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How Assassin's Creed Unity's micro-transactions work

Francs, but no francs.

Assassin's Creed: Unity has launched in the UK and its micro-transaction prices are live, which means we're now able to investigate Ubisoft's new in-game purchasable currency to see how it works.

Five packs of micro-transaction currency, named Helix Credits, are currently available to buy. The packs range in price from £3.99 to an eye-watering £64.99.

Helix Credits are used to "hack" better weaponry and gear that would otherwise be worth a huge amount of francs - the regular currency you find when searching dead enemies and in chests.

500 Helix Credits costs £3.99, 1400 costs £7.99, 3200 costs £15.99, 9000 costs £39.99 and 20,000 costs £64.99.

On the lower end of the scale, £1 is equivalent to 125 Helix Credits, but there are savings - if you can call them that - in buying bigger amounts. Buy the most expensive pack and each £1 you spend is converted into just over 300 Helix Credits.

But Ubisoft has defended the addition of the currency - the first of its kind within the series - and reassured that it does not unlock any item which can't be found within the main campaign.

"Every item in the game is unlockable through player progression," a Ubisoft spokesperson explained to Eurogamer. "The progression and economy is tailored to not push the player to pay.

"Everything is balanced in a way that the player will never feel forced to buy, but rather to keep playing the game to access better gear and become stronger."

But how easy would it be to buy the items on offer naturally and without coughing up real world cash? We took a look at some examples.

The top-rated sword available to view when starting the game is the Cinquedeas. It holds a five diamond rating - the top equipment level. Normally the only way you could obtain it is by forking over 125,000 francs - which would take a huge amount of time to accumulate.

Alternatively, you can buy it for 1000 Helix Credits - £8 if you buy two of the 500 Helix Credit packs, or slightly less if you fork out for one of the larger packs.

It's the same story when looking at equipment. The top-rated headwear item we could see is the Legendary Brigand Hood. It usually costs 125,000 francs, or again is alternatively available for another 1000 Helix Credits.

Hundreds of these items are now available, and at least half - those which are designed to be bought, rather than those unlocked by completing mission types and objectives - can be "hacked" using Helix Credits instead of handing over francs.

Entirely new to the Assassin's Creed series are Boosts, which temporarily increase one of your stats for a short time period. The Stealth Boost, for example, "makes you significantly more difficult to detect during assassinations and freerun for three minutes" (100 Helix Credits).

Each option has a longer-lasting Premium variety, too - for a slightly higher price. The Premium Health Boost "significantly increases the damage you take for five minutes" (150 Helix Credits).

Ubisoft told Eurogamer that it considered Boosts to similarly be balanced - although there is no way to obtain them other than by spending Helix Credits.

Of course, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag also included micro-transactions of a kind. You could pay 79p each to show all collectibles and activities on the game's map, £2.39 to skip finding all treasure maps, and £1.59 for a set lump of in-game consumable resources.

But these were billed as "shortcuts" to skip completing certain activities in the game (synching viewpoints, hunting down treasure spots) and were not a full in-game currency.

You can also buy these type of packs in Assassin's Creed: Unity, too. There are four maps available, again used to reveal locations for various mission types and collectibles.

Each of these four are priced at 150 Helix Credits each - just over a quid's worth - although you'd need to spend at least £3.99 for the smallest pack containing 500.