Until a couple of days ago my stance on ArcheAge Unchained was yeah, not touching that with a ten foot pole.
Mind you, ArcheAge wasn’t a bad game when Lakisa and I played it. Far from it. In fact it’s among my favourite MMORPGs (and games period) of all time, right up there with Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies.
When you look at these three titles you get a pretty good idea of what kind of game I fancy – they’re all sandboxes, they have open world housing, very flexible skill systems instead of fixed classes, and open world PvP in one form or another.
This combination of features, it seems, is what lets me truly immerse myself in a game, because it makes me feel like I can do pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want, and that anything can happen at any time. The game stops being just a game and becomes a virtual world I actually live in. Other games I’ve played. These three were home.
Despite that we quit ArcheAge around July 2015, less than a year after we’d started. We did so with a very heavy heart, but at the time we didn’t see an alternative. I’ve talked about the game’s extreme RNG-heaviness before, the likes of which I’d never seen and hopefully won’t ever see again. Couple that with more and more P2W elements appearing in the cash shop, many of which serving the purpose to lessen or circumvent said RNG aspects somewhat – what a coincidence, am I right? – and you can easily see why any sane person wouldn’t have put up with that any longer.
During the following years pretty much all press coverage the game got was overwhelmingly negative. Server outages, botched “fresh start server” launches, what have you. Whenever I saw such a news piece I was all the more relieved to have quit when we did, but at the same time I always felt a pang of regret and anger because I’ve never really stopped thinking about what a truly fantastic game this could have been with the right people in charge.
So yeah, of course I took note when Gamigo took the reigns of the game’s western version after TRION tanked, and even more so when they announced a B2P version of the game without Patron status (the technically optional but effectively mandatory monthly subscription the game’s so-called F2P version has on top of its P2W microtransactions) and, most importantly, with a cosmetics-only cash shop.
Now, Gamigo hasn’t exactly the best reputation, and we’ve all heard lofty promises of no P2W in our game before. Also, Gamigo, like TRION before them, is only the publisher for the NA and EU regions. XL Games, ArcheAge’s Korean developer and publisher, still has the final say on what is and isn’t in the game. Thus I remained highly sceptical.
My interst was piqued though, so I tried to gather as much information about what they have planned with Unchained as I could. I wanted to know exactly what changes, if any, for the game itself they might have planned. No P2W is all well and good, but if the game’s systems were to remain as I knew them, RNG madness and all, then why bother? After all, everybody being on equal footing doesn’t mean much when that footing is built in RNG-hell itself.
The official FAQ answered some of my questions, but not many.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find much beyond that until the public test server opened a week ago. I didn’t have time to jump in myself, but I knew it wouldn’t be long until folks who did play it released videos sharing their findings. Of course I would have preferred guides and impression pieces in text form, but as we all know those have become increasingly rare in recent years. Besides, since in this case time was of the essence, what with the PTS opening a mere week before release, I was happy to get infos quickly no matter the format.
There are some good videos summing up their makers’ experiences on the PTS out there by now. Others give advice and tips for the actual launch and stuff like that. They aren’t hard to find, so I’ll just link my favourites.
These are PTS impressions by The Lazy Peon. I’ve liked most of his videos, and this one is no different. He’s always informative, but also weaves bits of humour into his narrative that make me smile.
This is a short and crisp (under ten minutes) piece of advice for starting out in the game. The volume is pretty low, but it’s worth a watch and will probably be of good use for players who have never played ArcheAge and might feel overwhelmed by the many systems and possibilities.
All of this is well and good, and I got answers to at least some more of my questions. Others still remained a mystery though, and I couldn’t quite understand why nobody was, for example, complaining about the RNG-heavy gear crafting and regrading systems still being in the game – or, alternatively, celebrating the fact that they have been taken out.
Then I finally found this video, and all was revealed:
Turns out, much to my surprise, that most of those systems have already been changed in the game’s original, live version quite some time ago. Crafting an expensive piece of gear not knowing if you will get the desired outcome or if you’ll have to throw it away; trying to upgrade a piece and downgrading or even destroying it instead; trying to socket another gem into your piece and losing it and all other gems you had already socketed – those are all things of the past. Hip, hip, hoofuckin’ray!
I have no idea why every bit of bad news regarding the game was covered extensively in the gaming press, but not a single one of the patches that did away with these crap systems made the headlines. Like mentioned above seeing the game’s name anywhere still gets my blood pressure up reliably, so I can’t imagine to just have missed them.
Be it as it may, this is really good news. I talked to Lakisa about all this, and we watched that last video and skimmed through our old screenshot folders together. Boy, that brought back some great memories (like this one).
So, yeah. We both bought into Unchained and sat down on Saturday to reserve our characters’ names. We managed to get them both and while we were at it also tried to make us look exactly like we looked back in 2014. Some textures seem to be a bit different nowadays, but on the whole we succeeded to recreate those characters pretty well.
The launch is slated for tomorrow, and we can’t wait! Of course I’m still a bit sceptical, but this might just be what I’ve been waiting and hoping for.