I did a speed review of ArcheAge last August, during the final hours of open beta, and I was unimpressed. Curious if things had improved, I installed it again in early June. It’s providing me some hours of mindless entertainment while I heal and I thought I should reexamine that review. Below is my character Tsofia at level 32. Because I’m a solitary player who hates PvP, my approach to this game won’t be the same as many others.
In my first review, I liked the avatar customization system and that’s still true. There are a nice variety of options in the initial setup, allowing me to have a white-haired character with half her head shaved, a big scar down the center of her face, and purple eyes and lips. Body shape is not variable and all of the female faces are Asian, but that’s not a big deal.
I continue to be unimpressed with the graphics. On my gaming laptop, I normally play ArcheAge with most graphic options set to High; there is a Very High setting above and several lower. I checked out the higher setting and things still looked flat, but High allows me to play for about an hour without overheating and yet be able to distinguish plants I need to gather from the surrounding environment. Things look nice enough. There’s just none of the “OMG wow!!” I’ve had while playing an MMORPG like TERA or wandering excellent builds in Second Life. Perhaps it’s a stylistic choice by the designers.
On the other hand, I’m impressed by the simple design of the armor my character is wearing. She is of the Nuian race and wears plate armor, which looks very much like the male equivalent except for some curves. No metal bikini! Of course, many of the female costumes available from the marketplace or special events are the usual blend of sexy/cutesy crap that I’ve grown used to in Asian MMORPGs, but those are an optional part of gameplay. If you want to run around tending your crops and killing slime monsters in a French maid costume, have fun! I’m simply appreciative that revealing outfits aren’t forced on everyone who wants a female avatar.
Transportation systems are varied and quite nice in ArcheAge. As you level, you’re given a mount (for my race, it’s a horse), as well as a rowboat and a starter glider, pictured below. Having all three of those available can provide some nice options. Don’t want to fight your way back out of an area after you’ve achieved an objective? Climb up something high and jump onto your glider, soaring over the heads of your enemies. The mount levels with use, can wear armor, and will provide some defense against attacks when you’re riding. In addition, you can teleport between save points, ride carts on the roads, or take airships. I haven’t explored sea travel yet. Navigation was a problem for me in the beta and sometimes it still feels clumsy — I suck at rowing my boat — but it’s generally smooth.
I like the variety of character classes available in ArcheAge. There are 120, I think. Rather than choosing a class and then acquiring skills within that class, you choose skillsets that will then determine your class. Tsofia is an Argent; a healing, magic-using class that also has the Battlerage skillset, so she can wear plate armor and use a two-handed greatclub as a weapon. Since I’m a solo player, I’m not focusing on the party support skills available to her, but there are quite a few. She’s not squishy, can heal herself and her pets (mount and battle pet, a wolf hound), and can switch between physical and magical attacks based on the enemy. Those are all useful for soloing. This is very different from the initial levels I played in beta, where I was always running and dying. This character has only died once, when I stumbled into a group of monsters five levels higher than me and was attacked by several simultaneously.
When I first heard about ArcheAge, I was attracted to the idea of an open world where I could play through crafting, gathering, or farming rather than just being a warrior. I’m enjoying that now, though that approach is limited by Labor Points. I hate Labor Points. Like you would use Mana Points to cast a spell, you use Labor Points whenever you perform many actions, from opening a coinpurse looted from a dead monster to mining iron ore to making a healing potion. It’s easy to run out of Labor Points if you are a non-paying player, because they refill slowly only when you’re online. Paying $15/month for Patron level is probably worth it if you want to be a tradesperson or farmer, because you’re given a higher limit, a faster refill, and your points continue to refill when you’re signed off. I’ve been focusing on mining and metalwork and I burn through my points in no time flat.
Usually when I first play through a game, I watch the cut scenes and follow the lore. If nothing else, I’m curious about what the game writers and designers intended the world to be, before I go off and play however I want regardless of that intention. Right now with the pain and tiredness I’m experiencing, I don’t have the patience for those, so I’ve been skipping them and can’t comment. I’m sure they’re all fascinating.
To take a derogatory term and make it my own, I’m a carebear. I hate PvP (player vs player) battles, which could make the next levels of ArcheAge a pain in the ass. Except for your own race’s starter area, up to level 30 or so, all of ArcheAge is PvP. Though there are no PvE (player vs environment) servers, there are times of each day where a region is at peace. When that happens, PvP is not permitted. I’m still working my way through lower level quests, but I’m collecting more and more that will force me out of the safe zones. I’m not sure what I’ll do. If my play time happens to align with the armistice, I’ll do my quests. Nothing is stopping me from staying in the safe zone, mining and crafting and exploring, though I expect that will get boring. I chose the least active server on purpose and maybe the PvP areas won’t be so bad. We’ll see.