When I met with COO/CTO of Reloaded Productions, Bjorn Book-Larsson, at E3
2011 to discuss the upcoming launch of APB Reloaded I started off by sharing a quick anecdote from the original launch of All Points
Bulletin last summer. Fresh out of the tutorial district, the Ten Ton Hammer
editors formed a criminal posse and set out to cause some mayhem around the
Financial District. Shortly thereafter we were automatically placed in our first
missions against enforcer teams, and a comedy of errors quickly ensued.
We immediately realized that our starter vehicles werent up to the task of
providing proper transport to our mission objecties. For starters, they only
seated 2 of our 4 team members so wed have to split the team to get anywhere.
Secondly, they were just too slow and the opposing team beat us to mission
objectives every single time. So it became apparent from the word go that wed have to borrow
vehicles from the districts wealthier NPC inhabitants to even stand a chance.
The real fun, however, kicked in the moment we arrived at objectives. Here we
were armed with the basic pistols and rifles that all players fresh out of the
tutorial start off with only to discover we were going up against a team armed
to the teeth with rocket launchers, sniper rifles, and a wide assortment of
Needless to say, our first matches were downright frustrating, and we werent
alone in thinking the matchmaking system needed a major overhaul.
While the matchmaking system, shooter gameplay, advancement systems, and slim
selection of gameplay types werent the root cause of APBs rapid-fire inclusion
on the shelf Ive lovingly turned into an MMOG graveyard here in my office, for
APB Reloaded to have any kind of impact for the games rebirth, they would still
need to be addressed.
Bigger, Badder, and Better than Ever
In his report from E3 last week in Reloading
Jeff gave our readers a quick
rundown of the games weve nominated for our Best of E3 2011 awards. APB
Reloaded is easily one of the most deserving nominees on the list in a category
weve dubbed Best Respawn. Mind you, our awards nomination process was pretty
intense, involving everything from inter-dimensional travel to some moments that
would have made Fight Club enthusiast proud, so each nominee greatly deserves
its inclusion on the list.
However, APB Reloaded is one of the truly standout titles from the event and
absolutely worth a second look if youd perhaps experienced your own comedy of
errors such as the one described above, or maybe you werent sold on other
important aspects of the game in its previous incarnation.
Having spent the past few weeks playing on the beta servers, I can honestly say
that the game has improved in all the ways that count. To give you some idea of
what that means, heres a quick rundown of some of the most significant changes
in the current beta build, as well as some notes on areas that Reloaded is
actively working to address before the official launch in August.
Vastly Improved Matchmaking
The original APB used a pretty odd algorithm to determine who youd go up
against during missions. This system has been vastly improved so that you should
only be facing off against players of a similar skill level. To take this one
step further, the game will suggest specific districts for you to join, again
based on the concept of keeping players of similar skill levels in the same
district. That way, when you opt to run missions you wont have to worry about
getting steamrolled constantly and can progress at a meaningful pace.
Perhaps one of my favorite changes to matchmaking is that you can now tell the
game whether or not youre ready to run missions. In other words, the mission
system is essentially opt-in which is a vast improvement. So just because you
have a high threat level, that doesnt necessarily mean youll be pulled into
missions regardless of being out of ammo and on your way to resupply.
This affords you the opportunity to browse available unlocks from your contacts,
check your mail, mug locals for extra cash, or even socialize a bit more easily
while in the action districts without constantly getting placed in missions that
you may or may not be prepared for.
Sounds great so far, right? But what about the shooter gameplay? Im glad you
Badass Shooter Gameplay
The basic shooter gameplay has also been greatly improved. Instead of weapon
drift while aiming, each weapon now has a fitting amount of recoil making for
tighter control across the board. This may seem like a small change, but during
my time playing Reloaded I've noticed a significant boost in my overall accuracy
since Im not constantly fighting against my own weapons.
A smaller, but very welcome cosmetic change has also been made to the animations
when shooting from the windows of vehicles. Previously youd see your character
contort in all sorts of bizarre positions when panning around to shoot in
different directions. While it was pretty humorous to watch, it also got pretty
annoying, so while a small fix its greatly welcomed.
Another thing I was informed is currently being worked on is the graphics for
missed shots. Due to the sheer volume of gunfire happening in a district at any
given time, missed shots are given a lower rendering priority out of necessity.
The downside is that it gives the appearance of your opponents effectively
one-shotting you since you dont have the visual feedback of how many shots they
took that didnt hit their mark. This may seem like a small thing, but it's one that I personally can't wait to see addressed moving forward.
On the Horizon
A number of new additions are also being worked on that will be rolling into the
beta over the coming weeks leading up to the August launch for APB Reloaded.
Here is a quick rundown of some of them that I learned more about during my
discussion with Bjorn at E3.
This week marks the beginning of closed testing for what I believe will be one of the
most welcome additions to the core gameplay that APB Reloaded has to offer: the
Clan Warfare system.
Up until now, having a clan to play with in-game is a nice perk and a handy way
to socialize with your friends, but doesnt really offer any real incentives for
players to utilize it as a feature. Clan warfare will turn that on its ears by
opening up a third action district that players will fight to control. Running
missions against enemy clans is one thing, but being able to see your custom
graphics displayed on buildings throughout a district under your control adds a
much greater sense of ownership to the core activities found within the game.
Clan warfare will allow between 8 and 20 clan members to fight one another in
ranked deathmatches in the new Clan Districts being added specifically for the
new gameplay type. Not only will this add a much-requested gameplay mode into
the mix, but it gives clans more purpose since youll be able to fight your way
up the clan ladder and rankings. The Reloaded team is currently deciding whether or not same-faction clans will be able to battle it out, but discussing it with Bjorn we both agreed that it would be pretty cool to have criminal vs. criminal or enforcer vs. enforcer warfare, though we'll have to wait and see if that's implemented in the official release.
The original action districts, Waterfront and Financial, are expertly crafted,
but a greater variety is another oft-requested feature. This is where The Asylum
District comes into play.
While exact details of what The Asylum will bring to the table are still under
wraps, its described to be more of a close-quarters combat area just outside
the city limits. Criminals and Enforcers will vie for control over an abandoned
facility which sounds as though it will play host to some truly epic shootouts.
This focused area gameplay will be a welcome addition, and provide a nice
contrast to the vastly larger action districts currently available.
Did Somebody Say Death Race 3000?
A common complaint when it comes to vehicles is that even the fastest currently
available in-game dont seem to move as quickly as they should in the action
districts. As I learned at E3, the reason for this is a core limitation of the
Unreal engine. In a nutshell, the engine literally cant render the game fast
enough if vehicles were to move any faster than the current top speeds. So its
not so much a design decision as it is a technical limitation of the engine.
Thats where the new Racing district will come into play. Bjorn described this
to me as think of the movie Death Race 3000 and that will give you some idea of
what to expect.
The racing districts are not only being crafted in such a way that the engine
has less trouble rendering the environment quickly enough to see some truly epic
vehicle speeds, but theyll also add a whole new layer of depth to creating
As the description implies, the races will be true to the concept of death races
in that blowing up your opponents will no doubt prove to be as vital to being
first across the finish line as your driving skills. So players will have an
entirely different meta-game to chew on when it comes to collecting and
customizing vehicles, and its a system I honestly cant wait to dive into.
The Price is Right
Of course one of the biggest changes for the launch of APB Reloaded is that it
will be free-to-play. Before you start listing out all the usual complaints
about item shops and nickel and dime shenanigans, dont let the business model
be a deterrent from checking the game out. From what I learned at E3, the item
shop is largely going to consist of cosmetic unlocks, as the Reloaded team is
adamant about keeping player skill the number 1 determining factor in your
successes in the game.
If all of the above additions and improvements still havent sold you on the
fact that you really need to give APB Reloaded a closer look, you can dive into
the open beta and decide for yourself. You can sign up for a GamersFirst account
and dive right into San Paro at the official APB Reloaded site. Please note that
some of the new districts mentioned above, like the Clan Warfare district, are
currently being added to the beta for closed testing but should make it into the
open beta later this summer prior to the August launch.
In the meantime, I thoroughly encourage you to give the game a shot and see for
yourself why its been nominated for one of Ten Ton Hammers Best of E3 2011
awards. Youll no doubt thank me later.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our APB: Reloaded Game Page.