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William Murphy Posted:
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Picture it: a world of limitless potential.  The world of ArcheAge. You can go anywhere and be anything you wish.  Of course, you’re still the “chosen hero” of your people, but you break out on your own after putting up with a few meaningless chores from your village elders.  Soon, you learn what it takes to have your own farm, and after seeking a plot of land to call your own for what seems ages, you find a tiny little nook nestled between the overcrowded hills of Lilyut.  You hear that others have been having a miserable time finding any land that’s sanctioned for farming or living, but you found this spot, it’s yours. 

You begin to till the land, finding out what the Blue Salt Brotherhood (a guild of farmers) needs and where they need it delivered. Sure, you could be focusing instead on the needs of the people and the rumors of a war fast approaching… but where’s the fun in that? You could do that in any world, where everyone is always the hero.  You’ll get to that heroic stuff, but not until your own little farming cottage is set up, and you preferably have a place by the sea… farming to make a living, hunting for glory.

That’s the dream, anyway.

The reality is that you have a tiny little farm in the middle of a hundred unfinished houses claimed by people who may or may not actually wind up using them. Your friends can’t find land anywhere, so their scarecrows sit in their packs waiting for either someone to sell some land or give up on paying its taxes. The land rush for ArcheAge on Friday the 12th was, in a word, rushed. Guilds had been planning their strategies to grab housing plots as soon as they could for weeks, if not months in the Alpha. With thousands of founders sprinting onto the handful of Head Start servers, I think we all expected a mad dash to grab land. But what we didn’t expect was to find all that land (minus a few unlikely plots) taken within four hours of the Head Start beginning.

Definitely a few kinks to iron out at Trion Worlds.

Not enough servers must be blamed over not enough land, but I don’t envy Trion’s position here. If they open up too many servers at launch, they risk having empty servers down the road which is absolutely the worst thing for a game like ArcheAge.  So instead, we have jam-packed servers that will calm down in a couple of weeks, and hopefully by then land will be easier to come by. It would be nice to see housing areas no so ridiculously littered with tiny unfinished houses. No one has any “yard space” right now, and thank God that unfinished houses can be cleared should they become abandoned.

But the real trouble of the weekend wasn’t just the land rush and lack of server space. Throughout most of Saturday, Trion suffered from a DDOS attack that prevented players from logging into ArcheAge and all Trion games for most of the day. Add to this the 2,000+ Patron queues at primetime, the issue that many Patrons had of their status not queuing them correctly, and the widespread crashing to desktop that puts people back into queues… and you get an idea of why the official ArcheAge forums are a hot mess of complaints right now.

I’ve suffered through the long weekend of queues, crashes, re-queues, lack of land space, and I’m not much looking forward to Tuesday and the swell of free-to-play folks.  Queues for Patrons will be long still, and queues for free folks will arise as well.  But what’s going to be worse on most servers is the hunting and questing.  ArcheAge’s combat and PVE is a bit archaic these days, and is missing out on open mob tagging that makes seamless social play in games like WildStar and Guild Wars 2 possible. The good thing is that most people are quick to create groups and even raids in areas where a single NPC must be killed.  I hope this continues into the full launch. It’s not uncommon to see people lining up to use an object for a quest, either.

Any game that makes me want to ride a donkey, has my attention.

We’ll get more into crafting, farming, and other systems over the next few weeks leading up to our final review. But if you’ve not really looked into ArcheAge yet, and are thinking about giving it a try I’d recommend going into the game with the knowledge that questing is basic and rote. The story is actually a decent one, but the true wonder of Jake Song’s new MMO is in the economy, self-policing juries, pirating, and exploration.  There are a lot of quests, dungeons, and PVE to do, but you’re going to find them familiar and common. For me, they’re what I do to progress the narrative, when I’m not busy carving out a life for my character. If instead you can stop thinking only about the “path to endgame” and focus on the world you inhabit and how you fit into it, then you’re on the right track.

The story’s pretty good stuff though, even if it’s not presented with the most AAA flash and pizazz. The game’s based on Korean writer Min-Hee Jeon’s Akkiage series.  The storyline you play through is one he crafted, and continues to work on with XLGAMES. He’s what you might refer to as the Korean Tolkien, and there’s a depth of lore here that’s not to be overlooked. In a few simple hand-drawn sequences, I’ve learned more about the world of ArcheAge than I have in all the lavish in-game scenes of the 500 million dollar Destiny.

There’s a lot to chew on in Trion’s latest release, so we’re going to really dive in as deep as we can over the next several weeks. In the meantime, let’s hope the server issues get ironed out, the land issue settles, and that sooner or later I can get my own ship and do some sailing. Look for me on Ollo, a Nuian named Begud. 


William Murphy

Bill is the former 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.