Skins, Skins, Skins!

I told you about the crates, bro, I told you.  It just keeps happening.  Now, its even oozing into non-Valve games.  As you may know, Payday has recently implemented a crate system, full of colorful (and gaudy) gun skins, and Killing Floor 2 now has cases to open as well.  Although those only have hats, how unfortunate.  Let’s take a look.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive was the first game to implement these gun skins.  These skins serve as the only thing to find in the crates, indeed they are the only way to personalize your particular character, unlike TF2 and Dota’s wide selection of headgear.  CSGO, in addition to the base rarity of skins, also introduced a wear system, with which skins had a chance to have a bit of wear-and-tear on them, which mainly serves as another layer of rarity, and a way to make your skin look that much more uglier.  Although the worn-out look probably appeals to some.  Furthermore, there is also the Stat-Trak counter, which function like strange weapons in TF2, but were also a physical counter right on the gun.  Lastly, they added various stickers you can slap on a gun to personalize it further.

Suspiciously Hotline Miami Themed...
I don’t own CSGO, so here’s a MAC-10 skin I found on CS:GO Stash.

I could make some sort of joke about overpriced pink knives, but I won’t.  Too predictable.

Valve later migrated the CSGO skin system to TF2 with the Gun Mettle Update, nearly verbatim.  With it came four sets of gun skins ranging from wooden revolvers, to camouflaged sniper rifles, to cow flamethrowers.  Some of them even have a strange counter like in CSGO.

The main problem with them was the fact that the skins were divided into two groups, those that came in crates and those that did not.  Only the boxed ones could come in strange or unusual.  While I might like the flamethrower painted like a cow, or the minigun covered in corn or Jimi Jam, I cannot get them with the strange counters I also like, which makes them largely and hopelessly inferior.

An Aquamarine Rocket Launcher
An Aquamarine Rocket Launcher

Nonetheless, I hope that Gun Mettle won’t wholly go the way of so many other TF2 experiments, and that the contract/skin system will be expanded upon and improved in another update.  But its Valve, so who knows where their attention will be.

Curiously, Payday 2 did have a couple of gun skins before their whole crate deal.  A golden version of the AK rifle was added a while back.  There was no difference between both other than one being the color of butter, and modding it is a pain as the mods aren’t also golden so the whole gun sort of clashes.  Also, Jacket’s Piece (a MAC-11), came with a special mod called the 80’s Calling, which gave the upper receiver an 80’s neon cyan and pink paint job, complete with palm trees.  A colorful gun to go with your colorful character.

Payday’s crate system trips on a lot of problems that neither CSGO nor TF2 had to deal with.  A lot of the gun skins offered are for weapons locked by DLC packs.  If you unbox a skin for a gun you don’t own, sucks to be you.  This is even true for the two free safes they offered, you could get a free skin for a gun you don’t have.

The other problem is, a small, rare subset of skins also improve the stats of your gun very slightly.  Some grant a very small bonus to accuracy or stability, or an extra shot in a already small ammo pool.  While those are rather minor, the ones that boost concealment are a bit less so.  Those can be below the normal maximum for the concealment stat, and allow you to use guns in critical hit dodge builds you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.  There has been talk of axing the bonus system for something more like Stat-Trak, but as far as I know its just talk.  While I don’t mind the skins themselves, I do object to them giving benefits, however minor they may be.

There are a couple positives, though.  For example, in Payday the skins are separate from the guns themselves, they are treated like a gun mod with infinite uses.  My one Mosconi skin can be used on every Mosconi in my inventory if I so desire.  Also, those inspect animations can be used if you have a skin or not, unlike TF2, and some guns that don’t have skins have inspect animations.  Also, the visual aspect of skins can be disabled, so you don’t have to see your teammates pink guns if you don’t want to, or if you need to save on performance.

"Big Spender" Vulcan Minigun
“Big Spender” Vulcan Minigun

I can’t escape the crates, unfortunately they are here to stay.

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