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Up Close & Personal with the Game

Alexander Brown Posted:
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Yep, full loot. When questioning the developers they were very adamant that full loot, full PvP is the only way to have a proper sandbox mmo:

“We are tired of no-consequence PvP, we want to reward people and punish people, we want emotions to be true, instead of constant boring reward.”

So how about if you want to save your rare Axe of Maltrop or the Robes of the Farske (yes I totally just named robes after myself), and you know if you go resource-collecting you’ll likely get ambushed? How can you protect the gear for when you really need it, like an invasion or defence of your guild-owned town?

In addition to buying and owning land you can build various buildings on your plot, including houses. In addition to having permission-based chests which can be set to friends only, or set to accept resources coming in but not going out, houses can have decoration. Now wait one moment: it’s not just boring decoration you can build or buy, but decoration you can proudly display that has an actual effect. Remember the high-level Wraith that nearly killed you?

When you defeated it you took a “Wraiths Claw” and now you can build a “Wraith’s Claw Trophy” (disclaimer: items are made up by me, but the concept is there) and when you visit your house for a period you have a little more health due to the inspiring trophy marking that day.

Maybe instead of killing, looting and climbing to the top of the feared leaderboards you instead want to create an industrious name for yourself. You create a public-access forge, with a small fee to cover the usage cost, and allow people to come and build using your equipment, or you try and corner the market and become the top crafter of all healing robes. Over time you saturate your area and decide to move down to the south with your goods. To travel this distance you need to physically travel there, but being a rich trader you are able to hire some mercenaries, a group of players who sell their swords to protect you, and you manage to get down and set-up a trading post in the south.

PvP is offered in a few ways in Albion Online. Albion currently boasts a couple of hundred territories with an aim to offer over 800. These territories can be claimed and conquered by player guilds. Taking a territory allows unharassed access to the resources and a tax of all silver earned by anyone in the region. In addition, ownership of towns and villages are also taxed, allowing a guild to purchase banners, upgrades and defences. When your guild owns a territory an unpassable magical barrier appears and prevents destruction of buildings while you are away from the game. In addition to this if a guild wants to attack another territory you have to schedule an attack. When taking a territory you list four hour-long slots per day when someone can issue an attack, allowing you to represent in a 5v5 battle for the territory.

When you have a territory in a region you can go to war with your immediate neighbour. Territories have two stats: “defender bonus” and “defender points”. The defensive bonus awards a buff if it is positive, and a debuff if negative. When launching attacks from the territory it will lower its defender bonus, but sitting and remaining peaceful will increase the defender bonus over time, offering you a strategic choice for your long-term plan: do you attack, or sit and turtle? You have three defender points and when you are attacked in a “conquer” battle and lose, you lose a point. When those three points are gone you lose the territory and everything within it. Defender points recharge by one every 48 hours, forcing again some strategic rethinking of attack plans. However, if when attacking you destroy some buildings, those buildings will be destroyed or damaged afterwards. When attacking a territory you can choose to “raid” or “conquer”; when conquering if you win you can reduce a defender point as previously stated. However, when raiding you reduce the defender bonus by 20 points and earn a large amount of silver. It makes sense to raid first, reduce the bonus and then launch attacks to conquer, making the whole campaign of taking a territory one that the guilds and those involved will have to plan for a number of days.

In addition to this, each region has a castle at its centre, which can be taken in the open-world MMO, and when conquered allow attacks to any territory in that region. Non-guild players can even take the castle and set it to neutral, spawning hard-hitting monsters to protect its gates.

With the five-man territory battles Albion is set to cater to both large guilds and smaller guilds with fewer players, removing the zerg or mass attack advantages. To put it bluntly: quality over quantity.

So finally comes the question surrounding free-to-play: how will the game be monetised?

The game has two currencies, silver and gold. You can buy premium currency (gold) with real money and then with that purchase in-game aesthetic items but also pay rent on plots, or purchase a “premium account”. The reason you buy the premium account in game is to create a player-driven exchange rate. Players can buy gold and sell it for silver, allowing players to effectively purchase gold to then buy premium accounts with silver. Premium accounts currently have no defined bonuses and are under discussion. What was noted was they will not offer any buffs in PvP. The gold cannot be used to purchase items, special items or exclusive items due to the fact that the game does not have NPCs or shops that provide such gear. It is all completely player-driven.

The system reminds me of the Eve Online Plex system, allowing players to effectively play the game and have access to all aspects of customisation by simply playing well. Oh... and of course you can always simply kill a player and take his newly-acquired gear.

Albion Online is bursting at the seams with features, each seamlessly integrated, providing a true sandbox world, be it the ability to craft, build, PvP or even use your tablet while cooking dinner to craft your items and manage your guild. The cross-platform support provides the game on any platform, although some aspects of the game, such as PvP would be better played on certain devices.

This game offers an experience. Do you like PvP? Do you like challenge, with a risk and reward feature? Are you tired of games that pat you on the back for every little achievement? Then look no further than Albion Online...which is coming soon to closed beta!

Head over to Albiononline.com and sign up for a chance to participate in the next alpha.

For further information don’t forget the forums over at Albion Online where forum-dweller Dunlinn has written “A Guide to Albion Online”, bringing together nearly everything you can achieve.

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Alexander Brown