According to the Site Stats plugin for the site a few people are visiting develion.co.uk asking the question, is APB: Reloaded a single player game? Short answer is “No”, which funnily enough is also my longer answer.
Given the open world environment, crime theme and Realtime Worlds’ ties to GTA, it is an understandable misunderstanding I suppose. It does in many ways appear like another GTA clone, which is one of the undoings of it as a game. From the outset players expect the same compelling stories plots from the GTA series (GTA IV excluded), whereas APB is a completely different game in this respect. You define who you are, how you play and to some extent, what your gameplay experience will be. The core gameplay is about short 5-20 minute group based PvP combat. Sure there are missions, but rather than being there to drive a story, their intention is to provide a structure to combat.
I’ve often thought that a spin-off taking your customised APB character and immersing them in a single player world, using the ample backstory to APB could be interesting but it would really be a completely different title. Not just due to the switch from online to single player but it would mean radically different given the nature of AI opponents and following a story rather than the competition of online gameplay. The main difference is that in a PvP multiplayer game every time one player earns a kill, another is dying. As such you can hardly be taking out hundreds of foe in one life. I suppose when you consider Left4Dead’s Versus mode it is possible to have AI opponents, but for a direct shooter title it must be even. The one man against the masses is of course the fundamental basis of a FPS title. This does allow for combat based around a sticky combat system, taking out opponents with ease as in a video made by one of the APB art team. Whilst I laughed it off as an addition to APB but it is the sort of feature that has proven very popular in modern games and would work in a single player game. In an online game, I certainly wouldn’t stand and wait for someone to pop in and out of cover like the opponents in that clip. I’d be flanking them whilst the muppet fastened to a box is trying to get free and adjust their aim.
There has been talk of bringing more storybook to APB: Reloaded. A massive backstory to the title was written, although very little is evident in the released game. Whilst seeing some of this come through, given the repeatable nature of APB it is imperative that missions avoid being too story driven. I felt Bjorn made a good point regarding playing a role in an overall plot. Whilst obviously you’d never make a game like that, it does point out that you have other people around you, playing their game. Plot delivery would be affected by other players and rest assured, you can’t rely on them there. Perhaps the only real possibility is using small instances districts designed about small group co-op style play together but that would require a massive change to how servers are hosted, or ridiculously short campaigns. Either that or a big move towards PvE… eughhh.