I recently spent some time in Albion Online. Was it enough to feel out all the changes? LOL no, not even close. It did give me a preview of a few things. As with many big tests in a game that is still in beta I was greeted with starting over once again, then a black screen, then a few minutes of play followed by a server restart! I chuckled about the ordeal because this is Beta and shortly after a massive patch. These things are part of the process that gets us to a launched game.
First, the things I noticed right away. The character creation is still lacking but considering the isometric view I understand why. The game world is as massive as ever. The world map us substantially improved. Zooming in on it allows you to glean some useful information when planning a journey in a game where planning your journey is recommended. I was able to visit a few cities in a few biomes and I can confirm they are now unique and relate to the biome they were built within.
I noted more mobs and more variety to them but the ai was still basic at best. I tried to go on a “Expedition” (the new instanced PVE content for people short on time) but I was told I was too much of a newb. I plan to come back once I’ve grown up a bit. I stumbled through a few random camps which are fun. They give areas some variety and create unexpected encounters. The overall UI was similar to prior versions but felt a bit clearer and more organized. Audio could use a buff. Navigating zones felt a bit smoother with less odd and frustrating dead ends and the terrain itself seems to have more variety. A concern I have is the world being so heavily tiered. Without resource shifting there will inevitably be abandoned low level zones. I’ve always hated to see pretty game areas go to waste but it’s certainly common in MMORPGs.
Despite the obvious PVP avoidance implications I still find myself wanting to zoom back at least one if not two more clicks, especially in the towns. It’s hard to appreciate them as well as navigate them with the current point of view. Most importantly /sit has been added! No MMORPG worth its salt is ever complete without /sit! Point has also been added. I will utilize it when groups are ganking my scrub in his rags. I will defiantly /point at them as a sign of complacent rebellion as I’m quickly dispatched.
Albion is not a game of hand holding, fortunately its easy to pick up and play. You load in then begin by harvesting from plants, nodes and trees. Once you get enough material you make some harvesting equipment. Shortly thereafter you make a weapon and armor. This cycle of play will continue throughout the game if you remain solo. I log in, head to the nearest wild but safe area and begin. I harvest until my inventory is full then head to town to refine my materials and craft. Its repetitive but, I find it oddly relaxing. That said relaxing only retains me for so long, which is why I wager Galahad took many steps to add PVE content.
Beta was packed! In the main cities, my screen was plastered with name bars! Typical issues come with this known MMORPG testing phenomena as all resources in the new areas are continuously being depleted. As soon as they pop back players pounce on them. I’ve done this hundreds of times so again, it didn’t bother me but it’s something to consider if it would bother you and you are thinking about testing the waters. Things come back quick enough to where I was able to fill my bags without too much trouble. Most importantly, despite the traffic the game was solid after the restart and lag free.
My advice to anyone thinking about trying this game is simple, don’t do what I did. Do no try to play it solo. Its peaceful to a point but at the moment Albion is a grindy game. The repetition of limited solo play can only sustain most gamers for so long. I would argue the developers designed this game to push players to group or guild. It would be near impossible to get the most value out of Albion solo. Maximize your minutes and find a guild asap.
Guilds lead to more variety in play, more access to options of play and most importantly, pvp that doesn’t equate to you harvesting solo in a dangerous area then getting ganked by a guild. I only played with a guild for a short time but it was a substantially different experience. They were higher level than I was and had a small guild town. Within minutes I was handed all kinds of goods to help me with my journey and invited on a resource gathering mission. I say mission because it wasn’t a scripted quest, we wanted to go to a dangerous place because it had higher level resources but doing so solo would have resulted in a quick death. Instead it became an escort harvesting mission.
Near the end of my playtime I managed to wander far away from newbville to a PVP zone where I was promptly dispatched spawning naked in the nearest city, in a zone that I was way too low level for. It was going to be a difficult run all the way back to the bank in the newb zone where all my resources were stashed. It was my fault, I can never resist the urge to explore but again, it’s part of the process.