Not too long ago, a MMOFPS graced our world that flopped at potentially historical levels. I’m mustering up the neurons to reflect on an anticipated MMO that crashed and burned as rapidly as this one. APB (All Points Bulletin) was released for PC on June 29th, 2010 in North America to a thunderous stampede of mediocre reviews from the critic community, not to mention numerous disgruntled players. This negative response amplified financial troubles of the game’s developer — Realtime Worlds — and on September 17th, 2010, APB‘s servers shut down. For the counters out there, that’s not even three full months after launch.
A mere two months later, enter K2 Network, also known as Gamersfirst. APB was purchased for a mere £1.5 million (laundromat change compared to the original development cost) and thrust right back into beta development for a future re-launch; this time, as a free-to-play MMO. We met up with associate producer, Cesar Gatica, over at their booth this E3 where he gave us a little insight into what they’ve been up to.
To put it in as clear and concise a way as possible, the core improvements they’re implementing from the original to now pertain to shooting, progression, driving, and matchmaking.
Shooting: Weapons now have a kickback instead of a shake cam. Zooming actually adds better focus for increased accuracy. Balance had been added to weapons so that the highest level players won’t have an absurd advantage. Their philosophy on headshots is that they’ll never be a part of the game. Sorry sniper fanatics!
Progression: Players can now progress through weapon types — sniper, shotgun, etc — based on their play style. They fell this will allow people to truly decide what type of gameplay they want to experience; be it ranged, close combat, or explosive oriented.
Driving: They’ve added a new level of response and speed to vehicles in the game. Some cars will have a higher speed, but less handling and vice versa. This also extends to damage absorption. I can attest to this as well. I’ve had zero issues with driving in this game’s current open-beta build.
Matchmaking: A skill rating system has been added based on the lifetime of the player instead of the last 10-20 matches. To go with this, a new matchmaking system that will do a better job of taking into account the skill rating system that’s been implemented is in the works. Cesar admitted that it’s not perfect and tuning is still in progress.
That’s the big four right there. I’m going to be brutally honest when I say the original APB wasn’t worth a penny in subscription costs. With how monotonous tasks were on top of what little there was to do (ignoring the glaring balance and matchmaking issues) it simply didn’t warrant a monthly fee. Now that this payment has been taken away — except for those who want extra customization features — what we’re left with is a game that’s STILL repetitive, but far more playable. Remember, this time no one’s pocketbook has to suffer needless hardship.
I prefer to look at APB: Reloaded this way. At the moment, it’s a fun game to jump into for a few hours every now and then, but that’s about it. Hopefully the new areas (racing district, asylum) and game modes (turf wars) coming out will help combat this issue; but none-the-less, at the moment it’s still the same thing over and over again…though, one question asked did add a potential spark to the future of APB: Reloaded. When inquired if NPC’s were an option in the future (PvE content) it was confirmed that they HAVE talked about it and it’s something they’re seriously looking at. How well that can be implemented is up in the air, but I’d say this game needs to feel like you’re in a living-breathing world outside of the player interaction if it’s going to hold any value as something you’d actually want to dedicate more time playing.
APB by gameplay design alone was always meant to be a free-to-play MMO. That’s what it should have been from the very beginning. I’m actually going to suggest any FPS fans reading this to give the game a spin. It’s basically Cops and Robbers without needing to leave your seat. Worst case scenario is a quick trip to Programs in your Control Panel. Just remember to always take the high-ground.