For the past few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion among players regarding the Albion Online Smart Cluster Queue feature that was introduced with the Queen update. And to be honest, there is quite a lot to be said about it. But first things first, let me give you a quick tour of this feature.
What is Albion Online’s Smart Cluster Queue feature?
Before the Queen update, ZvZs used to be a royal pain when it came to lag, as certain zones would be completely overcrowded with players. Not only that, but as there was a zone player cap, certain guilds could “lock” an entire zone by filling up a zone with allied players. By doing that, they would dim enemy forces inside that same zone.
This created a clear disadvantage to other alliances, it reduced competition, and quite honestly just sucked the fun out of it. So, naturally, Sandbox Interactive came up with a solution: the Smart Cluster Queue feature.
Simply put, this new feature aims to prevent zone capping. Now, whenever a given cluster is overcrowded with players, the system activates and removes a bunch of players and puts them into adjacent zones. Players can then wait there until there is room again to join the fight.
How does the Cluster Queue work?
Slots per alliance
Zones have a capacity of 350 players, which are divided among alliances who wish to take part in the ZvZ. The number of slots per alliance is determined by the number of players in the zone and queue combined. This way, the odds for each alliance are improved.
But it is not 100% balanced. In fact, players within a specific alliance will have priority over others. This can happen for a number of reasons:
- Premium Status
- Item power (800 and higher)
- Time in the Cluster (the longer the player is in the fight, the more likely they are to be kicked out)
Cluster Queue update
The Cluster Queue originally started with a 90-second update, which has since been increased to 120. This means that at every 120 seconds, the system checks for players in the queue and inside the zone, and determines which players to kick out and which to let inside the zone.
Does the Cluster Queue help or make the game worse?
These are my personal opinions, but I know for a fact that a lot of players share the same opinion as I do. Let’s go over everything in order.
Con – Alliance disadvantage
The Cluster Queue is nowhere near perfect and still has a long way to go before reaching perfection. The reason I say this is that it still presents a lot of issues. The first problem is that teams can who normally would be at a big advantage now often find themselves at a disadvantage.
For example, imagine that Guild A brought 500 members to the fight, Guild B brought 300 and Guild C brought 200. At first glance, you’d say Guild A has a clear advantage, but that is not at all true. As the Cluster Queue balances things out, despite A having more allies, they can’t get into the Cluster to help their allies. This forcibly levels the playing field quite a bit.
Pro – No more lag
The Cluster Queue does have its bright sides. First, it has seriously helped with all the lag that was going on in ZvZs. It was impossible to play the game smoothly before the Queen update, but now players hardly ever face lag issues.
Pro – Sandbox Interactive pays attention to players’ wishes
The developers are clearly paying attention to players’ opinions on the Cluster Queue, and actually do things to improve this new feature.
Con – Cluster Queue update
Sandbox Interactive listened players’ wishes on increasing queue update time. However, despite changing it from 90 seconds to 120 seconds, it is still inefficient. 120 seconds is still hardly enough time to give players a chance to turn things around for their favor.
Con – Predation in adjacent zones
Another big problem with the Cluster Queue is players who are kicked out of the cluster and sent to adjacent zones. Big alliances will have many players in adjacent zones waiting to get inside the cluster.
That means small alliances with few players will be easy targets when waiting in the adjacent zones. The big fish hunt the small fish in the adjacent zones, and then the small alliance will have no new players entering the cluster when it is updated.
In order to solve the above adjacent zones problem, Sandbox Interactive is going to give players a Queue removal protection. That means, whenever a player gets kicked out of the Cluster, so long as they stay close to the entrance and don’t do anything, they’ll be invisible and invulnerable for up to 150 seconds. That hopefully resolves the problem.
The Cluster Queue was introduced to fix a lot of ZvZ problems in Albion Online. But, as it’s a relatively new feature, it still needs a lot of improvements. As it is right now, I feel like it is not very useful and quite often gets under my skin. But I also know that Sandbox Interactive is actively working on improving it. So, I feel like it has a bright future ahead.