This week we saw a nice patch released for the world of Albion Online with its Percival update. It’s largely a general quality-of-life update to the game, but one that makes the right moves. There’s nothing groundbreaking to be found here, but if you’re a fan of the game or interested in playing and have been turned off by the overt PvP nature of it, I think you’ll find there’s enough game here for even the most PvP-averse of adventurers.
When the game initially went free-to-play, I wanted to learn what this hardcore PvP sandbox had to offer. Turns out, it’s actually quite a bit. So join me now as we periscope down and take a deeper look at this update.
Solo random dungeons add a nice new PvE element
The solo random dungeons are the real meat and potatoes of this update. I ran through about a dozen or so dungeons and found that they do add something that was certainly missing from the game: repeatable, worthwhile PvE. Granted, the game already had plenty of content to do that doesn’t involving killing other players, but this is clearly step one in Sandbox Interactive’s reformulated PvE endgame.
One of the major goals I had going into the solo random dungeons was gaining a better understanding of how they differ from the existing solo expeditions that already exist in game. There are a few differences, but the primary one it turns out is that these dungeons aren’t instanced.
In Albion, expeditions already exist for running short instanced PvE dungeons. The death penalty is light, and you even receive a Royal Sigil (needed for some gear) the first completion each day. You can enter them from any city, so it is a truly safe way to PvE some mobs for some loot.
The new solo random dungeons, on the other hand, appear randomly throughout the world, in maps outside of cities. There are tons of them appearing all over. Run in any direction and you’re bound to find one within 5 minutes.
Solo dungeons aren’t strictly solo
These solo random dungeons are certainly dungeons, certainly random, but certainly not solo. Also, these dungeons are not instanced. I would suspect they are called solo dungeons because they can be soloed, but soloing is is not a requirement.
In fact, as a relative lowbie, I could cruise through the single floor dungeons solo (they go up to three floors I think), but the more difficult and larger dungeons were too much for me. However, I happened to find a random player and made a party, and we teamed up to knock out all these dungeons together.
Also, since the dungeons are not instanced, there’s no telling whether the portal you enter will take you to a fresh one or one that is already in progress.
That said, you’re relatively safe from being ganked when you enter the dungeon, just prior to slaying the boss and claiming the final prize. If you enter a dungeon from a non-PvP map, then the dungeon will also be non-PvP. But as you can guess, should you enter a random dungeon from a PvP enabled, hostile map… well, be prepared for enemy players. I would suspect that the rewards are greater from dungeons that spawn in the hostile maps, but I couldn’t tell for certain.
Percival’s wardrobe system brings the bling – for mounts
Let’s talk about one of the most important features of the update – a wardrobe system, sort of! To be perfectly honest, Albion doesn’t really need a wardrobe for its characters. Even the improved models are simply not the most beautiful creatures to arrive in gaming in the last 20 years. However, Sandbox Interactive is taking some steps to improve on that.
I know – they’re baby steps. Regardless, it is very nice that the update lets you quickly try out different styles and looks. In addition, the devs have added the hooks for some cash-shop cosmetics. The styles with a little golden coin on the right side are the cash shop ones.
Sure, it isn’t a whole lot yet, but what’s there is respectable. In a game about PvP and corpse looting, you certainly have to tread lightly when it comes to cash-shop purchasable goods. So, when it comes to PvP and cash shop (and any cash shop really), cosmetics are often the way to go.
Now, the reason I say it’s sort of a wardrobe system is that the game design itself does not allow cosmetic gear, at least not in the traditional sense. That’s because in Albion, your gear is your class. If you equip a leather jacket, then you get skills for that type of leather jacket and your level is dependent on how often you’ve leveled fighting with that style of body armor. It’s one of the ways you can look at a character and know what class he or she belongs to.
With that said, while the wardrobe is semi-moot regarding your character, it is very nice for mounts.
Here, you have a real wardrobe system. You can see the various available mounts and preview them. One thing it is lacking: I don’t think it actually shows off all the available mounts in game, just what you’ve unlocked. For instance, the current monthly award includes a spectral direboar, but that mount is not in the wardrobe. I’m not entirely sure then what all is out there – and more importantly, what I’m missing.
Now, that’s really just two of the big features added in the Percival update. There’s also a scrimmage mode for PvP city combat, expanded bank tabs, and other quality-of-life improvements. I’d have liked to try the city combat, but I can barely keep up with my guilds in other games. So for now, I’ll remain a happy participant of the solo Albion game play.
So, all you sneaky mercenaries trying to trip me up and steal my dungeon boss kill, what is your take on these new “solo” random dungeons? Do you think they have any place in this hardcore PvP game? Or are they just detracting from the game’s core focus and watering down your experience with casuals?