ArcheAge deserves another chance…I hope

ArcheAgeU_launch3

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.

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Our first steps into the game, marveling at the water physics

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.

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Home, and myself clinging to a bamboo trunk for some reason

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.

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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 interest 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!

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Apparently the Grimghast raid is still in. Hey, that’s good!

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.

Fingers crossed!

6 Replies to “ArcheAge deserves another chance…I hope”

  1. I’m really quite surprised by all the hype surrounding the ArcheAge Unlimited release. I didn’t think the original game had ever been all that popular nor that people felt it was some kind of missed opportunity. I definitely thought the much more successful Black Desert had offered most people everything they wanted in ArchaAge and a lot more besides.

    I played ArcheAge for a a couple of mopnths at launch and posted about it a lot so I can see what I thought about it without having to misremember. I liked it well enough but it sits in a large pile of imports from that period as a game I would probably play if I didn’t have more interesting options but one in which nothing particularly stood out.

    Based on how these things usually go I’d expect to see a flurry of excited posts from half a dozen blogs, tailing off to silence in a month or so. After that one or two people will continue posting about the game occasionally and maybe a single person will make it the main MMORPG they blog about. Sounds like that might be you!

    I can’t say I would have tried AEU, even if there was nothing much else going on. As it stands, if I was scratching about for a “new” game and was willing to pay for it I’d probably go for Astellia, which sounds more my kind of thing, I notice no-one’s writing about that much, already.

    I read your original post about RNG, as linked, and I just wanted to say I completely agree. I loathe token systems. They literally turn play into work. I’d far rather have genuine pay to win systems where I just get my credit card out than to be asked to engage in the equivalent of a minimum wage job in my free time.

    I also totally agree on RNG failure systems. They have the simple effect on me of making me not use those upgrades at all. And then stop playing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess even after all the games we’ve all played over the years it’s still really hard to pin down why exactly a game does or doesn’t “klick” with individual players.

      For me, ArcheAge had that special something that not many games have. Black Desert is great too, and as you know I’ve played and blogged about it a lot. Still, in the end it doesn’t have that special something for me.

      When I come back to Heidel after a play session in BDO it doesn’t feel like ‘coming home’. It feels more like coming back to the locker room after having played a football game. You shower, you pack your stuff where it belongs etc., then you go home (or in this case, log off).

      Coming back to that little house and farm in ArcheAge really felt like coming home every time. Nothing (well, almost nothing) I did in that game felt like just doing my routines or ticking off some boxes. It really felt like I lived there.

      Another example for why ArcheAge feels different to me is the open world PvP, and the motivations behind it. When a player attacks another player here it’s mostly for one of two reasons. One: the attacked player carries a tradepack, and the attacker wants to steal it. When you carry such a pack into a PvP enabled zone you know what you’re getting yourself into, so it’s a simple matter of risk vs reward. Plus, you can obviously fight back. Two: just for the thrill of the fight. I do realize that many players shy away from the mere possibility of this happening, but for me it adds an element of danger that a pure PvE game could never have, and thus makes it more fun and also more real to me.

      In Black Desert open world PvP does happen sometimes too, but in most cases it’s not initiated for the fun or thrill of it, and you can’t steal anything either. In reality the majority of players only wants to PvE-grind as efficiently as possible. Other players grinding at the same spot are detrimental to that, so sometimes the PvE grind is (reluctantly) interrupted to battle it out over the spot. That’s all it is. I’ve been on both ends of this, and it isn’t fun.

      Like I said, BDO is a great game overall, as are many other games I’ve played over the years.
      However, since I felt that ‘special something’ for the first time I’m always hoping to find another game that has it, and ArcheAge definitely had it. I’m hoping it does still.

      Of course, your mileage may vary. 🙂

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  2. I had no idea this game was coming out so soon. I never played the original but since AAA MMOs are so rare to launch these days I think I will be giving this a try. The collection of videos you posted was really helpful in deciding whether to buy this or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to be of help.

      The launch isn’t going exactly smooth though. They are even running a poll right now regarding land ownership and if they should delay opening it by a week.

      That being said, I don’t regret having jumped in. It’s a great game, and I’d rather tolerate queues and some hiccups now than having empty servers and the need for merges later (merges really suck in combination with open world housing).

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  3. I bought UUA this past weekend and have been working on it. I made a melee and a mage to see what I thought of each playstyle — I mostly tend to go for archers or mages in most games anymore, so melee’s a bit of a switch-up for me. But I’m loving the melee character more right now. Both are good, but the melee has that “something” that makes me want to play it more.

    I still have no idea about most of the game systems, so it’ll be an interesting thing to learn as I play more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The most important advice right now is: don’t under any circumstances throw away your starting quest gear (which comes out of the boxes the first couple of quests give you).

      You will get upgrade materials for that stuff all the way up to level 50. If you don’t aim for crafted gear this is already the foundation of your endgame equipment.

      Like

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