The MMOGames team interviewed Stefan Wiezorek at Gamescom 2016 to look at how Albion Online’s final stages of Beta are coming along. And so far, it seems that the oldschool, hardcore MMORPG is doing really great!
Albion Online is a medieval sandbox MMORPG, developed by Sandbox Interactive since 2012. This game is neither Free to Play nor Pay to Win, in fact the game isn’t even supported by any publisher so it can effectively be seen as fully independent. The game instead gathers its finances from the over 170,000 people who already purchased various Founder’s Packs to help support the developers.
Straight Outta Old School
With this project, Sandbox Interactive has stepped away from the trend of more ‘casual’ MMO titles, where risk and difficulty have been increasingly put aside. Albion Online doesn’t only focus on reward, but strives to return to a more classic approach by creating a brutal realism in the style of Dark Age of Camelot, Ultima Online and EVE Online, which Wiezorek mentioned were of great influence to them.
The game features a fully player-driven economy and game world, catering to players who are looking to trade, craft, build, fight and conquer in a huge sandbox environment, where the social component as well as cooperation with others are essential to enjoy the game.
Albion Online is a unique sandbox game where everything, the whole world itself, is made by players. Everything is crafted and everything is constructible. You cannot obtain loot from your kills, only resources with which to create your armor and weapons from, or build your homes.
Aside from that, players don’t have a class. Instead, your role in battle is dependent on your equipment, which provides you your spells, powers and skills. Through this, an endless variety of multi-class characters can be created. In short, the unique events that can occur I this game are absolutely immense!
We started playing Albion Online at Gamescom 2016: first we gathered some wood to auction off later, and we were also shown player-made supply stores and workshops, which allow them to make money if you decide to stop by and make use of what they are offering. It also means that there are nearly no NPCs.
All resources in the game are limited. So after we chop wood, the tree is gone. It only has so many charges and then it’s gone for everyone. The level indicator of a resource informs us within what kind of timeframe it will respawn. Trees of a high level may take ages to ‘grow’ again in the game and appear once more for chopping down. Some resource spots of high-level ores are viciously guarded by high level guilds in order to gather the respawned materials. The makers are often balancing the game in order to ensure that no resource floods the market, or that there’s enough that you can use your materials for, so that value remains relatively intact.
On top of that all markets are local, which encourages players to venture out (very few fast-travel options available!) with materials to sell for a higher price elsewhere I the game. We found out that we could have sold the wood we chopped for a much higher price in one of the higher regions, where end-level guilds are constantly rebuilding and recrafting after their PVP experiences.
Penalty of Death
The reason is that anything you have created can break as well. Each gear item has a 10% chance to be totally destroyed if your character dies. And if you lose to someone in PVP, they can take everything you are carrying. Both the risk and reward are high.
Fortunately, Albion Online’s map comes with a label category where green is safe, yellow allows some PVP and from red zones and upwards the winner takes it all. The highest level of PVP are the black zones, which are contested territory with very rare resource spawns buildings which can be owned and fought over and defended. “We wanted a more meaningful positive and negative experiences,” explains Wiezorek.
PVP, as well as dominating certain territories in the world, are key in Albion Online. It’s not quite that simple though, there’s still some form of law in effect, so killing other players has a slight punishing effect on each player. You’ve got to calculate whether it’s worth it or not.
We were shown the black zones on one of the mod accounts and we spotted several players busy selling their wares. The cities should be safe, but once you step outside, all the rules are out.
One key problem that many MMOs have when allowing for player or guild owned territories is zerging. The bigger the guild, the more people you can bring to a fight and the higher chance you have of winning. Not in Albion Online. Any guild with at least 10-20 good players, according to the developers, should be able to stand their ground. This means that territory fights take pace in 5v5 battles, and during these fight no others can enter.
Some areas on the world map are even open only at scheduled times, which allows for both sides to prepare themselves in advance. Some locations on neutral ground also spawn chests at certain times, so you’ll often see guilds fighting during those times in order to be able to loot the chest.
What’s Next for Albion Online?
When we were shown the Queensmarket and the player-made buildings which anyone can use in oder to craft and create things, we heard that one of their hopes is to make all these buildings unique. This way players can stand out from each other and try to advertise their core business more independently by choosing a certain style.
Apart from that, Peter Newman wrote a book called Landfall, The Tales of Albion which serves as a prologue to the game. We will be giving away two copies of Landfall in our upcoming giveaways!
If you also want to support this independent title, you can obtain a Founder’s Pack. These come in three different price categories, each with a large quantity of bonus content for the game, as well as Beta access! Albion Online is scheduled for release at the end of 2016 as one single game world (cross-platform) on PC and Android, and soon after for iOS, so that you can still access the marketplace wherever you are to sell your spoils of the hunt.Related: Albion Online, Gamescom, Gamescom 2016, MMORPG, Sandbox Interactive