In the weeks leading up to the launch, anticipation in the Albion Online community reached a fever pitch. People took days or weeks off work to dive into the game, created extensive spreadsheets to document their burgeoning guilds and alliances, and spent late nights on the forums plotting their first steps in the world of Albion.
At 13:00 UTC on July 17th, the game was officially live, and people began streaming into the Royal Continent. It was a time of firsts: first kills in the red zone, first to enter a black zone, the first Hellgates, the first attacks launched and GvGs and most importantly for some, claiming the Home Territories.
Guilds began to take shape, and Alliances became clearer. "I was playing in the guild 8 Team during this time," says Emma-Jade, aka Evoque, Community Lead for Albion Online. "I remember how hyped players were and how extensively they prepared, planning days off work... it was a lot of fun as everyone in the map was at an early state and it was a relatively even playing field. On day one, 8 Team rushed to the city, got a guild island, and pushed T4 buildings out. Once the plots were open, the guild grouped up as fast as possible and we claimed as many as we could. I was not able to be involved in everything, as I was hosting the official stream on AlbionTV at the time, but I was fortunate enough to witness their progress and support where I could - it was important for me to really experience these unique moments alongside the players."
Streaming live on launch week
While thrilling, the launch was also challenging: the community had grown beyond all expectations, and was fully prepared to log in the moment the game was live. The numbers alone would have been challenging to handle from a support/moderation perspective, but coupled with malicious DDOS attacks (which caused blackscreen issues and other technical challenges), it became an exhausting week for the developers and the community alike.
Over the following weeks, the technical issues receded, and players were able to fully immerse themselves in the game. The Albion Online character builder officially launched on July 25, allowing players to share trusted builds and explore new ones, and players started reaching the higher tiers soon after that.
The first few months after launch saw the formation of a more hardcore, PvP-oriented contingent in the Albion community. Guilds grew in size and power, and many players began to center their gameplay in Caerleon due to its access to the lawless Outlands.
Game Director Robin Henkys sees this phase as a sorting or consolidation of the playerbase: "Initially, we had a huge range of players who hoped Albion would deliver their particular desires. The community is now consolidated, and consists much more of players who enjoy Albion for what it is: a player-driven world with a heavy emphasis on hardcore PvP and aggressive economics."
With this competitive faction of the Albion community growing, the first post-launch update, Joseph, brought new PvP opportunities in the form of the Arena, which offered 5v5 battles in each of the game's cities, and PvE opportunities in the form of open-world treasure hunts and two new higher-tier Expeditions, which were dungeon-like adventures that could be accessed from the game's major cities.