Fight or Kite: Archeage Unchained’s leveling PvP is a test of resolve and avoidance


Welcome back everyone! For those of us in the US, the Monday after our Thanksgiving holiday can be a brutal one. Sleeping in (getting yelled at for sleeping in), overeating, and arguing with your family for the past four days can really take its toll on you. Yes, Aunt Susan, I write about video games. Yes, it is work. No, it’s not just an excuse to disconnect from society, bury my head in the sand, and pretend life isn’t moving around me!

But now we’re back on the job. So, while everyone else is still catching up on emails, let’s you and I have a little chat about a beginner’s PvP leveling experience in Archeage Unchained.

Way back in 2014, I was really getting hyped in the lead-up to Archeage’s US launch. However, I’m the pessimistic sort. I patiently waited and listened to the Massively team’s impressions of the game, which were… not great. So I never bought in or played.

But then this past October, Archeage Unchained launched. It promised to fix all that went awry with the original game. So, I jumped in. And now I’ve spent much of my gaming time over the past two months playing and grinding up those levels to get into the PvP side of things. And let me tell you folks, as a noob, I’ve had a rough go of things.

First of all, I’m currently level 45. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still have quite a way to go before max level and endgame PvP. So consider this an overview of pre-endgame PvP and what it’s like for folks working their way up. When I get there, I’ll be able to write about the “real” endgame PvP.

One question for this game’s open-world leveling PvP: Why?

The game opens up like any traditional PvE game would: with a little story and some quests. It does a good job of slowly teaching you some of the various combat systems in the game. You begin leveling relatively quickly too, so you gain new skills and get to enjoy blasting away monsters almost immediately. At this point in your career, there is no open world PvP – nothing discernible, at least. The zones you run through are safe. Simply stroll from exclamation point to question mark at your leisure. It is a pleasant experience.

Then, around level 30 to 35, you travel to a zone that is now open for PvP. In many games, this isn’t terrible. If I remember Warhammer Online correctly, even beginner zones were open to PvP. But those zones were usually split in half: Order player quests were on one half, Destruction on the other half, and an RvR zone lay between them. So while you could cross over to the other faction’s quest hubs, you knew you’d be in enemy territory. Here, there isn’t a hard and fast division between factions. This leads to only one outcome: Gank City.

Since I’m not at the endgame, I don’t know why so many high-level players would even want to gank me. It doesn’t seem as if I lose any gear, gold, or experience. I see there is an honor point system, so perhaps they get just as many honor points for killing a noob like me as they do someone their own size. If so, that is a screwed up system. One- or two-shotting a kid killing monsters just isn’t my idea of fun and shouldn’t be rewarded.

Either way, I’m not upset or offended – it is just annoying, and I don’t understand it. It’s one thing to have contested zones for max level players, but within these leveling zones, it’s just a pointless pain in the ass. Let me level in peace or create zones where the PvP is primarily for similarly-leveled players.

Once you’ve passed level 30 you can join arenas

On the brighter side, after you’ve reached level 30, you can queue up for 1v1 and other arenas. This is pretty great. The arenas balance out gear and character level. It actually gives you a chance to fight another player that isn’t demonstrably outside of your power curve. However, it isn’t all upside as you will still be, at least slightly, fighting on an uneven playing field.

Unlike in Guild Wars 2 arenas, where your character’s gear, stats, and skills are completely balanced out, in Archeage you still have only the skills your character has learned. Since I’m not at the endgame yet, I don’t actually know how big a difference that makes. I’ve only played about 15 or 20 matches (you’re effectively limited to 5 matches a day), but I’ve won somewhere between 20-25% of my fights. Not great, but you’ve got to get that real combat experience in somewhere.

It’s never too early to play the market

I explained in my last column that PvP isn’t just about the combat, and that is especially true in Archeage. The auction house is ready and waiting for you to bring your A-game. I don’t know how much gold I need for anything in particular yet, but it never hurts to get a head start. Anytime you see a tree, rock, or plant on the ground with an exclamation mark, go ahead and pick it up. Then start selling it off in the market.

If you can play it right, you may actually be able to make some nice coin too. Since the auction house lets players create listings for only a max of 48 hours, and the cost to list increases the longer its duration, oftentimes items will have few or no listings at all! That is where you can start to jump in.

A few tips to keep you on the right path to endgame

There are many other PvP areas of the game that I haven’t touched on, but I believe these are going to be the easiest to get into while you are leveling. So, what can you do to maximize your time and still get something meaningful out of PvP while leveling? There are actually a couple things.

Now, even though the open world zones after level 30 are PvP zones, there are times when they are not. Basically, the zones go through a rotation of contested to at war, at war to peaceful, then back to contested. Unfortunately, a peaceful zone is the only one that you can roam without any fear of finding yourself back in Gank City.

So here is what you do: focus only on your primary/race specific quest at first. Then, once you’ve either hit a point where the mobs are too tough or you can’t progress that quest due to a tough fight, you can start to watch which zones are peaceful. I usually had a rotation of three to five I could hop between. Then, simply go to the peaceful zone and complete quests there. Once that zone flips to contested, look for the next peaceful one. The map gives you a timer on hover over, so you can see how much time is left in a war and peaceful zone.

Now, if all the zones are contested or at war, you should queue up for the PvP instances. Even if you lose all your fights, you will still earn five or more PvP coins (more if you also join the 5v5 fights after level 40). Now, I recommend doing this while you’re leveling because you can buy a small experience potion with it. It isn’t a lot, but it is something, and it sure beats getting ganked over and over.

Finally, if you’ve hit your daily cap on arenas and all the zones are contested, go ahead and do your best to complete quests anyway. If you stay off the main roads, you should be able to avoid most gankers. Also, again getting killed by them isn’t the end of the world: You don’t lose experience when killed by PvP, so the only thing lost a bit of time running back.

So that’s been my leveling experience in Archeage’s PvP. Did the new servers plus business model catch your attention? Did you ever find yourself suddenly standing in the middle of Gank City? Or are the game’s technical problems and community issues too much for you to bother with it? Let me know in the comments if you have some other tips that I’ve missed or if your experience was different in some way.

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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