Header art by Redline XIII
With EVE Online seemingly becoming less sandbox-like of late I thought I would have a poke around for a different sandbox. My search did not take too long as some EVE players had already been making good noises about a game. The game in question is Albion Online.
The people I spoke to of it were very keen to point out the sandbox-ness nature of the game. They were also very keen to tell me about how bad Albion Online players generally were with dealing with meta-game-play.
So with my interest somewhat piqued I decided to give it a spin to see what all the fuss was about.
So What’s It All About?
Albion Online is a fantasy based sandbox game created by SBI. It has been running for a few years now and so I was hoping for a matured game. As you would expect from a fantasy game there are swords, magic and throwing of things. But unlike other games Albion Online makes a great deal of “you are what you wear”. I should also mention that it is full loss PvP. So if you die to PvP then all that you carried could be nicked. Interesting stuff I thought.
The download was pretty quick and soon I was on the character creation screen. These are not my favourite things I must confess. So I was somewhat pleased to see that my option were quite limited when compared to some games. A few clicks later and my character was created. It should be noted that there were no class selection options during this phase.
Then the game started in earnest.
As you would expect from any game there is a tutorial of sorts. You follow a quest line based about being lost and shipwrecked. Hardly unique or compelling stuff but it would do for now. There were few surprises here in the main. Follow directions to kill or collect things. Along the way other game specific elements were also introduced. One of the more interesting aspects was the “Destiny Board”. In very simple terms it is comparable to a skill tree. But advancement is based on doing things in game, at least in the main.
After completing the tutorial quests you were gifted with a donkey and 3 days “Premium time”. Despite Albion Online being free to play there are benefits to having a premium account. Generally these relate to getting things quicker in both the form of items and the all important experience or fame.
But then the quests ended quite abruptly. There was little in the way of guidance from within the game. It all seemed somewhat rather familiar to an EVE Online player.
So What Now?
Having been in this situation more than once in my gaming life I knew exactly what to do. I turned to the Internet and started to research. Two main goals were in mind at this time. How to level, what ever that actually meant in here, and how to not be a poor. Both admirable initial goals.
There was plenty of information about Albion Online available. Guides and tips aplenty. The problem with this however was that the depth of the game was becoming more apparent. It was already kind of obvious that the game was pretty large by looking at the map. It was also apparent by looking at the stream of global chat that it was all one world. Flicking through the items on the marketplace seemed never ending. This did indeed seem like a game that would take a bit of time to master. Even then I doubted that anyone could know everything there was to know.
From previous gaming experience I knew that tanking and healing/support roles were normally going to be in demand. This would be useful if I had to resort to the ever hated “pick up groups”. The bonus for a tanking role is that you can farm pretty safely, albeit slowly. So tanking it was to be. But there was that “you are what you wear” thing again. To be a tank you simply needed to equip tanking gear. But interestingly you could mix and match all manner of things should you so choose to. This leads to all manner of hybrid builds. For now though I was going to be a purist and stick to full plate. If I needed to change later I would just take the hit and learn from my mistake.
The grind begins
Game designers will try to tell you that there is no grind when playing their game. Every moment is full of joy and wonder. This may be the case for a game that will hold your interest for 30 minutes, but for games that are more interesting there is always a grind. How this is expressed can be quite different from game to game. But initially for Albion Online it is about gathering enough wealth and gear in order to try out other aspects of the game.
I was prepared for a laborious grind. This was very much in the vein of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”. Thankfully grinding is not too bad initially. The reality of how this pans out for more end game content is something I have yet to find out. It is still very much a case of go out into the world, kill things and pick things up. Then you complain about bag space or being overweight. These are all perfectly normal things to experience.
Will I play more?
I will keep running with this for a while longer for certain. There is much of the game, arguably the main bits, that I have not even touched. There are some thing that I know I need to do though. I need to find a half decent guild. This is so that I can learn from others which is always so much faster than trial and error by yourself.
But for now my explanation of my journey comes to an end. If you would be interested in hearing more then feel free to let me know in the comments.