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As we near peak loot box, one game is cutting down on them

Sort of.

Clash Royale has just rolled out its Epic Quests update. It's a bit of a beast, including everything from a quickfire new Touchdown mode that ditches towers altogether in favour of something that feels like American Football (I think it's great, but I'm in the minority by the looks of things; most agree it relies too heavily on the cards you get in the draft), to mirror battles, a revamped shop and a bunch of balance changes. But the first thing I noticed when logging in is that the free chests are gone, and replaced with a new Quests system.

Up until now, Clash Royale has given players a couple of free chests every day, just as a reward for logging in. These chests generally included low-level cards and a bit of in-game cash, but the RNG could sometimes play in your favour. I got at least one Legendary out of a free chest, and even when I was not playing regularly I'd still head in every day to collect my reward.

This is presumably the kind of behaviour that the Epic Quests update is trying to knock on the head. If you're logging in, you now get a daily gift that increases in generosity the more days you chain together, but the emphasis is firmly back on actually playing the game to unlock proper rewards. There's the standard arena ladder, but there are also new quests that, by the looks of things, encourage you to mix up your standard deck by using certain cards or types of cards on the battlefield.

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The community is still picking over the ramifications of this and other Epic Quest changes. Gems are going to be scarcer now? Low-level players are going to struggle more? A huge flashpoint at present - besides the fact that the aspect ratio is borked on some phones - is that quests and arena strategies compete with one another in a way that people are uncomfortable with. Quests offer big rewards, but they push you away from your standard deck, which means that you're likely to lose points in the arena when you're questing.

Even so, what's fascinating to me about Epic Quests is that, as we head towards Peak Loot Chests, this developer is pushing back somewhat.

You can still buy chests in the shop, and you can still unlock them through battling, but the bovine pleasures of opening a couple of loot boxes every day for doing nothing - and of leaving the game, still having done nothing, but with that strange sense of achievement that loot box opening gives you - may have been doing more harm than good. It's going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

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