The launch week of ArcheAge: Unchained left me feeling like I was sailing through icy, turbulent waters, and could be pulled under at any moment by the DC Kraken. If there is a cruel Goddess of Instability, she has personally blessed this launch with her own malignant intentions. Even if you prepared weeks in advance for the unending sea of queues (some like Wynn in the upwards range of 4k), the longer your queue time, the longer you were at the mercy of the mysterious queue crash. For those still braving the waters, I would light a candle for you in solidarity...if I could. But that would take several hours of mashing my ‘F’ key in a heavily contested zone.
ArcheAge is a sandbox MMO, that holds the reins loosely when you stagger into the world, seasick and frustrated from your long queue time. Technically, you don’t have to strictly stick to gathering up every quest you see. You could immediately take off into the world and roll around in the grass picking azalea flowers if that was your heart’s desire. No judgement here.
Picking flowers is hard work too and consumes “Labor points” that regenerate gradually over time. You could use those flowers in Alchemy or trade packs later and sell them to the rest of us who suffer from the glassy-eyed stare of instant-gratification. It takes work, but you still gain a small amount of experience from everything you gather. Find those activities that make playing the game worthwhile to you, and just go for it.
In our previous article, I mentioned how much I loved sailing and exploring the world of ArcheAge. Your main story quest helps you along by giving you a busted up rowboat and an experimental glider to scratch that adventuring itch. One of my first objectives this go-around was to upgrade my experimental glider to an Ultimate Glider that would let me soar through the mountains and view the massively-hyped enhanced graphical update. It took a lot of questing and elbow grease, but I finally saved up enough Gilda to upgrade my glider. Even though ArcheAge is dated, I still find the graphics to be pleasant to look at and have had several screenshot-worthy moments while out questing in the world.
Though pleasing to look at, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what had changed with the Unchained graphical update. Not to discredit any of the hard work the designers put into overhauling textures and assets, but the changes made don’t feel drastic enough. Coming from the PTS to launch, felt like a game of Where’s Waldo when searching for any changes made to the environment. Having been all over the continent of Nuia, and parts of Haranya and Auroria, there were still zones that felt bare and lacking in a little love.
Traveling from zone to zone has been an interesting tango with death. Depending on where you are on the continent, zones can escalate to different stages of PvP and eventually progress to an “At War” stage, before cycling to a blessed hour of “Peace Time.” It can be insanely frustrating when there is an imbalance of faction members roaming around camping players and an increasing bonus to “Honor Points” to encourage the massacre.
With a new PvP change in Unchained this is somewhat alleviated with a small buff granted upon resurrecting at a Nui statue. If you’re tired of PvP, you can always climb a mountain and use your glider to fly over most of the zone with small breaks in between to avoid all of the carnage beneath you. I found myself doing this a few times when a group of hostile players kept roaming around and killing lower leveled players.
As of the Saturday land rush, a few servers can now turn the housing districts of their home continent into a glorified forest by claiming plots of land and filling them to the brim with trees. Lumber is currently a hot commodity in Unchained because it is needed to construct things like homes, ships, and farms. Though I have managed to obtain enough Gilda for the boat recipe, I have yet to construct my Adventurer’s Clipper boat because I just don’t have enough raw resources to do so.
A majority of the public farms available seem to also have farmers that are passionate about the continent’s deforestation issue and are packed tightly with cedar trees and lambs grazing peacefully below them. For players that were stuck in the queue through the land rush, they’re left with few options. Fortunately, you don’t have to have a farm to plant trees. You can do so out in the world, but risk others finding your tree farm and harvesting it for themselves. A quick warning: if you plan on stealing these trees, Unchained has increased the amount of infamy that you gain from harvesting trees planted out in the open.
Once you reach 50 infamy (easily accomplished in a few trees) you’ll be sent to a hearing with a jury full of players that decide your fate. You’ll always have people that try to give you max sentence just because-so keep that in mind if you start down a path of crime, or else you’ll spend an hour digging yourself out of prison with a rusty spoon.
There feels like a distinct lack of guidance and a few core issues that were overlooked when it comes to upgrading your new set of armor in Unchained. Throughout the vague story quests designed to give you your Explorer’s armor set, you are never explicitly told to hold onto your gear. Meanwhile, why would you not pick up the shiny new bow from the corpse of that kobold you just slaughtered? It is far too easy to toss some of the Explorer’s gear, not knowing that you needed to keep the armor and weapons so that they can be upgraded through a mind-numbingly tedious process later.
This one set of armor and weapons follows you for most of your leveling career, and requires that you empty a hefty amount of gold into its pockets to keep your hide protected out on the field. Currently, you can re-purchase these gear sets in neatly wrapped boxes at an armor vendor should you accidentally dispose of them. But, the one weapon you cannot repurchase is the bow. Additionally, if you salvage your gear with anything other than an Adventurer Evenstone, you’ll also lose your infusions and won’t be able to re-obtain them to upgrade your gear.
Despite a major issues glaring at me during this launch week, when I can manage to get into ArcheAge: Unchained I’m having a blast. There’s always something to occupy your time, be it crafting, questing, sailing, fishing, farming, and so much more. You aren’t forced to read the quest text, and are even given an option to just skip straight through to the end to collect the reward. If you have the time and aren’t in a rush, I’d highly advise that you read some of the quests, because they can be pretty entertaining.
As far as the ArchePass goes, there have been a few issues that Gamigo is looking into. An exploit was highlighted over the past few days that gave players at endgame an unfair gold advantage by changing pass tracks over and over, and they have sprung into action to implement a fix for the issue and punish those players that have abused it.
So far, earning the rewards has been a pleasant experience for me. In addition to the rewards you get for each track, you can also complete daily missions for track experience that pay out gold along with other resources. With how expensive the teleportation Hereafter stones are, it feels like I’m constantly scraping for change to jump into portals around the continent so the boost in gold definitely helps.
The next time we meet I hope to have my boat officially constructed, some input on endgame, and how we feel about ArcheAge: Unchained as a whole. Is it an improvement from the previous iteration? So far, I would absolutely say yes. There are bumps here and there, where things have been forgotten or missed from the conversion, but ArcheAge: Unchained is a ton of fun when you can manage to hop into the game.
It’s common knowledge that the first week of a game’s launch is always the worst and you can find dozens of articles reporting on ArcheAge twitter updates and the server instability. I wanted to focus this article on the game itself instead of those issues because we are all already aware of them. I could easily write 2000 words on how unstable the servers for ArcheAge: Unchained have been for the vast majority of the playerbase, but at that point it wouldn’t be a game review anymore. It would just be me ranting for a review in progress, and as I have been able to get in to play the game you deserve to know what you’re getting into on the other side of things.
Though Gamigo has already reiterated on why it isn’t possible at this point in time to issue character transfers, I think the successful implementation of that feature in the midst of all the login server issues would do wonders for boosting the community’s morale and faith in the company. And of course, fixing the grace period. This is something that should have been focused on primarily in PTS, and I would have gladly waited another week or two if it helped mediate the chaos that has run rampant this week.
Five days after launch, and the queue is still pretty awful, though it is getting better. Several of my colleagues still haven’t been able to even create a character because the servers are locked down tight, let alone participate in the land rush that happened Saturday. So many players that have characters sit in 4+ hour queues, only to be disconnected halfway through them and have to start all the way over again because Gamigo has yet to implement a grace period.
Since this is a review in progress, this article was aimed towards what I have experienced in the game this week and how a few of those changes that Unchained brought to the table were implemented. I can assuredly say before my final review that if you can’t stomach PvP, this game may not be for you. There are ways around it, but PvP is half of the fun of ArcheAge: Unchained and you’re going to encounter it in the world eventually, and pretty frequently when you do. I personally love PvP, and get a rush when in a battle with the enemy faction. ArcheAge is also at its core a social game. So if you do find yourself getting overwhelmed, chances are that folks around you are too. Form up a raid, make friends, and go defend your territory.