Today's Game: Albion Online

This is the first post in a series of posts I'll publish on the blog. The series will get the name "Today's Game". I will write about games I have played and share some thoughts on what I think about them.

I do love to play games, but I'm a bit lazy when it comes to getting into new games. It takes up quite some time and effort, even though it's fun. I tend to find a few favorite games and spend hundreds or even thousand of hours into them over the years. This is one of those games and it's called Albion Online.

Albion Online is a fantasy sandbox MMORPG set in an open world. It's a game with a top down perspective with click to walk, like many ARPGs and MOBAs. Most of the game is evolved around just exploring the vast open world, while killing players and AI enemies. It doesn't have a story line and it has as good as no quests. You only have the quests that get you started, in the tutorial. Still I've managed to put over 1350 hours into it. The main reasons for me playing the game is the amount of large and medium scaled PvP I can get into, and because of the freedom Albion Online gives me by not forcing me to do quests and grinding specific rare pieces of gear. It really is a sandbox game where you decide how you want to play it. The classless system also helps in that regard. You can freely combine armor pieces and weapons to your needs and preferences. You don't pick a class, you just put on the gear you want to use.

Everything is not just about PvP. To get stronger you do various kinds of PvE content, alone or with other players. That way your gear gets stronger. You specialize in what you want, by earning fame (experience points, kind of). You can see part of my Destiny Board on the image below where I'm working on making the gear I use stronger. The Destiny Board shows your progress in the game.

The Destiny Board, where you can specialize and get stronger gear, among other things.

A True Sandbox Game

As I said, it's truly a sandbox game. You do what you want in the huge open world. Massive scale PvP, medium scaled, small scale, duels, instance based PvP, open world PvE, dungeons, crafting, trading, gathering resources, chatting with other players... You can play a healer for an hour, then switch your gear, and like that, you're a mage.

A PvP-oriented Game

Large scale PvP can get crowded at times. Low graphic settings on for better performance.

There are so many different ways to do PvP (Player vs Player). Where do I start? You have open world roaming, arena matches with 5 vs 5 players, something called corrupted dungeons, hellgates, and competitive matches in the Crystal League. If you want some 1 vs 1, you can go around in the open world and look for players to fight, or you can challenge someone for a duel. My favorite kind of PvP is ZvZ (Zerg vs Zerg) in the full loot PvP zones. That can be massive fights with hundreds of players clashing in one map/zone.

The world is divided into two parts, the Royal Continent and the black zones.

The Royal Continent: This is where you start your journey. The yellow zones in the Royal Continent doesn't make you lose your gear on death. Just avoid the red ones, and you'll be fine.

The black zones: This is where you find danger and sudden death. In the black zones you lose all your gear upon death. It's a high risk and high reward area, for both PvP and PvE. The dungeons and open world here gives you bonus fame and better loot, so you can get stronger faster. A good tip: Find a friendly guild. That helps you a lot in the black zones and makes the game a way better experience.

The black zones, with high risk and high rewards.

In the black zones you can fight over objectives. Your guild and alliance can build hideouts (underground bases/houses), conquer territories, and take control of castles and outposts. That way your guild gets stronger, gets some nice loot,  and the guild members will be safer roaming around in the black zones. But be aware, other guilds may want to steal your objectives and destroy your hideouts. The battles can be huge and so much fun!

This is me and my swiftclaw mount outside our guilds home (a hideout) in a black zone.

Do not worry, there's also PvE content in this game. Actually, you will spend many hours doing this, all the way to the endgame and beyond. You can do solo dungeons, group dungeons and avalonian dungeons (like raids in other games). You can make your own island where you can build houses with the furniture of your choice, grow food, breed and raise animals, stash away your hard earned loot, and more. Islands are both for individual players and guilds. A guild can have a guild island.

A boss from a dungeon in the black zone. Let's see if we can kill him.
So far, so good. The boss is going down.
I won! Mmmmm, loot.

Another PvE element in this game is gathering. You can level up your gathering skills, wear gathering gear and sell your gathered stuff. Mine stone, chop wood, mine ore, collect fiber, and skin creatures for leather. You can even fish in this game. Gathering can be both rewarding silver-wise and relaxing (maybe not in the black zones). A good activity to combine with gathering is crafting. That way you can refine resources and craft a lot of different things.

A Player Driven Economy

To get the items you want, like armor, weapons, mounts, and potions, you can buy that with silver from other players in one of the many markets. The economy is player driven. There are no NPCs to buy stuff from. You have several markets in different locations, like in the cities on the Royal Continent.

With a player driven economy, the prices goes up and down based on supply and demand. So you can get rich by speculating and spending time trading on the markets. Or even by transporting items to sell on another market, since you might get more silver by selling your items somewhere else.

If you don't want to spend silver on gear, you can get it as loot from killing enemies, opening chests in dungeons after killing bosses, or just make it yourself by crafting.

The bad Things

Like in almost every other game, some stuff annoy me, or make me like a game less. So what's the negative parts in Albion Online? Let's see.

Albion Online can at times be frustrating. Let's say you put on your new shiny and expensive gear. You wear it to go do some PvE in the black zone. Suddenly six players surround you and kill you. You lose all your precious gear. That can feel pretty bad, but it's also one of my favorite aspects of the game, the full loot PvP. It adds some excitement, but it may not be for everyone.

There are some performance issues with the game these days. I'm not sure what the problem is, but in bigger fights it can get laggy. With "bigger fights" I mean massive scale PvP with hundreds of players on the same map. The lag/stuttering might be because of some recent updates or the growing player base. Who knows? The cities can also be a bit laggy, since they are full of players.

Is Albion Online pay to win? It's a free to play game, so that could mean it's pay to win, but in this case it isn't totally true. You can get silver by spending real money, but that doesn't make you unbeatable. It's certainly a convenience, but you can fairly easy get silver after you have a few hours in the game. And if you die with your precious gear you bought for your silver, it's gone, at least if you venture into the black zones. So if you suck at the game, you will die and lose your gear, even if you swiped your credit card two or three times. Many guilds will regear you if you die during fights together with your guild mates anyway. That helps your personal economy in the game, so no need to swipe that credit card.

The graphics are a bit rough around the edges here and there, but I enjoy the simple art style. Not every element of the game is as good looking in my opinion, like the map over a zone and some of the skill animations with fire.

Conclusion

If I were to cover every aspect of the game, this review of the game would be way longer. I have just scratched the surface of it. There are many details, tricks and game mechanics I haven't gone over. But what's the conclusion? Is the game worth playing? Absolutely. I have spent a lot of time in this game and it has given me a lot of fun. The massive PvP battles between alliances and guilds, the full loot PvP, the top down perspective with MOBA-like kiting. So good. And no hassle with tons of quests and mandatory content to get that one piece of gear. It's refreshing and it gives me a feeling of freedom.

The game has some performance issues, it doesn't have the most worked through graphics, and the conveniences of spending in real life money on the game pulls my overall rating down a few points.

All in all I recommend you to try out Albion Online. It's free, so why not just give it a spin? The player base keeps growing and the people behind the game keep on pushing out content updates. So even if you have tried it before, but have been away for a while, you should give it another chance.

Rating: 8/10

Metadata

Genres: MMORPG, open world
Release year: 2017
Early access? No
Free to play? Yes
Open source? No
Cross-platform? Yes, it's available for GNU/Linux (you can get it on Steam or as a standalone launcher from albiononline.com), Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
Multiplayer? Yes, online multiplayer. No offline singleplayer.
GNU/Linux support? Yes
Available on GOG.com? No

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