Spotlight On - APB: Reloaded (at GDC 2011)

We get our first look at the revived, revamped gang-violence-themed massively multiplayer game at GDC.

RealTime Worlds' APB was one of the most highly anticipated games of last year, but it launched with so many problems that it was shut down shortly after launch (and took its creator with it). Since then, GamersFirst, previously known as K2 Networks, has picked up the game's assets and has been preparing the game for a relaunch with completely new content and significant changes to compensate for the original game's well-documented issues. The new game, APB: Reloaded, is one of the games on display at the 2011 Game Developers Conference, and we sat down to watch a hands-off demonstration of it that focused primarily on what's being changed and improved.

APB makes the jump back to the world of the living with Reloaded.

GamersFirst is taking an all-inclusive approach that specifically addresses all the problems of the original APB while adding brand-new content that should add a lot more variety to the game. For starters, the starting car that all players receive has been completely replaced with something much sportier and easier to drive (despite its poor top speed, this spunky little coupe's handling is among the best in the game). Minor annoyances, like the way your character could sometimes overlap the targeting reticle, have been removed, and inefficient graphical issues (such as the way vending machines had individually rendered panels, and the way making a turn while driving would require the game to both make your character model turn, and then make your vehicle turn) have been done away with. Also, all guns will do more damage--therefore, even beginner players should have more of a chance against veteran players who will be heavily armed--but rather than being flat-out more powerful, they will instead be more specialized in Reloaded.

As a matter of fact, all the game's cars and guns have been reclassified into specific groups as part of GamersFirst's push to make APB more organized, and to make character progression make more sense. For starters, weapons specifically determine your character's "role." Making a precise grenade toss that blows an enemy sky-high will give you experience in the grenadier role, and once you gain enough experience to advance to the next level in that weapon type, you'll unlock a new tier of slotted weapons in that class that can be upgraded. In addition, the "contact" system, which lets you gain favor with key characters in the game, has been revamped to a level-based system in which gaining enough favor with any given character will eventually gain you a level in favor, which will unlock a new tier of non-upgradable weapons you can use.

While the studio is meticulously logging community feedback and doing its best to address the original game's problems, it's also taking the game into new directions that seem to make a lot of sense, given the game's modern-day, urban setting. For example, the mission system is being revamped (several of the less-interesting missions from the original game are being removed entirely and replaced with brand-new quests).

Both criminal and enforcer characters will now have a "heat" level measured by a Grand Theft Auto-style five-star system, which increases your character's notoriety--a system that comes into play in Reloaded's new "turf wars" event system, which will periodically spawn loot that criminal characters can grab in a heist and then sell off to a fence for serious cash. The more loot your criminal character snatches at any given time, the higher your heat level gets, and the higher heat level you have, the bigger the score you can snag, and the bigger the purse you'll get for it. However, if you get nabbed by an enforcer, that enforcer character can confiscate your ill-gotten gains and convert the loot to "evidence" at the local precinct. At some point, the series of petty crimes will erupt into an all-out assault where one faction will lead an attack on the enemy's base, and if the attacking team can successfully destroy the defending team's base in the area, the losing team will be without a source of income for a half-hour or so.

In addition, brand-new gameplay systems are being added, such as racing gameplay, which lets you bring your character to one of 11 different racing courses, at which your characters can win upgradable autos of their own. In addition, you can try your hand at being a disc jockey and mix your own music that you can then broadcast to your teammates in the surrounding area. GamersFirst even plans to let players put on their own DJ battles, where two different musicians can give competing performances in the same area, and any players within earshot can vote on who will win the music battle. (This last feature probably won't make it into the game until after launch, though.)

Cops and robbers will get a whole lot more interesting when APB: Reloaded launches later this year.

Oh, one more thing--APB: Reloaded is becoming a free-to-play game with microtransactions. The current plan is to let players purchase items that are similar to but different from items they'd normally get in the world from quests--items that aren't necessarily more powerful, but may have different properties. For instance, a standard shotgun you find in the world might fire a huge spray of pellets that don't do that much damage individually, while a for-pay version of the same shotgun will deal the same amount of damage but will have a narrower spray range, making it more useful at a distance, but actually weaker at close range. In addition, all players will be able to use the powerful customization tools from the original game, but the in-game shop will give nonpaying players access to slightly fewer customization options and will give players who pay in for extra customization many more options.

APB: Reloaded is fixing a lot of the original game's issues. It's also adding a lot of new content that makes a lot of sense. The game just recently went into closed beta and is planned to launch this year.

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Discussion

14 comments
Rigges
Rigges

Looks interesting. The main problem with APB was they worked a lot on fancy graphics and tools for the game (the tools looked really great) but they totally forgot about gameplay. The good thing about a different company picking the game up when all the tools are done and dusted is that they can focus totally on gameplay and a good user experience. Something I wonder; Are some of the industry game designers a guy with lotsa money who decided to be a game designer by funding a project or someone who through one too many games lost the plot totally and forgot how to have (and therefore create) fun.

dlM0kn
dlM0kn

I'm keepin an eye on this. I smartly waited to see what the original apb would be like and I'm glad I did. As long as there are dm/tdm modes with similar aiming system as GTA then this game will be awesome.

sircyrus
sircyrus

So long as the cars don't feel like boats, that alone would be a massive improvement. Sounds like they're working on it.

Torff
Torff

heh :) Keep it up, i was really disappointed when the APB project got closed. Now I see that its coming alive again + I MAY PLAY IT 4 FREE! :D I love free to play games, but hope they wont make pay to play chars overkill compared to fee to play, usually stuff like that screws the game up :) And no level caps please :) i know its much to ask, but some games stay alive well enough with only ''skins'' selling(League of Legends :D) different genere of course, but who cares?

01-cannon-mpc
01-cannon-mpc

Sweet, i have to try this out when it go live.

Anti-Skub
Anti-Skub

@tmnbhat Confusing the distribution company with the developer...typical of random people on the internet. EA had absolutely nothing to do with either the original game or the rerelease.

Anti-Skub
Anti-Skub

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Jeronimo99
Jeronimo99

LOVED the first APB and this is like a X-mas for me Give me Beta !

buft
buft

i could actually try this, my probvlem with APB was its terrible business model, the new system will allow me to at least see it and give it a good go

DitchyJ
DitchyJ

This game deserves another chance, and I will be looking forward to having a try for myself :)

1Sasha1
1Sasha1

tmnbhat You're so mistaken. G1 is doing what RTW didn't finish, they're actually making what RTW actually planned to do, but didn't had the funds and time to accomplish it. And btw, the team that is concentrated in doing all these upgrades, some of them are from ex-RTW, so now, they're prepared to anything (or so I think).

czdesigns
czdesigns

RELOADED. Hehehe... Got the first one and still looking forward to this one...

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

Actually looking forward to loading up my closed beta invitation this weekend as it goes... I had very high hopes for this game originally, and love the idea of an MMO that cuts through the whole "tank, healer, ranged" class restrictions. AND ITS SUBSCRIPTION FREE! WIN!

tmnbhat
tmnbhat

doing the same mistake yet again .....typical of EA