|1. General Mechanics and Progression|
|2. Player vs Player and Territory Control|
|3. World Design, PvE, and Crafting|
|4. Non-Game Systems and Concerns|
Zone Safety Levels
Before diving into PvP, it’s important to lay out the danger classification of Albion Online‘s different zones, which are divided into different rulesets as you progress further into the game.
- Green – Safe zones with no PvP. No resources over tier 4.
- Yellow – Flagged players can attack any other player, but unflagged players have the “friendly” buff to help them in combat against hostile players. Players will only be knocked out instead of dying (dropping silver, but the body is not lootable). The number of flagged players in the zone will be displayed over the minimap. There are plots of land for guilds to claim in these zones (same for red and black). Tier 3-6 resources spawn in these zones.
- Red – Flagged players can attack any other player. No friendly buff. No indicator above minimap of how many hostiles are in the zone, but any cluster of ten or more players will be shown on the map. Players defeated in PvP combat will die and be fully lootable. Players looting items and harvesting resources will be pinged on the map.
- Black – All players are flagged by default; everything else is the same as red.
It’s worth noting that there are significant reworks planned for the game world that will affect the way safety levels are implemented. The new game world will be significantly larger and include a greatly increased number of black zones. In addition, a reputation and crime system inspired by Ultima Online will be introduced for yellow and red zones.
Mechanically, PvP in Albion Online feels similar to MOBAs, which is a good place to be. Tanks play a disruptive role, and those wearing heavy chestpieces have the ability to suck enemies towards them from a short distance or lock them in place with a rooting zone, setting up combos from a warbow player’s stun or a frost mage’s slowing AoEs. The main points of differentiation are time-to-kill being slightly longer (ruling out the near-instant death combos found in many MOBAs) and the role of the healer being more in line with traditional trinity-based PvP MMORPGs than the utility based supports found in MOBAs; if you want to play a full healer in Albion, you absolutely can.
PvP permeates Albion in its near entirety thanks to the game’s minimal use of instancing. In the above screenshot, my alliance is engaging a misguided group of players who thought it was a good idea to enter our territory and complete our dungeon. After a member noticed that the mobs near the entrance had been killed, we hunted them down; trespassers must be punished.
A lot of Albion‘s PvP is based around resources, as these are what drive the entire economy. In the case of dungeons, the mobs found within are a great source of silver, experience, and crafting materials used in the creation of higher tiers of gear. Resource-dense areas of the map prove to be hotspots for PvP as well. Both NPC mobs and resource nodes drop more loot depending on how long they’ve been up since spawning, so even if you aren’t gathering at that very moment, it’s still beneficial to prevent non-alliance members from farming mobs or gathering in your territory. The minimap itself is your ally in doing so, as players picking up loot will be pinged on the map in the red and black zones.
Open World Objectives
Open world PvP in Albion goes beyond simply defending your alliance’s territory or trying to sneak into someone else’s, as there are periodic open world objectives for groups to clash over. Treasure chests containing large amounts of silver and crafting materials are strewn across the world, opening on four hour timers which can be seen on the map. Similarly, much larger chests can be found in guarded forts with NPC defenders on an eight hour timer, if your group is strong enough to take on both the NPCs and enemy players intent on taking it for themselves.
Guild vs Guild Battles and Territory Control
Interestingly, Guild vs Guild battles over territory in Albion Online are limited to 5v5 instanced battles, placing a clear emphasis on player skill over guild size when it comes to owning a piece of Albion‘s world – though as you still drop everything and have to re-equip every time you die in GvG, the economic advantages of larger guilds can still be beneficial. The exception is with battles over city territories, which are instead capped at 20 vs 20. While I’m generally against instancing, it’s hard to argue that ruling out zerging for territorial control isn’t the right move to make.
There are two basic categories of territory that guilds can claim: normal and resource. Normal territories are essentially little towns where guilds are able to build housing and crafting stations, while resource territories provide protected access to crafting resources or silver, depending on the type. These territories form a safe zone for their owners which non-allied players cannot enter.
Siege mechanics are fairly traditional. Defending guilds are able to set up vulnerability windows during which their territory can be attacked, then attackers choose a time within that window to attack, at which point the battle is scheduled. For normal territories, it takes three successful battles to take over another guild’s territory. For resource territories, it only takes one.
One Server to Rule them All
In my mind, the single biggest differentiating factor between Albion Online and other games with territory based PvP is the decision to follow in EVE Online‘s footsteps with a single-shard server architecture. As much as games like Crowfall may want to replicate the EVE experience, they’ll never be able to properly replicate the game’s political environment and player investment in a sense of shared history when players are segregated by server. With a traditional server architecture or Crowfall‘s finite campaigns, there are so many histories running simultaneously that players are unable to have that same feeling of making history, because they aren’t changing the world; they’re just changing one of many.
This may seem like a semantic distinction to some, but I would characterize the success of EVE‘s wars and political climate as being unparalleled within the gaming industry. The game’s player created history is recorded on its wiki in a surprisingly close fashion to that of actual history, and while the novelization of The Fountain War may never have come to be, the fact that anyone even tried to write a book about the politics and wars of players in a video game in the first place speaks enormously to the success of the game on that front. No other game has ever had player organizations and their actions be of as much consequence as they are in EVE Online, and the single-shard server is a big part of why.
That’s it for PvP – read on for world design, PvE, and the crafting economy! Continue on to Page 3.