Albion Online is a F2P sandbox MMO currently in alpha. We received keys to participate in the alpha test that began this evening which ended up being so much fun that I had to jump on here and share my thoughts. I would have had this post up yesterday evening shortly after playing, but my poor little laptop BSOD’d and I lost the whole thing. 🙁
Think of Ultima Online + a little bit of action RPG and you’ll start to form the foundation of Albion Online. Played from an isometric perspective, Albion Online offers a completely sandbox experience on any device. I was shocked to see that you can play cross-platform on iOS, Android devices, PC, etc.
Players in Albion are able to build structures out in the world. From what I can tell, there appear to be pre-designated spots close to the main city. I haven’t explored far (the world is pretty dang big) enough to see if it opens up to more of a ‘place anywhere’ mechanic. You can place storage buildings to help you store all of your heavy resources (there is a carry capacity), crafting stations, buildings to decorate, etc. Like UO, you are safe in your building unless you built in the guild warfare areas.
Gathering and Skills
From the moment I started playing I realized how much time I could lose to this game. The very first thing I had to do was gather wood, stone, and hides to craft myself some basic tools and armor. I recommend making a shield and adding the Shield Wall spell — great survivability! After crafting my tools I realized that everything in-game seems to be driven by the skill menu. This skill menu is MASSIVE and makes Path of Exile look tame.
Advancing through the skill menu requires you to complete achievements or pre-requisites. Crafting 10 trainee broadswords allows you to make the next tier, etc. Gathering a certain number of resources equating to a certain value of Fame (some form of progress) improves your stats sort of like how in UO when you mine your strength increases.
Everything is player made. From what I can tell there are absolutely no merchants in-game, and all commerce takes place between players. An auction house provides a simple interface for players to sell or submit purchase orders. If someone were to focus entirely on being a crafter, I can imagine them being able to sell items to other players much like crafters can in UO. I haven’t seen a limit to the number of skills or abilities one can pursue, but time will definitely be a factor.
Silver or the basic currency seems difficult to obtain. Only humanoid monsters will drop silver, and they weren’t exactly dropping a lot for me. I was able to pick up 1-3 silver per kill. To put that into perspective, I was able to get about 40 silver in 20 minutes. The basic house plot I wanted to claim cost 300 silver and had an upkeep of 75 silver per hour. I assume silver is more common later on.
Combat & PvP
Basic combat in Albion Online is like an action RPG. You have abilities granted to you by the gear you are wearing. Crafting a staff with a fireball gives you the ability to cast fireballs — that sort of thing. I made a basic set of leather armor with a regen, heal, and run speed spell. I gave my sword the ability to lower my enemy’s armor, and slow their movement speed. Simply click and hold on the enemy to auto attack or use hotkeys (or touch the screen, I imagine) to cast spells.
Much like UO, Albion Online has a fairly open PvP system in the ‘clusters’ (regions) where it is allowed. Guilds (a fundamental entity in Albion Online) can claim contested regions of the world. Other guilds can come and lay siege to their claims. Using siege hammers, buildings can be destroyed and guilds can wage war. Combat against other players is pretty much like UO.
Just the surface…
I played for about 3 hours last night and barely made progress. I spent at least an hour exploring the world, learning the skill system, figuring out what I wanted to do, and trying to find resources. Albion Online offers a deceptively simple approach to the MMO sandbox formula. Much of the game is accessible for someone looking to dip their toe in the water, build a house, kill bandits, and have fun. There’s a layer of complexity and huge increase to the scope of the game when you start to think about progressing to T7 equipment and laying siege to other guild’s cities.
How far the cash shop factors into the game I do not know. I went into this thinking I would find a poorly made cross-platform game meant to be a cash grab. I was absolutely not expecting to find something charming and actually worth investing a huge amount of time.
I streamed a lot of what I played last night. Skip around and you’ll see me killing mobs, gathering resources, yelling at someone for stealing my skinning, and crafting some loot.