All Points Bulletin Preview (Part 1)

Realtime Worlds held an event last week in Boulder, Colorado, showing off All Points Bulletin to a group of core MMO focused websites. They flew us out there, put us up in the Hotel Boulderado, a beautiful hotel located in downtown Boulder, and then sat us in front of a very sweet Alienware PC to play All Points Bulletin as much as we liked. We probably spent about five hours total in the game, looking at it from both a brand new player’s perspective, as well as a seasoned veteran with a stacked character. We learned a tremendous amount about the title, the main thing being it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

The first element of the game we took a look at was character customization. All Points Bulletin takes a page from the current MMO generation by giving us unlimited options to customize a character, while also being able to skip too much detail if that’s not up our alley. The level of customization goes from choosing generic faces all the way to changing every element of the face, with such options as brow shape, ear orientation and chin width. The detail goes on and on. The basic elements of customization include body, eyes, face, gender, hair, makeup, scars, and skin. There’s also the option to add a tattoo, which can be created from scratch using various shapes and decals. Basically, if there’s a look you want, in this game, you can get it.  In addition to appearance, character creation is where the player picks their side, Enforcer or Criminal.

Enforcers are the authorized vigilantes of the world.  They aren’t quite police officers, but they can kill and arrest criminals.  They are charged with keeping the world safe from the Criminals, although there does seem to be a fine line between Enforcer and Criminal.  Criminals are… well… criminals.  They are the despicable beings of the world.  They commit a wide variety of crimes and make it a mission to take out Enforcers as much as they can, and innocents being in the crossfire really doesn’t matter to them.

After watching a brief video that showed off some of the basic elements of the game, we then played through the tutorial zone. One of the cool things about the tutorial zone is that you don’t have to leave it when you are done playing the tutorial. You can stay as long as you want until you are comfortable with everything.  The tutorial does a very good job introducing players to movement and combat.  There are two ways to get around the game.  First you can walk or, holding down the shift key, sprint (and there’s no bar running down, so you can always sprint around).  The other way to travel is to drive.  Every player starts the game with a basic vehicle that they can pick up by visiting a parking garage.  Players on either side of the coin can also take cars from NPCs driving around.  Enforcers commandeer vehicles, whereas criminals just forcefully take them, usually with a dash of violence thrown in. 

In the tutorial, we learn all about contacts and missions.  Contacts are the individuals who assign missions and we gain status with them as we successfully complete missions.  Each contact has a maximum rating of 6 and part of the goal of the game is to max out rating with every contact available to us.  Each mission has multiple steps that range from retrieving something to tracking down other players and killing them.  All missions outside of the tutorial are designed to introduce a Player versus Player (PvP) element at some point.  The basic missions are designed around 4 v 4 PvP, although it’s possible through their matchmaking system to get 20 v 20 in a single mission.  Once out of the tutorial zone, there are two PvP districts currently available, Financial and Waterfront.  There’s also a social district we’ll talk more about later this week.  The two PvP districts each have 20 contacts for Criminals and 20 for Enforcers, so there are 40 total contacts to max rating out with and gain missions from for each side.  At first, missions can come from any contact, but players can pledge to a specific contact to only get missions from them.  Once rating is maxed with that contact, players can then unpledge from them and pledge to another contact.

In groups, the group leader is the one who accepts missions, so a player might be gaining status with a contact they aren’t pledged to because of this.  There are two ways to form a group.  You can form your own group or you can get automatically put into a group.  A group’s maximum is four players, although a mission has a function called ‘Call for Help’ which allows more than four to join a specific mission. The reason for this would be if four low level folks are pitted against one or two people much higher in rating than they are, more people can be added to the single mission to even out the sides.  This is based on a threat level rating, which uses only two components to calculate – mission wins and kill to death ratio.  The system takes the last 20 missions to determine the threat level on a scale of 1-15.  Most seasoned players will end up around 8-10.  Using this threat level, players are matched against each other in missions.  Enforcers always get to accept a mission, but Criminals can periodically be thrown into a mission (based on a Notoriety system).

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as information on the game.  There’s so much more to it and we’ll go into further detail in separate articles later this week.  Reading our series of previews on All Points Bulletin will completely prepare you for when the game hits open beta, coming very soon.  All Points Bulletin is scheduled to ship on June 29, 2010, so we won’t have long to wait to get the full experience.  In the meantime, enjoy the two exclusive screenshots we reveal today within this article.