F2P Playtest: APB Reloaded (Part One) – An MMO with a Bad Attitude

A playtest of the controversial and divisive APB Reloaded, an MMO of criminal gangs and bad policing. This first of three parts finds teething problems early in the life of the troubled game.

APB Reloaded had a troubled start in life. It is darkly poetic that a massively multiplayer online game based around criminal gangs and violent neighbourhoods became the digital equivalent of a delinquent child from a broken home.

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The original APB was effectively thrust into foster care in 2010 as its creator, Realtime Worlds, went into administration and the game servers were shut down a few short months after going live. The rights were subsequently bought by Reloaded Acquisitions and APB was prostituted as a free-to-play online experience since late 2011.

Law and Disorder

In essence, APB Reloaded is the MMO version of controversial games like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row. The setting is the fictional city of San Paro, a run-down lawless metropolis at the mercy of armed gangs. In a nod to gritty crime dramas like The Wire and The Shield, the stylish intro video outlines the dubious decision of a politician – the daughter of a senator murdered by gangs – to deputise citizens to take up arms against the unstoppable crime-wave. This sets up a perfectly balanced ‘cops and robbers’ device for the meat of the gameplay, with a running conflict between teams of ‘Enforcers’ and gangs of ‘Criminals’. The premise had me intrigued and I was impressed with the slick title sequence.

I was less impressed with the stability of the game client. After the endless ‘ambiguous package’ errors thrown up when I started the game and the inordinately long time when my PC seemed to be doing nothing before the APB Reloaded client showed signs of starting up, it was a miracle that it worked at all. I wasn’t alone in this experience either, I had arranged to join friends online and they too had experienced similar issues.

Even after that, there had been a convoluted account creation process which involved jumping through a number of hoops including linking to my Steam account. Had I realised it was available on Steam, I would have used it. However I had downloaded the client via the developers proprietary GamersFirst content delivery system which was a bit of an unknown quantity. [I reinstalled from Steam and my experience is much more stable now. There is also a repair tool which works to resolve issues with the GamersFirst version.]

Picking Your Turf

Technical woes aside, I had persevered and made it into the game itself, where I planned to meet my friends to explore some of the content. APB Reloaded city of San Paro is divided into districts. The Financial and Waterfront districts are for mission-based group PvP, there are Fight Club districts were presumably for more instant deathmatch-style PvP action, but we were unable to access those without being either a premium or advanced player.

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We had some difficulty getting to grips with the multiple instances of each district, but eventually we managed to meet up and our Enforcer team, the LongPigs, were ready to clean up the mean streets of San Paro.

Next Page: Part Two – Group PvP Genius


APB Reloaded Playtest Index:

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Author
Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.