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Albion Online is not rewarding enough

I saw this too often, a nice concept and gameworld, but the gameplay lacked leading to the demise of the game eventually.

 

For instance Archeage was fun during the alpha, always people online, a stunning world, but upon release the game only lasted a few weeks. I contribute this to house taxes, pay to win ingame shop items, and unbalanced pvp, which was mainly focused around daily events which were dominated by the faction with the biggest zerg. Additional the devs waited too long to roll out the endgame content.

When Black Desert was released i almost dived into that, since the world looks just awesome, but tiny aspects like overpriced ingame items, auto movement, overuse of combat special effects, and what seemed to become a very grindy game experience kept me watching streams. And after the initial hype the userbase dropped.

 

While i only can tell from my experience with AO since Veteran final beta launch, there are already the signs of demise with this game as well.

 

The Grind

AO is grindy i get that, and this wouldn't be so bad if you hadn't full loot based penalties. So players will be basically forced to resort to a very careful gameplay, otherwise they will eventually be punished for over risk gameplay. While organized guilds or regular pvpers can possibly compensate gear lose through their men power or activities, smaller groups and solo players will always have a disadvantage, forcing them to stick with safer places. In those regards the map layout which requires long travel times, and the risks involved also mean that there will always be a tedious task, riding long distances, getting ganked eventually, and basically a game experience evolving around gathering and crafting.

 

And it seems if you do not log in for some time, your houses start to vanish, imho one of the worst game mechanics. Looing a lot because you had no time to login, similar to Archeage's house tax.

 

PvP

For people who want to pvp it means either to venture alone, in a small or big group and seek pray. To find someone in different regions can be tedious as well, especially in the hard to reach black zones, unless you belong to one of the bigger guilds. In red zones instead pvp gets punished with a penalty score, eventually not letting players entering nearby towns. And pvp is almost never balanced, most of the time the amount of opponents already dictates the outcome of a battle. The alternative GvG. the structured small group pvp, which is possibly interesting for most people in the game, is only accessible per schedule, requires a territory, and on top requires the current meta gear. The team which lost, basically loses everything, which is gear, and maybe even their entire base.

 

AO is harsh, unforgiving, in long parts tedious, grindy and actual pvp rare.

 

The developers addressed many of above issues, planning to introduce faster travelling, adding GvG to more easily accessible regions, and tweak the penalties for killing players in red or yellow zones. Additional they want to add special zones with faster respawn and high tier resources, which would encourage pvp there.

 

However, while the upcoming content additions and changes address issues to some degree they only change symptoms not the root of what appears gameplay layout flaws.

 

When you have full loot penalty upon get killed, it basically means you leave the battlefield, ending a battle abruptly for that player, punishing him in an instant, many are back to square one. This mechanic is basically a fun killer. It means less pvp, it results in people get triggered - getting salty. Only well organized groups, or the larger group can gain an advantage in such a setup. Leaving many players unsatisfied, upping the odds of them playing less, or resorting to a more grindy gameplay style, which eventually also results in people play less.

 

PvE

While the dungeons are nicely designed, the combat requires some degree of positioning and right group gear setup to be efficient, slashing monsters is apparently also a grindy task, taking hours for completion. The reward is albion online silver and some scrabs for crafting from time to time. But RPG games live from loot, an aspect which is only secondary in this game, leaving dungeon hunters unsatisfied. There is not a lot of randomness, instead a linear gradual grind, a repetitive experience which over the course of days gets boring. I get that the game is designed around crafting, but it needs more than that for a long term experience.

 

Many of above issues could be resolved with the following changes

 

A world map which has a more diverse zone setup, that players can reach each zone within let's say a five or six zone radius.

Differently sized zones

Choke point zones

Full loot only partially accessible to looters, offering the chance to get loot back, or gear is not entirely dropped upon death. Or it becomes easier to get resources.

Additional gear or loot albion online items could drop to the floor, instead of bags, which always had a nice touch and gave Diablo 2 a nice thrill. Imagine a player in pvp is "popping" his gear upon get killed, people can not easily pickup stuff located in one bag, need more time to run around picking up items, making pvp lasting a little longer when groups fight over ao items scattered around the battlefield.

 

Auction house dynamics and crafting

A big problem with crafting is the ability to effort resources from the auction house. Often resources are bought up by a single entity, then offered for a higher price, a way many players generate their income in mmo's. This is compensated if you have a healthy player base, because there would always be competing offers. Not so much if the active player base reaches a critical low threshold, crippling and delaying progress of solo players or small groups. Again, leading to a more grindy, tedious gameplay, or to more risk taking, when high auction prices forces players to grind more, getting bored faster.

 

Multiple accounts and learning points

Basically if learning points remain in the game, players will create multiple characters/accounts to gain advantage from it.

 

I'm not entirely sure how to address this borderline exploiting of game design, but a way might be different learning points for different destiny board trees. That way you can progress crafting of all nodes, instead to focus one one. On the bottom line it must be possible to outgather vs learning points to make multiple accounts not viable anymore.

 

The current direction of the game, and missing game features like more looting, more different weapon/gear choices, more focus on dominating pvp aspect of the game, instead of grind and preparing, only favors a niche vocal hardcore player base. A player base which will drop the game the moment they can no longer exploit the weakness of casual players. The result means a gradual decline of AO after the initial release. The devs however make a very good impression, with the best intentions and capabilities at the same time, but at one point you are basically stuck with your initial world layouts. It's not too late to make some changes and plans.

 

And there could be so much more, like weather effects, impacting player movement, swimming, travelling AI, arena in towns for small scale structured pvp, random rare mobs, uncraftable lootable items, and so on. 

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