ArcheAge is a fantasy MMO that has been quietly running in Korea for a while and launches worldwide today. ArcheAge is free to play with some paid for elements, but they are limited and not required for progression. I have been playing in the betas for a while and generally have a good impression of the game.
ArcheAge’s accessibility is very similar to most MMOs – very customisable controls and graphics, and a great deal of complexity. The graphics are of a generally high standard but with all the normal flash and explosions that the genre offers. At the moment it is not possible to run add-ons but developer Trion has said that they are actively considering it as part of the first expansion.
Unlike many MMOs the game is not region locked – you can pick whichever server in North America or Europe that you wish to use. If you want to play on a US server but live in Europe you can do so, although you would probably have more latency issues. Once you have picked a server you are locked into it. Your character will remain there and all its interactions will be with that servers users so pick carefully and make sure that any friends you want to play with pick the same server as well.
So what makes ArcheAge different from other games in the genre?
- It uses a ‘labor system’ which is a energy that fuels all non-combat actions such as crafting, farming and gathering. These labor points replenish in real time but slower than you can use them in game. This is not a problem most of the time but will slow down hard core players.
- Skills, talents and abilities are fairly MMO standard but do not all have to be chosen right away – you spend your points as you level up and can select a tree as you go along. It feels like every character is a WOW Druid like – able to do most things if you spec them right. Skill trees can be respecced for a small in game cost.
- Characters are not automatically balanced. In most MMOs a fully levelled character in good gear will do a similar amount of damage, threat or healing. In ArcheAge the consequence of the flexibility of skill trees is that you can create a character that is not balanced. If you stack completely offensive you can end up with an insane amount of damage but die at the first hit you take. It also makes it possible to create an entire support character than can do almost no damage themselves.
- Vehicles and openness. The character gets a basic glider very early on in game and this turns out to be surprisingly fun to use. Later on there is a huge variety of water and air going vehicles that give a surprising amount of flexibility.
- There are no load-screens and no closed off areas – if you can see a piece of scenery you can get to it.
ArcheAge is not a game that emphasises end of game raiding but instead is looking to build a community with all the niches of a fantasy community filled. It looks a very promising and mature MMO and if you are searching for a new place to play might be for you. Massively is doing a diary of their impressions and in game highlights here and it seems a very good place to get a feel for how the launch and game is progressing.