It doesn’t negate the fact that the Crusader maps are a shortcut for those who are highly competitive to have an even larger advantage if they have the money to shell out for it.
Face it, a large majority of the game’s population will not know what it means to get an opportunity to be highly competitive in the PvE environment (first clears, seal breaks, so on and so forth) because the lack of experience, knowledge, who knows. For the small amount of us that are racing for these prestige achievements, for the exclusive vanities, etcetera, we are in direct competition to those others that are in the same position. If you’re a top PvE’r, you know who the others are on your server that you are against. We’re dealing with 1% of the population aiming for the top rewards.
Among these players, those who spend vs. those who don’t have a clear advantage. The maps allow the rest of the population to catch up easier should they have some sense of working the game economy, but it’s a direct wallet race between the players racing for things like Machinarium, Altar of Swords, and Eternal Chasm first clears. It was already somewhat skewed aiming for high refine perfection and max Dao on skills, but now throwing in things like perfected Soul Grid and high grade Marks and we enter fragmented brackets of player spending.
For those who are trying to get through the game at their own pace, I suppose the maps shouldn’t affect you guys that much. But for those of us who want the vanity of achievement, it’s a sad reality that these maps greatly equalize the playing field between those who are skilled and do research and those who can trump content by being over-Might, while giving those who are both a massive advantage overall. This is why it can be called P2W. Everyone’s definition of P2W is different. For me, it’s those achievements, which are a direct result of progression. P2Progress is the same as P2W in that regard.
In a PvP viewpoint, it’s a whole other story. F2P players will never be able to properly deal with those who use their wallets in a competitive PvP environment, unless their class is superior in skirmishing. But where you can level the playing field against a class yours naturally has a disadvantage against, the people who whale in that class can equally (and obviously there are those that do) do the same and crush you.
While on a business perspective it’s poor to develop a game around the goals of a small sample of a user base it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth that the maps were incorporated when there were plenty of other ways for the company to gain revenue and developments to the game later on that assisted F2P players with catching up.