Lost Continent: ArcheAge Revelation’s fresh start servers aren’t doing newbies any favors

It’s been over a month now since ArcheAge’s massive update 3.0 went live, adding oodles of new content to Trion’s expansive fantasy sandbox. The update, dubbed Revelation, is indeed monumental: It introduces two new races, the Dwarves and the Warborn—who join the Nuia and Harnya, respectively—and new starting zones for each; two massive new housing zones (one for each continent); new housing and social features such as housing-zone community centers and an overhauled family system; and an absolutely ludicrous number of adjustments and changes to almost all of the game’s existing systems.

On top of all the new content, Revelation also brought another new feature to ArcheAge’s proverbial table: brand-new “fresh start” servers, which are limited to players whose accounts were created on or after December 8th, 2016, and feature a modified version of the in-game cash shop that aims to limit the much-decried pay-to-win aspects of the game.

As someone who has always wanted to like ArcheAge but just couldn’t get past the pay-to-win stigma and the domination of the legacy servers by established players and guilds, I was intrigued by the prospect of starting the game with a blank slate, so I joined the flock of fellow fresh-starters to see if the experience might erase my former misgivings.

Let’s get one thing out of the way up-front: Yes, the launch of 3.0 was a trainwreck. And yes, I had initially typed out a long, bewildered, multi-paragraph diatribe musing about how Trion, an experienced MMO developer and publisher, could possibly botch things so badly. But that’s old hat by now, and anyone who’s interested in reading about all the ways Revelation’s launch went sideways (a long list, to be sure) has already done so. Needless to say, however, the first week or so of the update’s release was not particularly optimism-inspiring.

Once I did manage to get into the game, I first decided to check out the newly introduced Dwarf and Warborn races, each of which has its own unique starting zone(s) designed to take new characters up to level 30, at which point they will join the other races of their respective factions in the contested neutral zones.

New Dwarf characters wake up in the lovely alpine vale of Aubre Cradle with no memory of how they got there, natch. The storyline quests throughout Aubre Cradle and the follow-up zone Airain Rock—home to the Dwarven capital of Andelph—focus on solving the mystery of your lost memories and the circumstances of your sudden appearance. Time travel may be involved.

Warborn characters, meanwhile, begin their journeys in a flashback to an event known as the Ezna Massacre, where hordes of Warborn under the thrall of the Demon Queen Orchidna descended upon the Nuian town of Ezna and slaughtered its inhabitants. After completing this sequence, which is revealed to have been a nightmare, characters are released into the present-day Sunbite Wilds, where the Warborn have been pressed into a rather uncomfortable sort of colonial servitude by the Harani, who have implanted the Warborn with technomagical “mood stabilizers” to prevent them from succumbing to the violent impulses of their corrupted blood. Throughout their journeys through Sunbite Wilds, Warborn characters attempt to throw off the yoke of their Harani subjugators and come to terms with the sins of their pasts.

All in all, the new starting zones aren’t anything to write home about, but the arid, red-sandstone canyons of Sunbite and the snowy, evergreen-covered mountains of Aubre Cradle are gorgeously crafted, and I had to take some time every now and then to just take in the sights. It may just be me, but I felt like the trek from level 1 to level 30 was much quicker in these new starting zones than it ever was in the base game, but that could just be a flawed memory on my part.

While the new races and the new zones that accompanied them were certainly of significant interest to me when I hopped back into the game, the real draw for me was the server itself. The first time I played ArcheAge was well after the game’s launch, and by the time I got there, I felt hopelessly behind the curve. One of the game’s main draws for me was (and still is) its robust player-housing system, but back then, it was borderline impossible to find a plot of land even big enough for my basic farm.

By the time I had managed to accrue the materials necessary to build an actual house, I couldn’t find a single plot of land on which to build it. I spent some weeks trying to snatch up plots that had been foreclosed upon due to lapses in the owners’ tax payments and bargaining with other players to purchase their lots, but after continual failures on both fronts, I gave up on my dream of having even so much as a tiny hut to call my own, and shortly thereafter I gave up on the game entirely.

So of course the notion of a Fresh Start server appealed to me. Created (ostensibly) with the purpose of enticing new players who may see the legacy servers, with their long-established power-players and massive guilds, as intimidating, the Fresh Start servers seem to be part of an effort on Trion’s part to reinvigorate the game with fresh meat—I mean, faces. Judging by the overwhelming popularity of the servers in the opening weeks of the update, the effort seems to have succeeded, but the questions remained: Would these new servers with their new-accounts-only restriction really be able to give new (and in my case returning) players the chance to experience all the facets of the game from which they may otherwise be barred on the legacy servers? And would the Fresh Start servers’ modified cash shop be enough to shake off the pay-to-win stigma that has long loomed over ArcheAge in the eyes of the MMO-gaming community at large?

The answers to these questions are both complicated, and as is often the case, subjective. In regard to the Fresh Start server cash shop, I think Trion is definitely on the right track. I spent some time skimming through the in-game shop catalogue and checking out the items on offer, and unless I missed something major, I didn’t see much that I would consider to be especially imbalanced.

The only cash-shop-exclusive items that caught my admittedly unjaded eye as having major gameplay impact were some XP- and vocation-boosting potions, inventory expansion scrolls, and the Auction House license, which allows non-Patron players access to buy and sell on the auction house. Sure, these are still things that will give advantages to players with more disposable income, but the advantages are small, and as far as I can tell, ultimately negligible in the grand scheme of things.

Now, whether the Fresh Start servers provide a place for new players to comfortably learn the ropes and establish footholds of their own is a trickier matter. The truth is that maybe, in the first couple of weeks, they did exactly that, but as far as I can tell, players who didn’t get in on those first couple of weeks will find more or less the same issues on the Fresh Start servers as on Legacy servers, albeit to a lesser extent.

See, I was stupid: Instead of taking my time traipsing through the Dwarf and Warborn starter zones and taking in the sights, I should have been making a mad dash to get my large farm so I could claim a plot of land in preparation for building a house. By the time I got to that point, however—a little over a week after Revelation and the Fresh Start servers went live—every single housing zone (barring those in contested areas that I was unequipped to venture into), including the new ones introduced in Revelation, was jam-packed.

Many of them were largely occupied by empty starter-farm plots placed at skewed angles intended to occupy as much space as possible—thus preventing other players from claiming the surrounding plots—presumably so they can later be sold off for exorbitant prices. This, combined with the fact that the plots on which players are allowed to build are irregularly shaped and don’t even make use of all the available land, makes it immensely time-consuming and/or expensive for players who didn’t get in on the initial land rush to set up a homestead.

Yeah, I know that real-estate sharks are just part of the game, but it’s part of the game that annoys me to no end. Tax certificates aren’t exactly difficult to come by, and many of these unused, land-claiming plots had been paid off for weeks in advance, nullifying any hope of snatching up a foreclosed lot. And maybe it’s just me, but having to run around housing zones for hours on end, inspecting lots in hopes of finding one that I might have a slim chance at buying up, is not exactly my idea of a valuable use of time.

There are, of course, many other areas of the game besides housing: PvE and PvP combat, crafting, and so on. But when I consider how central housing and farms are to many of ArcheAge’s other core systems (crafting, especially), the fact that it’s so difficult for new players to establish a footing even on these Fresh Start servers remains in my opinion one of the major barriers to entry that keeps new players from investing in the game.

Ultimately, the Fresh Start servers, although a good idea in theory, will ultimately (if they haven’t already) succumb to the same fate as the Legacy servers: domination by some core groups of die-hard players with whom new players can scarcely hope to catch up. I don’t mean this as a scathing criticism or anything, really; that setup ensures that the aforementioned core groups of die-hard players will remain heavily invested in maintaining the power for which they’ve worked so hard. The fact remains, however, that even with the Fresh Start servers, ArcheAge is not particularly welcoming or encouraging to new players hoping to experience all the game has to offer.

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62 Comments on "Lost Continent: ArcheAge Revelation’s fresh start servers aren’t doing newbies any favors"

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ernost
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ernost

The biggest problem with this game is that the core playerbase is a group of ruthless mafia-like thugs, who hack, cheat, scam, bot and at times even resort to things like doxxing other players, all in order acquire as much gold and land as they can, which they then sell to whales for thousands of dollars on black market sites.

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Jennifer Yaner

Yep.
It’s the toxic player base that ultimately ruins the game. Not to mention most of those “new accounts” were probably the same people on legacy servers making new accounts to take over the new servers.

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MesaSage

This is very nostalgic for me. It brings me back to the time of ArcheAge’s release when there were articles aplenty for comment. Oh how I used to love those ArcheAge articles. Thanks, Massively and Trion for all the laughs. It’s just not the same now.

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xanadox

Trion failed, as usual.
My guild has left (again) the game.

Some of us due to the allowance of botting and exploiting.
Some of us due to the censorship of their forums.
Some of us due to a non explained ban of one of our members.
Some of us due to the waste time feeling. We are sure that trion will screw us up.

So you can bet you will have land once people leave the game (more than 20 spots has became available from us).

Solaris
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Solaris

There was land available 3-4 weeks after launch on Redemption. In that time I was able to get two 16x16s and a Thatched Farm house. So I’m not sure why the article writer had a problem finding land, unless they started late.

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Nathan Aldana

they did say they took their time seeing the new zones first

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Dean Dean

All of these problems that are obviously caused by the game being F2P, and people still want to support developers that utilize such horrible monetization systems.

Even if I had millions of dollars to blow, I wouldn’t give it to some lazy company just so I could have my ego stroked.

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Johnathen Roberts

yup biggest reason I dont play AA. Too hard for new or half casual/half serious players to get involved in a lot of the systems or even catch up. For a pure casual? No h ope at ALL.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

they literally have openly advertised pugs all day long all hours every day for much of the content/systems.

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Robert Mann

Yep, land rush in a game where housing is highly valuable (I like the highly valuable part, disliked the massive P2W aspect of it with original launch) is just not acceptable. Or, rather, the extreme limits based around tiny plots that were never going to service nearly enough people… yeah.

Add to that the issue of labor being an effective paywall (and hugely P2W in the original launch) and it lost me. Don’t know if they addressed that issue with the newer launch, but unless labor was a much less restrictive thing (since you needed it to make any real money) then I wouldn’t have enjoyed it regardless of other improvements.

I’m not against a restriction in how much you can do, unless it affects virtually every aspect of gameplay… and AA checked that box. AA had so many decent ideas, but the systems in place just made it a tragedy.

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Paragon Lost

“And yes, I had initially typed out a long, bewildered, multi-paragraph diatribe musing about how Trion, an experienced MMO developer and publisher, could possibly botch things so badly. ” -Matt Daniel

You could have saved yourself the article and just the above. :) Sad to say though it is. Btw Matt, hope you’re alright. This is the first article from you in about four months.

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Cosmic Cleric

“And maybe it’s just me, but having to run around housing zones for hours on end, inspecting lots in hopes of finding one that I might have a slim chance at buying up, is not exactly my idea of a valuable use of time.”

No, it’s not just you.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Lol.. land plot research, acquisition and defense was a game mechanic for sure. Find a piece of land, acquire it, and push out all of your neighbors was the name of the game. I fully agree, if you can’t handle the land grab war, this game isn’t for you.

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Nathan Aldana

well, at least this shows the intended playerbase of archeage. the people with the mindset of fortune 500 ceos but not the resources or ambition to do that.

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draugris

lol so you think skipping entire zone´s and therefore content was intentional. you fanbois are so funny

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Vexia

Just to clarify since I haven’t gotten very far in AA, this is “push out all of your neighbors” on the same faction, right? I can get behind working together for faction-controlled territories in the vein of Camelot Unchained and stuff like that, but setting up others of your own faction to fail at the land game does sound off-putting to me.

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Cosmic Cleric

Yes it was, and IMHO the “land grab war” is a crappy game mechanic, hence my post. A big waste of recreational time.

Also, it’s not a matter of not being able to handle it, but more of WHY I would want to go through something like that, while playing a video game.

Never seemed to be a problem in SWG, wish they had gone that route, for house design.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Because land in AA is one of a kind per server. Once you own and pay taxes on it you profit immediately. The value of being able to produce more crop or product. Charging others to produce or store product for shipment. The ability to expand makes the plot more valuable. The screenshot I posted a few comments down fetched $225 real dollars because it was connected and so large. The trouble is worth it and the games mechanics allow for it. Playing Archeage for me was about what I own and how it could be used.

It sounds dickish but it was standard procedure for obtaining land next to yours for expanse. I would ask my neighbors to sell their plot to me. I would offer a competitive price to compensate them and offer to even find them a new plot of land before they sold it to me so they had a place to move. If they didn’t take my offer, I would craft multiple phonographs and place them on my property like next to thiers and let the most obnoxious music blare into their house if that was what they had. If it was just a farming plot, I’d keep tabs on when taxes expired on the plot and just wait for them to miss payment. Sometimes you gotta just wait it out but eventually I’d get the land.

Estranged
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Estranged

You know, Daniel Plainview would like this game.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

You’re right, it does sound dickish. But that’s the behavior AA encourages, so I’m sure you were just doing what everyone around you was doing.

Another really good reason not to play this game.

styopa
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styopa

” I had initially typed out a long, bewildered, multi-paragraph diatribe musing about how Trion, an experienced MMO developer and publisher, could possibly botch things so badly.”
Why not just copy the diatribes from the last time Trion opened a game, they’re pretty much exactly the same…

And re the concept of fresh start, I’m not sure I heard it here or elsehwere, but I understood that this is pretty bog-standard for Asian games that have reached a certain point of saturation (senescence) where nobody’s buying from the cash shop any more: launch new servers, get people all freshly worked up, then *again* start to drop in the cash stuff which eventually turns the ‘new’ server into pretty much the same as the ‘old’ servers.
I mean sure, I guess, if you want have fun for a finite amount of time, but I’m still looking to find the game like original WoW that I can sink years into.