We learned a lot today about ArcheAge, coming from Trion and XLGames later this year. Sure we've seen the game in Korean, and in Russian now... but at GDC? Everything was translated and in English. And that detail alone, made everything else easier to grasp. Read on for a full bulleted list of the details we learned from today's meeting.
I'm literally going to go down the list of what Trion's Victoria, Scapes, and Hartsman showed us live in their suite, on the F&F Alpha servers. So if it seems a bit scatter shot? That's because we kept asking them to show us this, that, or the other thing. Som and I were like kids in a candy store. There's a whole new feeling of awe we get for AA now that we can see it in front of us in English for the first time. Nothing's lost in translation, and finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is the ultimate sandbox, with a full level one to cap story experience for those who like to mix in a little theme-park dungeon romping and questing too. But don't want any of that? Fair enough, go be a farmer and breed animals until your heart's content.
CLASSES AND MULTI-CLASSING
For those who don't understand, there are ten combat classes in ArcheAge. Everything from Archery to Sorcery, and Vitalism (healing) to Thievery. You can focus just on one class, or two, or up to three. Combining them makes new classes altogether. A fire-based sorcerer mixed with a thief can work, an archer with a healer plus a necromancer? Why not? It's all up to you. And as you play any part of the game, you'll earn experience in all of your active classes. So even if you spend all of your time crafting, you'll level up your classes as well. Make your way to the level cap with one setup, and don't want to do PVE to do the other classes you want to level? No worries, just focus on other parts of the game with the other classes equipped, and they'll all level.
CRAFTING CLASSES AND LABOR POINTS
There are fifteen different crafting professions, many of which have been cataloged before. From animal husbandry to larceny, musical composition to metalworking, farming to printing (making inks for paintings). Larceny can lead to being a wanted criminal among your faction, where you're brought to trial under your peers' discretion... and they can send you to jail. But it's OK because you can play soccer, wear cool criminal-themed gear, and then break out or have your friends break you out if you want. Som will get more into crafting with his preview, but how about some good news on Labor Points? In Trion's version, free players will get a moderate amount, subscribers will get a bit more (not a ton), and anyone who needs one last burst to finish something can buy a quick boost. But only a limited amount per day. Because labor points and crafting are so tied to ArcheAge's gameplay, being able to buy them completely would be "Pay to Win". Trion is making sure that simply won't be the case here.
THE MOUNT SYSTEM
Mounts can be raised and bred by husbandry players, and from cute little baby pets that follow you, need feeding, playing, and cuddling they'll grow into big giant massive beasts that can carry you into battle, fight with you, or alongside you. Mounted combat is a huge part of AA (as well as pretty much anything you can ride being a part of combat, really), so your pets will get gear, skills, and be very dangerous to the enemy. In PVP, it'll be a real tactic to take out the mount before taking out the rider. They don't just poof out of the fight, but tumble and go rolling down the hill in a heap. You can resummon the mount right there, if you're able, but it'll only have one hit point and won't be nearly as effective until you go to the stable-hand to get him or her healed up. But crafting even factors in here too, because potion makers can make a potion to help that too.
As you can see from the above examples, and some we've been talking about for years now, ArcheAge has a lot of sandbox features. Build anything, be anything, do anything. From pirates to farmers to mercenaries. But there is an in-depth quest system as well. But there's a full quest system in the game as well, carrying through the narrative and teaching you the many different systems of the game. They also have the rather innovative idea of letting you overachieve and underachieve on quests. Don't have a lot of time left before you have to go to work, but are dying to finish a quest? Do less than you need to meet the requirements, and turn it in anyway. The quest giver might not be happy, and you won't get as many rewards but you can finish the quest. On the other hand? If you're like me, and someone tells you that you can do 50% more and get two times the quest rewards, you're gonna do that.
SIEGES AND CASTLES
On the northern continent of Auroria, which is ArcheAge's main all-out PVP continent, there are Archium stones sprouting up throughout the world. They're essentially raw elemental magic and are absolutely precious to the people of ArcheAge. The castles of Auroria are built around them, and each one is designed and plotted out by the players of the game. They don't pre-exist, they must be built. And then? They must be defended. Once every week opposing and rival players can bid on an item at the auction house that allows them to challenge a castle to a siege. Then they set the window, and the fight begins. Siege weapons, cannons, ship cannons if the castle's by water, mercenaries, AI guards... 100v100 fights to take control of that Archium and its many (soon to be revealed) benefits. You can make a guild of mercenaries for hire, to help defend or attack keeps. Som's already planning on doing just that. Walls are destructible, towers can be torn down. But whatever you don't destroy, if you take the keep? It's yours to make your own, repair, and defend next.
These are just a few of the many things we highlighted at GDC for ArcheAge this week. Victoria, Scott, and Evan (Scapes) were all eager to show us more, but the biggest thing for us was to finally see it all fully revealed in English. It's translated, folks. That was always the biggest hurdle. Next comes the tech and server setup, and before long I'd wager we'll all be playing ArcheAge. We'll be pirates, farmers, deep sea divers, hang-gliders, warriors, dungeon delvers, table-makers, anything. I know many of you were hoping for dates for beta, maybe launch. But I can only urge you to be a patient for a little bit longer. The time when we can all finally get our hands on the version of AA that was meant for the West is nearly here. It'll be more than worth the wait.
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.