ArcheAge - What To Expect At Release
I'm writing this article to show what you can expect from ArcheAge at release, to give people realistic expectations and hopefully spread enough accurate information that you'll be able to inform others.
- Four playable races - 2 on each continent
- 3 factions - Hariharan, Nuian, Pirate
- Open PvP except in a few noobie starting zones
- Quest-based leveling or leveling through crafting and gathering
- A huge seamless world full of detail with each racial area reflecting their culture
- Low levels that introduce you to the world and it's various systems
- Siege weapons including mobile cannons and siege towers
- Housing and guild housing
- Farming, gathering, mining
- Wide selection of mounts
- Crafting system
- Auction House
- Expeditions (clans), which have ranks and also their own ingame forum
- Different sized ships to build including transport, small schooners and galleons
- 120 class combinations
- Max level is 50
- Character Customization
- Unbelievably amazing graphics with ragdoll physics
- Court rooms - letting the community decide what to do with caught criminals
- Transportation including airship, carriage, teleport
- Player controlled transportation: Glider, mount, tractor and ship
- Wide selection of armours and weapons - including capes and pet/mount armour
- Pet levels - giving you access to skills and new armour sets
- Swimming and underwater exploration - including scuba gear
- Treasure hunting - giving players an incenstive to explore underwater
- A world rich with lore
- A quest storyline which takes you through the world
- Rifts which spawn mobs and bosses in random locations
- Plenty of world bosses to fight over, on land and sea
- Naval battles
- Guild wars
- Battle grounds
- Territory control and taxation
- Labour point system
- Play area which you can port to and test out ships/houses etc
- A quality soundtrack that immerses you in the game
ArcheAge is often referred to as a 'sandbox MMO' but the term sandbox isn't really defined just by one feature alone. What makes a sandbox MMO? Build anywhere? No levels? Travel and PvP anywhere? A persistent world? All of those combined? It's a term loosely thrown around and most don't know what it even means. ArcheAge is ArcheAge, it doesn't matter what label you want to attach to it, the features are there for all to see and people can make their own mind up whether or not they think they'll enjoy it. As of late the term 'sandbox' has been put on a pedestal and considered ultimately better than the term 'themepark' due to the fact so many MMORPGs given that title have become less popular, creating pointless debates on what is better. Slapping 'sandbox' onto a game is vague and gives people false expectations depending on where they've read about that term, likewise for 'themepark'.
It all depends on what your perception of an MMORPG is. Generally people's expectations let them down when it comes to games, not the game itself, they just don't know how to handle it so they blame the game. When I logged into the Star Wars MMO I was unimpressed, not because the game didn't work, but because it's not what I want in an MMORPG. But I have a friend who loves playing it. Point being, if we all had the same expectations we'd all be on one game only, which is just not the case. You're never going to find the game YOU want unless you can make it yourself, so you're going to have to put aside your dislikes in favour of what you like, if you decide to play, and build on that rather than complaining about a lack of a certain feature then declaring you're going to avoid the game entirely, which is irrational behavior.
So let me talk about the things you'll encounter when logging into ArcheAge for the first time.
You're met with detailed character customization - adjusting facial features such as eyes mouth and nose etc , adding a variety of scars and face paints, aging skin, hair colour and styles.
Next you choose your first skill tree, which acts as your base to build from, by level 10 you have access to the other 2 skill trees which gives you a combination of 120 classes avilable. As you progress your skills level themselves. You can remove and select new trees while in game for a price but you'll lose your levels for that tree. The levels on skills can give you an edge in battle especially against higher level mobs, it'd be a good idea to decide what skill trees you want for that character from the start. Otherwise you're going to have to relevel all your skills again and you can only do that if your character is gaining XP.
The leveling in ArcheAge feels like a bit of a hindrance as in not really needed, but it's fast and also takes you across the world at a steady pace. You're never in the same area for a long period of time. Quests are plenty and vary from killing, fetching, planting, trapping mobs, transporting resources, you're never on the same quest for a long time. Another feature is that you can turn quests in half finished or receive more XP by going over the requested limit of items required (there is a cap). You can also level by gathering and crafting and in some cases it's quicker, so one possibility is finish the quests you want to do then get the rest of the level via crafting and level up your crafting skills at the same time.
Quests can also be completed in parties or raids. In fact it's much faster to quest in a group and should be encouraged. Some drop quests you'll have to pick up the item separately.
There's also a main storyline which has cut scenes quite often, giving you a background of the world and lore. You receive all your armours and weapons through questing which suffice at the early levels. You'll want to craft your own armour at some point though.
Because the leveling in ArcheAge is secondry and fast it's an ideal game for players who enjoy leveling several characters and in general hang around at low levels too. Housing, ship building and crafting isn't dependent on your character level so you can enjoy a lot of what ArcheAge has to offer without having to get to 50 first. Which I'm sure will appeal to a lot of players.
And for the crowd who dislike character levels then it's over quickly and you can get to the PvP and territory wars without a long stall. The game has a balance for different play styles.
Little things to mention; you receive daily quests at random, you get your mount in the first few levels. Part of the requirement of the mount quest is to nurture the baby which takes 10 minutes.
Mounts vary in movement speed but all level the same. As far as I'm aware if you want a particular mount then you need to go to a stable that sells that mount (some mounts are restricted by race). The first set of mount armour is cheap, you can upgrade every 10 levels or so. You can get kocked off your mount during combat.
Your mounts and pets also level up as long as you have them out while receiving the XP. Leveling your mount or pet gives them access to better armour and skills.
Crafting and Farming
Crafting in the game is accessible to everyone that puts the time in. There's no real long grind except when it comes to building the Galleon which requires a lot of gold coins and is a collective effort (you have no real use for a Galleon with just 1 player anyway). You buy all your blueprints from 'Mirage Island' which is a zone you teleport into. It has gliders, castles, all the ships, houses etc on demonstration. Kind of like a play area. Cool idea for new players who want to test the ships.
Building a house gives you a small area to plant or grow food which is protected. Other than that they are purely for decorating and storage purposes. Anything outside the area is fair game for anyone to take. Items take a certain amount of time to grow, anywhere from 8 hours to 24 hours. If you plant a forest in a location unprotected, after 24 hours anyone can come along and take it. Some players try and find hidden locations to plant huge forests in hope no one will be there when the count down ends. You can remove the trees while there is a countdown but you don't receive wood, instead you leave behind evidence which can get you taken to court. Each player can craft a scarecrow which has a medium size protective area around it, you're only allowed one per player so you can't spam them.
Farming is also affected by the environment of that region. Each area has different climates and in some cases plants will either grow faster or slower depending on the climate.
Ship building; at level 32 I had enough gold to buy everything I needed to craft the speed boat. Speed boats can come with either a cannon or a harpoon gun. What I love about the ships is the level of detail. Not only do they look and sail fantastically but the harpoon can be fired into other boats and you can reel them in or you can fire into cliffs and pull your boat in a direction. You can lower the sails, the anchor, the plank, man the cannons, climb the mast and stand in the crows nest. You can change the symbol and pattern of your sails or upload your own insignias. They aren't just shallow gimmicks, they have depth to them and I can't wait to see how XLGames expand on that.
To build items like ships and houses, you need to craft your resources into bundles then carry those bundles to the location required. When carrying backpacks you are slowed dramatically, mounts like a Donkey help speed you up but you're still vunerable. When killed that backpack drops and anyone can pick it up so you could lose a lot of resources if you haven't planned your route carefully. Even your own faction may kill you for the resources, so the best thing to do is make a party and work together with people if possible. You can also craft a tractor-type vehicle which will carry your backpacks for you or if traveling over seas there's a huge cargo ship which can carry several backpacks. This may be wrong but teleporting while carrying the backpack cannot be done.
This system opens up a lot of possibilities. Players may offer to transport you on their boat or offer you protection on your journey in exchange for payment. I'd like to see what else players come up with. You can turn in the backpacks at NPCs in exchange for gold coins which in turn can be used to build ships. So pirates will no doubt be operating all over the seas. There will be certain no-go areas that belong to pirate clans. Maybe even an unwrriten law of the sea will develop between players to help protect each other. All part of the fun, not knowing what you're going to bump into.
AA is a PvPers paradise. It's so awesome to travel around with your mates on a boat, raid the other continent killing everything in your path and stealing any resources you can then getting the hell out of there. Chasing other boats you come across on the open sea, trying to board them or snipe the guy steering the boat. Make him have to travel to his destination all over again. Camping a specific island that players are trying to get to. It reminds me of roaming PvP that was in DAoC. You're quite literally fucked if you aren't organized.
PvP depends on many factors. Knock downs, gear, skill set up, level. I like PvP as a group but if you go up against a DPS focused class in a 1v1 and he gets a stun off you're pretty much done, it's fast, but I wasn't max level and didn't have all my skill points in my tree. Max level in open beta was 40 and I was 33. So don't take that as a serious judgement.
There is a 1v1 arena in the game, battlegrounds, territory to claim and sieges and naval warfare. I didn't get to try the battlegrounds but it's an alternative way to get honour points for PvP-focused gear. If you don't want to craft or kill bosses it's just another option put out there.
PvP can happen just about anywhere, the only areas out of bounds are newbie starter areas and that's it. The guards in towns don't automatically kill you when you enter the opposing faction's town, whoever attacked first gets attacked by the guards. I like that. But it's also an obvious addition since players can create their own factions (not currently implemented), they wouldn't be able to get anything done otherwise. Killing your own faction leaves behind blood stains which can be picked up by anyone and you'll get reported to the authorities and eventually be teleported in front of a jury.
When you're in court you cannot move, you just stand in front of a judge, 5 random players are requested to attend jury service, once teleported in they vote on a time limit to punish you. They have access to your criminal history (which you see as well) so they can see if it's tree stealing or killing you're in for. The court room chat is also global so expect a lot of naming and shaming. Once the sentence is decided you get teleported into this prison off the coast of a middle-eastern looking city. You get your prison clothes too. Apart from football games and breaking rocks, you can also find ways to escape. One includes finding a key in a rubbish pile which opens up a door to a tower you can then glide from.
Escaping from jail doesn't mean you're free, though. The time limit is sentenced to the character and you have access to no skills for the duration. Logging off doesn't effect the timer, so I'm sure most will go AFK in prison.
Territories all over the world (excluding the newbie zones) are vunerable to attack at certain times. From what I've been able to translate (this may be inaccurate), how you take a territory is you have to be the first clan to place down a special item, you then defend that item for the period of time the area is vunerable. When you enter an area there will be a bar on the top right corner of the screen and a timer. Victors get to receive taxes, I'm not sure of what else if anything they get access to. But every household has to pay a tax otherwise the house gets destroyed. This makes sure the areas aren't spammed with houses who belong to players long gone. Houses on the 2 continents cannot be destroyed by players.
On the third continent, also known as the PvP continent, you can build anywhere. Houses can get destroyed if an enemy clan take the area you built on. So it's in the interest to protect that area. The PvP continent isn't even a quater of the way complete, other than castle building (you build castles on selected parts of land but you can design them how you want) and building houses which can be built anywhere, I don't know what's instore for the PvP continent. There's also resources that can only be gathered there.
I am excited for what's in store for ArcheAge. After playing so many MMOs and seeing the support for them just flop after release, it's refreshing to have a game that has enough content to keep people interested past the first month, also in a very polished state. It's also a game that isn't afraid to show it's ugly side (combat system needs work) but it's nothing to get hung up about as the game offers a lot of freedom and social opportunities you won't find in any of the modern games on the market. I guess it all comes down to what can XLGames deliver and how often. As non-Koreans we can only sit back and watch how it unfolds. But this just what we can expect at release, layed out so make of it what you will.