Albion Online

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Albion Online is a free-to-play medieval fantasy MMORPG in a sandbox-style world, complete with a player driven economy, a territory system, and full loot PvP.

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Publisher: Sandbox Interactive
Playerbase: N/A (Development)
Graphics: Medium
Type: Full PvP Sandbox MMO
EXP Rate: N/A (Development)
PvP: Open PvP with Outlawed Zones. Guild Battles.
Filesize: N/A (Development)

Pros: +Players can craft items and housing. +Unique territory control system. +Player driven economy. +No levels. Power derived from skill and gear.

Cons: -Full loot PvP may be deterrent. -Equipment on body can deter and become useless before you can corpse run. -Upping equipment tier can be tedious.

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Overview

Albion Online Overview

Albion Online is a sandbox MMORPG set in a medieval fantasy world. Designed as a free-to-play cross-platform experience, the game focuses on a fully open world experience in which players are key. Game features include a player-driven economy that includes item and building crafting, village building, and transportation; full-loot rights world PvP; a territory control system; and a rock-paper-scissors combat system.

Albion Online Screenshots

Albion Online Featured Video

Full Review

Albion Online Preview

Beta Preview/Updated Look By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)

 

 

Albion Online is a sandbox, isometric MMORPG. It’s been a hot topic for lots of sandbox gamers for the past year or so, and our site even had a chance to give it a run through in the very early days of the alpha. While the state of the game was rocky back then, the devs have been putting some serious work in over the past 7 months, and I was selected to update our coverage over the past several days. The reason Albion Online has been so looked forward to is the massive emphasis on crafting, the hardcore style of play where you lose all your gear when you die, and its cross-platform nature which will allow for people on mobile devices to play with those on the computer across various operating systems. So you can see why this game has been the center of attention for a lot of hardcore gamers and sandbox gamers alike.

 

 

Graphics

The graphics in Albion Online are not the highest of qualities. If you’ve played Runescape in the past few years, you’ll probably be right at home. Yet, despite the overall low resolution, the game still manages to look quite decent. And there’s a reason for it, too. The graphics can’t be too intense so that mobile devices can play them without blowing up or draining your battery in an instant.

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Even on the windows client, you can tell the game was designed with mobile in mind with the simple graphics, isometric perspective, and large buttons on the UI. You can easily imagine the same interface on a tablet. However, the UI also looks extremely bulky when playing on your computer. I think that this will be a major turn-off for a select few, but will probably be easily looked over by most, including myself.

 

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You can see how the UI is a bit clunky.

 

 

Controls

Albion Online is very much a point-and-click game. I personally would have preferred WASD movement, as it’s a lot easier on my wrist. My largest gripe with the game is not being able to rotate the camera. There were some situations where I would have liked the ability to change my camera angle, usually when trying to click on certain resources that are tightly grouped together. But, for the most part, the controls are fairly smooth for an alpha game.

 

 

Customization

As you might expect from a sandbox game, the customization is fairly extensive, at least in the later bits of the game. When you are making your character, though, the options are currently few. You will get a limited number of options for stuff like your hair, facial hair, and underwear color. Later on, there are apparently plans for up to six races, but right now human is the only option.

CharacterCreation copy

 

 

 

 

Gameplay

The gameplay in Albion Online definitely strays far from the modern formula of MMORPGs. It’s far from a themepark, but still has bits and pieces of that genre that help it along. One key examples include dungeons and mob camps that can be farmed for silver. Overall the features trend far more towards sandbox though. Every piece of gear in the game is made by players. Besides the starting areas, all of the ‘cities’ are player made as well. This, of course, means the game runs on a player economy with player interaction being supreme. Something a majority of MMOs seem to ignore or outright offer ways around these days.

 

Screenshot

Iron ore is quite abundant in Albion.

 

As I said, everything is crafted. Instead of levels, things are structured into tiers. Tier One tools can be made with the basic and easiest-to-get Tier One resources. To get Tier Two resources, you’re going to have to use the tools you made with the Tier One resources, and it’ll take a little bit more searching to find them. Eventually, as you get to the higher tiers, you’ll need to get further and further from the “safe” areas to get them, which puts you at risk of PVP, which as previously stated puts far more on the line than your typical MMO. Which is a good incentive to join up with a strong guild who can protect you while you’re getting the higher tier resources to make the best gear.

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When you craft items like armor and weapons, you get to choose what abilities come with the gear. That’s right, rather than classes or skill trees, your abilities are defined by the gear you’re wearing. So you might have a set of “gathering” leather gear meant to help you travel fast and a set of plate armor that is designed to let you tank damage. While at the same time you might have another set of plate that is more designed for dealing damage by choosing skills that increase attack speed and lower your enemies’ defense. You are what you wear, in other words.

CraftArmor

The tier system is both interesting and kind of frustrating. If you’ve failed to stock up on tools before dying, you’ll quickly find yourself back at square one and having to build up everything from scratch. You do have the potential to run and grab your stuff, and you’re even given a temporary shield that makes you immune to damage, but the likelihood of you actually getting to it without dying a second time is fairly low if you don’t take the time to re-gear beforehand. So you’ll need to stock up on both gear and tools before you head out. And you’ll more than likely want to stock up in more than once place, as banks aren’t universal – the bank you have in one town won’t be the same as the one you have in another.

 

Bank

You’ll be visiting this place a lot.

 

One ailment that a lot of sandbox games seem to have is lack of direction. Albion Online has chosen to combat this by use of the Destiny Board. This is a massive spider-web of achievements that can help point you in the right direction and act as a sort of dynamic task system. When you first check out the Destiny Board, you’ll be a bit surprised – it gives a similar impression as Path of Exile’s massive specialty tree. It’s not quite on the same scale, but is still impressive.

DestinyBoard

The PVE element is a lot stronger than I thought it would be. In a lot of sandbox games, I feel as if the PVE combat is tacked on as an after-thought. However, in Albion Online you can tell it’ll be an integral part of the game from the start. There are both animals to fight and skin, and humanoid enemies to kill for silver. Dungeons are present as well, though not instanced as you might expect – you can run into other players in them and, if they’re in a PVP zone, I imagine battles for loot will ensue.

Dungeon copy

On the other end of the spectrum is the ability to own land and build houses (or other structures) on it. One of the main perks of building a home is extra storage. Access to crafting stations is another bonus. You’ll also be able to display trophies, which will serve to give you buffs. Generally, everything in the home will give you some kind of benefit to encourage you to have it. However, I have to admit that I wasn’t able to get into this system of the game in the short time I had to play. So everything I have on this system is second-hand.

 

Housing copy

An interesting screenshot from their website, which I feel does a better job at representing the housing than a random screenshot from in the game.

 

As I said earlier, when you craft a piece of gear you’re able to choose what abilities will come with it. Naturally, higher tier gear has access to more and better options. Each type of gear – cloth, leather, plate – seems to follow a sort of theme – plate is more suited to tanking, for example. But they aren’t restricted solely to that theme – you could go with abilities that focus more on damage dealing with plate, or you could just mix and match pieces from different sets for a wider variety. This makes for some interesting combat.

Combat1

Speaking of the combat, it’s fairly fun for a point-and-click. It’s suitably difficult so that you can’t just run into a fight and button mash and expect to win. But at the same time, it is still quite accessible. Like most games, I feel that ranged combat is a bit OP. However, there are abilities for melee designed to make ranged combat more difficult – like dash or various slows. But that comes into play more in PVP than PVE. All-in-all, I found the combat a pleasant surprise when compared to what my expectations originally were. Which is good, because combat plays a big role in the game (though not the only role, for sure).

 

 

 

PVP

A huge part of the game is PVP. Not only is it a great way to stock up on resources (nothing like a bloated gatherer to top off your resource reserves), but the combat in the game is fairly fun, especially group combat. PVP also comes into play with the player cities and territory control. The way the inventory system works makes death meaningful, as well. When someone kills you, they’re not just making you take a quick trip to the respawn statue – you drop everything that is on you and that makes you think before you go into a fight.

Overmap

The territory control system should be quite interesting once the game is fully released. Even in the alpha, you could get an idea of the grand scheme of things by looking at the world map. It portrays large arrays of land controlled by guilds. It even has hints of a sort of trade route system which I’m honestly not familiar with. I imagine that in the future they plan to set it up so you can make money through some sort of trade route system, judging by the little ships and whatnot they have going around the map.

 

 

Conclusion

Albion Online is an interesting mixture of sandbox features. It’s like Runescape and Ultima Online got together and bio-engineered a super baby. While the game isn’t quite as hardcore as Ultima was in its “best” state, it certainly has its moments. Plus it has the bonuses of being a “modern” game to help sweeten the deal. If you’re a fan of sandbox games that require effort, Albion Online is definitely a game you need to keep your eye on. The cross-platform availability should make things quite interesting as well.

Alpha Preview By Jason Parker (Ragachak)

 

AlbionAlpha1

Alpha Five, Like a Trip in Time

The Alpha build of Albion Online is truly an interesting and bold undertaking by Sandbox Interactive Studios. The overhead camera angle, among other features, truly makes it feel like a trip back to the MMOs of the early days of PC gaming like Ultima Online and Anarchy Online. In this title, you do not level; instead, what you wear and how you use what you have determines whether you live or die. A very simplistic rock-paper-scissors combat system can very swiftly take you from smashing wolves to pieces in the woods to being crushed utterly by the rogues hiding in the darkest caves. As this is an Alpha, there are of course bugs, crashes, and a host of problems that will not, with any luck, be in the game as it comes closer and closer to completion.

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The world has a fantasy based setting with castles, wilderness to explore, and caves to delve into. You can build your own settlement to live on and transport to, provided you can find a space of land that someone else does not already own. I did notice that all of the real estate in the Alpha was gathered up relatively fast. I would expect similar to happen in the release of the game, without smaller plots of land or a larger amount of land to settle upon. Albion Online is also heavily reliant upon guilds and teamwork, where guilds can fight over control of territory in the world. Controlling territory gives your guild a greater access to materials such as wood, stone, gemstones, and cloth which can be used build your own equipment, as well as your guild’s village.

 

AlbionAlpha3

Lord British Is Not Home

Much like Ultima Online, a fully PVP MMO of years past, you can go into the world and murder other players while they are out on their own business. There are supposed to be zones where PVP is outlawed, and breaking that law can grant bounties or penalties to those who break the law. To those who die in the wilderness, I would like to offer you some important advice: craft some spare equipment and keep it in your bank in the main town, or nearby wherever you may find a chest. If your body stays in the wilderness too long, the items on your body begin to decompose and fade away. As time passes, your equipment will also break. You cannot repair it. Structures can be repaired, but not your items; at least not yet, and there is no word that I have seen on that changing. A lot of talk in the general chat says you will lose equipment often. This coincides with the “Destiny Board,” a series of talents and unlocks where you gain access to new items and abilities.

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Albion Online offers a “Tier” equipment system. There are currently seven tiers of equipment, from the starting gear you can craft once the game begins, all the way to specialty equipment that can be crafted much later on in the game. I have to stress the “later” part, though the devs have changed how many pieces of equipment are required to go up to the next tier of crafting. The beginning of this game really felt like “Crafting Simulator 2014,” with the amount of crafting that your path can take. However, there are options for progress. Killing enemies with a certain tier on can unlock the ability to wear the next piece. From there, you can farm the materials to make it yourself, or if you are strapped, you could perhaps purchase it off the Auction Hall.

 

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Danger Around Every Turn

This is definitely a game where it pays to be in a guild. And I don’t just mean to have a tag over your head. You need to really belong with a trusted band of companions. The developers insist that coordination and teamwork is more vital for conquering territories than simply “zerging” (100-200 players rushing a zone to try and simply overwhelm the rival guild). That is not something I have seen enough players confirm one way or another.

There are more dangers than just your fellow players though. Powerful enemies are lurking over every bridge! Heretic mages and rogues lurk in the woods and in caves, seeking your blood if you come too close to their domain. Killing animals and other natural creatures does not net you coin, as in other games. They have strived to make Albion Online a more Realistic-Fantasy setting, where wolves, boars, bears and the like give you furs or leather instead of money. Defeating humanoids will however net you money (which is taxed, giving you less than the amount shown). The overworld enemies do not appear to give much in the way of silver. That leads to…

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Dungeons! Most maps seem to contain at least one dungeon you can delve into, if you are strong enough to get to it. I would recommend always scouting ahead, and planning your route to get somewhere. There is always a chance that you can perish in a sudden attack, leaving you spending more time running back to your body, than you do fighting and amassing a fortune. Between the dungeons, and selling crafted gear, you can quite easily make money in this world. Some of these dungeons are tiny, circular affairs where you wander and kill, while there are longer, larger dungeons with greater challenges for those powerful enough to tackle them. What can you use money on? Your village and home, of course! You have to fortify your hold as a team, because when darkness falls, demons can be seen trudging through the shadows, destroying everything in their path. I have yet to come across them, but I have read of their existence.

 

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All Is Not Paradise

For the PVP lover, this could be the game you have been waiting for. Its fast-paced combat and guild-oriented territory claiming appeal greatly to people who are into the maxim of “What’s yours is mine, what’s mine is mine”! There’s always something to do and someone to attack. Politics and intrigue could certainly be a large part of this game, just as much as combat. A guild allying together to battle stronger powers, with greater challenges to overcome, is most certainly a positive. You can quite literally build whatever your heart desires in this game. Personally I tend to wear full plate and carry a staff and healing tome, because I love spellcasting, but I also really like to not be as vulnerable. And without casting penalties (a’la Dungeons and Dragons), I can hurl fireballs from the safety of my tin-can.

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But it is not all happy-go-lucky killing non-stop! There are drawbacks to the current system that I sincerely hope get revamped. I detest the idea of gear not being able to be repaired; meaning gear’s going to break and you will have to recraft, which means farming again, unless you take a great deal of time out of your day to farm and put materials in the bank for use later. At one point in the beta, one of the tiers (4 or 5 I do believe) required fifty pieces of the same slot crafted in order to access the next level. That is more than a little outrageous. I was glad to see they lowered it to a more manageable number. I’m all for things taking time, but that seems like it is just grindy on purpose.

The system just seems to exist for the purpose of taking time, of constantly crafting equipment that serves no purpose other than to replace it when it inevitably breaks. If everyone is doing this, I have a sinking suspicion that unless the playerbase is gigantic, the economy will stagnate with the tons of equipment that floods the market. That does not speak well for how they are preparing their game.

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Death. Death is a part of this game. If you play, you will face the reaper at some point or another. Even the cleverest, most prepared strategic mind will fall prey to chance, or a hungrier player. As of this particular build, items decay very quickly on your body, so to those in the Alpha or who make it to the Beta, I do warn you: If you do not get to your body fast, I hope you have mats on hand, because your precious armor can and will deteriorate into a trash item. I recall a time where I was wandering a zone and came across an aggro boar. It was a surprise because all of the wolves were passive. That struck me as incredibly odd. But the boar killed me, and I learned just how frustrating the corpse runs will be. If you do not have spare equipment or a friend to go with you, prepare to feel the agony of dodging angry animals. There is no loot all command, so you have to drag and drop your items one at a time. (If you guys are listening, that would be a stellar idea!)

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Speaking of materials, if you are wielding a weapon, you cannot farm any items in the world. Not stone, gems, wood, or cloth. You have to unequip your weapon, and then click on the desired material. That will auto-equip the item you need. Much of your inventory will be kept with farming items in the early game, so I recommend strongly buying or crafting a nice bag to increase your inventory space. While I appreciate their want to make the game more realistic, as you accrue penalties to movement speed from overburdening your inventory, it can be incredibly burdensome (no pun intended). I sort of like being able to hold an absolute metric ton of equipment, as it makes me feel more heroic, strong.

 

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Heroes with Attitudes: Work in Progress.

Albion Online is a very unique title in the current MMO market. I do fear that perhaps they are trying to do too much at one time with one game. I love the concept though, and had it been several years ago, I’d have hopped on this with a killer instinct and an eager eye. Since this is an Alpha, there are many things that will no doubt change as time progresses; I do worry that there is no real actual story, and that for all intents and purposes, there are no quests to undertake. You just get to roam the world and make your way, which is interesting in and of itself. I’m interested to see what else comes of this title, and perhaps I will be able to give more updates as time progresses into the Alpha and Beta of this bold, refreshing MMO.

I also appreciate that it is 100% free. Now, I will grant you that this is an alpha, and as such a cash shop would be incredibly unlikely. The website touts that it is going to be 100% free, but time will tell if there is some manner of cosmetic/crafting shop that pops up after the game releases. I do however have high hopes for it to stay free. It takes a while to get into the game, with all the crafting that is done, but again, it is a new concept. It is similar to other titles in minor respects, but between its heavy emphasis on sandbox elements and ambitious multi-platform claims, it is certainly in a class of its own.

Screenshots

Albion Online Screenshots

Videos

Albion Online Videos

Albion Online First Look

Albion Online Introduction

Links

Albion Online Links

Official Game Site

System Requirements

Albion Online System Requirements

Coming Soon….

Albion Online Articles

  • Albion Online: New Plans for Future Content Revealed - Posted on October 28, 2014
    Sandbox MMO players had a whole month to dive in and explore the world of Albion Online in a recent closed alpha test. Based on extensive feedback from testers, developer Sandbox Interactive has released a Development Roadmap detailing new key features and content. Over the next six months, Albion Online fans can look forward to over 170 additions and improvements.
  • Albion Online – Beta Updated Look - Posted on October 20, 2014
    Albion Online is an interesting mixture of sandbox features. It's like Runescape and Ultima Online got together and bio-engineered a super baby.
  • Albion Online: Now Greenlit Through Steam - Posted on September 23, 2014
    Berlin-based studio Sandbox Interactive will be publishing their sandbox MMO Albion Online on Steam. A campaign to have the game Greenlit on Valve’s game distribution platform has been successfully completed.
  • Albion Online: Summer Alpha Launched - Posted on September 15, 2014
    Berlin-based developer Sandbox Interactive today launched the next closed alpha of their cross-platform Sandbox MMORPG Albion Online.
  • Albion Online: Summer Alpha commences on 15th of September - Posted on August 25, 2014
    Berlin-based studio Sandbox Interactive today officially released the start date for the next test on their cross-platform Sandbox MMORPG Albion Online. Testers will be able to explore the medieval fantasy world during the closed alpha test from the 15th of September.
 
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