APB: Reloaded To Be Reloaded Into Newer Engine

The customisation tech is impressive even now.

Remember APB? It was GTA Online before GTA Online existed. It was a massively multiplayer game of cops and robbers. It launched like a soggy biscuit and its developers, Real-Time Worlds, collapsed just weeks after launch. It was eventually bought by another company, GamersFirst, and turned into a free-to-play game called APB: Reloaded that we still didn’t like.

Yet the game carries on, buoyed by a small but dedicated audience and a team of developers who are clearly passionate about making it better. They’ve done a lot of work over the past couple of years, and a new post on the team’s development blog outlines the game’s future, while also offering some candid thoughts on Grand Theft Auto V.

The plan is to update the game’s engine, shifting from an older version of the Unreal Engine to the version of UE3 used to power Epic’s own Gears of War. That’ll mean a game that’s faster for the team to add new content to in future, and which both looks better and is better optimised.

Mostly though, I’m interested in seeing a developer talk openly about the way in which a big game launch like Grand Theft Auto V impacts upon their playerbase:

When the dust finally settled last week, it actually turned out that APB Reloaded was not hit any harder than the average Online PC game (again based on before-and-after comparisons of average PC game Steam numbers for the top-100 PC Steam games). Not to say we didn’t take a dent. But we are still here. Still plugging away. And still working on our ambitious long term plans.

Slowly but surely, starting last week, we also started seeing players returning to APB, which has helped us breathe a little bit easier this week. Our giant super-secret engine update that we have been working on since July depends on players continuing to support our game, so we are incredibly thankful that players are returning to APB once they have gotten their GTA fix.

When I played APB, during the beta of its first incarnation, I had all the same problems everyone else did. There was boundless potential in the concept, but it didn’t deliver on any of it. Yet it’s the kind of game I want to be good, even now that GTA Online has delivered on certain parts of it. I want APB to become what Real-Time Worlds always hoped it would; a platform for not just drive-and-shoot japes, but a playground for everything from persistent, EVE Online-style territorial control, to DayZ-style survivalist adventures.

Have any of you played it recently? Should Craig and I re-enact our former lives? Scouting around the internet, it looks like some people are having fun, anyway.


  1. johnkillzyou says:

    Oh bloody hell, not again. They should just try something new this time.

    • SaraMeanie says:

      Actually they’ve never stop trying, your thinking of APB Vendetta which was a different game altogether.

    • Kelron says:

      Sorry if I’m misunderstanding what your comment implies, but this isn’t a case of a developer endlessly trying to revive a shit game. GamersFirst have been making big efforts to improve the game since they took over. It’s not likely to win over people who never did enjoy it, but they clearly have a big enough fanbase to make it worthwhile supporting the game. Whatever you think of APB, I wish more developers would support their games in the same way.

  2. Craig Pearson says:

    We are such mean trolls.

  3. Oculardissonance says:

    I still play apb, while its impossible to ignore its flaws; lack of optimization and pretty shitty new player experience. I still enjoy the shit out of it. I love designing outfits and vehicles, the gameplay is great once you start to understand you weapons. I’ve also been impressed with G1’s updates, they have been coming at a rapid pace since I rejoined the game 6 months ago. They also know how to get at my freaking wallet and have a perverse understanding of the player base’s spending patterns. The game is def not pay to win since you can dominate with the starter gun, its more pay for variety. Overall I’m looking forward to the engine update and the future of this game.

    • UmmonTL says:

      I played for a bit quite a while after it went free to play. My biggest issues with the game was the reputation gaining and the samey objectives in the missions.
      The former just felt tacked-on and lifeless, you looked for the items you wanted to unlock, talked to the guy that unlocked them and nothing changed about the rest of the game. No special missions, no unique areas, no story or characterization to any NPC.
      The latter was less problematic since there actually were a few variations to the missions and you had somewhat random selections of them in the different stages. But if you played for an hour you had seen all the variations the game had to offer twice. The enjoyment came from the mutliplayer dynamics and I remember having some amazing races and firefights when large well-matched teams were fighting on both sides. Still, I always wished for more…
      Has there been any changes or additions to those things?

  4. Tei says:

    I remember wen I was a kid to play Starsky and Hutch with the other kids. In my mind, the most awesome thing ever was jumping with a car trough a ramp, another two cars, then crash into the crims car, making it do a loop in the air, then crash into a pharmacy, and explode.
    So playing APB was for me pure bliss… equally and maybe better than the best 5 seconds of the TV serie.
    I had a lot of laughs with the game and a lot of scares.

    In my mind, APB was one of the 5 best videogames ever made. They re-forged it as a Free2Play dystopia, and lost some of the magic, but is still seven million times better than your average medieval fantasy mmo.

  5. LionsPhil says:

    Wow, that video. It’s like a bunch of people decided to play through The Blues Brothers. I think the cop cars do more damage to each-other than to their target.

    …and to pedestrians.

    I bet it was an awesome experience for the van driver.

  6. Tayh says:

    “Yet the game carries on, buoyed by a small but dedicated audience and a team of developers who are clearly passionate about making it better.”
    Passionate about milking their players for every penny while barely releasing any new content for 2+ years, prioritising their cash shop and power-for-cash strategy above everything else.
    Cash weapon’s got a glitch that allows it a clear advantage above every single other gun in the game(and even more so for it’s niche)? Oh well, let’s call it a feature and continue profiting from selling it in the cash shop!

    … Man, I miss Real-Time Worlds’ APB.
    Yeah, I’m bitter.
    Here’s a li’l APB video to make up for it: link to youtube.com

    • SaraMeanie says:

      I’ve been playing the game for a year and a half now. I’ve lost more because of the terrible servers and hackers than to “pay to win” guns. Guns haven’t been overpowered about a year now.

      Sadly, this is Gamersfirst flagship game, and wouldn’t sell this game unless there was an even bigger payout, seeing how Me and a whole 4k+ masochists like me stay amidst all the problems. This game has a niche in the free to play market

  7. Dana says:

    It was anything but Massive.

  8. Howl says:

    Well colour me surprised. You’re saying the original APB wasn’t written in Flash?

  9. Saltyaubergine says:

    I hadn’t heard about this game before I saw this: link to youtube.com
    Trolling can be pretty hilarious, though I suppose if I had actually been playing it, I might feel differently ;)
    Warning: you might want to turn down the sound level.

  10. brokeTM says:

    It might not be the greatest game ever made, but GamersFirst sure do know how to make money…
    Other than having bought a $100m game for lunch money, not that it was worth that at all. But anyway, they’re able to afford the time to move the game to a new engine for the heck of it? considering how much they bent and dented the original engine to start with.

    Not that this would make the game-play less tiresome, or help the devs in their constant battle against exploiters.

    I think I’ll revive my San Paro alter ego once this upgrade is live, just out of curiosity though.

  11. Rapid99 says:

    Thanks for the link support, RPS :D

  12. newprince says:

    I’ve had many hours of unbridled fun on APB:R. Some of what people complain about is true, but much of the complaining is the result of people not spending enough time with it and writing everything off as hacking or pay 2 win. The notable exception has been the Nano… yes, it is overpowered considering what type of gun it is. But since it was usually in the hands of a great player anyway, it was hard to determine just how imbalanced of a gun it was.

    APB:R is all about playing the other team. The missions are backdrops, and one can create a persona much like someone slogging through DayZ could create ‘survivor stories’. The level of customization is far beyond any other MMO I have played, which goes a long way in my book. It combined the relevant parts of Crackdown and GTA to make something entirely different. I wish them luck in the future.

    -Johnny Chimpo

  13. abrokenchinadoll says:

    This game would be soo much fun if it had a loot system better economy and more to explore.

  14. niasyn says:

    Ah yes, the engine was the problem.

  15. jimangi says:

    I have memories of a very vacant-looking cop based on the likeness of a certain someone in an issue of PCG a few years ago. It still haunts me.

  16. ErraticGamer says:

    Is…. is that video supposed to look fun?

    Because that looks horrible. 20 minutes of chasing a basically indestructible vehicle, and when they finally manage to pin it in, they all just stand around unable to hurt each other?

    What the fuck?

    • Rapid99 says:

      Our videos mainly focus on having a fun night of random bullshit with friends; not going balls deep over the game.

      • ErraticGamer says:

        Sure, I mean I could tell that the folks playing were having a good time.

        It just seemed like a lot of effort to force entertainment onto a framework that wasn’t built for it. Which is the mark of a good bunch of gamers, but not the mark of a good game.

    • Baines says:

      That was the issue that I had with APB, while there was an “open” world, you couldn’t much interact with others outside of missions.

      Yes, letting people shoot each other and trash each others vehicles at will would lead to griefing, but it would also lead to a city that was alive, instead of just a means to get between matches.

  17. HisDivineOrder says:

    I think they need to cut their losses and focus on a new title.

  18. rokaraged says:

    I’m cynical of this,

    They promised a full asylum map years ago, and all we ever saw of it was just a few brief instances during Halloween. I can’t help but expect that this will continue to be pushed along like Anarchy Online’s Engine update.