Albion Online Review
Albion Online is a low poly MMO for PC and Mobile. It’s mainly focused on PvP and that part of the game is exactly what I expected. You won’t find anyone willing to PvP who doesn’t have a numerical advantage in numbers or gear. The only times fight broke out between me and my 10 comrades were against groups in larger numbers with significantly better gear and PvP builds. It was very one sided!
PvP in games though is a discussion for another time [remind me to insert a link here for that discussion]. Sadly, unless you are super invested in the game surrounded by similar folk, your opportunity to take part of the high end PvP is slim to none.
MMO - Playing Together
I feel this needs to be mentioned with any mass multiplayer game. The idea is that you are either going to meet players and join guilds, or play the game with friends. Anything that prevents you from doing that is a failure. I’m encountering many “single player” moments in MMO titles these days or gameplay designs which prevent you from grouping up.
Well. Albion Online has one instance of this. If you are interested in exploring the ‘black zones’ where the end game content is then careful what portal you use because you will become soul bound to that portal and it’s difficult to change. If anyone in your group has bound to a different portal on the mainland then. Well…You pretty much can’t play together until you cross the extremely dangerous map.
Another issue I encountered with PvP is feeling excluded from content. Even with a group of 10 guys it feels so limiting as to what you can accomplish because you can’t necessarily enter dangerous areas during your available online hours. There is simply too many hostile players who try to kill on sight wearing higher level gear than you. You’re outmanned and outgunned and there’s nowhere else to go. There’s nothing else ‘to do’.
The game launched with a PvP focus. Don’t worry. There is now PvE content which is making the game far more successful! We’ll get to that soon.
There are safe zones where you can’t be attacked, yellow zones where you can be attacked but you only lose durability on gear.. Just make sure you don’t hit the “die” button and you will get back up feeling fine. Then red zones where if you are killed enemies can loot everything you had on you including any items you paid for with real money.
In addition to that there are more convoluted PvP rules such as factions. Flagging up as a faction also enables you to be attacked by other factions under the conditions of full loot drop rules. It’s sounding like a board game with an extremely long rule system.
I found PvP outcomes to be dictated by two factors. Who has better gear and who has more people. Gear can easily outplay multiple people as higher tiered gear can give abilities which provide large amounts of damage over a large area. This happened to my group where a single bow guy killed 8 of us with a large cone attack whilst we were fighting monsters.
This isn’t Battlerite. It’s not skill based combat. Think more strategically. You’ve got to get out there. Get a load of people together. Safety in numbers. Provide for each other. Gear each other up. Get the most out of your recruits. You aren’t a hero and this applies for both PvP and PvE. This is by no means bad. It’s a different kind of good and one that I think Albion does well.
PvE content was added in 2018 giving players dungeons and raids to fight through. This addition has been well received and the developers have a roadmap with more PvE content planned. You can now queue with 5 people for a random dungeon which is useful if you’re playing solo. For those with friends, guilds, or social skills to interact with other players and get them to do your bidding then…
You can go out into the world and find random dungeon entrances to explore. Another option is to find or purchase treasure maps which will create a dungeon for you to find.
There’s no detail in creating your character with little choice in hair and torso. There are no other races besides human male and human female. Whilst I’m sure we would all like picking fantasy races the focus is on character progression, not creation.
Why does it feel that there is a lack of RPG character creation in the “MMORPG” games today? Wait a minute. How many MMO’s can you name that have Humans and Undead as selectable races. It can’t just be WoW right?
Breaking the game down into combat consisting of magic, warrior-like and rogue-like combat and light/medium/heavy armor. Then gathering which is chopping trees or farming, and crafting which is all your kinds of armors, weapons, or building material like stones and planks.
The more you use from a skill the better you become at it and the better equipment or resource you can get. It’s a system you feel invested in as you and perhaps your friends specialise in different areas. You can learn skills faster with some allocated learning points which you obtain by simply playing the game. You still need to use those skills to level them up though. The leveling system, at least for combat, is spot on.
One character can learn all the skills. Some players may want multiple characters which open up some optimisations and efficiencies with gathering and crafting. If you’re a player who is focused on combat then you’ll be able to learn and play the game to its fullest with a single character, learning all of the different weapon and armor skills obtainable.
The Combat : Dungeons
So the dungeons are relatively simple, repetitive and laggy if you bring a load of people. What drives you through the dungeons is the loot, as always, and if you are playing with friends then it’s an addition to a recipe that always makes it more enjoyable.
It doesn’t feel like you get enough loot from the dungeons. Each boss has a chance of giving you either items, experience books which give you lots of experience for all the skills applicable to the items you are wearing, or these annoying shrines which give you increased silver or xp for the next few minutes.
The Combat : Bosses
Dungeon bosses are fairly simple. Your tanks tank, your healers heal, and your damage dealers deal damage. Everyone needs to not stand in the red circles. The combat is very simple and there are few buttons to press. There isn’t much they can do here. The excitement for world dungeons really has to come from working in large groups to push through anything that is difficult. Lacking healers? Bring more healers! In expeditions (group finder) the only thing driving you is becoming stronger.
Nothing special here either. One thing to be thankful for that even with a lot of players there are plenty of nodes for you to harvest. So long as you have the right tool at the right tier you can harvest or gather the node. It is a hefty grind. Gathering professions take a long time to level up and so does crafting since it’s gated by the resources you gather.
With premium you gain a little extra resources and experience but even that feels slow. Anything that speeds up the process feels worth it. Which brings us to an annoying point about the premium pass for $10. You can only apply it to one character. It isn’t account shared. Though this might not be a problem for some people who just invest everything into one character.
What you probably like to hear is you can have your own island which you pay for with in game silver. You can also get your own private guild island which is bigger. Then there are plots in towns you can purchase for single buildings and use as stores which the public can use and you can earn money from.
There is plots in the game world which can be owned by guilds. These are largely in full PvP areas where dying will lose you all your gear. These areas are useful for guilds who want to have easier access to resources as it’s less risky to farm in them.
Building itself though is simple. You have small, medium and large plots and upon them you can choose which building will operate on them. There are not that many buildings but they can be upgraded to the next tier. So you have your lumber mill and stone cutter which allows you to craft the construction materials needed for any building. All of the armor and weapon crafting. Then are farms, pastures, kennels for raising creatures for mounts, mills, cooks and houses.
You can place items in the house. Storage is one of the more useful things which you can buy from the marketplace or craft yourself. Beds, trophies, and various decorative items if you choose. It’s a grid placement system and customization is almost non existent. Everything mainly has a purpose over aesthetics.
A house isn’t just a home for you but you can hire laborers who will generate some resources for you. At first glance it’s difficult to understand how this works as the in game information doesn’t really say much. It’s a common theme through Albion Online. How things work is never clear enough and you feel you might lose a lot if you go the “trial and error” route.
When you get a house you can see an option to hire a laborer. That’s as much information as you get. The actual information on laborers can be found here : https://albiononline.com/en/news/laborers-in-albion-online-a-guide
A quick glance you can easily see that it’s a bit more complicated than throwing a guy in a building and getting something back.
With all games I operate on a “it’s okay to lose something if you gain knowledge whilst doing it” but Albion Online has a few cases like this where the knowledge you gain from trial and error isn’t worth it. It pays off massively to search the internet for answers to questions than try to discover them for yourself. I think we all feel better when we discover something for ourselves or at least I do!
Well it seems harsh to complain about the graphics of a game that runs on a mobile phone but stylistically the game is an improvement over Runescape. The issue is the performance of the game which demands so little power. When combat happens above 10 players there are frequent frame rate drops and hiccups. As for style, I think checking out all the armor in the game can give you the best idea. I don’t think there is enough variation.
The HuD interface has limited options. I wanted to turn off the annoying reputation, fame or gold gains when picking up stuff because it gets in the way. You can’t do this and there are other things you might like to turn off especially when there are lots of players on screen.
It’s no Triple A game and it doesn’t strive to be anything ambitious. What it is though is a neat little game for large groups of people who players who are interested in having a grindy progression system in a world filled with other players. I’m a big fan of MMO’s and persistent worlds and I can see why people would enjoy this but it’s not for everyone. That’s okay!
If you’re looking for the PvE experience then the PvP side of the game interferes too much. Content is gated behind forced PvP and the counter to PvP scenarios isn’t to play better. It’s to have more guys than they do. It’s to have farmed more disposable gear than they have.
But since the developers have stated they will be improving the PvE aspect of the game it’s worth checking in every time a decent content patch hits. This review was June 2019. I’ll be chilling and hey, let me know if the games changed much so I can check it out again!