It’s been a while since I played Albion Online, probably almost since launch if I’m being honest. But what I’ve found since trying the game this week is a much-improved experience. Now that Albion Online is F2P, is it worth giving a shot? The answer is yes, but with a few caveats.
The first “uh oh” I had when logging in yesterday was a 3,000 person queue that came complete with an ad to “buy premium” status, in order to skip the queue. Crafty business move? Yes, for sure. Shady and annoying to this seasoned MMO consumer? Also, yes. Today was different though, as it seems the queues are under control and I don’t have to face that “spend money if you want to play, punk” tactic.
What surprised me the most, as I don’t know when they added it, is an actual story-based tutorial. Marooned on an island, the new story-based tutorial leads you through the basic loop of gameplay - kill, gather, craft, repeat. It’s a solid casual sandbox foundation, and the accessibility of Albion Online is not to be dismissed. This can be a hardcore PVP MMO if you want it to be, but it can also be a casual crafting and mob-slaying affair too. It’s still not a quest-based game, but the opening intro series of quests helps give you an idea of what you should be doing, and then lets you loose to find your own way.
I’ve only just begun life as a newbie (I’m on Journeyman tiers of crafting, for example), but I’m pleasantly surprised to see a sandboxy MMO I can log into, do a few things, and log out of. Daily goals, an extensive knowledge board for skills progression through the crafting tiers, and a seemingly innocuous F2P model makes me think that maybe Sandbox Interactive has something solid on their hands after years of tinkering and tweaking and persistence.
Most of the microtransactions seem to be centered around Gold, where the player earns silver for their in-game activities. So you can buy gold, and then convert it to silver, and skip the work of gathering materials or crafting your own goods. Essentially, if you spend enough money, you can buy the gear you want to use. Whereas players willing to work for it, don’t need to spend a dime. They just have to go material gathering and level up their crafting tiers. Is it Pay to Win? I’m thinking it leans in that direction, but then I’m reminded that players drop their equipment on death, and it suddenly feels less P2W because what you paid for can just as easily be lost if you’re not careful or get too ballsy in PVP.
Sandbox’s MMO is not like the super-free and robust Legends of Aria - meaning it’s not really an Ultima Online successor. Instead Albion is like the sandbox MMO for people who don’t have time for a real living world and the demands on one’s schedule that makes. Is it deep enough to hold my interest for the long term? Hell, I don’t know. I just started yesterday. But since it’s F2P, I now know I can always come back and will likely find a world filled with players to keep the game feeling lively.
If you’ve been on the fence during its buy to play period, now’s the time to try Albion. You just might find something you really like. And frankly, since it’s also on mobile, it’s good for playing on the road too. This is one I’d like to see come to consoles as a F2P title too, if you’re reading Sandbox.