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Should You Play Albion Online In 2024?

Nick Shively Updated: Posted:
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Most MMORPGs change dramatically throughout their life cycle. Some start out at, or near, their peak and slowly taper off as their players migrate to the next shiny thing. Others go through highs and lows depending on the reception of the latest expansion or major update. Finally, there are MMOs that have humble beginnings and slowly build upon a core base that for the most part only continues to improve the game.

I wholeheartedly believe that Albion Online is in the last category of games. If open-world, sandbox, full-loot MMORPGs are your cup of tea, there has literally never been a better time to start playing, or come back to, Albion Online. Although every patch or update hasn’t necessarily been a winner, Albion Online started with a core model and for the most part has continued to improve and expand on what makes the game unique.

When it was released in 2017, Albion Online was fairly bare-bones. There was a base set of weapons and armor, but most of the fancy artifact weapons were added post-launch. As far as content went, there also wasn’t a huge variety of options at the start. You could gather, craft, gank, fight in Hellgates, or participate in territory warfare. The game was essentially a blank slate, but if you weren’t in a decent-sized guild or alliance there wasn’t much content besides small-scale PvP.

Near the beginning of 2019, the player base had started to dwindle and the game was at its low point. This is when Sandbox Interactive decided to switch back to a free-to-play model and the player population had a massive rebound. Anyone could now play Albion Online for free, or they could subscribe to the premium model for additional rewards, such as increased Fame (experience), loot drops, and other bonuses like monthly chests.

This switch to free-to-play likely saved Albion Online and paved the path for its current success. They key to success for player-driven sandbox games is obviously a large and active population. More players means more resources are gathered and crafted, which leads to a stable game economy. It also ensures that the dangerous Black Zones are well populated creating content for PvP gankers and large-scale territory fights.

Finally, premium can also be purchased with in-game silver, incentivizing players to play and compete for the most lucrative content. Additionally, allowing players to purchase premium with in-game silver helps decrease inflation and stabilize the economy. It should be noted, however, that in November 2022, both subscription and gold prices increased by 25%, which did cause a significant amount of in-game inflation.

The developers directly influencing a game’s economy by increasing prices across the board is much riskier than indirect changes, such as modifying the power of a specific item or group of items. Even so, the prices were essentially just increased to the industry standard of $15/month and seem to stabilize shortly after.

Another major win for Albion Online was the official release of the mobile client on June 9, 2021. Although many North American and European players primarily use PCs, the mobile client opened the game up to the rest of the world and the player count soared. While I personally can’t imagine trying to play a full-loot PvP game on a phone or tablet, it’s second nature in certain cultures and I’ve met many successful mobile-only Albion Online players. Between going free-to-play and the mobile release, Albion Online became accessible to nearly every gamer with Internet access on the planet.

However, accessibility doesn’t matter if the game isn’t fun or doesn’t offer something unique. There are thousands of flavor-of-the-month mobile games that shine for a month or two and fizzle out. Thankfully, outside of a few UI design choices, Albion Online was designed as a full-fledged PC MMORPG first and not to chase short-term profits.

Since Albion Online’s release in 2017 there have been tons of minor quality-of-life improvements, reworks to core systems, and massive additions. Adding fishing, corrupted dungeons, and the Mists have created a ton of new content for solo players interested in both PvE and PvP. One thing that SBI has excelled at is adding content that builds on itself.

For example, the Mists are great for gathering and farming Fame, Might, items, and silver, which in turn incentivizes PvPers to fight over objectives and gank gatherers. Content only designed for one type of player isn’t as dynamic and runs the risk of being replaced by something more enjoyable or lucrative.

Small-scale players have not been left out either. Avalonian Roads and faction warfare are excellent for groups of 7 to 20 players. The Roads of Avalon are an ever-changing network of portals that include dungeons, gathering nodes, bosses, and guild hideouts. These can be incredibly profitable, but navigating them can also be tricky because the portals change every few hours and there is no world map in the roads.

Additionally, arenas (both casual and hardcore) were added for constructed PvP players, and Hardcore Expeditions provided content for strictly PvE players. On the more risky end of the spectrum, Avalonian Dungeons offer some of the hardest PvE content in the game, along with the best loot, but can turn into PvP battlegrounds if an enemy group enters.

Even though Albion Online has been around for nearly 6 years, new players shouldn’t worry about being too far behind. Recent updates to open world and Avalonian Road mobs have significantly increased their fame value. While veteran players will have an advantage with how many equipment combinations they’ll have available, it won’t take new players long to level up a few sets. If grinding mobs isn’t your thing, then there are alternative ways to gain experience such as faction warfare and the Mists that can be excellent for leveling weapons and armor.

In conclusion, now is actually the best time ever to play Albion for both new and veteran players. The amount of relevant content is unmatched, there is a wider variety of weapons and armor than ever before, the player base is booming, and you can play wherever you are on mobile or PC.


Nick_Shively

Nick Shively