ArcheAge preview: Ambition that tosses everything we know about MMOs out the door
ArcheAge has been my radar since E3 2013. Now, it’s finally making its way over to North America. So when the alpha build fell into my lap, I had no other choice than to give it a whirl. With that said, I’ve only made it to level 18 thus far on my adventure, so I can’t speak of housing, building, piracy, and other mid-end game themes. Thankfully, that still leaves me with plenty to talk about.
From the very moment you start creating your character, you are overwhelmed with choices. While having four races to choose from may not blow your skirt up, each has their own starting area and language. Yeah, I said language. As you level you get points to distribute in additional languages. While you can’t alter character height or body dimensions, there are a slew of facial features, hair styles, and colors for you to go to town on.
Your class choices out of the gate offer six of the six of the ten classes. Whaaat, you ask? This is all part of my favorite aspect of the game thus far – making your own class. You start with one of those six classes, but the other five plus four others become available to you later on, giving you a total of ten classes.
Think of each class as an ability tree. With three classes, you have three trees. These three classes give you the name of your character’s overall class. For example, when I combined an Occultist, Songcraft, and a Witch, I was a ‘Tombcaller.’ When I switched out Witch for Vitalism I became a ‘Song of Sorrow.’ All the combinations are so f@#$ing rad to me.
Like most MMOs you start off talking to people with yellow exclamation marks and completing basic quests. Pretty standard. They then mix things up by adding in green exclamation mark quests. These quests are for your race only. This adds a bit more flare to your overall experience; especially if you’re someone who loves their alts.
The first few levels feel quite bland and no different than any other tag-targeting experience. You can hold down certain abilities to use over and over without the need to spam the 1 key. As an Occultist, that was extremely useful. Every few levels you get a skill point that you can put in either of your three trees, allowing you to choose which skill becomes dominate.
The trick here is to look at all the trees and seeing where your synergies lie. THIS is where the games starts to stand out. For example, I could stun with Songcraft, increase my crit with the next Songcraft ability and fear, and have my next Occult spell would slow them down. The combo system is beautiful. You don’t design your own combos, but you can piece them together to fit your needs.
Early in the game you’ll get a horse that you can level by riding or just having it follow you around. Thus far, it can’t fight on its own, but the buttons are there. At horse level 10, I got barding and gained the ability to melee while riding (which I don’t because I’m a sissy caster – but it's pretty sweet that it exists). I know animals can eventually carry materials for you but my horse can’t do that yet.
The labor system is also interesting. Every five minutes you get more labor points until it maxes out. Every time you gather a material or build, you use labor points. Early in the game, you’ll have more than you’ll know what to do with. Also, these points gather offline, so yeah, infinite.
That said, I think building and crating will take up a good chunk of these points later. I haven’t experienced it yet, though. Crafting looks somewhat complicated, and I have yet to figure out how to really get it started. I found the places to do it, but I can’t make anything yet.
Thus far, my experience has been fairly normal. However, I see the systems in place in the game which will really make it stand out mid-late game. I just have to get there – and believe me, I want to get there. The building, crafting, and overall experience really look to take off a bit further down the road.
Just exploring the world leaves you with a sense of wanderlust. One of my greatest experiences was when the shadow of an airship soared over my head while I was standing on a hill. I have NO idea what it was all about, but it was pretty rad. There are also a whole lot of political things going on that I don’t understand yet; so and so faction or region has gone to war with one another.
I’m sure I’ll write more as I experience more.