Category Archives: News

ALBION ONLINE WALKS THROUGH THE MECHANICS OF THE REPUTATION SYSTEM

The developers of Albion Online want you to murder the heck out of your fellow players, but they also want to make sure that you’re not exactly rewarded for your decision to murder people for no reason. The game’s reputation system is a compromise between the two extremes. If you gather resources, live as a lawful citizen, and defend others, you can look forward to being well-liked by the Royal Expeditionary Forces. If you stab everyone you can see in town, on the other hand… well, for starters, you’re soon not going to be allowed in town.

Nine reputation ranks are available for players, with the more disreputable criminal ranks eventually barring you from access to all but the least-policed areas. You can, however, steal items from other players. That’s not counting the lawless areas of the game, where even upstanding citizens can wander around executing whomever they want. Check out the full rundown of the system, or check out the video explaining the system just below.

WORD PLAY: ALBION ONLINE ALPHA FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Albion Online is innovative, challenging, diverse, and frustrating, all at once. In my time in the alpha, I never lacked for something to do, and I felt like I’d only scratched the surface of what the game offered. Being an alpha, it’s still a little rough around the edges, but it offers a ton of freedom that can be both its greatest strength and a notable weakness.

At the start, you’ll be instructed in the ways of combat and, most importantly, crafting. Gathering materials and making your own gear seems to be the heart of the game. Guiding your progress is the Destiny Board, a wide-ranging grid of achievements that gives you light direction in all phases of the game. You can set goals for yourself, like achieving a certain amount of fame or crafting a certain number of items, or just play however you like – you’ll get somewhere, no matter what you do.

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The game plays somewhat like an ARPG, though with less of an emphasis on loot acquisition via monsters and more via gathering. Your skills come from your armor or weapons and are pickable when you craft them, offering plenty of customization options. Want to be a fast-moving, heavy-damage-dealing berserker? Make a sword with Dash and passive attack bonuses. Want to play more defensively? Choose health regen and enemy debuff abilities.

Just don’t plan on swapping between your weapons, to use a bow at long range and a sword up close, without opening up your inventory. That seems like it should be simple enough, and would allow for even more variety in combat, but the devs have chosen not to implement it for some reason. Swapping between weapons and gathering tools is also a pain.

As you might expect from a company called Sanbox Interactive, Albion Online offers lots of ways to advance. Eventually, you can build your own house, with its own crafting facilities and other conveniences. Not surprisingly, this requires a lot of resources and will require you spend a lot of time clicking on trees and rocks, with occasional forays into enemy territory to acquire silver. The game also boasts some intense PvP action, which unfortunately was a little beyond my level in the time I was able to spend in game. Patience is key. The game won’t tell you when you’re ready for a new challenge, except obliquely by noting your achievements via the Destiny Board, so it’s up to you to determine when you’re ready to progress.

This was my downfall. I poked my head into a dungeon/cave, and while I did have a little help along the way, I bit off more than I, and my temporary partner, could chew. And in Albion, when you die, everything you were carrying (except your silver) stays right where you fell. Fortunately, we were near the entrance, so re-acquiring our loot wasn’t difficult – though only being able to grab things one at a time is another inconvenient annoyance that I hope gets fixed.

However, after I left the cave, I found that all the enemies I’d killed on my way there had respawned. I foolishly tried running past a couple, thinking there couldn’t possibly be more lurking nearby; the viewing angle doesn’t give you much for long-range scouting of your immediate area. Needless to say, that didn’t work out so well. My corpse, with all my loot, was left stranded in bandit-infested territory. One half-hearted corpse run later, I accepted my fate and returned to the city, naked and alone, forced to start over in my gear acquisition.

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I suppose there’s a type of player who will like this kind of hardcore, consequence-laden gameplay, but I’m not one of them. Corpse runs seem so 2006, and just aren’t appealing, I think, to the vast majority of online gamers today. There was already a penalty for dying – the loot I recovered after that first death had taken a fair amount of damage – so is there a reason to punish me even further? I was only a couple of hours into the game, with relatively weak equipment, but I can’t imagine having the same thing happen after I’ve spent weeks or months getting fantastic gear, only to have it vanish after one mistake. Even at my low level of accomplishment, it seemed like an onerous hurdle to get back into the game.

My feelings from my first taste of Albion Online are a little mixed. On the one hand, I like the freedom the game gives, but the presentation might be a little too minimal. Maybe a story or some kind of other exposition that explains to me why I should bother with cutting down trees and cultists would make me feel more like a part of the world than just a simple “Here’s some very basic instruction, now go do stuff.” I don’t want point-to-point handholding, but a better concept of where I should go and what I should do might be nice. If you’re an experienced player, you’re free to ignore it all, but for a beginner, it would be helpful to make sure you don’t wind up in over your head. Maybe an expanded version of the mini-Destiny Board objectives, along the lines of a traditional quest log, would help. As it is, all that information – and there’s a lot of it – is a bit of a jumble. It’s alpha, so these are things that could definitely come later.

Albion Online is an ambitious project, and Sandbox Interactive has plans to take it to pretty much every gaming-capable platform out there. It needs some refinement, and I’m still skittish about the loot loss on death, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

Albion Online Reaches 60,000 Founders

It’s only been two weeks since the start of Albion Online’s closed beta test, but the game has already hit the 60,000 player mark.

It’s hard to deny the popularity and hype behind Albion Online, and 60,000 founders is a fairly impressive number. To put things in perspective, that’s twice as many backers as the initial Star Citizen Kickstarter had and nearly four times Crowfall’s campaign.

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“It is an amazing feeling to reach this milestone and have so many people enjoying your fruits of labor”, said Christian Ziegert, Head of Operations at Sandbox Interactive. “We are grateful for all the support of our Founders and we will continue working closely with our community to keep improving Albion Online further.”

So far, the beta event has shattered records for number of players online, guilds, countries represented, buildings constructed, and PvP kills.

In order to gain access to the Albion Online closed beta test, players must purchase one of three different founder’s packs. These include Veteran ($29.95), Epic ($49.95), and Legendary ($99.95), and each includes various perks and in-game bonuses.

ALBION ONLINE’S MISSIONS ARE LIKE QUESTS, BUT NOT EXACTLY

Top-down PvP sandbox Albion Online has released a new video highlighting the game’s missions and factions. Lead designer Robin Henkys and technical director David Salz are your guides to Albion’s missions, which work a bit like quests in other games, according to Salz. Factional representatives may approach players and grant tasks including transportation of goods and combat/elimination missions.

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On the other hand, Salz continues, missions aren’t exactly like standard MMO quests because the open world factions have limited amounts of money that they can spend on missions. This means that players are competing with one another for those missions, and it’s possible for a given faction to run out of money if everyone chooses to work for them.

Click past the cut to learn more via the full video.

Look at Albion Online the Destiny Board

Albion’s method of progression isn’t based on levels, but rather achievements. These are handled through a system that is called the “Destiny Board,” which shows how to move to higher tiers of gear and crafts, as well as the exact path that needs to be taken to achieve the things you want. This gives a very open feel to the game, while at the same time allowing a somewhat clear-cut path (despite being vastly different from one player to another). There is really no right or wrong way to go through it – simply find what you want to work towards first, and go do it.

Current Achievement Progress

Across the bottom of the screen is the current achievement progress. Look at the screenshot below for an example.

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This makes it quick and easy to see the progress you’ve made on three separate achievements, and you can disable their tracking if there’s one you just don’t want to do. Note that it tracks based on the latest one you have added progress towards. For example, killing a creature would put the Journeyman Fighter tracker on the top of my listing. And then mining an ore would bring the Journeyman Gatherer one back to the top again. This helps further organize things by letting you see what you are actively working towards, without necessarily having to keep organizing them on your own.

If you want to take the easiest method of doing the achievements, just work on whatever is in that list at the bottom of the screen. As one is completed, another will take its place, creating a revolving door of things to do. In all actuality, you never even have to take a look at the full Destiny Board unless you want to see what is coming next, what you have already achieved and what bonuses were unlocked (or are going to be soon).

The Destiny Board Screen

Once you get into the Destiny Board, you will see a very large area with a lot of interconnected spaces. Each of these is a different achievement, with its very own requirements and rewards. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this screen, you will see the yellow spots going northbound. This is where you started out when entering the game for the first time. It isn’t until you get to the very center of the board that you can start unlocking other achievements.

image2Really, this beginning area is simply the learning phase. So while it may seem like a lot of work to get to the unlocking area, it isn’t. After just a few minutes of playing, you will already have it all ready to go and open for exploring!

Viewing Unlocked Achievements

Viewing unlocked achievements is as easy as clicking one of them that is already colored in. This will show the name of it, that it’s completed, and will also give a listing of the rewards that were unlocked as part of it. For example, in the one below, the ability to both craft and use Novice items (gear and buildings) were unlocked. The downside to this system is that you can not view what it took to unlock each achievement. So once one has been completed, you can’t look back to see what you actually did to make it happen.

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Viewing Current Achievement Status

While the listing at the bottom of the screen in normal play will show progression through some achievements, they don’t tell what you are actually working for. This can be done in the Destiny Board, by clicking on one of the achievements that have already been started. As an example, the one below tells the name, that it’s in progress, that I’m about 15% of the way finished with it, and that completing it will unlock the ability to create and use Adept’s items (mounts, buildings and accessories). Considering this is the set of gear I am currently needing to make, this is what I need to work on before doing anything else so I can get it knocked out and move forward with the ability to make other gear sets.

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Conclusion

In most games, achievements are just a form of bragging rights. They allow players to show off what they have completed, and they give a sense of accomplishment. Along with this, they also keep drawing players in, since they give a pretty big challenge. With Albion, however, the achievement system is also the method of progression. Everything in it deals with things that are done through normal game play, and they represent both necessary actions and optional ones. They allow each player to choose their own path through the game, working as fast or as slow as they please. And due to the way they work, players that want to experience all the game has to offer have no choice but to do a lot of achievements and explore game areas they might otherwise never touch. This puts Albion is a very unique space, in that it opens the doors for choices, while at the same time forcing certain gaming styles on its players. And one thing is for certain: this is a completely different way of handling progression than other games use.

The Massive PVE and Quality-of-Life Update of Albion Online

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It’s a big day for Albion Online, as the sandbox title has released a huge patch that adds loads of PvE content to the game, as well as a meaty batch of quality-of-life improvements.

Named “Aurelius,” the first patch since the game’s closed beta started two weeks ago adds three new types of Keeper-themed dungeons, found in 23 locations throughout the game. There are three new bosses and three new enemy types to be slain, and players will have 10 new spells and abilities to make that slaying a little bit easier. To get in the festive spirit of the season, there’s also a new boss, Uncle Frost, who roams the dungeons and drops a Christmas hat.

In addition to the content, Sandbox Interactive is making a number of other small, but helpful, tweaks to the game. There are now multiple chat channels, and you can move with a right-click, to avoid accidentally clicking on something — monster or resource node — to interact with. There’s also better visibility for spells once they become ready and on character portraits to determine if they’re in combat.