Title: Albion Online Platform: Windows, Mac Os, Linux, Android and iOS Cost: $29.99
Rating: Everyone 10+ for fairly mild fantasy violence
Albion Online is what’s known as a sandbox game. Many games guide players from start to finish, so every player has pretty much the exact same experience. Sandbox games are different in that they allow players to decide how the game will be played.
Have you ever wanted to be a powerful knight, facing down monsters and protecting your friends? That’s an option. Or perhaps a powerful sorceress, blasting a monster from the distance with fire magic? Also a choice. But what if you just want to relish the simple life of a lumberjack, farmer or merchant? All of these are options in Albion Online.
Albion Online does this by unleashing the power of capitalism. Virtually everything in the game is player-created — every weapon, piece of armor, magic potion, horse, etc., is available and traded at various markets in the realm.
The players who want powerful weapons kill stuff to make money, then buy items from craftsmen. Then the craftsman uses the profits to buy raw materials from gatherers, who use the money to buy better tools from the toolmaker, who gets the materials for his tools from the gatherers. And when gatherers must collect resources from dangerous areas, they hire the powerful warriors to guard them.
Albion is an economy-driven game.
There are a few quests at the start of the game to teach the basic mechanics — how to gather resources, craft a tool, kill a monster, make silver coins and acquire a mount to ride. And that’s it. After that, players are on their own. Very little handholding or direction here.
Most game-players are familiar with the concept of experience points — kill monsters or perform quests to gain experience, level up and thus be able to get better weapons, fight stronger monsters, etc.
In Albion Online, everything players do earns them fame, the game’s version of experience points. Craft a sword, and sword-crafting fame is earned. Craft enough swords, and the ability to craft a more powerful sword is unlocked. Chop down enough trees with an ax, and the ability to use a better ax, which can chop down trees of a higher tier, will be unlocked.
Combat fame works the same way. Killing a monster earns fame for your weapon and armor. Kill enough monsters while wearing leather armor, and the ability to wear stronger leather armor is unlocked.
The key to success in Albion is specialization. A crafter would be better served choosing to craft, for example, swords and only swords. A swordmaker could go even further and only craft one particular type of sword, for even better returns.
Time spent honing an inferior skill will slow down progress.
Some players I met online
didn’t craft or gather anything. They focused solely on battling monsters and other players, and this strategy can be successful, too.
In Albion, about twothirds of the game world offers full-loot player-versus-player combat in what’s known as the Red Zones and Black Zones.
Players start off in Blue Zones, where there is no player-on-player combat, but the highest tier of materials and monsters is only in the more dangerous areas. If a player is killed in the Black Zone, everything he has on him — weapons, armor, resources gathered, his horse, etc. — will be taken by the players who killed him. It adds a significant element of risk, which also has the effect of making materials
from the Black Zones even more valuable.
The end-game of Albion Online revolves around Guilds and Guild-versusGuild combat. Towns and whole areas in the game are controlled by powerful cabals of players, and they guard those areas from outsiders and compete in Guild Battles to seize more territory.
If it seems overwhelming, just remember that players get to play the game how they want — the life of a lone adventurer is still fun and just as valid.
Beyond the initial price of the game, Albion has a “premium” status available for $10 per month. Premium adds significant benefits in helping level-up your combat, crafting and gathering skills much faster than that of nonpremium characters. It’s also possible to pay that $10 monthly fee by earning in-game currency (silver) and exchange it for months of premium status. In about two weeks of playing, I earned enough silver to pay for two months of premium time.
Albion isn’t going to be a game for everyone. There is no grand tale that plays out in front of you, no quests, no final epic boss to defeat and win the game. The story being told is yours. It doesn’t have a conclusion, and it’s whatever you want it to be.
Review code for Albion Online was provided by the publisher.