Hands On the Alpha
Last week while many gamers were celebrating the release of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls another lesser known MMORPG was opening its doors for an alpha test. Sandbox Interactive, a developer based out of Berlin,Germany, allowed players trickle into their freshman effort, Albion Online. We got our hands on the game, and have our own first impressions to report.
Albion Online is a sandbox MMO that emphasizes three core aspects of gameplay. Character customization, territory based PvP, and a player driven economy. So far in my limited gameplay I have seen glimpses of one of those aspects, character customization, with hints that the other two exist.
In this alpha version, there’s no real tutorial or introduction. That will likely come later. When you first create your character you will unceremoniously begin your adventure just outside of town wearing little more than a loin cloth. Thankfully you are not greeted by some old man with a gold exclamation point over his head proclaiming you to be the saviour of the land. What you will find is a small patch of trees, some rocks, and bunnies. Lots and lot of bunnies. Apparently even in the world of Albion bunnies like to do what bunnies like to do. You will also find a crafting station.
The first thing you’ll need to do in Albion Online is go gather some resources. While later on in the game you will actually need tools which you make to gather resources you can gather them by hand the first few times. Once you have gathered some rocks and wood you’ll want to make yourself some tools and then gather more resources so you can make yourself some armor and weapons so you can go further out into the world and gather higher quality materials so you can make yourself better gear. Rinse, repeat. And make sure you do not gather too much at once because Albion Online makes use of encumberance so you can’t hold everything.
Part of the character customization in Albion is through the crafting system. The weapons and armor that you wear dictate what you character will be. While you are crafting your items you will be asked to choose what type of abilities you would like to imbue in that weapon or armor. Skills that you choose are tied to your gear. Not your character. There are no classes, it’s all about what you make for your character.
I ran into very few people in my time in Albion, mostly because it was an Alpha test. Because of this I really did not get to test out PvP. I can tell you though that when your character dies you lose all of your loot and start over again back in town. Even if you fall to PvE monsters. Your corpse is left fully lootable to your murderer. For some people this will be a huge turn off. For others this will be the main reason they play the game. You lose everything, so you wind up having to craft all new gear again, or get to your corpse before someone else does. The one thing you do keep with you are your achievements on the Board of Destiny. This is another big part of the overall character customization aspect. The board of destiny unlocks as you complete tasks. It looks very similar to the ability charts in Path of Exile and Final Fantasy X. As you accomplish goals, you unlock more things for your character to have access to.
Albion shares one large world that looks suspiciously like The United Kingdom and Ireland, across multiple platforms. Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux are all supported and play together on the same server. Albion Online shows early promise of being an interesting MMO but is not really a game I would choose to play on my PC. However, it is definitely a game that I would play on a tablet or mobile device while I am on the go and I think that is where Albion could really shine. It will be playable across all tablets and systems simultaneously and everyone on every device will play together.
Over the past week one of our streamers, Kelethar, has been playing Albion Online. Make sure to check out our stream page for more information and raw in game footage. Also make sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below on a mobile MMO that has full loot PvP and an entirely player driven economy. I’m curious to see what our users think of this one.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time checking out the latest games and technology. Feel free to hunt him down on twitter @Grakulen
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