So, I have been tasked with reviewing Archlord 2 for you, fair readers, and it started me thinking. I recently took a break from covering MMOs (after the site I worked for previously began to cut back on assignments and eventually shut down) and I actually forgot how many MMOs there are out there. I mean true, open-world, persistent MMOs. There are a lot. Hundreds.
Now, how many good MMOs are out there? That’s hard to say. I know I have fallen in love with dozens easily, but I have probably disliked several times that number. Archlord – the original – was one of the ones I disliked. It was grindy and boring to those of us who cannot literally grind for hours a day.
This new iteration – Archlord 2 -- is set in the same setting as the previous version but in an alternate universe, sort of. I wouldn’t worry so much about it because all of the lore and imagery of the game is really just a wrap around a series of button-pushing mechanics that only become half-fun once the player has spent hours and hours grinding bad, level-based quest after another (trust me, you won’t even look at what the quests say, they are that repetitive.)
Once you reach a particular level you might see some variation in content, thanks mostly to the PvP aspects of the game. Smaller skirmishes start at around level 30, battlegrounds at level 40. The game boasts 200 versus 200 player battles, but I rarely saw another player around. To be fair, that’s probably due to the fact that most had already broke their fingers by grinding to the top in an attempt to become the Archlord, the best PvPer of the best. The Archlord gains access to special weapons and abilities and rules until, well, someone else kicks their butt.
There are two main races in the game, the Azuni (humans, light-side stuff) and the Crunn (orcs who are mean.) The character models aren’t bad while the armor choices are ridiculous and built for turning on teenagers, but the good news is that there are no real classes.
Instead, players can switch out weapons which changes the “class.” If you have a lance and shield, for example, you will use those abilities. If you switch to a bow, you’ll use its powers. You can even cycle between two weapons with the Z and X keys, although I fail to see why I would want to. There is not any early-level reason to use anything but a few button presses. Strategy does not come into play in any major way for a long time.
You see, games like Archlord 2 offer some pretty interesting mechanics and systems like the swappable weapons and large-scale PvP, but they use them as a sort of bait on a hook; players think that obtaining the virtual glory that is the Archlord is something worth pursuing and will grind their fingers raw just to get there.
I’ve seen so many players gripe about the presence of gachapons – cash-shop boxes that offer “random” goods – because they represent a sort of addictive gambling mechanic, but I have not yet witnessed a large-scale revolt because of the common use of the grind. No, instead most players I have met seem to want to grind, to “earn” their place in the higher echelon of players. I don’t get it.
If it helps, Archlord 2 players will be presented with a basic level-appropriate dungeon for each area. Of course, the areas are so linear and forced that any attempts to freely explore were generally met with a smackdown from a high-level mob, so enjoy those dungeons. This is a common design tactic that allows players to “roam” in an open, magical world (it’s a selling point for many games) while the truth is that players could not freely roam even if they want to; level restrictions prevent it.
I wish more games would take the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes approach and placed players in level-restricted areas, but include lower-level areas that are embedded throughout the rest of the game. This type of design allows players to explore but with a bit of a safety net. Otherwise, exploration would not get done.
There are some basic questing issues, as well. Quest tracker text is so jumbled that you have to click the quest to figure out which mob you need to kill for which quest. You’d think that in a game that is so dependent on grinding the developers would make it easy to glance and see which mob you needed to kill, but not in this case. Mobs generally share the same animations and models, so I found it easier to just attack everything by pushing the 2, 3, and 4 buttons over and over until something died. Then I would push another button to take a potion. I literally pushed 4 buttons most of the time I played.
As you level, you will gain points to raise basic stats, so if you are planning on playing in the long-term, be careful and choose wisely; those points could make a difference.
Archlord 2 is not surprising, exciting, thrilling or enticing. It is browns-and-grays, repeated mob designs (with slightly different names,) grinding, lots of PvP eventually (if you live through the experience of grinding lower levels) and a mild cash-shop. There is some basic customization and some almost good-looking environments, but you’ll forget all of that after you are forced to play through the same kill-ten-whatevers literally dozens and dozens of times.
I will skip my thoughts on grinding. It’s safe to say that I just don’t get the tolerance for it. Archlord 2 could be a fine game if the developers skipped the grind, gave players a high-level character immediately and concentrated only on the PvP aspects of the game. After all, fighting other players in Archlord 2 is pretty much the only time things become entertaining, thanks in large part to the ability to switch out weapons and abilities and the unpredictability of fighting other humans.
You can find PvP by visiting contested zones, questing areas where other players show up, but I rarely found anyone. I am not sure why, but I quickly went back to attempts at exploration.
If you can tolerate a grind in a series of lame environments and want some PvP, Archlord 2 might be for you. If you cannot see yourself spending hours and hours pushing the same buttons over and over while hoping to somehow become the most powerful player on the server, skip this one.
POLISH – 6: The game does work, and it’s relatively easy to download and jump into. There were no real issues with graphics popping or sounds missing. It’s all there in its brownish-gray goodness.
VISUALS AND SOUND – 6: The character models in this game are done well. The combat looks sharp, although it could use some work on making different abilities stand out from others.
GAMEPLAY – 5: This game is about as boring as it gets until you hit PvP. For those who can stand a grind, you’ll be fine.
LONGEVITY – 6: There is a lot of stuff to grind through in this game, so it should last you a while. The last Archlord was around for a long time.
SOCIAL – 5: If you can find something, they are either an enemy or will talk with you. IF you can find someone.
VALUE – 10: This game is free and takes less than an hour to download and get in to. There is no better value, even if the game is a grind.