Albion Online: A Beautiful Game Stuck In Development Hell

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I heard of Albion online near the end of the MMO boom. You know when there was a new MMO getting announced/released at what felt like every other week. I want to say that was around 2013 when MMO hype was still big and games were being announced but the overall MMO player base was starting to fall off. When I first took a look at Albion Online I wasn’t impressed or interested. It wasn’t my kind of game. I thought it was cool how they wanted to launch on multiple platforms, iPad, android tablets and PC. The idea of a fully featured MMO on the go as much as at home was an intriguing idea for me. All that being said the crafting/gathering/grinding nature of the game was a huge turn-off. Those were all the things I hated to do in most the MMOs I played. The more appealing selling points for me about Albion Online were the PvP, world explanation, and death penalties.

Albion Online is a fairly hardcore game to today standards wrapped up in a simple to get into package. After trying it out almost 2 years ago with their founder’s pack and testing the game out over its extensive alpha and betas, I think it’s in a bad spot. I think the developers are so afraid to let this game fail that they will inevitably make it fail. The game was never going to be big. It was made to be a niche title. Competing with Eve Online more than say World of Warcraft. After almost 2 years of “beta testing” and even longer of alpha testing, they are starting to lose their dedicated niche fans. This is a game I feel has been “ready” for at least a year now and they are still talking about 1 to 2 more wipes before release. They say this is the “final beta” but seeing as we have been in beta for easily a year to 2 years now that doesn’t mean much.

Their beta patches for updating the game could all have been nice content patches after the game should have come out over a year ago. Instead, they keep patching content into a beta that isn’t being played anymore since everyone is waiting for release. A release I feel will be too little too late. I thought this was just me but even most of the apologists on the subreddit have turned. Any post they make on their site is followed by a good number of people complaining about the wipes and release. The common consensus from everyone is to wait for the game to come out. On the subreddit, there is always someone asking if they should start playing and it is always followed by someone explaining there will be wipes and to wait for the release. I’ve been watching this for well over a year now. The whole time feeling the games been ready.

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All that out of the way here’s what I think about the game as is. Overall it’s pretty great. Goes to show how much I’ve changed over the years that I find this kind of game fun now. But I’m not sure if I find it to actually be fun or if it’s a really good interactive checklist. It has that World of Warcraft effect to it where there’s always something else to do. Like World of Warcraft use to be in some ways everything you end up doing on Albion Online ends up being a grind. There’s always another tier or node to grind and if you don’t want to do that there’s another weapon or armor piece you can be more proficient in. All of it ends up being something tedious in some way or another but it doesn’t feel like a waste of time. The game is designed around these aspects, the more you do these things the “stronger” or a better way to putting it here is more “useful” your character will be.

The best players have the best gear. The best gear doesn’t drop from dungeons in this game they are crafted. To wear the best gear you have to be proficient at all the previous tiers of that type of gear or weapon. (Cloth, Leather, Plate and Staffs, Maces, Shields etc.) To make the best gear you have to grind material and level your profession. They really mean it when they say player driven.

The game has a large emphasis on group content. Mainly group PVP. Even the PVE content in this game can have PVP happen since the dungeons are not instanced and tagged players can be attacked by other players depending on the zone they’re in. The top players with the best gear, guilds, and coordination battle it out with other guilds at end game. Death in this game means you drop everything. I mean everything. So you better be ready to lose all your gear and inventory you are carrying if you die. They have made changes here and there to different zones and locations to cater to more casual players. Regardless at the top end, it’s still loot the dead. This is part of the risk-reward of the game and what makes it difficult. You can go deep into questionable areas but if you die you have to get back to your body within a time frame or you lose everything. Think about it like yours always playing Hardcore mode on Diablo. The difference being your character still exists and any progress you made on that character is still there. Just now all your gear and inventory has dropped out in the world somewhere and you kind of start back at hypothetical level 1. This is mainly due to how your classes work in Albion Online.

Classes in Albion Online are decided based on your gear. They come in multiple tiers and the aspects of the gear decide what abilities you have on your bar. For instance, if you want to tank you would equip the plate armor pieces and equip a sword and shield. The nice thing about this is nothing is stopping you from mixing and matching. Making says a “Battle Mage” with plate gear and then equipping a staff. Maybe even go with an even more complex hybrid build. I’ve seen all kinds of combinations in the game with varying degrees of success.

I think graphically, design and art wise the game look’s beautiful. An excellent example of simplicity is key. I’ve played much more graphic intensive games with far more detail come off as bland and boring. With Albion Online the colors are strong and the world looks alive. Each zone type is distinct and has its own flavor to it. The artwork on the loading screens and across their site just has something refreshing about it. “Whimsical” would be a good word to describe it.

Overall it’s a great game with lots of potential but I can’t recommend it. I think its a great game but due to the lack of the developers not understanding the needs of the community I feel it may have a short-lived release. Like most the players on the subreddit, I have to say don’t bother till it’s out. At this point that might be never or too late. This is the kind of game that lives off its dedicated players and those are exactly the people they are losing every day they keep the game in beta. I enjoy the game but I do not support the choices of the company and a lot of the changes they are making. It also begs the question how will they handle things when the game does come out one day? Only time will tell…a lot of time it seems.

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