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Is the Sand Leaving the Box?

Jeffrey Lerman Posted:
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XL Games has been calling their MMORPG title ArcheAge a sandpark for quite a while now, a mixture of a themepark and a sandbox game. While it has released in Korea and Japan, it's currently on its way to North America and Europe. Judging by the preview William Murphy wrote after speaking with Trion Worlds CEO, Scott Hartsman, one would assume it's certainly a sandpark game. You've got trading along the vast seas, 120 different class combinations, castle sieging, housing, and more allowing for players to really leave their impact on the world. But wait a second, let's take a look at a recent update to the Korean version that has some people not quite so happy!

Under the reign of Jake Song, the CEO of XLGAMES, ArcheAge has been certainly following the path of a sandpark game which sounded pretty awesome. Unfortunately, this didn't last forever as it slowly kept getting patches leaning toward park instead of sand. The recent update 1.0 that has arrived in Korea has been very controversial for players of all regions. It's led to a substantial drop in players, less emphasis on PvP, some iffy Pay to Win options, and a lot of grinding! Fortunately Trion Worlds will be able to put their own spin on ArcheAge to a certain extent, but there are still issues you'll want to acknowledge.

To Revert, or Not to Revert

Let's start with the in-game cash shop issue currently raising a lot of heat. The cash shop contains costume sets that provide stat bonuses near the strength of a Tier 2 or Tier 3 set. You can also purchase a stealth mount known to be the fastest in the game as long as you have the money to dish out. There's only one PvP mount equally as fast as this mount that you can acquire. That's not all of course: players can purchase labor point potions that will give you 1000 labor points without a cool down. So if you've got a bank full of money, you can get just about any non-combat act complete. In ArcheAge you need labor points to perform tasks such as gathering harvests, building ships, planting trees, and so forth. As opposed to purchasing labor points, players have to wait for more. In addition to adding the labor point potions, they also raised the amount of labor points required for sustaining your land. This only makes it tougher for those playing without dropping down money! While these additions are always great for the player that doesn't have enough time to play but has money to spend, it's not the best route to go. ArcheAge should focus less on giving others the ability to pay their way to the top.

The 1.0 update also puts emphasis on doing daily quests and grinding instances. You'll have to spend weeks to get the necessary blueprints you need to craft say a ship for example. There's no alternative way to get those blueprints aside from doing the daily quest every single day.

What's unfortunate about it all is that the 1.0 update brings plenty of content that players aren't asking for. While developers can't always adhere to feedback from their audience, they should at least fulfill their previous promises. It may be a new race, new sea content, or even new northern continent zones. Instead Russian players are losing sight of what was supposed to be partially a sandbox title and now primarily is becoming a themepark. 'EDIT: I'm now aware castle sieging is in the game but in a poor state. Castle sieging takes place every three weeks and generally the guild owning their castle just purchases the "attacking rights" to their own castle leading to nobody being able to attack them. Although when battles of 100 versus 100 take place, they're chaotic and frantic.' Slowly but surely XL Games has been adding PvE content, new instances to grind, and a whole lot of not PvP. If you were intending on playing ArcheAge for the story or to explore, they've stopped focusing as much on that. 

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Jeffrey Lerman