Beta Report – APB: Reloaded Mar05

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Beta Report – APB: Reloaded

The MMO that set a record for shortest lifespan ever when developer Realtime Worlds went bankrupt and shut down three months after launch, APB: All Points Bulletin, is finally making its return under the name APB: Reloaded.  GamersFirst started picking up the pieces in November and kicked off the closed beta this week, followed by adding participants to the test pool slowly but steadily.  They’ve got big intentions on ways to improve the game that interest me greatly.  I was always of the opinion that APB was a game with a lot of unmet potential, particularly due to balance issues.

One big change everyone will be noticing as soon as the game re-launches is its free-to-play business model.  According to posts on their production blog, micro-transactions will fund their efforts almost exclusively through the sale of cosmetic items, so balance between paying and non-paying customers won’t be an issue.  As of right now, the game looks and feels pretty close to exactly like it used to, with a few minor tweaks.  They’ve changed the progression in the game to consist only of leveling your standing with contacts and not with the organizations they represent, as well.  They’ve changed the rating level system to only be affected by contact progression, so your ability to customize your character and car no longer implies to the rest of the world that you’re better at the game (previously, time spent in the Designer would improve “Roles,” which would affect your rating).  And they’ve changed the way customization is unlocked.  The character creator is just as detailed as ever, but the wardrobe, mechanic, logo designer and music editor (or whatever they’re called) now only start with the absolute bare minimum options.  You then unlock more and more tools to work with as you progress with your contacts, and they’ve added “Random Rewards” which unlock randomly at the end of missions with certain contacts.

Right now the game’s social aspect is pretty non-existant; I don’t think the testing pool has even reached 10,000 yet.  Considering they had somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 applicants, those of us lucky enough to get access have reason to feel special.  From what little time I’ve been able to spend in San Paro since the beta started, it seems like the match-making system is working a little better.  And it may just be me, or the fact that there are about 2% as many people pounding the servers as in the initial launch, but it seems like the game’s graphics are loading a little bit more efficiently.  It’s not a drastic improvement, but I am noticing slightly better frame rates running on the same system I was on in the game’s initial short lifespan.  So far, the only thing I’m not liking about the new APB is the necessity of the GamersFirst LIVE! game management system.  The way I see it, if you’re gonna compete with Steam, you’re basically shooting yourself in the face.  But that’s just me.