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ALBION ONLINE is a Sandbox game and an MMORPG. In online games the term Sandbox generally means almost without boundaries, thus player's characters can virtually travel completely around the Albion universe and end up on the same spot - whereas in an MMORPG like the WORLD of WARCRAFT characters will often find themselfs going past the parameters of the game's maps and into vast areas of nothing. Often when this happens the character either is able to find their way back (with the player's help of course) - using the Hearthstone in WoW - or the player lucks out and finds their way back to land.

 

In ALBION ONLINE player characters start wearing their whities - or whatever colour underwear they choose; and from there they are built up into the type you the player decides. It is a bit more of a grind than an adventure over the first few tiers (levels) of experience than in some MMOs but while you are grinding away doing the boring stuff you are constantly learning and discovering. Once you have a few levels under your belt the grinding doesn't cease but it lessens because your character is now stronger and more likely to survive in combat against creatures, monsters and humanoids, and the quests mostly get better and more fun, though naturally some are still of the fetch and carry type.

Starting in your underwear seems a mite weird because you are a traveller arriving in a strange land ready to explore and grow rich. Unless you have been in a shipwreck, which there is no mention of, there is no plausible explanation as to why you land in Albion wearing nothing but your skivvies. So logically your first appearance makes no sense. Then, if you put it into persepctive of the game and the New World, then it does make sense that you begin with nothing, except your modesty, and the things you do and choices you make, determine who and what your character will be. Unlike WoW and other MMORPGs you do not choose a path immediately for your character, that is to say you do not decide your character will be a Fighter or a Wizard and create him or her as such.

 

As you dicover and gain equipment, weapons and clothes, and other objects, you find items and clothing that have properties which will help mould your character and aid them in skills and abilities. In the Cities or Villages you will find skilled crafters who can turn the resources you have gathered into somethings of use. Kill animals and gain hides, skins or furs and you will soon be wearing light armour of a sort. Collect wood and stone and they can be turned into tools and weapons that will aid you in your resource gathering and defnce of yourself against the wildness of the lands outside of the safety of the walls.

 

Certain trees and ores cannot be gathered until you have the correct tools or skills. Resource gathering in all games of the MMO genre is a necessity, boring unless you are with friends or a Guild group so you are chatting away whilst your characters dig, smash and saw and throughout your character's life (lives) it is something that you will always be doing even if the necessary resource requirementss continually change. Untouched resource possibilities usually have about 9 units available. If you wait around after depleting a source, it quite quickly returns to the game but if you hit on it straight away it will only offer up 3 units. Wait a little longer and it will give up 6 units and if you wait long enough it will be back to full. Different resource points give up different resource types. Different Trees offer up different types of wood, different Ore points offer stronger metals. When you move your cursor over these points they inform you of what they are and whether you are able to gather them.

 

Metal ores can be melted and/or moulded together to form Bars that are used for crafting other items, weapons and objects. Different materials, leather, fur, skins etc can be crafted into various costumes, and clothing gives you added defence against Paws, Claws even weapons. ALBION ONLINE is about developing and growing your character's status and helping others, Player Characters (PCs) and in-game quest givers (NPCs). It is also about making friends online and entering your character into dangerous situations alongside their characters. You can play solo and it is fun to do so, but many of the things you have to do and/or collect are guarded by large numbers of creatures or anti-social villagers/tribesmen, often too many for opne character to defeat.

 

I played World of Warcraft for many years until I got bored with it and with spending hours daily under its spell. Since then I have played around on occasion with several other MMOs and out of the many and varied games in this genre that I turned to, ALBION ONLINE is the one I have continued with, on and off. 

There are lots of good things about the game - the way you create your character in the image you alone want, the fun at discovering new lands and creatures, the animation etc - and there are some things I find to be a bit messy, such as the close proximity of the traders and crafters in the major cities, just a mass of names floating and melding, filling the screen and making it difficult to click on the character there that you are supposed to be meeting - to start/end a quest - or to trade with or have something crafted by.

 

Out of all the MMOs around, WOW is most probably the biggest or at least the most well known, with somewhere between 8-10 million players. This many players can mean problems getting onto the server you wish which is why I find it difficult when I read players have problems getting onto the ALBION servers when there are only about 250.000 players in the game. I never had any trouble getting online in Albion especially during the beta testing, when I would have expected to, so it should be easier and quicker even to log in now that it is a paid-for service. Personally I've had no problems with getting onto a server so I assume this is because I more than likely can be found playing at silly-o-clock am.

 

Although I consider WORLD of WARCRAFT to be slightly more advanced and developed technically I would still happily recommend ALBION ONLINE to anyone looking for an MMORPG and that has the time and patience to invest in it. It isn't a game that can be truly enjoyed if played infrequently, you need to be able to put in the time and to make online friends. Solo play, is fun but there will be times when you need assistance. Continually trying to complete difficult missions and quests on your own is liable to cause frustration and annoyance. You have to remember your character is but a cog in a very large wheel, just as you, the person, are in real life.

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015