Well, it’s been a while since I did a commentary on the state of APB, that’s mainly because I stopped playing it some months ago (Instead focusing on playing a variety of games from Indie to AAA, and almost giving up on MMOs altogether).
While the game is solid, fun, balanced and genuinely friendly (barring the rare smack talking troll), it did have problems. The vast majority were being dealt with steadily by the developers, but only one thing was really wrong that didn’t appear to be being addressed. One of the biggest. Namely the abundance of hackers.
Sure, there were waves of small numbers of bans, but hackers were still very much present after each, and there was frustration abound when a team of 4 got taken down by a single person, at range, with a Machine Gun. An extreme example, but not that rare. Also, the number of times an opponent would be playing terrible and then all of a sudden become godlike when the timer began to run down was too much to be co-incidence.
Now, it seems, they’ve nailed it. Apparently. The bit about cheater amnesty piqued my interest. I know alot of people started cheating because of other people (a spectacular piece of flawed logic akin to the broken window fallacy) and giving them a chance to give up is nice. Provided they can actually tear themselves away from their godlike steroids.
This implies that they’ve got some kind of hardware identificiation going on, since how would they know who is who on new accounts. Also, alot of people are utterly screwed with some of their hacks, which actually write to the MBR, like a virus, and are really hard to clear without wiping the system. If APB and PunkBuster have found a way to detect installed cheats, even when not running, then even those willing to give them up may not be able to do so for technical reasons (insofar as they probably don’t want to explain to their parents why they’re wiping their PC)
The fact that cheaters can come back at all, without penalty, is one of the reasons why hacking is so rampant in APB, and alot of vitriol has been spilled on the forums about the subject and how G1 can work around it. Hardware bans were one (which may well be what they’ve actually done), and Pay-for-account may be another, indeed they have stated that they intend to go into retail in December and that would be a perfect time to change the payment scheme (if they intend to charge for boxed copies).
This also means that it’s leaving beta at a very inopportune time. (although some would say it’s been out of beta since the beginning of Summer). Firstly, there’s that juggernaut of a game called The Old Republic coming out, that I will, certainly, be playing for the first 30 days. Not to mention Guild Wars 2 still has a release date set as this year that I’m also rather tempted to try out.
On the single player side is Skyrim, which, while I’m not super excited about, I’m almost definitely going to buy it at some point (I enjoyed Oblivion, and I enjoyed Fallout 3, so I should get a kick out of Skyrim)
People only have so much time to play games, not everyone plays 18 hours a day, some are lucky to get that in a week, so in a toss up between APB and GW2, I fear the Guild Wars may win out on this one.