ArcheAge: a Blueprint For Greed

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 | 41

I guess it's fair to say I was wrong about being wrong. XLGAMES and Trion aren't spearheading the MMO Renaissance. In fact, they're further contributing to the aggressive tumor of Pay to Win gaming. In summation:

ArcheAge is deeply flawed.


Calling ArcheAge feature-rich is certainly an understatement, but to the new player experience gives the appearance that the game is generic F2P business-as-usual dumpster fire. The truth, however, is far more dubious.

Getting Started


Character creation in ArcheAge is fantastic. You can make a white guy, an Asian guy, a fruity elf, or a REALLY FUCKING STRANGE CAT LADY.


A pretty lady. Source: Geekinsider

Classes are determined by the selection of three skill trees. Some trees synergize better than others, and if you try and get too creative you'll be gimpy. There is just enough leeway to let you feel creative without actually allowing you to think very hard about any skill decisions.

Armor is split up into light, medium, and heavy categories and while anyone can wear any armor type, it's obvious that natural favoritism occurs. This is another of those, "get creative and you'll be easy to kill" situations that they seemed to favor the design of.

Once you're done making your handsome lad, you're off to begin one of the most generic quest-hub grinds in the history of MMORPG's. Discovering that the PvE was so shallow in a game with such a massive feature list was fucking painful. Combat fully embracing the classic (boring) tab-target 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-= method certainly doesn't project greatness.

Gliders were a sunny spot in the (sort of) early game. They only allow you to stay above ground for a finite amount of time, so they don't make the world feel really small like a flying mount tends to. The later models also come equipped with weapons, so you can shoot your enemies out of the sky, but you rarely see many epic glider battles... which is a shame.

I could go further into detail on the new-player experience, but it really is one of those, "played one played them all" scenarios with the exception of one early quest. The first sign things were looking up was when I picked up a quest that resulted in a tiny horse in a backpack glued to my back. Intrigued, I followed the quest line which had me feed, dance with, and wash a baby horse until it burst forth into adulthood and became my slave. This took about 2 minutes, and I assumed that raising non-tutorial mounts would be a more complex process. It isn't.

Establishing a Settlement


The strongest and most terrible feature of ArcheAge is the needlessly complex crafting and construction system. If you didn't quit the game after a couple hours of soul crushing boredom you'll discover a line of quests that earn you some farms and a donkey. That's really when the game starts to open up. Depending on your goals, you can use your farms to grow trees for lumber, or crops for various other purposes. My long-time guild, Korben Dallas Multipass, pooled resources to first construct a house to be used as a base of operations, then a small harpoon boat to carry out our evil desires on merchants and fishermen. The harpoon boat was a great investment, but I'll come back to that.


Our ghetto shanty...

This middle phase of the game was alarmingly satisfactory until it became obvious that the entire mid-to-high crafting system is centered around forcing players to either spend money in the cash shop or progress at a snail's pace. This applies across the board to every tradeskill, but it seems like the barrier to entry of Fishing was the worst. You know the saying, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, start him down a road to demoralizing credit card debt from which he will never recover and ruin his life"? Is that right?

My favorite tradeskill, artistry, allowed you to use Music Markup Language to write songs that you could perform in the game, however I found out that it's a direct ripoff of the same feature in Mabinogi... Still, there is something special about playing The Final Countdown over the lifeless corpse of your enemy.

F2P Strikes Again


As all F2P games, all systems in ArcheAge are constructed in such a way as to screw you for not shelling out money to accomplish menial tasks. To explain this, I'll need to define a few systems:

Labor Points

Labor Points are used to limit the number of crafting actions you can execute per day. This keeps down item supply, which would be good for the economy if you couldn't pay money to get labor point potions. Subscribers earn labor points while offline, but earn double for being logged in. This is why power-gamers just afk bot their characters inside their houses. Apparently nobody anticipated this causing queue issues... Or being stupid bullshit.

Gilda Stars

Gilda Stars are tokens you earn slowly by turning in daily quests, running trade routes, and various other boring shit. They allow you to purchase plans for large structures and boats, however these things are tradeable so you can purchase all of these items on the auction house for gold which completely negates the purpose of Gilda Stars. Another fucking great idea.

Trade Packs

Trade packs are craftable goods that you can transport from one tradepost to another for gold, stars, or other trade goods. You can only carry one at a time, and the items slow you down. They also can be looted on your death, which opens up interesting avenues for piracy and privateering. Trade Packs are a great way to make money if you're a terribly boring person.

APEX

See: PLEX. APEX is a cash shop item that can be sold to other players who can turn it into cash shop currency. Ultimately APEX is identical to buying gold. Being that cash shop items are tremendously beneficial, it's extremely easy for a person who enjoys throwing their money down a well to gain a significant advantage over normal subscribers whose wives would murder them for spending money so frivolously.

Now, because gaining crafting in middle to late stages of the game is so massively expensive, you're pretty well fucked unless you want to spend money on top of your subscription on digital items to sell on the Auction House. Being able to buy massive quantities of gold at level 1 in a game where the economy is so complex and important definitely places this game into the Pay to Win category, yet I still find myself wanting to tinker around in the game for one big reason...

The Sandbox


Once we had our boat out at sea where the action is, the game opened up a lot, but when you have a harpoon boat it's far more tempting to drag it up on land.


We harpooned the airship, but got stuck in a tree...

The potential for dicking around and trolling in ArcheAge is its best feature by a wide margin. Sailing is solid and sea battles can get pretty intense, but they're completely pointless unless your enemy has trade packs on board. The biggest failure of ArcheAge for me is likely the reason it's doing so well. The game would have been much more fun to play if the stakes were higher, but carebears pay the bills.

One of my favorite experiences in ArcheAge was loading up my boat with newbies and raiding the enemy continent. Due to sheer numbers, we took down some max level players, and really had a great time. The only problem with this was how pointless it all felt after a while. What's the point of wanton slaughter if you have nothing to show for it? Sure, there is an honor point system, but that type of thing leaves a really WoW taste in my mouth.

Factions pit whites against Asians in an amusingly transparent way. What is Korean developer XLGAMES trying to instigate exactly? PvP is heavily weighted on who strikes first, so stealth is extremely nice, but you'll find that you want different skills for sea combat than you do for land.

TL;DR


The whole game plays like a deformed monster wearing the skin of a hot chick. From a distance you see the skin, and you're like, "Oh, maybe I'll investigate", but as you get closer and the horizon is no longer obscuring the hulking mud creature it's much harder to stay focused on the potential. Like all F2P games, ArcheAge tries to get you to spend money quickly, and then quit before you become too self-sufficient. It's worth a try if you can stomach the early game and ignore the extremely shady business model, but I wouldn't blame anyone for passing on this one. However, if the game dropped the cash shop tomorrow and moved to a 100% subscription model, I'd probably enjoy it a whole lot more.

Anyone who wants to get in on the action fun freestyle boating, we're on Enla, and my handle is Miguelito (go fig).

The Breakdown:

Graphics:(3) So Asian
Gameplay:(4) Tab hell
Originality:(8) All the features
WoW Clone:(4) Eh?
PvP Type:(2) Safezones Galore
PvP Risk:(2) Tradepacks
Racism:(-82623) Faction-driven race war.

Final Score: Turbocharged Assmachine

41 comments :

  1. I was waiting for this, no surprises here. Ho-hum, is there anything left to look forward to in MMOs?

    Btw, you should have put the TL;DR at the beginning, it would have meant a few less wasted minutes of my life.

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  2. Ok, let's break down this cash shop. Ignore all cosmetics and bullshit stuff and tackle the pay 2 win items.


    1st, keep in mind that there is no box fee. Any one off items that are permanently yours you can treat as Archeage's box price. Anyone that bought ESO or Wildstar would have at least 60 bucks in this cash shop to buy permanent account items such as:
    -Mounts with initial 9.0 speed
    -Additional 2 char slots
    -Patron Status
    -Chest in house
    -Inventory and warehouse space
    All of the above will perhaps burn through most of the 60 bucks but I am not doing math, I am willing to bet there will be some extra credits to dump into some fluff stuff.


    Subscription = Patron Status.


    So with the above 2 expenditures we still have not crossed the price threshold of ESO or Wildstar. Most likely you saved some money if you are happy with 2 characters or got an in game mount, etc.


    Now we enter the true pay 2 win item in the cash shop. Workers compensation. The true whale player will have 4 char slots unlocked and is able to produce 8000 more additional labor per day with Workers comensation. This means he crafts more, gets more gold from selling crafts, and levels faster. By definition this is pay 2 win. Even if you buy your compensation from the market for cheap (atm 4 gold, stupid cheap) the whale player did not have to spend any gold to get his compensation and thus has more gold then you. In the grand scheme of the game that whale player hit 50 a few days early and worked up the crafting tiers at most a few weeks early. It just isn't that big of a deal to me and affects my gameplay so little why care about it.


    APEX = Plex. Copy paste your opinions about eve plex to Archeage's APEX and you are all set.


    Would I prefer this be subscription, sure. Would I rather just have the game launch with what it will convert to later, yes. (clock is ticking on f2p conversion for eso and Wildstar). At least now we can analyze the cash shop, see if it breaks the game for us, and BAIL or stick with it. Rather then finding out the systems 1 year later and getting fucked over.

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  3. Just to clarify my stance on APEX or eve plex. No gold is generated. It transfers from a rich in game player to a rich out of game player. 0 affect on the economy, combats gold sellers, perfectly legit item for any game to add.

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  4. Don't take this morons review to heart. The game is pretty fun.

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  5. As miguelito proves by playing it every night for 3 weeks straight for hours on end.....

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  6. The success of ArcheAge might cause other companies to start using their business model. The gamer welfare system where payed players prop up free (poor) players is really horrible and needs to stop.

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  7. I'm sorry, I really tried to read this but my eyes glazed over. Kind of what happens when I look at anything ArchAge tbh so don't take it personal.

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  8. When I was your age, we didn't have scrollwheels. We had to PgDn the tiny screens ourselves. Uphill both ways.

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  9. Let me elaborate on what you may be talking about for 3000 words.

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  10. Actually, I meant "a few less wasted minutes of my life (having to read all the way to the end, and then finding the TL;DR)."

    Otherwise it would have only taken a MATTER OF SECONDS to scrollllllllll down.
    But it's all academic, because I come here to read the articles for the very purpose of wasting a few minutes of my life! As opposed to logging on to some retarded MMORPG and posting virtual items on AH for virtual gold...

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  11. I am just sad, but not surprised they carebeared it up. We so need a game more like this with a ruleset like EvE has. I watched the character creation vids on youtube, got to say good looking female humans, sorry anyway. The armor doesn't break & that is just odd. Ya, we can craft it, but players will never lose it. I so wish I could get into EvE, great ruleset, but I just can't do MMO MS office space sim.

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  12. When you say "Ah" it feels less like you're talking commerce and more that your comment ended due to sudden enlightenment.

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  13. I love that I wasn't logged in (by accident) for the first upvote, so this comment got two upvotes.

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  14. The sanctity of comment democracy has been sidelined...

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  15. But I was under the impression that you were an unofficial, unpaid, unrated, unappreciated, unbridled, unabridged and unbearable consultant to ArcheAge!? Or at least XLGAmes and Trion read your blog so they would avoid all the pitfalls and create a game that wouldn't suck!

    Or maybe they did, but then realised that only seven people currently read your blog, the hottie from Houston doesn't read it anymore and she is married anyway; the other hottie is also married and has two kids, so they don't have a chance with her either; besides the aforementioned women, a few of the others are also smart enough, but spread their time too thin; a couple of the others are delinquents and wouldn't understand a smart game and one has ads disabled, so they won't be able to earn any money off of him whatever they do.

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  16. Sometimes I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about

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  17. This race war thing sounds like it isn't being handled properly. It could be taken up a notch. First, place a server so that players in America and Korea have equally shitty ping. Then have them duke it out as their respective races. Then we get a nationalism thing going, yeah!

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  18. This thought crossed my mind, but I'd like to get Europe and Africa involved in this lagfest.

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  19. What about South America(or Central America too if you're one of those assholes that separates them) . Where else will we get a healthy dose of Portuguese and Spanish? Spain and Portugal?

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  20. Those people manage to play on NA servers either way.

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  21. Yeah, we've had the same guild name for over a decade.

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  22. Yeah, Arche Age... What stroke me first was the quest system - I really didn't know whether I should laugh or cry. They really try so hard not to bother players with questing too much - quests are short, distances to places of interest are short, you get quests one by one, one quest leads to another. When you complete all quests at one place, you get a quest that leads you to another chain of quests at another place. In a way this feels nice - for power leveling at least. But the immersion? Its non-existent. Some "epic" story line quests were simply laughable for me. (I repelled this big attack of Crimson army in like 30 seconds almost standing at one place. Epic. :-) ) Now is this good or wrong? The worst thing is that for this kind of MMORPG I think its actually good... But for some reason...it doesn't feel right.

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  23. The biggest issue is that the quest system is ultimately just a tutorial to show you the open world features, but you wouldn't ever know without actually exploring for yourself. Most people who play just quest and never see anything else before they quit. We've been doing nothing but sailing around robbing trade ships for the last few days, which is sweet, but the quest system is horrific.

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  24. I was with VOTF legion during the beta(s). I was suppose to get a Founder's pack and a microphone. I decided not to and kept delaying; I wanted to see what time of MMOrpg that was. After the painful experience with Guild Wars 2 for 9 months where I got baited by Angry Joe's hype of the game, I decided that this time I will be more cautious.

    We started speedrunning everything; story, dialogs, you name it. I had no clue what the whole concept of this game was neither its theme; I kept pushing and pushing to level up as fast as possible with the others. I started logging in fewer and fewer hours; killing some mobs, doing some quests and logging out. Most were 30-40 levels and I was 19. When I heard that the crafters had to be online 24/7 and in additional pay for labor potions almost every day I knew that in that moment my suspicion was confirmed; it was a P2W farmville.

    I asked myself whether it was worth being competitive with throwing cash all around and also into the guild; I said fuck it, did one last quest and left for good.

    Combat is trash - outdated, mediocre animations, brainless combos, buffs spamfest, CC hell, and so on and so forth. I was bored the entire time with my class that was Assa-esque. I couldn't take how ridiculous the combo(s) were and its animations didn't help either.

    Questing is super-trash - No rewards, No worthy loot, No point whatsoever.

    On top of that add cash shop, lag, botfest, heaven for hackers and gold sellers and you got the whole picture.

    I was about to spend $150 dollars and the last minute I pulled the plug. Good old instinct.

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  25. I don't disagree. I found some fun in random acts of piracy, but all other forms of pvp are meaningless.

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  26. Its more than a tutorial... Except of crafting the quests are the only way to level effectively. (Leveling with crafting IS faster, but you are ultimately limited by your labor points supply. To be honest I really like that idea to level to 50 just by cutting trees and making stuff.. :) )

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  27. I didn't do any quests after level 30. You can buy labor pots and crafting xp boosts off the AH for a pretty low rate.

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  28. Carebearing ftw! If only those bastards wouldn't cut my trees down! @#$&^!

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  29. Did I mention we're a few stars away from a galleon by doing nothing but pirating trade packs?

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  30. Nice... But my guildies (who are killing greens for fun, shock!) told me that actually you can do all of this and don't be a pirate, that actually being a pirate has more cons or pros... So how is it?

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  31. We aren't in the pirate faction because there isn't really any advantage to it. We just gank people with stuff regardless of faction.

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  32. Except, ye can't talk like a pirate then, ye scurvy dog!

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  33. That is so funny, I called it Farmville in another comment, ya the
    MMORPG world is just sad now. We Have EvE Online (MS Office + spacesim
    online) & Mortal Online, which is a good game, but a little low in pop.

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  34. Thank God their credit processing system is so fucked and I could never get my payment through. I was ready to shell out 150 bucks for some cool goodies day 1 cause I was so stoked thinkin, "shit, ima be playin this game for a year!" A few days and 20 tries later I got an inkling the combat wouldn't get any better so I just did a 1 month sub at $15. 3 days later I uninstalled.

    Not much of a combat system just pressing 1,2,3 aaaand repeat. I was looking forward to that fucking game for 2 years and I didn't last a week. I Hate MMORPGs

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  35. It's getting a bit tedious that MMO's no longer even try to make the act of playing the game entertaining. Fuckers.

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