Archeage: Impressions

Inbox__333_messages__1_unread_I have to admit that I was not interested in spending time in Archeage. There were a few things that rang the alarm bells from the start, the first being it’s an Eastern MMO.  Eastern MMOs have always looked great with their character customisation, armour and environments. The problem has always come from the translation, walls of text, the generic quests, grinding and the requirement that many things were out of reach unless you could get a group. More hardcore than any western MMO.

When Archeage went into Alpha, I  purchased the Founders Pack that gave me instant access. I started playing like a normal MMO, straight into leveling. The leveling was average although fast and the combat tab targeting reminded me of older MMOs.  I didn’t play that much and left it soon after as I was used to questing in full voice MMOs such as The Secret World, The Old Republic and most recently Elder Scrolls Online.

A month later I went into beta and decided to try a different race/faction but I felt the same way, average leveling, questing and not much really grabbed me beside the gliders which were really cool. I also liked the characters and environment, but it was not enough to keep me engaged. So once again I put the game down and left.

There was then lots of hype on the Internet about Archeage over the next few months being a sandbox. It also seemed to be gathering a lot of airtime from different gaming sites on the internet and gathering a good following. I kept listening and it was probably because I spent near $150 on purchasing the game for alpha access (crazy right? Although it does gives me 3 months patron and over $75 of store currency to spend as I please).

Head Start began and I once again patched up and decided to look at the features that everyone had been talking about. I started leveling as a War Priest, which is basically an archer with melee and some healing. There are 120 different combinations of class that you can decide to choose and if you decide to change any single one, you do not lose any advancement in what you have already gained. I decided to look at the farming and trading aspect of the game as many people said that this was what set them apart from other mainstream MMOs.

I began to enjoy farming that involved growing vegetables, trees and raising animals, etc. I started to enjoy trade runs, which involved me growing and producing certain commodities that were only available in certain areas. Trading involves you walking, driving, riding, or sailing the seas to get to your destination, all with a large pack on your back, which inhibits your movement speed. In some instances the trade routes can involve passing though PvP zones. In some ways it reminded me of EVE Online and its trading aspects.

The most interesting and exciting part so far has been running a trade pack from the western continent to the east. It required me to farm several ingredients and make a certain item for sale. I farmed and ensured I had the materials for several trade packs, as I knew this quest was going to be dangerous. This required me to travel to the coast, then travel by water across the ocean to the other continent which was ruled by the other faction. The issue from what I had read was that the oceans were open to pirates, opposing factions and random NPC sea creatures that could kill you and take your trade items.

I had several options: swim (very slow) with a trade pack on my back, use my row boat I had received from an earlier quest (slow), build a fast boat  (lots of mats) or group up for a fast boat run to get it completed. I had several people offer to take me after advertising in faction chat and we set off over the water in a fast skiff. We had to avoid several ocean creatures and a few pirate boats but this experience was one of the best I have ever had in an MMO. In all it was around a 15-20 sail to the destination.

Archeage has parts that are very generic to most MMOs but it has some very cool and interesting mechanics and systems that are very different and this is really what sets it apart. Yes it is still a very Eastern MMO but I think it has enough to keep Western players interested especially if you like crafting, farming and trade running.  There are still dungeons and raiding to be had but I have not even gone there yet as I am having too much fun with the crafting and trading right now.

And Another Thing: MMO Subscription Numbers

MMO Subscription Numbers

‘And Another Thing’ is a regular column where one of the Oceanic Gamer team get an issue off their chest. If you’ve got a pet peeve or controversial issue you’d like to write about, drop us a line. This week’s column sees us welcome Darren Taylor to the fold – great to have you on board Darren!

There is a lot of talk these days that MMO success is a result of how many people are subscribing. World of Warcraft appears to be once again over 10 million subscribers whereas other MMOs are lucky to break several hundred thousand. Trion Worlds (the makers of Rift) has stated with its relatively small number of subscribers, that it is highly profitable and was awarded extra funding to further develop the game and expand into other countries.

To be honest, I am really not concerned with subscription numbers when playing as long as there is a healthy chat, people running around and it’s relatively easy to get a group for a dungeon or quest.  In fact I find Rift one of the easiest games to get a group in, even compared to the behemoth World of Warcraft.

Rift and The Secret World have done some great work to get its players to feel that their servers are thriving with life. Rift recently cut out the limitations of factions, enabling players from both factions to be in the same guild, group for the same instances, in effect doubling the population. Cross-server chat and grouping also increases the pool of people available. The Secret World has done something similar with its dimensions, enabling players to communicate, group and quest with anyone on any other of its servers, hence its much-advertised single server technology.

In both games, the world is very alive and no matter what time zone you play, you can always find people to group with. You don’t often see people complaining about populations, as they never seem to have a lack of players willing to do something in the game.

Star Wars; The Old Republic, with its huge following at launch did one thing very wrong with its perception of population. I bet you all know and remember the instance player numbers at the top of your screen everywhere you go. I tend to call it the “worry meter” and unfortunately it proved to be just that. How often did you see people complain that there were only 50 people in fleet on their server? I am willing to bet that if that player number wasn’t there would have been less complaints and less concern. It seems they may have corrected that a little with group finder, cross server and also their take on mega servers, although I am not sure how the Aussie servers are doing as of late.

I think that all MMOs will embrace the one server mentality in one way or other and players will always have someone to group and play with even if there are only a few hundred people online at a given time.  From a player point of view, we should no longer base the success on the game based on investor calls or released figures but how each game uses their ability to bring their players together. I am happy playing games that have a reported smaller number of subscribers compared to some, as long as I can enjoy everything the game has to offer.

Do you agree?