Last week Phil and I, after much discussion, decided to spring for the ArcheAge founders packs and have been playing the alpha ever since. My initial impression was that I was having a lot more fun than I anticipated and my second thought was “Dear lord, this game is going to be SO addictive.” I’ve been playing MMOs since vanilla WoW and have played most of the main titles with the exception of Elder Scrolls Online and I have to say…it’s been a very long time since I’ve been antsy waiting for the day to end so that I could play. ArcheAge makes me feel that way.
To begin with, character creation has a lot of options for creating unique faces. There are age options that mean you can look as old as you want, which is a massive relief after the teenage doll-like prettiness of games like Guild Wars 2. The aged options actually look good, unlike other games where all faces were young except for the one cronelike and ugly skin that no one ever chose. Although there are no dark skin options, which I find disappointing as that is what I normally play, everything else is highly configurable and there are some very nice hairstyles.
Body options are strangely missing, but I hope they are added at a later date. It would be odd to have so many options to customise a face and no height sliders or body sliders.
Similar to the system in FFXIV, there are an enormous amount of class combinations that you can choose and build on. Also like FFXIV you have to level up the skill trees separately, so even though one character can learn everything eventually, you’ll find that it is probably easier to level up alts so that you have quests to help you level.
I tried a mage archetype when I started and it was okay. Healer I hated, although perhaps it gets better later on. It just seemed like so much work to kill anything. Warrior was a blast and was highly effective along with being very survivable. In the end I fell in love with Archery as a basic class, pairing it with Shadowplay, and will probably finish off with Sorcery.
Here is where you get into the really addictive part of the game. Now I’m someone who tends to sneer at people who play casual/social games such as Farmville. I’m a real gamer, damn it. But gods help me if I don’t find myself logging in to this game in the morning and at lunch to manage my damned farm. I raise animals and crops, harvest and slaughter, and yearn for more space to do it in.
It dawned on me that Trion could make a lot of money by developing an mobile app for Patron players only (people who actually sub to the game) that would allow them to log and manage their farms. Here you go, a gift from me to you, Trion, because I’ve always liked and respected you and because Rift has such a good cash shop. Here is an app that will print money for the company, and you’re welcome to it. :D
Things I Love
There is so much that I love about this game and some of it is difficult to put into words. Blizzard has always acknowledged that there was an indefinable something about Warcraft that made it special, and they were quite wary about making the type of changes that would negatively impact that. I think ArcheAge has the potential to have that something that makes it enjoyable just to be in their world, no matter what you happen to be doing.
The game is beautiful, although the graphics are a little less stunning than I’d anticipated from screenshots and video that I’d seen. Characters are incredibly detailed in character creation, but a bit flatter and smoother in game. Hopefully this is something that will change, but if not it is still very beautiful.
Boats, ships and combat on the high seas are something that I’ll write about at a later time – but both Phil and I are very much looking forward to this element of the game.
One of the things that I love most is that it isn’t a raid endgame type of MMO, and thank all the gods for that! No rushing to level cap to keep a raid spot, no pressure to race to the end. Just having fun doing everything because the emphasis is on the journey, not the destination. That, more than anything, is what I’m happiest about. Yeah, I’ve turned into a big ol’ casual. So sue me. :)
My main concerns at this point all have to do with the community. Open world pvp can be a lot of fun, if you’re into that type of thing, or it can be horrible if you’re being griefed by a higher-level player, corpse camped, etc. Sometimes I just want to dink around and do quests and not be bothered. It all depends on the community…and this one is worrisome.
We’ve wondered how so many kids came up with the $150 for alpha access. They’re obiviously kids, or at least incredibly immature in that 12-14 year old CoD way. I still have faction chat on (although Phil has turned his off) and there are so many nasty little shits calling people gay or faggot, or talking about raping people. Trion really, really needs to have a report function even at this stage because it is incredibly unpleasant and will turn people off the game. One wonders why they aren’t playing LoL or something like Darkfall, where not only can you kill other players and strip them of their stuff, you can also do really unpleasant things like slaughter their mounts. I suppose they prefer easily targets in games such as this where a lot of pve-types are just trying to enjoy themselves.
I think that this is one of those games where having the right guild will be imperative. Not only will there be a lot of things that you will only be able to experience with a guild, having friends at your back will mean the difference between having fun and having some prepubescent asshat ruin your night.
All in all, I’m really loving this game. Bring on launch!