Happy Second Anniversary, Albion Online!
Today marks two years since the official launch of Albion Online! We're celebrating with free items and a week-long Fame Boost (click here for all the juicy details), and have just released the Official Albion Online Soundtrack across numerous digital platforms.
Anniversaries are also the perfect time to look back on the prior year, and take stock of everything that's happened. And what a year it was...
Faction Warfare Comes to Albion
With the Merlyn update on July 31, 2018, Faction Warfare came to the Royal Continent. This new feature allowed players to join one of five Royal City factions and fight alongside other allied faction members to take outposts from the other cities' fearsome protectors, earning powerful rewards like city faction capes and faction mounts in the process:
GvG Season Rewards Introduced
Beginning with GvG Season 4 in September 2018, members of guilds that ranked during the season received exclusive rewards. The higher the guild's final rank, the better the reward, culminating in an extremely powerful, crystal-armored version of an exclusive mount that changed with each season, starting with the epic Battle Rhino.
Season 4 also saw the introduction of Conquerors' Hall, a new building near the Caerleon Realmgate that serves as a museum of past GvG seasons. Each season's top three teams are immortalized in statue form, with the most recent winner stationed at the building's main entrance.
A New Challenge Awaits
On October 1, 2018, the first Adventurer's Challenge began. Each of these month-long "personal seasons" has its own unique theme, and offers players a chance to gain points for open-world activities and use them to unlock rewards. The highest-level rewards include epic mounts with unique skills, such as the Spectral Bat.
Entering a New Realm
In November 2018, the Nimue update arrived, bringing a new type of GvG: Crystal Realm Battles. These fights took place in an entirely new setting, and opened up Albion's guild warfare system to newer and smaller teams. With the recent Percival update, Crystal Realm Battles can now be fought during the off-season as well, providing even more opportunities for those looking to break into the GvG scene.
Albion's Underworld: Randomized Dungeons
The Oberon update launched on March 20, 2019. Among other features and upgrades, Oberon brought a huge new Randomized Dungeon system to the world of Albion. Oberon brought group versions of these procedurally generated dungeons, while solo dungeons arrived with the Percival update in July.
Robin Henkys, Albion's Game Director, describes the current and future impact of this system on the game:
In addition to the group dungeons that arrived with Oberon and the solo ones that came with Percival, this system holds the potential for other kinds of open-world content in the future. With this system already in the game, we will have the ability to add new types of content: hidden resource nodes, special event dungeons, guild hideouts, and more.
The Free-to-Play Floodgates Open
On April 10, 2019, Albion Online became completely free to download and play. This brought in tens of thousands of new players from all over the world, and opened up Albion to a much greater percentage of the gaming world.
The massive influx of new players, while great for the overall health of the game, presented a new level of technical challenge for the game. For the first few days after the F2P launch, login queues were put in place to avoid overloading the game's starting zones. These were gradually phased out as players finished the tutorial and began making their way into less populated zones, but problems still flared up during peak hours, as well as during large-scale fights. "We knew it would be busy," says Christoph Hombergs, Head of Operations, "but we had no idea of what scale to expect. It definitely exceeded our expectations."
As the player counts began to normalize, login queues were able to be phased out, and performance issues for large fights were fixed. The post-F2P era continues to present challenges for the game, but these are a welcome result of the higher player counts this switch has brought.
The transition wouldn't have been possible without our founders and long-term supporters of the game, who, with the F2P launch, were thanked with ingame gifts. The most notable of these was the unique Specter Wolf.
Customization Comes to Albion
The Percival update also brought the first stages of a wide-ranging new customization system. Players could now choose from a wide range of hair, beard, face, and underwear options, and could also change their appearance at any time and from anywhere in the world. The options introduced with Percival are only the beginning of character customization in the game. "We're planning on increasing the variety of customization options in different areas over time, including features that aren't present yet," says Lino Claudius, UI Designer for Albion Online. "We want to give players more ways to express and identify themselves with their characters."
As a companion system to character customization, mount skins allowed players to show off rare and valuable mounts that had previously been collecting dust in storage, and a range of new skins were available for those who wanted some wilder options.
Year Three: Toward a Deeper Gameplay Experience
Albion's third year will bring numerous changes and improvements, following the major roadmap that was announced alongside the Oberon update. Its major goals include a complete rethinking of the Outlands, a greater variety of open-world activities for all experience levels and group sizes, PvP "hotspots", improvements to Faction Warfare – all of which will mean more opportunities throughout the world of Albion for all player types. Stay tuned for an updated roadmap coming soon.
For now, though, we want to thank our community for helping us reach this milestone. Happy second birthday to the world of Albion – here's to many more!