What is Albion Online?
Albion Online is a Sandbox MMORPG that is Classless (your skills are tied to the gear you are wearing) and has lots of PVP and PVE content. Also, nearly every item in the game has been crafted by someone. The game is deep in it's progression systems but at the same time, fairly easy to understand.
Does it cost anything to play this game?
No, the game is free-to-play with a premium membership model that is very similar to that of the Elder Scrolls Online. The main difference is that with enough in game currency (silver), one can purchase a premium membership.
With the game being free-to-play, the next question would be if it is pay-to-win. The short answer is no. The game is pay to accelerate progress but not pay to win. I say this because if you were to spend real money to level one skill to 100, it would cost well over $3000. So, no, the game is not pay to win because grinding it out is much easier than you would think.
The internet says bad things about the PVP, what do you say?
The game does indeed have lots of things to do with PVP. For example, there are 4 different color types to the zones you can explore (a new update in the first week of May will make this easier to see/understand). The zone types that are generally safe are BLUE (no pvp allowed, minus faction battles), YELLOW (PVP-Lite), RED (Full Loot PVP), and BLACK (Full Loot PVP with a Fog of War).
What is Full Loot PVP?
It is exactly as it sounds. When you die in a Full Loot zone (RED or BLACK), you will lose everything on your character, your mount as well, and you will be sent back to your main city. You keep your silver, minus a small amount that drops when you die.
On the flip side though, if you can make or buy your gear cheaply and score a good kill, you can easily make a large profit. The game is very High Risk, High Reward.
What is the PVE like then?
The game features quite a large amount of PVE content in the way of Solo and 5 Man Dungeons (these can be Full Loot PVP in the Red/Black Zones). There is also some new raiding content as of the last big patch that require at least 10 players.
There are these things called Expeditions that you can participate in from your main city that can be done solo or with groups up to 5. They reward silver and crafting materials.
The game also features some unique content in the way of Hellgates. These are PVE/PVP zones in which the players enter in groups of 2-5 (it depends on the rift type) and are set up as a dungeon with mobs and minibosses and loot that spawns in the middle after some time. You can also kill the other players inside (Orange Portals are only PVP-Lite but Red Portals are Full Loot PVP)
Do you think this game is for me?
Due to the simple/complex nature of the game, it just might be for you. The real challenge lies in if you can take charge of yourself to go out and explore the world. By this, I mean that the game does not hold your hand after the tutorial. There are no quests, minus arena dallies or faction "quests", so you can literally do what you want, when you want to do it.
The game has plenty of PVP and PVE content to enjoy.
If you enjoy crafting, the game is very deep in that regard as well. Each weapon and armor type have 6 different variations, except off hands and shields. The game provides a very large outlet if you just want to craft items. Only YOU can make it the game you want to play. Find something you love and do it.
If you read all this and are interested in joining, I would be more than happy to help you get started.