Getting into ArcheAge

Getting into ArcheAge

Three weeks ago the urge to play a game, any game, hit me hard. My three month old son had started sleeping a little bit better at night, so my wife and I no longer felt like unpaid extras in The Walking Dead. I opened up my various game libraries (Steam, Origin, DVDs, etc…) and walked through the titles I’d purchased. Played it. Played it. Played it. Not interested. Played it. Not interested. Played it. Nothing stood out to me, and while the call to dive back into EVE was strong, I wanted something new. I got out a pen and paper and jotted down my preferences in a new game:

  • Sandbox
  • Multiplayer
  • Open world PvP
  • Territorial claim
  • Land ownership
  • Meaningful crafting
  • Classless

Quite the list of features for a game to claim.  Surely, though, a game out there could fulfill most of those wants. Hopeful, I went to Google and started looking.

openpvpsearch

Guild Wars 2 came up for some of my searches. It is multiplayer, and has “world PvP”, territorial claim, and meaningful crafting. The territorial claim, however, is mostly useless. Capture a fort, plant your flag, have it taken away from youy in the next 30 minutes to an hour. Meh. In addition, the World vs. World PvP is contained to instanced zones that have absolutely no bearing on any of the rest of the game. Crafting was a plus historically, but relatively disregarded now that Fractal gear is “best in slot.” Finally, I’d played GW2 extensively. I had a lot of fun as a Dagger/Dagger Elementalist, but if the entire end game consists of pointless PvP, Fractal grinding, and…nothing(?), I’m not interested in going back.

senlajoke

Darkfall 2? Not interested. DAoC? Too old. Lineage 2? Too grindy. Age of Wushu? Too daunting. ArcheAge?

Now that was an option. I’d looked into ArcheAge over a year prior while the West patiently waited for its release. Sandbox? Check. Multiplayer? Check. Open world PvP? Check, check, check. Territorial claim? Not at the time, but possible with Auroria’s release. Check. Land ownership? Check. Meaningful crafting? Not at the time, but more on this in a future article. Classless? With 120 classes, ArcheAge is essentially classless. I can make the type of character what I want, with a huge degree of flexibility. Lack of flexibility is my main gripe with most classes in most games (oh CoH Peacebringer, how I pine for thee). Check.

The game is also free to play. I’m still not sure what I think about this concept, and I’m shocked that it has stuck around as much as it has. On one hand, it gives a broader audience an opportunity to take a look at the game and see if they like it. That’s a plus. On the other hand, it gives a broader audience an opportunity to take a look at the game. Let me explain:

Free-to-players have a certain mentality to them. They get in, try the content out, don’t have any established ties or buy-in to the game, and often move right along. Often back to the game they *have* spent money on. After all, they have a vested interest there. That’s then the game they measure every future game against, right or wrong. Does ArcheAge have the same amount of content as Game A? Is it more or less grindy than Game B? Does it have the same options as Game C?

When it “doesn’t measure up”, these free-to-players then speak up vocally about their dislikes. The same dislikes that they posted about the previous one, two, three, five, or ten previous free-to-play games that they tried before the most recent. There is the expectation to give them everything for free, right now, the way they want it, because they are *entitled* to it.  I could go on further, but let’s get back to the main point of this article.

ArcheAge.

That’s the game I settled on. A lengthy download later I stared at the character select screen and realized that, for the first time in a decade of gaming, I didn’t have anyone that I knew to play with. The extensive contacts that I’d made in EVE? Useless. The Guild I played my last fantasy game with? Dead. Real life friends who liked to game? Kids and lack of time.  That left me in a little bit of a bind. ArcheAge is an MMO. MMO’s are almost always better when you play with other people. I had no people to play with.

So I rolled the dice. Literally. With lots of servers to choose from, Enla came up as the winner. Another dice roll to determine faction. West. A final dice roll for race. Nuian instead of Elf. A hundred character design choices later Calligan appeared on Solzreed Peninsula.

Levels 1-10 deserve special mention here. A lot of games out there have new character introductions/experiences/tutorials. CCP does it particularly bad in EVE. ArcheAge is on the other side of the spectrum. I feel like the first 10 levels do a fantastic job of breaking a new player into what a fantasy MMO is, how to accomplish things, and the unique elements that make ArcheAge distinct. Around level 3, still in the first town, you’re given a quest to plant a tree. Farming can be a rather large part of AA for certain players. Welcome to that party at level 3. At level 5 you get access to another skill tree, no need to run back to trainers. And at level 7 you get to raise your own mount. It isn’t something you pay for. You earn it, raise it, and continue to train it as it levels alongside you. Cool.

The next 10 levels are almost as good. You get your first glider around level 12. I’d almost play AA for no other reason than gliding from one high point to another. It is an insanely awesome feature, even if it isn’t true flight. I’ll say that this does not at all compare to taking Flying as a travel power in City of Heroes, but it is the next best thing that I’ve found, especially as you upgrade your glider to the “Ultimate” model at level 20. The Blue Salt Brotherhood questline begins right around the same time, and builds upon the single tree placement we previously saw at level 3. They’ll teach you how to grow plants, raise animals, and eventually construct trade packs to take from one city to the next for a nice chunk of gold (later Gilda Stars).

I have absolutely no complaints about the game through level 30. At this point I have an 8×8 farm and one character that is logged off at that location. I’ll log him in, harvest/gather from the plants and geese I have placed there, and then log off. This is also my trader. I have another character at the Excavation Site in Dewstone Plains. Iron Ore is on a rapid respawn, and despite the competition for the nodes, I can easily burn 1,000 labor in a rapid fashion. Lots of stone for Hereafter Stones and the like, among other things. Calligan is my “main”, and is currently traversing the main storyline with an aim at getting 50 ASAP for open world PvP.

There’s a lot more to talk about with ArcheAge. The economy. Other mounts. Land ownership. Trading. Naval travel/combat. PvP. Those need articles of their own to do them justice. We’ll chat about the economy tomorrow.