Controversial for charging players after stating that future content would be free with the one-time purchase of ArcheAge: Unchained, and then for the last minute change to the fresh-start access being given to Silver Pack players as well as those who paid a $20 premium for the Gold Packs for access, Garden of the Gods hits today. Gamigo were able to give us a quick tour of the new zone as well as some of the background players can look forward to when they start their adventure in the Garden.
Nestled in the Navel of the World, the Garden of the Gods is a new zone offering a wealth of content for players to tackle. After taking a walk down what was seemingly and endless stair (RE: I jumped down to blood port to the bottom), I was met by an interesting gravesite. ArcheAge’s CM Cosmo mentioned that this grave was significant as it was one of the original members of The Expedition that first came down here to the Garden that is buried there – Naima. The Garden of the Gods is steeped in years of storytelling, with PM Lars Maassen telling me that this DLC is the continuation of six years of story threads.
As I entered the actual Garden of the Gods, I found myself in a small antechamber, with one path leading to a chamber with a rather important NPC, Kyprosa who was also one of The Expedition and now guards the hall, while the other leads to a room with multiple gates which lead to the Garden proper. The Gatekeeper Hall, as this is called, is a staging ground for you and your groupmates to decide where in the Garden you’d like to start your adventure.
The doors in the gateroom were adorned with the different seasons, each one representing a different area of the Garden itself. One brought me to a snowy landscape, while another takes you to a autumnal setting. There are more seasons and environments, such as the subarctic and tropical – even a desert area called the Delphinad Mirage where the world boss Anthalon has his domain. These areas are all part of the same zone, and the Gates offer a fast way to travel between the different regions of the Garden of the Gods itself.
As for what you’ll do in the Garden, the new ArcheAge DLC sporting 59 new story quests to complete in the new content. Additionally, the Garden of the Gods isn’t just a PvE zone, but also takes part in the PvP battles that can rage in ArcheAge. What makes the Garden unique is that it’s entirely instanced and cross server. All three factions can be present in the Garden, and while you might be fighting someone from a different server, that doesn’t actually mean they would be from a different faction (i.e. Nuians can fight Nuians from other servers).
The Garden itself runs on a timer with one hour of peace, 10 minutes of conflict and another hour of all out war. The Garden is already full of enemies – during my tour you couldn’t take a step without stumbling on a fox or some other beast ready to rip my head off – and you’ll need to keep aware of the beasts around you and not just the players that are out for the hunt. This also means that while everything is hostile, according to Maassen, everything is also granting honor in the Garden.
Maassen also mentioned that the spawns during these times are meant to be tough, and it makes sense. ArcheAge’s Garden of the Gods is meant to be endgame content with players sporting upper gearscores. This content is best tackled in a group – otherwise you might find yourself at the wrong end of a monster’s claw or a player’s blade if you’re not careful.
While traveling around the Garden itself, I was intrigued by the design. I like the idea of these contained biomes all feeding into each other. It did give the whole landscape and otherworldly feel, which I’m sure the team was going for. For long-standing ArcheAge players, there is a ton of lore here to uncover – especially if you’ve been following the story for the past six years.
Hearing Cosmo talk about the lore did make me want to go deeper myself – I’m a lore junkie in most games I play, and Garden of the Gods is definitely steeped in it. The story of The Expedition and its members, even the story of the large Raid Boss Anthalon caught my attention, he’s the biggest, baddest Necromancer to ever rule – Cosmo literally said he’s “invincible for all intents and purposes.” The team actually had players on the PTS try their hand at beating him – 97% failed. Anthalon is set to be one rough fight for those who decide to take him on. What’s more interesting is what makes Anthalon tick – but that might be a spoiler for another day.
There are other bosses as well, according to Maassen, and these bosses can drop some pretty nice gear – equipment that can be Awakened with the new update. If you manage to take down Anthalon, you might be lucky and find a piece of his own armor, Maassen mentioned. There are also plenty of daily quests to take part within the Garden itself, for those looking to grind their way to the top.
The Tour ended with us taking a look at Anthalon himself, seeing to absorb the Delphinad Mirage himself. It was a cool looking spectacle for sure, and it’ll be interesting to see how players fare against him, and the rest of the content as the Garden of the Gods opens up today.