sandbox interactive

The studio behind Albion Online.

Happy birthday, Albion Online – you launched one year ago today

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since hardcore sandbox Albion Online officially launched? I cannot, but that might be because its separate Steam launch wasn’t that long ago. Sandbox Interactive has a recap of its first year up on the game’s official site today, and yes, it does mention the obnoxious DDOS attacks that took the game large out of commission last summer for what seemed like weeks as the hackers tried to blackmail the devs. That frustrating period was followed by several updates, as you’ll recall, including Joseph (PvP and PvE content), Kay (GvG content and the map overhaul), and Merlyn on the way. The devs pepper the commentary with major guild political movement too for those of you who love your popcorn and drama.

To celebrate, Sandbox has a raffle going for some pretty decent packs, so go check that out if you’re curious. The company has also begun a new round of referral rewards, which is definitely going to be the easiest way to get to ride around on a bighorn ram.

Happy birthday, Albion – here’s to many more.

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Albion Online brings faction warfare with the Merlyn update on July 31

Everyone does not get along in Albion Online. It’s not a game about everyone holding hands and being great friends. But when the Merlyn update arrives on July 31st, players will have a new reason to not be friends and to actually try to smash one another in the face with a big hammer. See, the patch is bringing factional warfare, which expands the reasons for smacking someone around from “you took my harvesting node” to “our colors don’t mix and you took my harvesting node.”

The update is also bringing along outposts, trade caravans, faction rewards, and resource redistribution across the world. All of it should give players even more reason to poke at one another in a fight over resources, as well as plenty of exciting new opportunities to do so. In other words, get ready for things to be much more contentious when July 31st rolls around.

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Albion Online’s new dev video talks faction warfare

If faction warfare is your thing, then here’s an Albion Online dev talk video you might want to watch. In this video, Game Director Robin Henkys covers the basics, from describing faction warfare to explaining how you join a faction and detailing rewards for participation. As we’ve previously covered, the new system coming in the Merlyn update is a way for players to participate in PvP in battles between cities without being crushed by the reputation system that governs other parts of the world. In fact, it’s even possible to take part in the faction system and gather points for your side even through PvE-focused activities.

Faction Warfare allows players to participate in the conflict between rival cities on Albion’s Royal Continent, and offers guilds, as well as solo and guildless players, the opportunity for open-world PVP on the Royal Continent. Along with incentives like Faction Standing and new Faction-based Killboards, this system will also introduce new resources, items, and mounts that can be used by players of all levels:
City Heart Fragments: These shards can be used in resource refining to reduce the amount of raw resources needed, or used as a crafting ingredient in various faction items
Faction Capes: The first of a completely new line of cape slot items to enhance combat builds
Faction Mounts: A new set of baby animals that can be raised into mounts with unique stats

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Albion Online has big balance changes planned for the next season of GvG

Sandbox Interactive has a new dev talk video out on Albion Online’s upcoming balance overhaul, specifically for the 5v5 GvG meta, group fights, and the crowd control builds that pretty much, as SI puts it, “reign supreme” in that game mode. Nature builds are definitely due for a nerf, while a number of weapons (bows and staves in particular) are getting buffs.

Buzz on the official forums and Reddit is relatively tempered, though there are definitely some folks annoyed with their perception that Sandbox is fixing only the most glaring problems with the metagame and not focusing on weapon balance overall.

Meanwhile, the devs have updated their doc on the upcoming third season of GvG play, which technically begins on June 23rd, though functionally the killing doesn’t start until the 26th. Have fun!

The whole dev talk is down below.

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Here’s how Albion Online is revamping the royal cities, crafting, and faction warfare in Merlyn

Albion Online Game Director Robin Henkys has big plans for the game’s fourth major update, Merlyn. As he lays out in a new dev video, one of the key focuses of the update is that age-old problem in MMORPGs: How do you keep the core cities populated once players have moved on?

Sandbox Interactive plans to make the royal continent’s cities more desirable with economic bonuses – for example, refinining bonuses (different for every town, but not in alignment with the biome the city’s in) and crafting bonuses (the forest city will grant bonuses to crafting bows). Gatherers, on the other hand, will find that the areas immediately outside the cities will have more resources of some types, with less in the more distant lands, thereby encouraging trade.

Of course, there’s much more in the update; Sandbox actually considers the faction warfare changes to the be most important, and the cities factor into that too as each city will be granted a special resource and sign on mercenaries – you! – to defend their banners. It’s basically a five-sided but optional RvR system with nifty rewards (even capes) to make it worth the risk.

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MMORPG sandbox Albion Online has officially launched on Steam with big discounts

If it seems as if we’ve been covering Albion Online for a long time, that’s because it’s true. In fact, the game officially launched almost a year ago – you’ll recall it as the PvP sandbox that survived exortiony DDOS attacks, slammed servers, and a round of layoffs. One thing it didn’t do? Port to Steam. But we can’t say that anymore, as the title has officially landed on Steam as of today, complete with achievements and a big fame boost for the next week.

Do note that this is a buy-to-play title, though its $30 basegame pricetag has been cut down to under $20 as part of the launch festivities. Naturally, there are bigger bundles for fatter wallets too as well as a sale of all the game’s packs and upgrades. Referring a buddy? The new season of rewards for that has also just kicked off.

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Albion Online discusses the royal city revamp for its upcoming Merlyn update

The trouble with having one universal hub in Albion Online is that basically no one cares about the five other hubs in the game. That’s what the game’s next content update, Merlyn, is partly meant to address. While Caerleon will not be changed, each of the other five royal cities will be getting bonuses to refining certain types of goods and item production. Thus, players will be inspired to seek out the other cities with Caerleon as a fallback, rather than just chilling forever in Caerleon.

“But what about PvP?” The developers are glad you asked that because that segues nicely into having five sides of faction warfare running. Each of the cities represents a different faction, and as it turns out, the factions all hate each other… which means that signing on with a faction allows you to fight people from the other faction anywhere. But signing on to a faction also gives you access to special resources. So it should give you more reason to explore and more opportunities to fight people, even in otherwise safe zones. How joyous! Remember to enjoy all of that when it comes to Steam next week on May 16th.

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Albion Online is coming to Steam on May 16 – check out the latest trailer

Crowdfunded indie PvP sandbox Albion Online officially launched last summer, finding so much initial success that its servers were hammered and it even suffered a round of extortion-centered DDOS attacks before settling into a scaled-down MMO live team and playerbase. So it always surprises me that the game never came to Steam, in spite of the fact that it was Greenlit on the platform four years ago. The team announced in March it was rectifying that oversight, and as of today, we now have a date: May 16. That’s for PC, Mac, and Linux.

“With its availability on this new platform, the sandbox MMOPRG will now also offer standard Steam features, including achievements – and as a thank-you to veteran players, all achievements developed for the Steam launch will also be available in the native Albion Online client.”

There’s a bonus expies event too. “To celebrate the release on Steam, the Berlin-based development studio Sandbox Interactive is also granting old and new players alike a week-long Fame boost,” says Sandbox Interactive. “From May 16-22, all players will get 25% more Fame for all activities in the world of Albion – gathering, crafting, killing mobs, and everything else.”

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Fractured answers scores of fan questions, plans to compete with Albion Online

Small but ambitious fantasy sandbox Fractured compiled a host of fan questions this past weekend and released an hour-long video in which the lead developer answered them one by one. There’s a lot of information to digest, and thankfully, one player created a handy summary of the Q&A for those who don’t want to wade through an entire hour.

There was a lot of discussion about the upcoming Kickstarter campaign and the team trying to prove itself to a community that may be unsure about the developers and the project. The devs see Albion Online as Fractured’s biggest competitor but hope that they can make their game more solo and small group friendly to gain an advantage.

There was a wide range of gameplay features that were addressed, such as becoming an angel, questing on asteroids, death penalties, player collision during PvP, the effect of eclipses on the game world, the situational nature of gear, and various offerings on the cash shop. The devs are anticipating that the buy-to-play game will cost somewhere between $20 and $30.

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Albion Online’s mid-season patch brings a GvG training ground and more

Lancelot is still raging hard over at Albion Online. The March 12th content update received a midseason patch this week, bringing players a new guild vs. guild training map and other cool features.

One of the major selling points of the patch is a re-spec ability, which allows players to switch over to different types of gear. “This feature gives players who really want to switch a chance to do so without starting from zero, but the costs involved should ensure players don’t constantly change gear on a whim,” the devs said.

Other changes with the midseason patch include rebalancing siphoned energy, buffing battle mounts, reducing the learning point spending threshold, instituting a soft gear cap on hellgates, and improving several underused items.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs with different (camera) perspectives

By the time that World of Warcraft came on the scene in 2004, the MMORPG industry had already gravitated toward standard when it came to the interface — specifically, the camera angle. MMO players and devs seemed to prefer third-person views that either peered over the shoulder of avatars or followed right behind them. For decades now, we’ve grown used to watching our characters’ rears as they jog along, and we can’t really imagine the experience otherwise.

Yet when you think about it, while this camera perspective is overwhelmingly used in the genre, it’s not the only one that crops up in MMOs. We’ve seen both old and new titles experiment with the camera angle, sometimes out of style and sometimes out of necessity (here’s a great Gamasutra article on the subject).

For today’s list, we’re going to look at 10 MMORPGs where the camera is positioned in a different way than you’d normally expect, especially if you are coming from modern games.

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Albion Online is adding respecs and a GvG training system next month

May 2nd is destined for glory thanks to the planned arrival of Albion Online’s midseason patch.

“On May 2, we’ll be launching a new patch that will bring several new features and updates to the world of Albion,” Sandbox Interactive explains. “It will bring numerous updates to the metagame and combat, including adjustments to the value of siphoned energy, the removal of GvG mage bonuses, a rework of siege camps, and a wide range of weapon and armor balancing changes.”

Don’t like your build? You’ll be able to take advantage of the new re-spec system that allows players to “trade skill masteries between different skill paths” at the cost of combat fame.

One of the more original features in MMOs is the GvG training system.

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Albion Online hatches a colorful spring event

Spring is in the air in Albion Online, if you couldn’t tell by all of the colorful eggs littering the ground right now. The sandbox MMO is currently running its Rites of Spring event, and there are some neat rewards to put a hop in your step.

From now through April 4th, players can seek out “egg-shaped treasure chests” from various game activities and areas. Eggs can be found lying out in the open and as mob drops from pretty much any PvE encounter, whether it be landscapes, expeditions, or dungeons.

These eggs can be traded in for a bunny armor set, an egg chest for housing, and a vanity pack. It’s all quite egg-cellent.

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