EDIT: The Server is live - it releases today without much fanfare or warning.
You can see the FAQ here - RK2019 FAQ, Read me!
Just a heads up, this is going to be a long one.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about - a Fresh Progression Server for Anarchy Online has been officially announced on Anarchy Online’s facebook. The information we currently have is from responses to that post and an hour-long stream of AO which can be found here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/387600500.
I’m equal parts excited and concerned about the announcement of a Fresh Start Progression server for Anarchy Online. My guess is a lot of other people are in the same boat but as of now, I haven’t seen my concerns voiced other than in chat. I wanted to generally lay out my concerns and invite other folks on the forums to do the same. The information we know currently is quite limited and while I know that there’s more information to come, I’ve never been of the opinion that it’s valuable to wait and see - so I’d rather lay out my concerns in advance.
The general information we have is as follows. If I’ve missed anything important, please let me know and I’ll be sure to add it. This was all written off of the top of my head.
- The fresh server is for paid players only.
- It will be a progression server (The expansions will release sequentially with only the base game being available at launch, not even Notum Wars at launch).
- There won’t be a code rollback - meaning most modern systems will be in.
- There will be a rolling level cap (As an example, though we don’t have real details on it - a possibility would be that in the first month of the server launch the level cap is 60, which then increases to 100 the next month).
- Heckler Juice and Character Transfers won’t be available. All other shop items and paid services are unknown.
- There will be a unique armor set (Serpentine Armor) available for people who play on the new server.
- Arete Landing will be replaced by the Old Backyards which will be accessed through the original Landing Hall.
- The server will work with either the new or old client
- At the moment, there are no plans for name reservations on the new server.
- Daily Missions will be disabled until a later time (Unconfirmed when).
- There will be exclusive cosmetics on the new server to incentivize play.
- There will be a daily login reward system to incentivize play on the 2019 Server.
- The first Level Cap is 10
- GMI isn’t available at the start
With all of that said, onto my concerns. I’m not suggesting that I speak for the community as a whole, but this announcement has left me with serious concerns regarding the implementation. This could be an amazing opportunity for Anarchy Online or, it could be yet another missed opportunity for AO.
Subscription Fees - Subscription Fees for AO are among the highest on the market and for Europeans, they are by far the highest on the market. I love AO and have been playing it since January 2002, but it’s a hard sell trying to convince new players to spend this amount monthly for a nearly 20-year-old game. A fresh server will be reliant on a large retained population to thrive and the Subscription fees remaining as they are is a preventative for new blood being brought into AO. I appreciate that this is a tired complaint at this point, but I believe Funcom needs to seriously reevaluate the monthly costs prior to launching a fresh server.
Exploits - Everyone who considers themselves an AO veteran knew this would be on the list. There are a large number of exploits with devastating consequences which need to be addressed prior to the launch of a fresh server. In particular, duping. The economy on the live server wasn’t destroyed due to years of ingots and S7 nodrops half as much as duping. Duping is what has destroyed the live economy and there need to be assurances that it will be monitored carefully.
Botting - Multiboxing has always been a hot topic in Anarchy Online’s history, but regardless of your views on MBing - Botting is an insidious playstyle which destroys the game. There are currently automated bots for leveling, farming, and practically every other aspect of play. Preventing botting is an impossibility, but policing it isn’t. There need to be assurances made that bots aren’t going to destroy this server.
Content - A Fresh Progression server will keep players occupied quite some time. The process of leveling up multiple new characters to max and getting the gear needed for an end-game setup could take a year or two depending on activity and the timeline for expansion releases, but the game has been lacking in meaningful content updates for years. For some die-hard fans, this is enough - but for new players, this is a mark of death on the game. If we know, in advance, that larger content releases are planned then at the very least this can appear to be a fresh start for the game and not a delay of death.
Announcement - Anarchy Online’s Steam debut was handled terribly. I doubt anyone would or could argue this point with any rationality. There was no real announcement as to the date, there was no marketing push to get new players or old players to return, and it reeked to everyone who witnessed it as a cash grab. The new server needs to marketed properly. We need an official launch date weeks, if not months, in advance. There needs to be a progressive release of information and hype leading up to the launch. This needs to be loud from day 1 or it will fail. A lesson from Funcom’s development history is that there’s little to make up for a poor launch.
EDIT: I’m going to continue to add frequent concerns voiced that I see here, on the AO Reddit, and the AO Discord. These are not all concerns I have, but it seems more valuable to have a compiled list - so if it’s said often I’ll try to add it to the list and express the concern to the best of my ability.
Names - It seems there’s a number of people concerned by the possibility that they could lose their names on the new server. A name reservation system or, perhaps, locking names to the account they’re currently on for the live server for a certain period (perhaps 1 week) would be a solution to this concern.
Serpentine Armor - A large part of the Anarchy Online experience is cobbling together the best gear you can manage with the limited supplies you have. This is especially true on a server free of the economy of the live server. If Serpentine Armor scales too well and is consistently the best or even simply the easiest option, it will invalidate a large number of alternate gearing options.
Cash Shop - Even with Heckler Juice confirmed not to be available at the start, there are a large number of benefits available in the Item Store which could lessen the gameplay experience of starting from scratch. Anything which offers character progression opportunities certainly fits within this category, but going even further - something a large number of Veteran AO players remember is the struggle for their Yalm. If flying is as simple as spending a few dollars on the Item Shop it could diminish a portion of the experience to many. Clarity on precisely what will and won’t be available in the Item Shop will allow people to comment further on their individualized concerns. There are way too many options in the Item Shop, so it really needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Veteran Points - This is something I realized in parallel to the Item Shop concerns. If Veteran rewards persist on the new server a large number of aspects of play will be invalidated. Vehicles, Token Packs, and or even available Healing Labs.
Multiboxing - I was reluctant to add this to the list given how troublesome a topic it is, but the reality is that regardless of how you feel about it - there are significant concerns being voiced by many in the community that hostile multi-boxing could/will have a substantially negative impact on the new server experience. Perhaps clarity on abuse cases would be valuable - in particular by aiming to alleviate concerns that multiboxers with 6+ accounts will lock down massive aspects of the open world, given that for RK, in particular, a significant amount of gear comes from open world bosses with lengthy spawn timers and low drop rates.
These are my big concerns and I’m sure they exist for a lot of other players as well. As there isn’t currently a thread for this purpose, please respond with your thoughts on the Fresh Progression Server as well as your concerns. The optimist in me wants this to work, I love Anarchy Online and being able to play in a living world for it as opposed to the husk the live servers have turned into is unbelievably exciting - but it would be all too easy for this to be the last note from Anarchy Online. A fresh server is risky, especially when it requires a paid subscription. We’re going to be tearing the community apart, so if this is going to happen (which it is, there’s no going back from their announcement) let’s try to come together and provide as much information as possible in the hopes the FC listens.
Who knows if they will, but at least I’ll know I’ve tried.