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.
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.
Medium – DarksterMedia
The Dark Hearts Gang – https://discord.gg/tdw8UPE
MMOs boomed with the success of World of Warcraft. Every company and their mothers thought they were going to be the next big hit MMO and to this day the corpses of games that tried to fight the monster that is World of Warcraft still litter the fields around the giant beast. Not so giant any more mind you but still a monster. I will also go back to WoW. Like an abused wife, I will always find a way to forgive WoW for what it’s done to me. This is because World of Warcraft is my first true virtual home. It is the familiar safe place that may change here and there but at the end of the day I am always connected to it. If I’m playing it or not. But even I do not feel the urge I once did to go back home like I did many times before.
At the bases of why MMOs are not holding their own any more is due to the players. The players have grown, gamers are older now then they ever have been. They have some variation of school, work, or family they have to deal with. They can’t sit down and level for 3 days of active play time anymore. Being a working photographer who I think has much more free time on his hands than most others, even I have to admit I don’t have the time or patience to level and grind in MMOs. The time to results threshold as been met for me and a lot of people. Why play a MMO everyday and constantly be behind and not have fun when you can play a few games of Hearthstone, League of Legends, or Battlefield? Good or bad matched you get to go to bed feeling like you got some work in vs aimlessly grind a few dungeons with teammates who said nothing the whole time.
The MMO space is excellent. It’s still needed and it’s still good. It’s not Dead it just hasn’t adapted yet. Honestly it might not need too. Maybe we all need to just accept that MMOs might not be for us anymore. The problem with that is MMOs are crazy high budget and if the developers aren’t able to make money then the MMO is done for. So MMOs in theory can’t really be niche. It needs a strong thriving player base to exist in one way or another. Which is why you might notice the past year there are a lot less of them being announced. Most of them being from Asia as well, one of the few places where MMOs still kind of work. So how do we fix this problem? Well we can’t really, not the way it is now. The current model is not what people want anymore and the ones that do want it have options that already exist. If you say you like MMOs and there’s not a single MMO you like on the market right now, well I’m sorry to break it to you but you don’t like MMOs.
Where I think the future of MMOs exist is virtually reality. VR is still young and being watched with a close eye by the world but where I think the medium will thrive is the MMO space. Even back when MMOs were young everyone wished for a VRMMO. From The Matrix to Sword Art Online people have wished for open virtual worlds where we can explore without the limitation of a screen. It doesn’t even have to be a great MMO. I’d drop cash money for a VR rig and any needed upgrades for a half decent VRMMO. I think a lot of people would as a well. At least a lot of people like myself who haven’t leapt in yet. Any day now I’m waiting for the announcement of the first VRMMO. Everything stated above is void for the sake of escapism. The need of exploring a new world as close to reality as possible but with the addition of orcs and demons. I might not have time for MMOs now but for the right VRMMO I would make time.
Medium – DarksterMedia
When ESO launched it had its fair share of criticism. I personally really enjoyed it back then but even I have to admit it had its share of bugs and glitches. Goodness was it a mess of a game. I’ve jumped on here and there with little success through the years since it’s launch and noticed steady improvements. I herd more and more from the players about how much better it is now. The overall MMO player base seems to agree for the most part that ESO is one of the better MMOs on the market. I would consider it to be one of the top 3 MMOs on the market right now. The other 2 being World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2.
Elder Scrolls Online has revamped its system since launch. It’s smooth and glitch free. It’s gained a bunch of new expansions with solid and varying gameplay mechanics and lastly with the newest update (One Tamriel) it’s removed the need for your level. Your level is still there it’s just not as important as your gear and your skills. Now like Elder Scrolls games should be you can go and explore any location in the game without worry or limitations. You are free to play with newer or more experienced players now regardless of level, gear or skill.
The game plays smoother and the animations are excellent. My sword swings hit with force. The game falls into and action combat style which I personally don’t like for the most part. I personally prefer the classic tab targeting of old or a slightly more hybrid system like we see in Guild Wars 2. That’s being said this is Elder Scrolls we’re talking about and tab targeting just wouldn’t be right here.
If your are a fan of story, adventure and exploration than this is the game for you. All the quests are voice acted. When I say all of them I mean all of them. They all very in the style and story told. Aside from the main story line there are many side quests you will just walk upon and get swept up in. Some are sad some are funny and some are just harsh wake up calls. You will run into a variety of these by the time you hit level 5.
The dungeon content in ESO is some of the best I’ve seen. I would go as far as saying this is some of the best all around PVE and dungeon content I seen since Tera Online. I’m also saying that from the perspective of a PVP player. You got to go the extra mile to get me to enjoy your PVE. I’m just saying its nice to have dungeons content that is actually hard. It’s exciting and focused. Im worried about every pull and satisfied with every kill. Overall Elder Scrolls Online is killing it in the PVE department.
They are also doing pretty well in the PVP department. If large scale siege PVP is your thing than this is the game for you. It doesn’t have its equivalent of arena or battlegrounds which I think is a missed opportunity to be honest or at least something they should consider down the line. That being said they nailed large scale alliance PVP. Cyrodiil is what they call the area you battle in for PVP. It is located in the very centre of the the world map and it is a solid chunk of it. If you have played Guild Wars 2s World vs World than it is very similar but imagine instead of 4 large maps you have one giant map called Cyrodiil. I would say when it comes to scale, Cyrodiil is as big as all of GW2s WvW maps put together. The swaying large scale battles are excellent and there is even room for solo and smaller groups to make a difference.
There is a hell of a lot of stuff I didn’t cover like the crime system and duelling and much more but just know this here is a good game that has gone back to its roots. It looks like Elder Scrolls, it plays like Elder Scrolls and most importantly it feels like Elder Scrolls. I’m not going to give this game a rating due to the expansive nature of MMOs, instead. I’ll say this. If you want an active game that you can play with your friends at any time, with an extensive universe and excellent questing, PVE and large scale siege PVP than Elder Scrolls Online is the game for you.
Medium – DarksterMedia
I admit to having my ups and downs with WoW but I always go back to it. No other MMO has the same effect on me as WoW. I always end up leaving because I would get burned out or I would like to try a different game but I always end up going back at some point. WoW is home. That’s what WoW has going for it. You may get tired of it you may get burned out but you always find yourself going back home.
WoW has this aspect of being the game you think of when you hear MMO. It has established itself so solidly into the industry that the only thing that can kill WoW is WoW…Well, Blizzard but yea you get my point.
Wildstar – The Strain Dev Speak