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Archeage - A Proper Burial

Posted by Ozzallos Friday October 10 2014 at 4:37AM
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So yeah, I just got done panning Trion's Archage as the most overhyped MMO of the year, but didn't really dissect it for content and playablility. So in between character lockouts and growing tired of the tedious monotony of leveling up skill tree after skill tree, I figured it would be only proper to give Archeage a decent burial. Sounds fair, right?

Let's just get this out of the way first: If you're picking up Archeage because of the combat, quests or core mechanisms that generally define an MMO, you're in the wrong place and will be sorely disappointed if you're expecting a half grab at something unique. AA is a merely a poor rehash of every other MMO that has gone before it... And not any old MMO; but a poorly executed MMO. I say that because if you've played any vanilla MMORPG in the last decade, you've played this one... Only this one- like so many others these days -is still a beta product in spite of its launched status.

If I had to pick a single defining aspect about Archeage, it was as if somebody had all these great MMO ideas and wadded them together with duct tape and paperclips; only the duct tape is peeling off and the paperclips twisted into a mangled mess. Leveling to 50 (55 in Korea) is eye-gougingly bad as it features everything you hate about leveling any MMORPG; that is to say bland, grindy quests that have you play errand boy for some meaningless reason for the majority of your leveling experience. That is not to say Archeage is hard or even challenging. It is just so monotonous that you want to rub salt in your eyes and gouge them after a few weeks. If you choose to level an alternate spec, you just signed up for more cornea perforating fun.

Maybe your ears just perked up at the mention of alternate specs, but trust me, it's really not as hot as it sounds. Archeage touts the ability to mix and match any three of ten classes to suit your style of gameplay, but the reality is that like most MMOs that do this, only a handful truly rise to the top as actually being useful. Dig a little deeper and you find a sloppy, poorly constructed system in which some trees are simply useless and refuse to play well with others.

Piss poor itemization rules to the point that most tanks in this game will run leather and cloth; plate being a worthless hinderance. No, really. So even though you could be that stealth-priest-debuffer dual wielding katanas with plate in theory, the reality of this fail system is that you are setting yourself up for failure outside a select group of builds... No matter how many classes you can theoretically create.

PvP does tend to liven things up as PvP normally does, but this is where the aformentioned issues really become obvious. PvP is dominated by ranged warfare. Since tanks are best served wearing leather or less, they are marginalized to the rear ranks or heavily focus on stealth ganking techniques until the front line of ranged casters and arrow slingers soften the other side up. Yes, you heard me correctly: In PvP, you tank with ranged classes.

Healers are another casualty of this completely jacked system. Not that healing is ever easy from either a PvE or PvP standpoint, just that Archeage goes out of its way to punish these players at every turn. The mechanism governing healing is hideously bad. Heals are few, small and on longish cooldowns. Attempting to be an effective Healer pigeonholes you into a Vita-Aura build, which will cripple your leveling experience. Recent changes ensure you will either have lots of mana and sucky heals or meh heals with anemic mana reserves. Not that your healing will ever be that hot compared to nearly every other MMO you've ever played.

The game is playable, but you can just tell that something went horribly wrong along the way.

So we've pretty much determined that at least half the game is a poorly constructed turd, clinging to the other half as it circles the drain. It's this other half that is your best chance to wring any vestige of enjoyment out of the Archeage-- Crafting and the Economy.

When developers create Free to Play MMOs, they have to assfuck you somewhere in order to profit from their creation. In Archeage, that long shlong you're feeling as you get bent over is the player economy. The combat/leveling engine is left largely unmolested, but at some point you will be strongly encouraged to craft the best gear possible. When you do, you're going to realize that this is where Archeage wants you to spend money. They want you to spend money on farms, which are vital to gathering material. They want you to spend money to reduce the impact of their labor scheme, which is required for nearly every action in the game-- From cutting down trees to the mere act of identifying loot. They likewise want you to spend money to make houses, build boats and to generally just participate in the economy to the point that even selling on the AH requires a cash shop bought license.

Hell, it takes labor to report an abusive player or bot, believe it or don't.

In fairness, it's a fairly complex system that might appeal to some. To others, you're taking on another 9-5 job much in the way Mabinogi forced you to. While the complexity is undeniable, there is always that lurking suspicion that the only reason that said complexity exists is to justify the developer's profit motive. Now, can you survive without the cash shop? Yes. Sort of. Kind of. But count on AA to make it just as excruciating as other MMOs do when they handicap the combat experience. You can do it, but you had better have time. Lots and lots and lots of goddamn time. The only positive here is that any crafting or gathering gives you XP; but in all honesty, levels and XP are little more than a gateways to eventially funnel you into the crafting system.

...Or you can say "fuck it!" and use a bot, which brings us to the last nail in this coffin of a turd MMO wannabe.

Thanks to some truly sloppy coding, development and management; cheating, gold spammers and bots all but rule the economy of this game. While Trion employes the Hackshield program to deter this behavior, it is remarkably inept at doing so. Channels will be wall to wall gold buying advertisement. Bots will teleport across the map. Render themselves invisible. Craft goods and trade packs completely independent of human interaction. Auction house sniper bots. Land and housing sniper bots. Bending code to remove textures, increase viewing angles and the like for gaming advantage. All of this is, of course, a violation of the ToS, but enforcement seems to be a lax afterthought.

Long story short, the game is so porous to hacking it's not even funny as a joke.

For as much as people paid for early access to a game that never left beta, Archeage is a remarkably huge failure. The title had a 1 year head start in Korea and was still imported with all of these design problems, which should be a huge red flag in and of itself. That's not to say somebody, somewhere in AA's development process didn't try for a wild, drunken stab at MMO greatness. It has some really interesting ideas that got kicked to the curb by the sheer incompetence displayed in its execution.

I mean, look... It's not an absolutely horrible game and certainly not as bad as some. I know you're bored, but you should in no way spend money on this game. Anybody who spent over $50 for this game in early access was a sucker.  Sure, you can download and play the game, but don't make their mistake.

Archeage exists only to victimize your wallet.


GetzMango writes: Sadly and reluctantly, I arrived at this conclusion as well. It took me a bit longer to come around because I wanted the game to succeed., and basically looked the other way when things looks "odd". I'm done with Archeage, abandoned and uninstalled. I'm also DONE with F2P games and NEW games. Tue Dec 16 2014 9:39AM Report writes:
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