We had one guild member focus entirely on becoming a major food supplier to a certain city with a goal to have a monopoly on farming in that area. The banks are local, the auction house is local, the trade is in person. You cannot mail items, you cannot teleport across the land, and if you die you lose everything. The game promotes a local feel, and requires trade of goods. While playing we saw trade oxen moving up and down the roads and I even purchased goods for the cheap from one area, to sell for with a 250% mark up in another. And it worked!
What we did encounter as a small guild on our rise to power was the zerg mentality. We were wiped out by two different large alliances who steamrolled us outnumbering us 3 to 1. The devs have stated they are tackling zergs for the open world by making AOE attacks do more damage the more people they hit, and other nerfs/buffs in the same manner. While the open world can suffer from zergs, the actual claiming, conquering and battles for regions are instanced 5v5 guild versus guild arenas.
The GvG offers a fairly clever and complex system. When you claim a region you can set four times in the day for a guild to schedule an attack. It can come in either raids or conquers. The raid can reduce your defensive bonus (which recharges up to 40% in increments of 10% over time) where a conquer can remove one of your tokens. If you lose three tokens you lose the region. This system would allow a small guild like Pyran with 20–30 people to keep and hold a region against a 150-person guild. In addition any guild can have a “battle bank” in which the guild can place items that can be retrieved for the battles.
We did have complaints which may just be due to the fact that the game is still in Alpha, but it would be remiss of me to ignore them. We had no party chat (but once our guild was set up we could use guild chat). When we did die we would be respawned at the nearest city, naked and alone, forcing us to run through full PvP zones (and get ganked again) to get back to my stash. It was annoying and soul crushing to have to run so far just to get back.
The game is set to be Free-to-Play with a buy-in Alpha via founders packs which offer you gear, horses and premium currency which can speed up your initial start. The premium currency is not final, but currently you can use it to build vanity items like banners or trophies with your guild emblem upon it. It can also help pay for the upkeep of buildings and crafting fees. The cries of “pay2win” have been uttered, but Albion Online is quickly compared to games like Eve Online where you have plex: it’s a quickener, having gold can save you the time you would otherwise spend farming mobs for cash. You could have all the gold in the world but you still need to put in the time to earn fame to unlock the tiers, and as I’ve experienced on both sides, you can lose everything in one bad fight, or gain everything in one good fight!
Overall Albion Online is a unique take on the MMO genre and is slightly reminiscent of other games like early Ulitma Online, but the concept of the entire game being driven by players sets it apart from traditional MMOs. The game is in Alpha and the developers interact with the community in a friendly fashion. We had a dev join our teamspeak for 15 minutes to answer questions; the devs constantly chat in the global chat and forums; reddit and online communities feature threads where the devs answer questions, discussing decisions and interacting with the players. The game has a huge potential, and a passionate set of devs supporting it.
The developers have given us the means to create our own world, we, the players, get to choose our fate.