F2P Playtest: APB Reloaded (Part Three) – On Parole

The final part of our playtest of APB Reloaded, an MMO of criminal gangs and bad policing. It's a rough diamond with some sharp edges and irritating qualities.

[This is the third part of a three-part article, to start at the beginning, click here.]

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As a free-to-play game, the enticement to spend real cash pops up at every turn. A necessary evil for the continued survival of any F2P title of course, but some of the methods are brazen and obtrusive. Nagging windows pop up, interrupting the gameplay, telling you how much better your latest haul would have been if you had a premium account. A pulsating gold ‘Go Premium Now’ button is presented for your consideration.

Elsewhere in game, the PvP Fight Club zones are unavailable to new players, unless premium “Joker cards” are purchased to allow access. Superior weapons can be purchased for as much as $40 or temporarily rented for a smaller sum. I realise that revenue generation is the lifeblood of free-to-play games, but I couldn’t help but be irritated by some of APB Reloaded‘s approach to it. It felt almost desperate.

Pretty Damaged Goods

APB Reloaded certainly has plenty of swagger, but for every area of polish there are some bumpy design decisions. Moving from district to district is a cumbersome process, especially when in groups – when a group moves to another district, they don’t necessarily all join the same instance unless the group leader specifically selects the option to do so.

The art is stylish and brash, but other, clunkier elements make APB Reloaded a hard game to warm to and there seems to be a significant sub-culture of hacks and cheating. To their credit, the developers are doing what they can, even naming and shaming on their blog, but the number of aimbot and other cheating tools easily discoverable online makes me wonder if we really were as bad as we appeared or whether the opposition’s mad skills were entirely earned.

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It’s a shame, for all of APB Reloaded’s wayward and irritating qualities, there’s something good just under the surface here. The group vs. group missions are a fantastic PvP device and the customisation options are second to none. There is a suitably anarchic quality to the city and whilst it is never an entirely convincing metropolis, there are some nice audio and visual touches here and there.

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Even though it feels like APB Reloaded is trying to push me away I’m going to stick with it to see how my gameplay experience develops, but right now, I’m on the fence.

 

All Art & Screenshots taken from the APB Reloaded client

With thanks to the LongPigs: LongShiv (SingingBush) and LongJack (toenailgoblin)

APB Reloaded Playtest Index:

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  • APB Reloaded (Part One) – An MMO with a Bad Attitude
  • APB Reloaded (Part Two) – Group PvP Genius
  • Playtest: APB Reloaded (Part Three) – On Parole

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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.