this up from redbox and your first post sold me but then your third post shut it down. A whirlwind of emotions.
You really hit the nail on the head man. I've been going through pretty gnarly swings in regards to the way I feel about this game. It's a fun unique combat system that is sadly being overshadowed and made less fun due to some business decisions by Ubisoft.
It's pay to win plain and simple. You'll hear a lot of folks talking about how the gear you can pay for that levels you up also detracts from your other stats therefore making the ability to pay for in-game upgrades a non-issue. These people will make claims about how people who view this game as pay to win aren't skilled enough and simply need to get better.
Pure bullshit. These players have not played the elite of the game and therefore are not qualified to comment on how elite players can break the game using purchased DLC and stomp people who have not used real money.
This game is set up around an in-game currency called silver and a prestige system where you level up from level 1 to level 20. You can use the silver to upgrade your weapons and gear. You start with your warrior and you go to work in multiplayer. There are three distinct modes. Deathmatch, Duel, and Dominion. Dominion and Deathmatch are the only modes that allow you to use the gear you earn, either in-game or through purchases. These are also far and away the most popular modes as literally any game developer knows these modes are the staple of multiplayer games.
For example, literally as soon as you start the game you can complete both basic and advanced training to get a quick 3500 worth of the in-game currency to upgrade your character and such. This is all fine and dandy and a really cool perk for people getting into the game. Nothing wrong with that as it helps you start off your experience with a little help. You do a little more digging around after you got that initial silver, and you start to see the prices for literally anything of note within the store. Of shit, 3,000 silver for a dope skull helmet crest? Damn man I want that! I can't wait until I get it!
BUT THEN you start playing the game and you start realizing that you only get 40 silver for ANY match you ever play. And that loot is RGN as fuck and absolutely capped to your level in most cases. This means that if you are level 14 but have not prestiged, you WILL NEVER get a loot drop that a prestige 3 player gets.
After upgrading you gear twice it'll cost around 100 silver plus additional items of gear to upgrade anything even one level further.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE!!! LITERALLY AS SOON AS YOU START THE GAME YOU CAN GO TO THE IN-GAME STORE AND BUY SILVER, THE IN-GAME CURRENCY TO UPGRADE YOUR GEAR. THE ONLY DRAW BACK HERE IS THAT IN ORDER TO GET THE VERY BEST GEAR YOU NEED TO HAVE PRESTIGED ONLY ONCE. THEN YOU CAN PAY FOR SILVER USING REAL LIFE MONEY AND JUST GET THE BEST SHIT.
I have played this game for a solid two days in total gaming time all things considered. I have prestiged 4 times with two different characters and I have rank 2 in 2 classes. I am a very skilled player and I have a firm grasp of this game on the whole.
If someone spends the time leveling up to prestige level 1, and then spends real life money to get the best gear and feats and shit, they will factually beat you 9.5 times out of 10 no matter your skill level.
For example, I fought a Raider/Viking class with my Warden/Knight class. I was CLEARLY more skilled as I was landing guard breaks, countering his own and landing my chain attack combo's with fucking abandon. Literally 9 consecutive unanswered hits. Did half damage to the guy. He got revenge mode. Hit me three times. I died.
Another example, a player that is burned into my memory. Liatham is his name. The dude took blows from ALL FOUR of us. This is 1 vs 4 and he was taking literally acute damage from unblocked heavy attacks(These heavy attacks typically do around 15%- 25% damage depending yon your character and build), we're talking like maybe 2 percent or some shit.
These examples are not skill. They are examples of a player who has maxed out his stats and is content to butt fuck the entire population of a game. I'm not even mad at the dude. Ubisoft is just fucking terrible.
Dueling is fun though and 2 v duels are epic as shit so there's that.
Honestly, give this game a shot strictly for the old timey Dark Ages type combat and really fun game play. Wait for the price to drop and join me on the battlefields!!! Just don't go looking for a truly competitive experience as For Honor is not it.