Albion Online: Gold Standard for Sandboxes
In recent years, MMORPGs have tended to become just ORPGs, decidedly doing away with the two M’s in favor of an ever-changing industry. Almost every new release is a showing of how stripped, little by little, this genre is these days as developers cede to the wants and yearnings of the modern MMO gamer. That certainly isn’t a bad thing at face-value, but it continues to, instead, devalue the true worth of an MMO with theme parks that tuck players into a neat little corner, guiding them on where and when they can get on the other attractions. Not Albion Online, though.
Touting itself as the “first truly cross platform MMO,” able to be played on a number of different OS, tablets, smartphones, and, of course, PCs, Albion Online is a completely different beast; replete with the classical RPG elements most of us know as children that hearken back to older games like Baldur’s gate, the original Fallout, and even the great Diablo. Albion is nothing like these games, mind you, but it does make one reminiscent of the golden age of RPGs with the very first step you take into its world.
The Wonderful World of Albion
Naturally, as a sandbox game, the Albion world is massive, sprawling, and grand. Albion Online silvers up its wares through its persistent world with a great-looking environment, atmospheric landscapes, and generally fantastic character models. Any player, whether hardcore or casual, will appreciate this. It’s vivid, colorful, and even, at certain times, gritty, depending on the situation players find themselves in. It should appeal to even the most visually-discerning gamers.
The sandbox-ness of Albion online isn’t purely derived from its looks, but the massive map size of continents makes sure that players will never experience the game the same way others have. You pretty much get plopped into one of the starter towns and off adventuring you go. Similar to other open-world, sandbox MMOs like A Tale in the Desert, Day-Z, or even non-MMOs like Fallout and Skyrim, Albion doesn’t have the core reason of ever moving to different areas. Yes, there’s general questing, but they’re not the sort of earth-shattering story quests that truly matter.
They only act as activity buffers that let you get to know more of the lay of the land and the game in general. Start learning the ropes on your own, learn to craft your first few pieces of gear, and head on off for adventures in both the aspects of player interaction and base building.
The Death Penalty
There is no reason to ever move to a different area. You could just stay put in the general vicinity of where you first landed and build up your strength there. Unlike the MMO standard of leveled zones from WoW, SWTOR, TERA, and many others, Albion Online doesn’t require you to do any of these, but instead, rewards the player that knows what they really want to focus on.
Once you get in, there’s pretty much no hand-holding. The hardcore aspect about it gets more intense when you find out that death penalties here are, indeed, very extreme. Albion Online is far more PvP-centric than what most would be used to and certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. When you do happen to get murdered out in the middle of nowhere while gathering resources, you lose ALL your stuff. No, I’m not kidding; ALL your stuff. Your items can be looted by your killer and he can just run off into the sunset without a care in the world and there’s nothing you can do about it.
There have only been a handful of MMOs that took death penalties very seriously, and I’m glad that Albion Online is joining the club. Most players in MMOs these days couldn’t care less if their avatar died, either by accident, ineptitude, a general lack of skill, or both. This removes the fantastic whimsy we used to have when this industry first started gaining traction. It’s brutal, punishing, and will, indeed, improve your skillset as a gamer.
EVE on Steroids
The true core of Albion, however, isn’t focused on PvP, because PvP only acts as a means to an end. Rather, Albion is focused much more on resource gathering in order to craft better weapons, building bases around the world to stake your claim to territories, and building a large network of people that co-exist in a mutually beneficial relationship. But if someone decidedly pisses you off or if you find yourself to be the prick, then that’s where PvP comes in.
But, how is it not all about PvP, you ask? For starters, there are a lot of structures that you can build in Albion that anyone can just go ahead and use. You can possibly charge people for the service or, if for free, people around and about you can opt to help out by fixing or upgrading your structure in order to benefit themselves as well – helping you out in the process. It becomes integral that you find a community or guild that you can be a part of because it becomes completely impossible to play the game as a lone wolf.Or, at the very least, learn to work without your neighbors. Basically, my Albion silver is your Albion gold, and vice-versa. You can’t help yourself if you can’t help others.
Economy: Albion Online Gold
In connection to that, I do regard Albion as a promising EVE Online on steroids. Mainly due to the possibility of the political maneuvering players can undertake in this game. As I’ve said earlier, you are merely thrown into the world without any knowledge of anything whatsoever. This goes hand in hand with any part of the game world being as flexible as the manner you start in. People will have to be wary with trespassing on a group’s territory or stealing their resources, or even have some Day-Z-like experiences where folks looking for a good home to be are lured by some stronger player and robbed instead. The possibilities of social interaction here are endless.
It goes without saying that the economy will be a fickle one in Albion Online. Gold and silver flows through the pockets of players quickly due to Albion being, at its core, a crafting and economy simulator, akin to EVE and these resources will be controlled by bigger and more prominent guilds. Believe me when I say that Albion Online isn’t a game for the solo artist; it takes a whole band to survive in its harsh world. It is, however, a game for the savvy businessman, the natural born leader, and the loyal servant, all of which will see an abundance of Albion gold, blood, and glory. Fancy yourself a hardcore gamer? Then let Albion Online test how far you can really go.