The main complaint I’ve heard about ArcheAge since Unchained’s launch – those about the numerous technical issues aside, obviously – is that the game isn’t actually a sandbox anymore because it has turned into a grindfest of daily tasks in recent years.
It’s true that there is a lot of stuff players can do every day. There are various rifts (PvE events located in contested zones, so sometimes PvP does also happen), large and small battlegrounds, many daily quests and various other activities waiting to be done. Some of those even run on fixed schedules, so if you’re set on doing them you have to make time for them when they’re available.
Pretty much all of these activities have one thing in common: they award stuff for advancing your gear or your character. Honor, infusions, awakening scrolls, PvP badges; all sorts of currencies and materials to upgrade your armor and weapons, to buy gems to socket into those items, or titles with stat boosts for yourself.
In essence this is what the complaints are about. Most folks aren’t unhappy that those activities exist at all, their argument is that you have to do all of this each and every day lest you fall behind on the gear curve and cease to be competitive.
I’ve never understood this urge many people playing MMORPGs seem to have, which is to get to max level and have BiS gear right fucking now. It’s as if they want to be “finished” with the game, get bored and move on as quickly as possible.
Now granted, ArcheAge provides many opportunities for PvP, consensual as well as non-consensual, and not wanting to get stomped at every such opportunity is quite understandable. Still, in my opinion and experience it’s absolutely not mandatory to grind like crazy every day, especially if you don’t enjoy it.
For the second time now I’ve started playing this game from zero. This time around I was there right at launch, so my progression started along with everybody else’s. Back in ’14 the game had been already out for a month or two, so I was behind from the get-go. Of course I’m behind now too because, well, I do not like to grind every day.
Are there situations where I wish my gear was stronger? Yeah, it happens. But more often than not that being the case wouldn’t make a difference either way.
Most types of small scale battlegrounds deck out participants with equalized gear anyway, so what remains are the large scale battles as well as the open world, where it’s more about strenght in numbers than anything else.
So, no, “being competitive” isn’t all what this game is about, despite all claims to the contrary.
Like noted above the attitude of wanting to progress quickly no matter the cost isn’t confined to PvP-heavy MMOs anyway, so there must be more to it.
Now, I do get the appeal of feeling more powerful, or of being satisfied with what one has achieved. I have felt it myself. But is it worth doing stuff that isn’t fun for hours, each and every day? I don’t think so.
The kicker is, all those repeatable activities can be fun; it’s the constant repetition that makes them boring and tedious. For the last month or so I have done the Hiram dailies about once a week, Grimghast and/or Crimson rift maybe twice a week and other stuff even more irregularly. The only thing I actually aim to do at least once a day is the Halcyona battleground, but that’s because it’s fun for what it is. The rewards are nice too, but that’s a bonus.
The much bigger part of my playtime is consumed by all those other, progression-wise “suboptimal” activities I’ve been talking about for the last two months, and some more depicted on the screenshots in this very post.
As a consequence I’m still really happy with the game – and also with my gaming in general. If folks would take their gaming a bit less seriously maybe they’d be happier too and not have to complain all the time.