ArcheAge Unchained Review In Progress: Breaking From Its History
ArcheAge Unchained is the B2P or “buy-to-play” version of the original ArcheAge, now run by the publisher Gamigo. Ah yes, Gamigo. Members of the gaming community lamented for several months (and many still are) when it was announced that Gamigo would be acquiring Trion and therefore ArcheAge. Though a fairly successful company, Gamigo has been notorious for the P2W or “pay to win” games that they have published. Some of these you might recognize: Aura Kingdom, Dragon’s Prophet, Fiesta Online, Last Chaos, and Shaiya to only name a handful.
Gamigo’s history with the concept of pay to win has left some of their audience members feeling...well, not convinced. It’s my hope that by reading these reviews in progress (and hopefully sticking around for my final review!) that my experiences and opinions help you determine whether or not you’d like to give it a second chance. Or, if you didn’t have the opportunity to play ArcheAge when it launched back in 2013, a first!
Reminiscing about the Past
Is it possible that this change has come too late? As I sat at my desk, trying desperately to wrangle my feelings while I downloaded ArcheAge Unchained on the media testing server, I couldn’t help but think back to the very moment that I stopped playing the original ArcheAge. I had almost saved up just enough money to buy my last thunderstruck log that I needed to construct my fishing boat. At this time, we were told that no pay-to-win elements would be implemented in the cash shop. All I wanted was to sail out into the wide ocean with my friend, and dive down deep into the murky depths to grab treasure.
A guild member offered to lend me some of his gold to buy the final log I would need to construct my boat, as long as I promised to take him on our fishing excursions. I was so excited! I would finally have a boat of my own and a way to earn gold through a mechanic that was actually enjoyable. I remember sprinting off to the market and buying my log, only for the market to then immediately crash moments later. Thunderstruck trees had been made available in the shop for purchase. You could actually pay to buy one of the rarest resources in the game at the time.
Not long after this, the guild disbanded. Many folks left ArcheAge, frustrated by the archeum and thunderstruck logs and how their introduction had completely wrecked the economy. Heartbreak doesn’t even begin to cover it. ArcheAge was an incredible game. We took away so many amazing memories from ArcheAge. I can only equate the experience to a nasty breakup where your ex keeps sending you emotional “take me back” texts in the form of frustrating PR letters, and you always think back and wonder about what could have been.
Anticipating the Future
I include this anecdote because I think it’s important to understand where a lot of mistrust and frustration at Gamigo comes from on the part of their player base. My experience is only one of many, but I have read stories from countless others that express the same level of dissatisfaction. Gamigo has taken on a massive project, one that if done right could easily restore their credibility in the western gaming community. Besides the initial, glaring, pay to win model in the cash shop, I truly felt that at its core, ArcheAge was an enjoyable game to play. But to make these improvements upon the game years later might not be enough.
Trion wasn’t willing to listen to their player base and it showed in the quality of their game when they began to include pay to win items in their cash shop. Maybe Gamigo will be different. ArcheAge’s executive producer, Merv Lee Kwai, seems extremely passionate about ArcheAge Unchained and had a lot of great answers to several of the interviews he has done in the past few weeks. So, let’s take a deep breath, and dive into this thing together.
Bugs and Crashing
I know, I know, I’m sorry. The water is kind of shallow in this initial article. Unfortunately, the first few days of testing for ArcheAge Unchained were a struggle. Right now there’s not a lot of water to dive into. It’s safe to say and assume that any MMO is going to have issues during their initial testing that involves the public. However, I lost two entire days of testing to constant crashing and black screens. After trying everything from driver updates, swapping back and forth between DirectX 9 and DirectX10, to lowering the graphics, I finally found a forum post with a few other members that were having the exact same issue as me.
What was different during this launch, was that I had been using a Razer Cynosa keyboard and needed to disable Razer Chroma SDK Service. Funnily enough, this is apparently an old bug. When playing the game during its original launch, I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a colorful gaming keyboard so I was never aware of the conflict. If you are also having this similar issue, I highly encourage you to visit this thread to work through the problem.
Beating the mini-boss that was my keyboard issues, I moved on to combating the final boss: the server. When I finally managed to log in, the next few days would be riddled with server shutdowns and random crashing. I was shocked to see that there were only two servers up and running at the moment. Shouldn’t there be at least one more to help with server stability? As of this review in progress, there are still only two servers: one for the original ArcheAge and one for ArcheAge Unchained. Neither of which have been very stable for testing this past week.
Between working a full-time job and server downtime, it has been difficult to review the game and any changes that the new rendition has brought. At this point, another friend of mine who purchased a pre-order pack still can’t stop crashing long enough to get in and play the game.
So, what have we been able to take away from these first few days of testing? There are still some remaining bugs left over from the initial game that the team is rushing to squash before the official launch date on October 15th. I genuinely hope that Gamigo is properly prepared for the influx of players that are going to hit them on the official launch day. A fair few will be new players, but I have a strong gut feeling that the majority of their new audience will be returning players. From what I have played, the little that it was, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s pretty much the same game that it was before.
One of my favorite parts about the original ArcheAge was the combat system. Though there are always going to be those class combinations that outshine the others, you have well over 200 unique class combinations to choose from. Though it may not be quite as innovative as some action-based combat systems, it’s definitely satisfying to have so much freedom when it comes to choosing your character’s combat paths. If you’ve never experienced ArcheAge before, I highly suggest that you look up some videos of their character creation and combat system. Or, just create an account and hop on the original ArcheAge to test the waters.
And, insert fanfare here, please! The cash shop so far is completely free of pay-to-win items. Everything that can be purchased for credits involves cosmetics like costumes, pets, and housing decorations. Initially, this was how the original ArcheAge shop started out as well. Only time will tell after the initial hype has died down whether or not they intend on sticking to that model. By now, this is probably dated news. There are several Google docs floating around from popular streamers that list off all of the cash shop items and their prices. In the next article I will touch on the new currency, “Diligence Coins” and what you can acquire with them.
ArcheAge Unchained is off to a somewhat shaky start, but that’s really to be expected in the first week when the real stress test begins. I don’t anticipate it being anything like the original launch was, where you waited several hours in queue and stayed logged in for fear of the queue times, but it will probably still be extremely popular. If you’re planning on taking off of work that first day-don’t. Just don’t. We’ve seen enough launches by now to know something always goes wrong, and you need to make that money to buy fancy costumes.
I apologize for the quality of the screenshots in the article. There wasn’t much to report on this first week with all of the troubleshooting going on, but I tried to include some screenshots that made the article a bit easier on the eyes. Who doesn’t like pretty pictures?
We'll have more to say as we can dive headlong into ArcheAge Unchained beyond launch. Hopefully many of the issues being seen right now are ironed out before its October 15th debut, but we'll be sure to update you once we have more.