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Review in Progress #4 – A Hard Lesson in Safe Trade

William Murphy Posted:
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As you might recall last week, I obtained my first real seafaring ship: the clipper. One of ArcheAge’s biggest selling points, at least in my eyes, is the crafting and trade game. There are two ways to go about it too: the safe way where you don’t have to worry about danger (but get less reward), or the dangerous way where you have to go into enemy territory (but the payoff is significantly larger). This past week, I learned the difference between the two the hard way.

You see, ArcheAge is split into three main continents. The North is mostly pirate territory, the refuge of outlaws. The west is my homeland of Nuia, and Haranya to the East (the evil, evil, dirty cat people and their vaguely Asian friends).  Yeah-yeah, I know… I’m shacked up with Elves. But I can’t help it. The Firran just aren’t my bag. If we ever get playable Dwarves, I’ll be all of that.  Anyway, as you might imagine in a game where PVP factors heavily, trade between the two nations isn’t exactly something to be done lightly.

You’ll quickly learn that trade runs done to other sides of the world are best done in groups, and preferably large ones that seem imposing and not worth the hassle (see below for an example from the forums). In any of a number of regions, you’ll find specialty workbenches to make the “local good” of that area. These trade packs are large encumbering backpacks that make you walk slowly, unable to sprint, and unable to teleport. You can however ride a donkey, a ship, or a cart (which can also carry two packs at once). These methods make you go much faster, but you still run the risk of getting attacked in areas that are at war, or on the enemy continent.

Bringing friends is always a good decision.

Mind you, this is all information I wish I would have asked about or read up on, before trying the Large Farm Blue Salt Brotherhood quest. 

The quest (for Nuia anyway) has you make a trade pack, and get it across the ocean to Haranya’s main docks. I was smart enough to wait until I had crafted my clipper to try this. I wasn’t going to row my away across the ocean and get attacked by the Kraken, after all. But here’s a hint for those not in the know: when you’re on enemy controlled territory, you’re often open to their attacks. And people are crafty enough to sit at the docks and wait for unsuspecting newbs like myself to arrive on boat (alone), kill them, and trade in the pack for themselves. Talk about a learning experience.

The good news is that if someone besides the crafter turns in the trade pack? They only get 80% of the reward, and the crafter still gets 20% sent to them. So at least the long voyage wasn’t completely for naught. However, this little lesson did make me fully understand why my guild has a creed of “If it’s red, it’s dead.” ArcheAge’s politics are simple like that: the red names are your enemy, and unlike most games of this kind you can actually get a lot of rewards out of treating them as such.

Now, there are still safe areas for players of the opposite faction to comingle, though you won’t necessarily understand each other (languages must be learned to speak across factions). But at least you can quest in peace. And for me, safety when making a trade run is important, so I’m finding ways to make simple and easy trade runs work for me. I’m more often than not running solo as I level up in AA. Unless there’s a raid on a war-time location, or someone needs help, I’m liable to be found farming, exploring, and questing. Being alone in a bad place can get you killed, and with a trade pack on your back, it can cause a lot of frustration.

This farm cart has room for four trade packs – four!

Now I go from one end of the bay on Nuia to the other, avoiding hostiles, and in about 20 minutes per run, I’m earning an easy guaranteed six gold. Soon, I’ll begin working on my farm cart, so I can take two packs, and perhaps instead of taking the boat, I’ll start getting risky and drive my goods to Cinderstone or Hellswamp. But if that time comes, I’ll be sure to take some friends.

I’ve now spent over 50 hours in ArcheAge since launch. Not just queueing either, you smartasses. And yet I’m still level 32, and I’m still finding more and more stuff I can do in the game. I haven’t even cracked into the justice system and the jury, though I’m keen to that’s for sure. I’m also still looking for a place to drop my house and large farm, but until Trion gets the bots under control, I’ve mostly given up hope. So for now, I’ll keep working on level 50, and I’ll keep sailing my boat, learning to fish, and working on getting my farm cart.

ArcheAge is an odd kind of game. The questing and combat can be very bland and same-feeling, the performance (even on a high end machine) is often spotty, and the bots with their land-mongering are really getting old.  More than that, it's clear that building up your crafting and making yourself the best items in the game will be more about the grind and RNG than any skill. Check out this video by Fevir for a great explanation of just how insane the top tier crafting is. But the promise of logging in, finding something I want to do that’s off the beaten path, and achieving it is what keeps me coming back.

When I want stories, questing, or better combat, I turn to games like ESO, WildStar, or yes even WoW.  Those games are great examples of solid themepark experiences. Meanwhile, though the themepark sides of ArcheAge could use some work, the sandbox crafting and trade and PVP elements are so deep and foster such teamwork and interaction - it’s just a good and solid unique MMO experience. I’m headed on vacation next week, so we’ll be back with the next Review in Progress a bit later in October. Hopefully, by the time I get back to real life, my fake life character won’t have to be homeless anymore.


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.