Hellgate Global Preview

One of the editors over at ZAM was given a tour of T3's newly relaunched Hellgate Global and has kicked up a two-page preview based on the areas and content that he was shown during the action RPG's open beta period. I've been playing a lot of this myself, and have been thoroughly enjoying it (again):
When it comes to PvE content, there are five Acts that are roughly broken up by level range. The highest level characters play mostly in the Abyss at level 55. While Act 1 and 2 are free to all players, the subsequent areas require a one-time purchase. The Acts are then unlocked for all characters on a specific account. While the original Hellgate: London worked on a subscription plan, the new team aims to turn a profit through this payment as well as its cash shop, which includes perks such as an automatic dismantler, experience boosting, and temporary buffs. The in-game currency is called TCoins, which exchange at a rate of 1,000 to $1. To purchase the Act 3+ ticket, it costs $4 (although the minimum purchase for TCoins is 5,000 for $5).

Around Act 3 (and level 20 and above) players can access the Stonehenge area, where I had a chance for a brief tour and explanation. Stonehenge was released on the previous incarnation of Hellgate, and it serves as a leveling zone for mid-level characters. It boasts four dungeons with bosses, and once all are defeated, their quest items can be used to open a fifth dungeon map. Again, all of these areas are randomly generated, potentially allowing players a lot of replay. In addition there is an achievement system, consisting of standard fare such as (kill 50 zombies.) However, several achievements reward special effects which can be equipped; these include achievements like (Turning Into a Nerd,) which is completed by finishing the tutorial zone and, when equipped, grants +2% damage bonus for the character.

The final sight on my tour was an explanation of events that the team is putting on in-game. These events currently change monthly, and right now two are on-going. The first is a 30% bonus to experience gain this month, along with mini-games and level-based rewards. The rewards are granted every 5 levels in the form of mail and include items usually only purchased from the item shop, such as an expanded inventory or increased experience. The second event is a (guild crusade,) where guilds of 30 or more members update their sites daily and send the updates to the Hellgate team to be judged on several criteria, including community service (in the form of blogs and articles) and website appeal.
My biggest gripe with this free-to-play incarnation? The fact that you can buy skill points and unlock weapon mod slots with real money. Microtransactions should only be used for cosmetic and time-saving items, in my opinion.