In this Albion Online article, I want to talk about whether or not it’s too late to begin Albion Online in 2021. Recently I had the opportunity to play Albion, which is a Free-to-Play Sandbox MMO that was originally crowdfunded back in 2017, and is available for PC and Mac. However, unlike many modern Free-to-Play MMOs, Albion was not designed to be free to play, and only became so in April of 2019. This is generally great news for players trying to decide whether a F2P game is worth it or not, because games that are built F2P from the ground up usually have gated content, or can sometimes be “Pay-to-Win”. This isn’t the case with Albion Online, thankfully, and in this article we’ll take a look at why you might consider playing it in 2021.
Albion Online: Is it Too Late to Play in 2021?
The first thing you’ll notice about Albion Online is its rather unique visuals that may remind players of something like Torchlight or even an 80s cartoon. It’s a bit refreshing if I’m totally honest, if not a bit endearing, and helps to give the game a bit of a light-hearted feeling. That’s not to say its community doesn’t take the game seriously, because there are near constant wheelings and dealing happening in every nook and cranny of the game. It’s just that I feel it attracts a sort of player that likes to play hard, without obsessing over every little thing, while relaxing and having a good time. In other words, my kind of people.
The next thing you will notice is that the game is massively populated, with everyone jam packed into one large mega server. Frankly, I’ve never seen so many players in one location at the same time, and it almost reminds me of the cities in Guild Wars 1 back in the day, they are so full of people. If you have any concerns about a dying population or anything like that, then you can put those to bed right now, because there are so many people playing, there are almost too many. And with the game releasing a mobile version this summer that shares progress with your PC version, it’s only going to increase!
But why are so many people playing Albion Online? What makes the game interesting? Let’s dive into some of the game’s mechanics and see.
Albion Online’s Classless System
Probably the staple of Albion Online is its classless system that allows you to change Builds and roles by simply changing your equipment. You can be a tank with a sword and shield and heavy armor one moment, or be a mage with a staff the next, wearing light armor, etc. You can’t always change instantly, such as when you are in a Dungeon or in a PvP fight, but the flexibility of this system means that you never have to worry about “making a mistake” with your character selection. This allows you to focus on the gameplay itself, and really get lost in the fun to be had there, instead of stressing about whether you did things correctly or not. There is no “right” and “wrong” way in Albion, there is simply play…
All Loot is Crafted in Albion Online
Another insanely interesting aspect of Albion, is that ALL of the equipment in the game is player crafted. Yes, you heard that right. ALL of it. Even the stuff that you find in chests, or that drops from enemies. This is because Albion features a Black Market whereby players can sell their gear for money to the Black Market NPC, who then distributes those items into the loot pools of chests and enemies through out the game. What makes this even more intriguing, is that since the Black Market must buy items to distribute, if it cannot fulfill the item necessary to be dropped it will continue to raise the price of that item until someone sells it one. If none can be found, the chest or enemy will then drop something else entirely.
Is that not wild or what? This is one of the main reasons the game features durability on equipment, because it needs items to be destroyed somehow, or the game would have billions of items that would eventually grow into trillions and quadrillions, and that would take up a lot of space!
If you’re someone who likes to craft equipment, or who likes to spend a lot of time gathering resources, then just know that you will be rewarded for it because of the way loot in Albion works. You are desperately needed in order for players to get the loot they desire, and in order to keep the supply and demand in check!
Equipment and Skills in Albion Online
Because Albion features a classless system, the Skills and Abilities you use in combat are dictated by your Armor and Weapons. Each Weapon and Armor has its own set of “Item Spells” that you can pick from, and you can change these around when not in combat. Some of these are passive, and others must be used by the player actively.
Finding the right Weapons and Armor and mixing and matching these Abilities is a large part of the game. And what makes things more interesting is that different Weapons and Armor work better in different situations. For instance, using the Mistpiercer Bow works phenomenally in large PvP battles because it is capable of doing huge damage to many players at once. But because it has such a long cooldown, it does not perform well in Dungeons or in small scale PvP, where if the other team survives the blasts then you’re pretty much guaranteed to die. In these cases you’d be better off with something like the Adept’s Bow, that does better DPS over time, rather than in short bursts with huge delays between.
That was just one example, but there are literally thousands of combinations of equipment, with more and more being added to the game over time. If you are a player who likes to min/max, then I cannot see you getting bored of trying out all the possible combinations, especially since you can do so on one single character. I am not a fan of playing multiple characters, so this is the ideal setup for me!
Combat in Albion Online
In combat, players will utilize up to 6 abilities to deal damage and stay alive. Not all abilities deal damage, and some like Mend Wounds or Dodge are related to mobility or simply healing yourself. There are dedicated roles within Albion Online, so making a DPS, Tank or Healer is totally a thing. However, you can find the middle ground between these roles by changing your equipment around, allowing you to play exactly how you want to. Frankly, I love this system, and it is very easy to get used to once you figure it out.
Abilities have varying degrees of cooldowns, so you can’t spam them away (most of them anyway). Finding the right rotation for the Build you are playing is key, and saving your longer cooldown Abilities for the proper moment has as much effect on success or failure as the equipment itself. Many longtime players compare the combat to that of League of Legends, the popular MOBA, though I have not played enough LoL to make such a statement myself. Regardless, it will take you some time to learn your rotation, and even longer still if you’re like me and you’re constantly trying out new equipment. But hey, that’s part of the fun right?
Activities in Albion Online
Albion Online has many different types of activities, from Solo Dungeons to large scale Faction PvP, so there is literally something for everyone, regardless of what type of player you are. In my time playing I was able to do some Corrupted Dungeons, Hellgates, Group Dungeons and Faction Warfare. In this section, I’ll run you through what these are, so that you can conceptualize Albion a bit better.
Corrupted Dungeons are essentially Solo Dungeons that allow you to opt into PvP if you want, otherwise you’ll run through alone and clear enough enemies for the boss to spawn. Killing the Boss will reward you with loot, at which point you can leave or continue onward in the Dungeon. If you opted into PvP, you will either invade or be invaded by another player. When this happens you can face the other player, or try to avoid them if you wish. Defeating the other player will provide you with rewards, as well as Infamy which increases the loot and quality of loot you will find in these Dungeons.
Hellgates are similar to Corrupted Dungeons, but they are 2v2, 5v5, and 10v10 and you don’t “opt in” to PvP, it’s just always a possibility. I did many 2v2 games, and even though I was still learning the game and got smoked several times by some other players, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot about my Build and my playstyle. If you enjoy small scale PvP, while also gaining loot from PvE, then this is a great activity.
Group Dungeons are activities for up to 5 players that work like most MMO Group Dungeons, where players take on trash mobs and bosses for loot from chests and rewards. Generally it’s good to have a tank and a healer when doing these, and to have 3 DPS characters that can attack enemies, but this may or may not be necessary depending on the difficulty of the Dungeon you are doing, and how familiar you are with the Dungeon and players you are grouped with.
I also got to play in some Faction Warfare, which are large scale PvP battles where there are sometimes hundreds of people on the screen fighting. One of the reasons this is possible without melting your computer, is because of the game’s graphics, and luckily I had very little lag compared to many other MMOs I have played. In Faction Warfare, Factions fight for control of different zones of the game, with battles occurring constantly around the clock, without break. You can literally take 5 steps out of the city sometimes and find people fighting, it feels like it’s happening everywhere, even though cities are safe.
One cannot help but feel as though Albion leans a bit more to the PvP side of MMOs rather than the PvE side from seeing this, though I don’t know if that was the original intention of the game. It is a Sandbox MMO after all, so that simply could be what players who enjoy the game have gravitated most towards. Regardless, it is a ton of fun, and I’m not usually a PvP player, so that is saying something.
Albion Online Monetization
Albion Online is a Free-to-Play game and no content in the game is gated behind any paywall. Instead, players can spend real money OR in-game currency to purchase Albion Premium, which is essentially a “subscription” of sorts that provides passive benefits to the player in the form of increased Silver drop, increased gathering yield, 100% crop yield, increased Fame, reduced Taxes, and several other benefits which just generally make it so that you can progress your character at a faster rate.
Nothing about the game seems Pay-to-Win in my experience, though you can convert real money into in-game currency if you wish, which will allow you to purchase items from the Auction House or Black Market. I don’t really see this as Pay-to-Win, however, because generally you will find Gold Selling sites doing this anyway, and Albion is simply cutting out the middle man by allowing it in their store. Still it is worth mentioning, since it is part of the game.
Although I have only spent a brief amount of time playing Albion Online this past weekend, about 7 hours or so worth, I already find myself firing up the game in my free time. For someone who plays games constantly, and is asked to check out X, Y and Z games with regularity, it is more and more rare that something pulls me in and intrigues me as much as Albion has already done in such a short time. And even though this is a sponsored post, I feel like that in itself is a big statement, and one that I was not paid to make.
If you like what you see, or you just don’t believe me and need to find out for yourself, I strongly suggest you try out the game and see what you think. Albion Online is Free-to-Play after all, and there really is no reason to take my word for it. Additionally, Albion just had a new update on the 17th of March called Call to Arms, which brought many quality of life changes to the game. You can find a link to download the game below, and by doing so you help support the channel as well, which is win/win. If you decided to try out the game, or you’re already a player, let me know what you think in the comments below!