Friday, March 27, 2015

APB Reloaded (Part Two)

APB Reloaded - Auto District ChoosingAPB Reloaded - Manual District Choosing
Instead of calling it a gameworld, APB Reloaded actually consists of several instanced map zones, called "Districts", which one can freely enter or leave.
APB Reloaded - Financial District
The "Mission" districts (Financial and Waterfront) are large zones inhabited with NPC players much like "Grand Theft Auto".

In these districts, players can choose to roam about freely, interact with the NPCs or party up with fellow criminals/enforcers (other gamers of the same faction) to duke it out in group-based missions against teams of the other faction.
However, do note that there's several versions of these two districts that you may join (should you choose to do so manually).

"Threat-based" ones which pits you against players of similar "rankings/standings" (skill level) and "Free-for-all" ones, called "Open Conflicts", which just randomly puts players into and when they become available.
APB Reloaded - District Enter Warning
Threat-based districts are color-coded from green (suitable for newcomers), bronze, silver to gold (suitable for pros). And naturally, you are encouraged to enter districts appropriate for your "skill level" to ensure faster and better matchmakings, of course.

Additionally, these districts also appear to have a maximum population limit of 100 players (50 Criminals and 50 Enforcers).
APB Reloaded - Abington TowersAPB Reloaded - Baylan Shipping Storage
The "Fight Club" districts (Abington Towers and Baylan Shipping Storage) are medium-sized zones that do not contain any NPC inhabitants.

These districts exist purely to facilitate fast-paced fighting between criminals and enforcers (players).
Though they still involve group-based missions, but as far as I can tell, the fights in these zones are rid of the NPC "distractions" and all their running about.

And what makes it even more fun is that there's only two sides. Your either an Enforcer or your a Criminal. Therefore, so long as there's enough people in the zone, your pretty much assured of a massive shootout.
APB Reloaded - Breakwater Marina
The "Social" district (Breakwater Marina) is a small zone meant for socializing between gamers...criminals and enforcers alike.
No guns and grenades are allowed in this zone.
Coincidentally, this zone is also where you perform all the customizations for your avatar, cars and clothings.

Previous: APB Reloaded (Part One)Next: APB Reloaded (Part Three)

Friday, March 20, 2015

APB Reloaded (Part One)

Editor's Note:
Even though my PC is currently wrecked, my HDD isn't...and thus there's still some captured game data from the time before it died on me left in the comp.

And since there's data, I reckon why not just tie up the loose ends and have some sort of a closure, right? Therefore, I've decided to push on with whatever I have left and will leave the decision of what to do next till after this.

APB Reloaded
This next game that I'm gonna feature is a slightly old one...probably about four years old...called "APB Reloaded" (currently still found on GamersFirst).
APB Reloaded - First BattleAPB Reloaded - Hijacking A Car
It is sort of a "free and easy" third person shooter kind of much so that you can just create your character, join in a battle and start running around shooting.
But you won't get good at it unless you learn the game and its mechanics though.
And from what I could tell playing it, the game feels a tad bit like when I was playing those "open-ended" games, such as "Grand Theft Auto", where you get to run around a cityscape filled with NPCs walking and driving all over the place.
APB Reloaded - BuLaDiFu
However, its not exactly all the same though. APB Reloaded appears to have more of an emphasis on the ability to customize your character and what you own/use. To express your own uniqueness and style (I believe).

So if your interested in this type of gameplay, why not follow me and see what this game's all about?

The Download
Downloading of the game client is a bit quirky I must say.

Initially, upon first starting the GamersFirst's download manager, I was prompted to download some client about the size of 4.5 GB or so.
Which was fine and seems typical, right?
However, after just getting to around merely 400 to 500 MB of client data retrieved, I was suddenly hit with an installation window of some sort.

And as I follow through with the installation, I encountered some kind of "error"...but was strangely enough...yet still allowed to continue with the game's installation.
APB Reloaded - Client Download
It was only after I've tried running the game instead...that I found out about the huge follow-up "update" worth around 5.32 GB in filesize.

Thankfully though, by just forcibly continuing with the patch, things will eventually sort itself out and the game appears to run just fine thereafter.
As of this post, the entire game folder currently sits at about 6.3 GB.

Character Creation
Overall, the creation of a character is quite simple, I believe.
There's only three stages to it.
However, the part on the customization of how your character looks may be a little bit overwhelming for a first-timer though (owing to the many choices/options that you are being provided with).

APB Reloaded - Faction SelectionAPB Reloaded - General Storyline
This stage of character creation allows you to choose between being a "Criminal" or an "Enforcer" in the city of San Paro.

Upon the (temporary) selection of either, you will be given a general idea behind the "story" of this game as well as a "faction propaganda" video clip to watch.

But as far as this is concerned, your faction choice here will only affect the kind of activities that you will be taking part in whilst in the game.

  • Ram-raid shops and mug pedestrians for quick cash
  • Make a big noise or try to stay below the radar
  • Cause mayhem in the city through vandalism, arson, robbery and bombings
  • Patrol the streets and apprehend criminals (caught in the act) for cash bounties
  • Go after criminal celebrities or track down those who hide in the shadows
  • Bring criminals to justice through investigations, raids and arrests

And perhaps some minor "restrictions" to clothing and weapons.
Surely you shouldn't expect that a criminal be allowed to wear a deputy's or sheriff's badge right?

Likewise, being a criminal, would you even need or want to use non-lethal "stun guns"?

Character Customization
For this stage of character creation, players are given two ways to make their in-game avatar.
APB Reloaded - Quick ModeAPB Reloaded - Advanced Mode
The "Quick Mode", which is there to give impatient players a rapid way of creating some character for themselves...just to enter the game as fast as possible.

And an "Advanced Mode", that offers you more features and options to tweak your character and make it more individualized...and in the way that you would want it to be.
I would suggest that you spend more time to get your avatar right the first time...rather than waste precious in-game money to alter it later on.

You can use the quick mode as a stepping board or template first to get the rough features of your character right...and then enter the advanced mode to customize it further.
APB Reloaded - Advanced Mode Categorized
For the "Advanced Mode", though it might seem complex at first...actually becomes surprisingly easy (to grasp) if you'ld just break it up into individual sections (like as shown above).

The main category gives you a list of features that you can customize (for your avatar). The sub category goes into the finer details for each of the main category's.

The options provide the overall "variety" for the selected main and sub category...stuff that you can't quite different hairstyles, shape of eyebrows, iris colors and makeup patterns.

And finally, the variable hand allows for more subtle control over those features...such as the length of your hair (which side is longer and which side is shorter), the relative position of your facial features (eyes, nose, mouth, ears) as well as their sizes, your character's weight and height, your skin tone and the amount of freckles that you have.
This variable hand, if active, can be moved like a slider either vertically, horizontally or in both (but can never move outside the confines of those four brackets).
APB Reloaded - Body WeightAPB Reloaded - Freckles
APB Reloaded - Body ScarsAPB Reloaded - Joker Smile
If you'ld only just take the time to explore, there is definitely plenty of stuff that you can do to your character here.
Do note that at this stage, your customizations only involve your character's overall physical appearance and not the clothings or accessories that you will be wearing.

Those needs to be unlocked by playing the game and can be performed by visiting the social district (which will be dealt with in a later article).

Naming And World Selection
APB Reloaded - Naming And World Selection
As far as this stage of character creation goes, all you need is to name your character and choose a server that has the least ping for you (to ensure best lagless enjoyment).

Next: APB Reloaded (Part Two)

Monday, March 2, 2015

ArcheAge (Part Five)

Gameplay (Continued)
ArcheAge - Powerful Adversary
And while there are a lot of stuff put in place for you to do (within the game), I've found that the core of the gameplay essentially still revolves around the theme of grinding.


Grinding to get your character to PVP-able status. To wielding absolute unyielding power and perhaps even attaining "god mode" itself (ultimately).
ArcheAge - Chosen Skillsets
First and foremost is "skillset" grinding. Though at any point in time you may have three skillsets simultaneously in tow, each of them still has its own separate "EXP Bar" and "Level" to raise.

You will need to perform activities (to gain EXP) to level the skillsets up in order to gain access to the higher level combat skills as well as improve the individual combat skills' potency (their skill rank).
As far as combat skill potency is concerned, so long as you increase the skillset's level, the individual combat skills will automatically rise in skill rank...regardless of whether you've learnt the actual combat skill or not.

However, not all of the combat skills will have an increase in skill rank some of them simply do not have a "next rank" to go to (or its not their time to rank up yet).
ArcheAge - Swapping Skillsets
And if your thinking how's that considered grinding? Well...please be reminded that in order for you to mix and match to find your best three (skillsets), you'll possibly have to grind all "ten" of them up to the max level (at the moment, its capped at level 50 for each skillset).

Yes...ALL TEN.

So if you don't find that grindy, then I don't know what is.
Naturally, if you already know which three to aim for, then its all fine and dandy, I guess. But I'ld have to warn you that purely "reading" on the combat skill's description isn't going to be enough. You will need to physically "try out" the combat skill to know whether it would fit (into your combo) as what you've expected.

For instance, Archery's "Boneyard" skill. By just the description given, you might think that its a good skill to trap opponents in and let's you attack from the outside with your other archery combat skills.

However, in actual implementation, you'll find that it mostly just blocks your line of sight and inhibits any form of attack...from the outside...towards the occupants trapped inside it (not sure if AOE skills can bypass this).
ArcheAge - Very Nice Weapon
Then we have "equipment" grinding. This is ultimately the one that will pull you away from the ordinary crowd and propel you one step closer to that mythical "god mode". (Like that very "tasty" weapon as shown above.)

However here, it actually comes as a twofold grind. Yup, twice the G R I N D. (Perhaps many times more...if we were to go into the trouble of getting it socketed with lunagems as well.)
ArcheAge - Proficiencies
In order to be able to craft high level equipments and consumables, you will need to bring up your proficiency level in the trade first. All the way up to proficiency rank 6 for the best items I reckon.

And its made in a "pyramidic way" such that the number of proficiencies that you can get to the next rank gets increasingly smaller and smaller. (Only two can be at "Champion" rank.)
Seems fair enough? Just wait till you hear the rest of the process.
ArcheAge - Conqueror Volcano Bow RequirementsArcheAge - Sealed Delphinad Bow Requirements
But what's making it worse is that, to actually craft them, you will not only need to source for the right materials to make that thing, but also its "predecessor" as well (the one before it).

And once you get to the level of making the "sealed" ones, there's four to seven varieties of them that you may get. However, only one "particular" variety can be used to bring it to the "next level".
To make the Delphinad Bow, you will need the "Volcano" version of the Epherium Bow. No other varieties will be accepted.
You can start to see the grind here now, can't you?
ArcheAge - Labor Spending Activities
And tying all these "bundles of joys" (grind) together is something called "Labor Points".

Any activity, be it the growing/harvesting of crops, rearing/butchering of livestock, mining, logging, construction of houses and the paying of its maintenance, fishing, crafting, commerce to even the recovering of lost XP after dying, so long as it involves the gaining of gold (in-game money) will somehow require the use of labor points (usually).
Do note that performing of these activities may require varying amounts of labor points...ranging from single digits to triple digits or more.
However, not all of the activities will reward you with the same amount of gold per labor point spent though.
1 Gold = 100 Silvers And 1 Silver = 100 Coppers
If you directly compare the amount of gold gained when you "NPC" those gathered resources (not that you should do this of course...its just for comparison), you will find that certain activities may net you only 1 to 2 silvers per labor point spent while others can get you up to 4 or 5 silvers per labor point spent.
For instance, the opening of coin purses (looted off monsters killed) will typically give you about 1.5 silvers per point spent. (But considering the rate at which you get them...its a fast way to get some in-game money.)

Turning in of trade packs to gold traders will usually give you more...about 5 or 6 silvers per point spent...if there's some considerable distance in between the "source" and the "destination" zone...and your taking into account points spent while gather the materials as well as when making the trade pack itself. (But since this takes quite a while to get the money, its a rather slow method of obtaining in-game money...albeit having a more efficient conversion rate.)

As for gathering of resources out in the wild, then it wildly differs depending on what your harvesting. Logging of trees for wood tend to only give you about less than 1 silver per labor point spent while gathering of plants such as "Vanilla" or "Saffron" might net you about 3 to 4 silvers per labor point spent.
Why am I talking about this? Well...that's because its partly related to what I'm about to say next.
That the gaining of "Labor Points" is perhaps the biggest grind of them all. The ultimate bottleneck.
Now if you can grasp what I've just said, then you should ought to have noticed by now that the crux to all this grinding to get the best equipment is "Labor Points".
And there's two ways about it.
You can either choose to spend the labor points on leveling up your proficiencies to craft those equips can choose to find the best conversion method...for your labor points...into buy the equips from other players.
ArcheAge - Insufficient Labor Points
However, that also means that if you currently have ZERO labor points, you will be stuck either way. And will more or less be unable to progress any further (in your quest for those mythical items) until you've reacquired some.
So how do we get labor points?
Well...this largely hinges on whether your a free-to-play or a subscription player (a "Patron").
"Free-to-Play" players gain 5 labor points per 5 minutes while staying online, but does not gain any while offline. (Labor Points Cap - 2000)

"Patron" players, on the other hand, will gain 10 labor points per 5 minutes while staying online and 5 labor points per 5 minutes if offline. (Labor Points Cap - 5000)
Doesn't sound like much? Then think about it this way...

If a typical player plays about 2 hours per day (on weekdays) and 5 hours per day (on weekends), then being a "free-to-play" means that this player will only get about 1200 "Labor Points" to play with (0 Labor Points for offline time).

However, if this same player were to be a "Patron", he would have 2400 "Labor Points" for staying online and possibly 8880 more for the time he was offline (assuming that he doesn't just let it accrue to the cap).
See the difference now? And we aren't even gonna talk about the "free" loyalty tokens that patrons get...for logging in daily...that can be exchanged into "Worker's Compensation Potions" (basically means more "Labor Points" or can be sold to other players for gold).
ArcheAge - APEX
But thankfully though, the saving grace for "free-to-play" players is that they can work hard to get some gold, buy some "APEX" (probably needs at least two), exchange them into "Credits" and then use it to pay for their "Patron" status (via the game's official website).

So its not all a losing battle for them.
But the way I see it, you'll definitely need to be a "Patron" to succeed in this game. (Hats off to those clever clever game devs.)

Previous: ArcheAge (Part Four)