By now you’ve read our news article about the closed beta for ArcheAge launching next week on July 17th for four days. Fear not! It’s just the first of several upcoming closed beta events before the game goes live later this year. To clarify this information and much more, we chatted with Trion Worlds’ CEO Scott Hartsman earlier today.
Yes, this first closed beta is only four days, ending on the 21st of July, but that doesn’t mean the Alpha server (currently running 24/7) is being impacted by the CBT. It will still be up and running for the founders, as it’s sort of their long-term test bed, like a public test server is after launch. The closed beta series of events are more about getting in fresh blood to see how people react to the 1.2 version of ArcheAge (recently patched to Alpha). The Alpha players are like their “veterans” or hardcore players, while Trion is expecting many of the Closed Beta participants to be people who have a passing interest in the game, a new found interest, or just people who are playing it for the very first time. It’s crucial then to take their feedback, iterate, and then test again with the next closed beta event.
And for those still wondering, no Alpha and Closed Beta characters will not carry over to live service. To do so would remove a crucial part to the opening of the sandbox: the land rush. What this does mean is that players who spend time in Alpha and Closed Beta will have a distinct advantage of knowledge when it comes to navigating AA’s many nooks and crannies and systems… and will very likely have the upper hand when it comes to said land rush.
But how do you get into the closed beta events? All founder’s package owners (from Silver to Archeum status) will get in all betas by default. But Trion will be hosting giveaways on several sites across the web in coming days, as well as doing some of their own random giveaways with people signed up on the ArcheAge site.
The in-game store will be active during the beta as well, to test its functionality and see what items work and don’t work with the community. Similar to Rift, the focus will be on cosmetic and convenience items, but not so much about the lower tier gear, as that would be detrimental to the sandbox crafter’s economy at play. That’s right, no pay to win. Expect costumes, pets, mounts, and XP boosts and the like instead. Founder packages come with credits to spend, so those players can freely spend their founder’s credits in the store and will get them all refunded for launch. Meanwhile if other non-founders want to buy credits and spend them in the beta, they can, and their credits will be refunded for launch as well (but not the actual real world cash). So we’d only buy credits if you planned on using them at launch too.
In terms of how 1.2 is going on the Alpha server, Scott’s been pretty happy with the reception. It’s a shock to long-time AA players, especially those who might have played Russia’s or even Korea’s version, but by and large most of the community seems to react positively to the changes to the economy, leveling, and PVP. They’re closely looking at the combat and class changes to make sure nothing went too far one way of the other, including the speed at which players now drain their mana with skills (which was greatly sped up with 1.2).
Each update they’re getting from XL has also been focusing a lot on graphics optimization. The CryEngine does something unique with its shader and texture cache: it compiles them all when you log into an area the first time, so it can create texture pop-in and slow graphic loading speeds when you first boot up the game. The downside is the muddy and half-loaded shaders and textures you might see. The upside is a positive one though: once a zone or area is loaded the first time, it’s cached and won’t need to do it again. This means faster loads and prettier textures from there on out.
Overall, it seems that ArcheAge is indeed moving along at a brisk pace towards their launch later this year. Personally, I’m still only dabbling in the Alpha while I wait for the real deal, but 1.2’s changes are welcomed, the game’s certainly a lot more complete feeling with localized cinematics and UI improvements. I’m really anxious to see how the wide western world will take to a hybrid game like ArcheAge. It’s both a traditional themepark leveling experience, and a seriously in-depth expansive world filled to the brim with divergent play opportunities.
You want to level and play the story? Go ahead. Want to just be a farmer and decorate your homestead? Sure, you can level up and make money that way too. Want to be a pirate? A criminal? A siege warrior? A fisherman? A treasure hunter? There are so many different things to do in ArcheAge, I expect one four day beta event won’t be enough for most players to see just how far the rabbit hole goes. But perhaps they’ll be like me, and realize it looks very deep indeed and wind up anxiously waiting for the real land rush to begin.
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.