As I was going through my first evening in ArcheAge Unchained, thanks to the new buy-to-play release, I was kicking myself for going into this game pretty much blind. I knew things about it from doing news coverage on Massively OP, of course, but I felt like I was flailing about trying to figure out the different game systems for this unique MMO sandbox.
In today’s Perfect Ten, I’ll be sharing 10 lessons that I learned as a complete ArcheAge greenhorn. Maybe you can learn from — or be amused by — my mistakes and blunderings, eh?
It has the feel of a traditional MMO
One of the most reassuring factors in my opening minutes of playing was that ArcheAge instantly felt familiar. The control scheme — including tab targeting — was pretty much the same as LOTRO, World of Warcraft, and FFXIV. The user interface is laid out in a very familiar way.
Why is this good? Because with all of the innovative and different systems that I know ArcheAge is going to throw at me, having a familiar foundation in place at least lets me get my “game legs” and gives me confidence that I can operate in this game world and learn what I need to succeed.
Labor is a core element to the game
The idea of an energy resource for crafting, harvesting, and opening items hasn’t been one that I’ve encountered in MMOs up to this point. It was really strange to see bags drop into my inventory after fights that I had to spend “labor” to open. Were these… free lockboxes? A way to artificially slow players down from overfarming the world? My guild helped clue me in on the way labor regenerates and is used for a myriad of activities in ArcheAge. One takeaway: You get 10 labor every five minutes, which means that the full labor cap takes two days of rest to reach.
I still felt lost and behind
Everyone keeps telling me that, as a sandbox, ArcheAge has an incredible depth of systems to it. And then everyone rushes right by me, leaving me muddling around trying to figure stuff out and feeling like a fish very much out of water. I’ve read several beginner guides at this point, and virtually none of them explain some of the more different systems that this game has nor gives me advice on what I should be doing and trying to accomplish in the early game. Eventually I would love to have a house and go fishing in the ocean, but how do I make that happen? Nobody’s really saying.
The Korean touches are everywhere
I’m generally more used to playing western MMOs, so it’s a bit of a culture shock to step into an MMO that looks western on the face of it but is deeply eastern to the core. From the character models to the cutscene gestures to the NPC’s tendency to blurt out Korean comments every time you talk to one (a feature that doesn’t seem to be optional), there’s a blended composition here that’s going to take some getting used to.
The trials are amusing and disturbing
The justice system of ArcheAge always intrigued me, especially considering that players are tried and sentence by a jury of their peers. Well, after watching these trials play out on global chat, I don’t think “peers” is so much accurate as “poop-flinging monkeys,” if we are to go by a general level of maturity. Everyone is frothing to convict everyone, insults are slung left and right, and the defendants often give bizarre and amusing explanations for their terrible crimes.
It’s… not the worst thing I’ve seen in global chat.
Questing is mindless and basic
I heard that ArcheAge largely streamlined its questing experience from how it originally was, taking out a bunch of side quests and leaving an on-rails experience that takes players through the zones and levels. Honestly, it’s nothing to write home (or to you!) about. In the first 10 or so hours, I was deeply underwhelmed by the narrative, which mostly seemed to ping-pong me between quest hubs and occasionally pepper me with incomprehensible cutscenes. Maybe it gets better? Maybe questing really isn’t the point of this game?
It’s not really selling me on the virtues of open world housing
Less than a week after the start of these servers, Gamigo fired off its starting pistol for the land rush. Considering how poor and clueless I was, I knew I had no chance to actually claim a spot for my future home — at least not something desirable and accessible. That sinking feeling in my stomach as everyone rushed ahead of me to gobble up land made me sigh and frown at this severe drawback of open world housing.
Figuring out how to get my mount was satisfying
Not to complain about everything, there were some great moments in the first week as I was trying to figure things out. I hit upon a quest that seemed like it was to gain access to a mount, but the “how” of that was a little vague. It took a bit of experimentation and exploration, but once I got food, water, and jiggy for my little weird fluffy llama-thing, it grew up and became my permanent mount. Weird as it might be to say, that felt like a great accomplishment that told me, “Yeah, there you go, you’re starting to get it!”
There are plenty of small, immersive touches
There’s a video game trope called “the dev team thinks of everything,” which gives high praise to developers who allow great freedom for its playerbase while providing consequences for those gamers’ every action. I feel that ArcheAge is exactly that kind of MMO, because I keep bumping into small, immersive touches that exist to be discovered rather than highlighted. For example, I saw a caravan with a bunch of liquor bottles on the ground, so I started chugging away — and before I knew it, my character had passed out in a stupor. That made me laugh, as did playing rock-paper-scissors as part of a quest.
There’s a lot of ArcheAge angst still out there
If Gamigo thought that putting out a buy-to-play, non-pay-to-win server was going to magically erase all criticism of the Trion Worlds era of ArcheAge, then it was sadly mistaken. It’s a good start, to be sure, but from reading guild and general chat, it’s apparent that there is a lot of cynicism, past baggage, and wary attitudes about this do-over. Bruises only heal over time, and that is exactly what it is going to take to prove that this server experiment is the real deal — and that Gamigo isn’t going to swoop in and wreck everything with additional store options.