ArcheAge is a big game. How big? Very big. It is a unique experiment in terms of how it compares to most other MMOGs. It is an open world sandbox where players can do everything from own land in the actual game world, to build and crew ships at sea, to serving as jurors for a trial against another player that has committed crimes in the in-game world. You can own and operate farms, both legally protected and rogue farms. You can fly with gliders. You can climb the tallest mountains in the game with enough effort if you so choose, but good luck getting back down safely.
This is in stark contrast to how other Massively Multiplayer Online Games operate, with highly scripted content for the player to slog through. Sure, that exists too, but it isn’t the main focus of the game. It could be argued that the main focus of the game is player-created content in the form of PVP, both on land and at sea. The game actively encourages players to go out into the world and actually take on roles in the game that might otherwise be relegated to NPC tasks, or hidden away fully. In this review, I will briefly touch on each aspect of the game. I won’t go in depth into it, because it is far too large to do so in any reasonable length. ArcheAge is developed in Korea by development studio XL Games. Published in the United States and Europe by Trion Worlds, there are other servers in other areas of the world, most notably in Russia and China, as well.
Combat in ArcheAge is fluid, and is similar to how other MMOs use spells and abilities by different classes. The specific difference with ArcheAge is that there are a group of disciplines that the player can pick from, and can pick from a total of three at any one point in time. Doing the maths, it pans out into there being 120 different classes that can be built from these disciplines, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and styles. Likewise, any class can wear any kind of the three kinds of armor in the game: Cloth, Leather and Plate. The same goes for weapons, anyone can equip any kind of weapon, although it may not be suitable for your chosen role, there is no inherent mechanic preventing you from picking something up and wielding any weapon that you come across, outside of level requirements.
Which brings me to the next topic…
Leveling and progression
Korean games are known to have a reputation for being grindy. This business model works very well in Korea, but does not so much in the west. To its credit, it has translated well to the United States, and leveling to max level is not so much of a grind. It is actually a fairly enjoyable experience. The story is well told, and although the cut-scenes are mostly filled with artwork instead of CGI or in-game footage, it holds its own on its own merits. NPC interaction does not come with voice overs, at all, as it does in other games. The questing experience is fluid and easy, with the map and other parts of the UI being helpful in pointing out where you need to go.
Crafting is the one part of the game that lives up to the reputation of Korean games having a big grind. It does not, however, do so to its detriment. There are twenty one different professions available to the player in the game. You can take two up to the maximum level of rank 6. You can take another three up to rank 5, four up to rank 4, five up to rank 3, six up to rank 2, and the final seven can be maxed out at the first rank. The one resource this is all dependent on is called Labor Points. They are different from experience points and regenerate naturally over time at a set pace, depending on if you are a subscriber or not. One labor point spent in your chosen profession equals roughly one point in your chosen profession’s advancement. All of the professions are neatly intertwined and rely on one another to progress and to thrive, so being apart of a group is again highly encouraged.
If you are into PVP combat in most other games, you need to understand that while AA does have some arenas for fighting, none of them are instanced, and all fighting goes on in the open world. This means that your guild can be fighting another in a city, and they might very well bring reinforcements through that city’s port on boats. There are no limits to the amount of people that you can bring to a PVP fight, only those that you can manage to get to follow you, and transport from one place to another. In the open ocean, there are no restrictions on if you can attack another player or not. Everyone is free game to everyone else.
The very act of setting foot into the ocean on a boat is openly saying you consent to PVP combat. This makes doing trade pack runs into other ports of call very risky, but also very profitable for crafters. Likewise, if you want to be a pirate, this is also available to you. If, however, you get caught, you can be sent to trial, and sentenced to prison. In theory, if you commit enough crimes, there is no limit to the amount of time you can be sentenced to. The good news, is that you can also escape prison.
As I said, you can own land in the game world… if you can find space for it. If you can’t, and you wish to farm, your other option is to simply find a good hiding spot and plant your crops away from where other players are. Keep in mind that this does not give you the same protection of what a farm does – other players are not only able to harvest your crops if you don’t do it first, they can also prematurely uproot them – effectively stealing them. For certain crops, there are underwater farms, called Aquafarms. The main point of owning land, however, is building your home in the world. There are many designs available in-game. You can buy them with a currency called Gilda Stars which are obtained from certain quests.
Boats in the game currently come in four flavors, each with a distinctive purpose: fishing boats, harpoon catamarans, galleons and merchant ships. The first are self descriptive, and by their name, it should be obvious that you use them to fish, and that they have a fishing hold. Harpoon Catamarans are small, quick boats with a harpoon on the front along with a shoulder fired version also available. Galleons are the closest thing currently to a battleship type of vessel, and are considered to be the ‘big guns’. Merchant ships are the ships that are ideal for use in running cargo through the various trade routes in the game. They are, however, unarmed and unarmored, and should be escorted.
All in all, the game encourages player to gather into large groups, and in turn large communities are built. The game itself certainly stands by its ‘massive’ designation as an MMO. I should note that it is possible to cross from one side of the world to the other, without ever seeing a loading screen if you so choose. I am certainly having fun with this title, and I am very glad that it finally got translated over from Korea. The only things holding it back from a better score would be limited land for more people to use for farming or for their homes, and a few minor issues with some of the above systems. Those problems may very well be improved on over the course of the game’s life.
The good thing about it is that it is free, so you can try it before purchasing.
You can find it on Trion’s website here
Final Score? In my opinion, it deserves a solid 94. This is my opinion, and while you may disagree, it does deserve at least one play through to see if you like it or not.