The relaunched free-to-play version of APB launches into open beta today, offering a wide selection of new game mechanics over Realtime Worlds' original.

GamersFirst, now in charge of troubled cops-and-robbers MMO APB after Realtime Worlds' closure last year, has announced that the open beta for the revamped and newly free-to-play version of APB has launched today. The game has undergone extensive redevelopment since its original release wasn't a big success with critics or subscribers, and GamersFirst believes that the new version of the game is much better than it's ever been.

"From the start of the development of APB Reloaded last fall our focus has been to remove obstacles preventing players from having fun," said Bjorn Book-Larsson, Chief Operating Officer of GamersFirst and CEO of Reloaded Productions Ltd. "While our development and design teams have done an amazing job improving driving, shooting, skill ratings, witnessing and other key elements of the game, I am also thrilled with the changes slated to be released during the latter part of open beta. We expect APB Reloaded to set a new bar for what is possible to achieve in a free to play MMO game, and the open beta represents another big step in that direction."

Some of the new features have already been introduced, including a mechanic where criminals build up an increasingly larger stash of dirty money as they continue on a crime spree, and must launder it in order to be rewarded. Conversely, Enforcers who witness criminals committing crimes can chase them down and convert the dirty money to evidence, which similarly must be deposited before it can be redeemed as a reward. This encourages a lot of back-and-forth conflict between the two sides.

The game also features a new skill rating system which takes into account more than simple win-loss ratios. The new system promises to "better reflect all gamers' actual skill levels when compared to the opponents they defeat." Presumably, defeating more skilled opponents will have a greater effect on a player's skill rating than griefing newbies, then.

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