If you’ve been hoping to get more news regarding ArcheAge for Western audiences, I feel exactly the same way you do. That is, I’m patiently looking forward to a lot of information to come from the Trion Worlds and XL Games community managers soon enough. The past two weeks were mostly quiet on the ArcheAge front, but during my downtime from work, I found an intriguing tidbit about ArcheAge’s future. I also decided to go hands-on with an old-schooled MMORPG that could provide some intriguing templates for ArcheAge to adopt.
In addition to Elrar’s acknowledgement of my previous write-up (Hello there Elrar!), one thing to come out of the past two weeks is an interview with Trion Worlds’ Senior Producer for ArcheAge, Victoria Voss. In the MMOCulture interview, Voss discusses how Archeage will move forward, as the game itself, rather than a specific regional subset of the game, may get some semblance of Westernization in addition to Western-specific alterations.
Voss is quoted as saying, “We don’t want to change the essence of the game, but we definitely want to give the Western audiences a game that is more … well .. Western.” She added, ”We’ve found out that XLGAMES had many of the same thoughts as us, so many of the changes will be game wide, not just for the West. We are also working with XLGAMES on some Western-specific changes, such as character creation options, which our players are expecting.”
While that gives no details on changes being made, it does mean that a small part of my wish for Trion Worlds has been fulfilled: the company has taken stock of what needs to be done to give Archeage the best possible niche in the gaming market, and it’s working toward that eventuality.
Voss also had one tidbit that I couldn’t help but mention: Trion worlds has an internal estimate for a closed beta. This leads me to believe that once they’ve done enough localization that satisfies their internal estimates, Trion Worlds will most likely bring on an info dump about ArcheAge.
ArcheAge as Lite Fantasy?
During the interim between last week’s column and this one, I decided to wait until the last moment to do some research on another game that had recently come out. I then purchased that game without a second thought, got some game time going, and jumped in nearly completely blind.
The game had guns, swords, staves, magic, and a rather expansive world that seemed like it was worth exploring. You could also raise plants, dance, own a home, tame wild beasts, kill dragons, and basically not be done with everything in a few months. If you haven’t realized where that was going, I am talking about Final Fantasy XI, now on its Seekers of Adoulin expansion.
While this may seem like a tenuous connection to make, as we know little about ArcheAge and I’ve only just gotten into Final Fantasy XI, I get the feeling that ArcheAge could potentially grow into Final Fantasy XI Lite: a more accessible MMO with a number of interwoven systems and engaging content for people to enjoy.
Systems in Review
Bill Murphy discussed systems as a means of creating longevity for an MMO in his “The Problem No One’s Talking About” column, and I wanted to show how, through some strange twist, ArcheAge has some of the aspects of FFXI that made it last 10 years. Note that this is all while we hold out hope that it will have some more Western sensibilities put in to make it less of a “play this game daily or lose out on your gaming experience” sort of deal that tends to happen in a subset of MMOs.
To begin with, the leveling and class system of the two have similarities. In its current incarnation, FFXI has 22 jobs. Each job can act a main job or a support job, with support jobs being only half the maximum level of your main job. ArcheAge has a similar system, whereby you could choose three skill sets out of a possible 10, and then you could only equip a certain number of skills from your skill set trees into your setup. In both cases, you have class systems that offer a rather large number of potential combinations, some of which may not be optimized, but could still be fun.
One thing that’s telling about FFXI’s niche status is that it has added new wrinkles to gameplay in updates to allow people to try their hand at another activity when they feel like it, in addition to making some aspects of leveling less stressful (though still somewhat grindy). You can raise or race chocobos, you can build dungeons, and you can even grow and preserve plants in your mog house. There’s also crafting, but it’s more or less time and money-intensive to pursue at the onset.
Aside from general questing and PVP areas, ArcheAge seems to want to position itself as a life simulation as well, with crafting up the wazoo and the ability to build houses and ships, as well as raise crops to sell and craft more stuff with. I’ve heard rumors of the farming requiring a daily time investment, and I certainly hope it becomes more manageable in the Western release. They also have a justice system and a sieging system, which I hope will be good.
Of course, that’s not exactly a lot, but FFXI had 10 years to develop these additional systems. ArcheAge seems poised to offer proper options to plain old leveling, and I’d be pleased if it grew to have more new, optional systems for people to play with and advance through rather than PVE or PVP experience gain.
As you can probably guess, there are also telling differences between the two. While both have a potential to be grindy, ArcheAge mitigates that by being a newly-released MMO with some modern sensibilities intact. FFXI had to readjust things by adding the Fields of Valor system that provides additional experience for repeated kills a set of creatures in a zone to offset reduced subscriber numbers in a party-based game.
ArcheAge may suffer the same issues, of course, but until we learn what Trion Worlds has planned for the Western release, we’ll have to patiently wait. Here’s to hoping ArcheAge’s Western promise is upheld.
Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate and The Secret World columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can find more of his writings on Games and Geekery and on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.