This is going to be a long post. Most of what I talk about will be conjecture from playing this game since beta, but there will be irrefutable facts as well. I'm not intending to create drama, but rather provide my feedback on everything game related as it pertains to my experience. Some of this criticism will be harsh, but it doesn't come from a malicious intent. I sincerely want this game to succeed, but as a long time player I've grown to distrust SBI's vision for Albion's direction. I've always had the time but necessarily the desire to talk about a lot of this, yet I find myself unable to enjoy playing Albion in it's current state for the first time since I bought the game in early access. So instead of playing, I've decided to take on this lengthy endeavor by compiling as much information as possible while being as thorough and detailed as I reasonably can.
It's also important to note that I'm not a player that enjoys massive zerg battles. I prefer solo and small scale fights as it is undoubtedly more skill reliant, and I'd argue that the majority of players that look for full loot pvp games would also prefer small scale fights over large zvz battles. Although great strides have been made since Albion's release, the servers have and still are notoriously lousy at handling performance in zvzs, so hopefully you can understand my hesitation for Albion's directional future in regards to upcoming leaked changes.
Albion was once just an idea from a small company and it has grown to become a pretty big hit with audiences looking for the niche genre that is full loot pvp with a player driven economy. However, it has many faults and egregious mistakes in it's development since it's inception that has severely hindered the game's growth and player retention rate, mostly due to moving away from the once hardcore elements to a more casual approach while at the same time continuing to tailor towards a zerg oriented development design instead of focusing more on small scale viability.
During the betas the game was looking to be great. It had a lot of the core features we see now and the economy and players to support it. Many players today will even say that the best iteration of Albion was in it's beta stage, and there's plenty of reasons why people believe that. A few examples:
- The game was heavily marketed and designed as a mobile friendly game. For whatever reason, someone at SBI decided a hardcore full loot pvp game with an emphasis on player economy was to be given the mobile treatment. The cynical part of me thinks this was done to exploit the booming mobile market with micro-transactions, but thank the earth-mother that didn't happen. Regardless, the game was and is restrained because everything has to be compatible with mobile as well. What we are left with is a mildly acceptable app that you need to re-download after every patch. It's still in IOS beta today, and won't ever be capable of competently performing actions like pvp. Without a shadow of a doubt, if Albion was actually devoted to PCs instead of one foot in the door for mobile, we could have had a fantastically better game overall.
- The geography was way better. There was a ton of choke points and really interesting and unique map layouts as opposed to the copy/pasted ones we have had since release. Some maps had at least six territories per zone which provided constant action. There were even more gvg tiles that were in beta that never made it to the game, though I can't exactly say why. Maybe the maps just received better upgrades, but it would have been nice to have different layouts for different play-styles.
- The removal of harbors and black zone cities in favor of portals. If you wanted to go to a black zone, you would take one of many routes out of the royals and into a respective black zone area with a port harbor as a kind of middle check-point safe spot with a bank and an auction house. It meant that truly living in the black zones was viable, but required a steady inflow of goods from royals. With it's removal in favor of portals, it destroyed key trade routes connecting royals with black zones and made portal camping extremely prominent and lazily rewarding even to this day. This change took place in the Hector update just two months shy of the game's release forcing essentially the entirety of pvp players to use Caerleon. Only now are some of these changes being revisited with the upcoming map design in regards to living in black zones and removing Caerleon as the main black-zone hub.
- Mobs used to execute you. If you got knocked down by a mob it would kill you and you would die the same as if a player had killed you, but it was changed to no longer execute. I can't say which is truly better, but I can say it took a lot of the "hardcore" feel of the game out when it was changed - also keep in mind there was no roaming mobs or random dungeons in beta so you'd only die to mobs on unsuccessful attempts in structured pve settings and only if the mobs leashed while you were knocked down; similar to how hellgates worked until recently where they were also changed to not kill as well. Here's a link to the thread on the forums where this was announced and many people were not happy to hear this. Even SBI themselves didn't seem excited about this change saying:
Rest assured that we internally were initially not very happy with the idea, but after careful consideration decided to give it a try anyways. For those of you who have the same initial reaction that we had, please let's see how it plays out in practice first. If it does not work out, it will be reverted.
We are fully aware that switching of execution for mobs does have its cons, mostly that it does not really seem to fit Albion, it is not immersive and it might reduce the feelings of reward when you finally beat a hard encounter.
- The royal continent had tier seven resources and no reputation system. Royals were designed to be for small scale groups and solo players and it accomplished that pretty well, but the release of a reputation system severely discouraged solo and small group fights in these zones and essentially forced pvpers to go to black zones which has always been riddled with zergs. Red zones were not that different to black zones in beta, everyone was flagged and anyone could participate in pvp without repercussions. The only major difference back then was blobs in black zones didn't show on the mini-map. Here's a link from a beta player asking for the return of auto-flag in red zones with over 50 up-votes (which was huge for back then and even now) and just to prove I was playing during this time, I'll quote myself from this post #306 and #309. If you have the time, peruse through this thread and you'll find many people were unhappy with the flagging and reputation system's implementation, yet it was pushed forward with the idea that it would help casual players.
The whole system is stupid. Why punish players in an open world pvp game?
It's obviously designed around the idea of sheep vs wolf, but in reality every player is one or the other at some point. We don't need a reputation system for that...
...the fact that you can get locked out of pvp towns for playing the full loot pvp game and pvping in the designated pvp area is ridiculous. There are people who enjoy the small scale pvp in red zones as opposed to the black zone zergs and this reputation system punishes them for that?
Reputation was designed strictly with the care-bears in mind, and it is counter intuitive to the philosophy of the game - full loot pvp. The devs want to get more play styles into the game and I can respect that, but you have to teach them the dangers of the area and how to prepare for it. Maybe the upcoming gathering items will help, but this whole reputation system is basically just the devs holding the sheep's hands and saying, "They will pay for killing you". It's not fair to either the wolf or the sheep - the wolf takes the punishment and the sheep don't learn how to adapt.