I feel like I’ve gotten a lot done since ArcheAge launched just a few days ago. Don’t believe me? I got my homework done in a timely fashion for my journalism class, and I even managed to level in Destiny to 23 with rank 1 in the Vanguard faction. At the rate things are going, I should be level 25 by the end of the week and might even have some coveted Vanguard armor. I’ve also been able to catch up on some reading and on the overwhelming list of podcasts I subscribe to. I also can’t even describe the amount of napping I’ve gotten in.
This must be a testament to ArcheAge, but rarely do I come across a game that I still want to play after sitting in a queue for an hour and a half, and that is with patron priority. By that time, I’d probably be doing something else, like fixing the neck muscles I’d strained by falling asleep in my $15 computer chair that has no back support. The more I venture into ArcheAge, the more I find things that I like.
ArcheAge has a great sense of freedom, on public land at least. You see, XL Games created an atmosphere where they shuffle you into the world and say “do what you want. You probably shouldn’t do all of it, but go ahead and do it anyway.” You can plant your crops on “illegal farms,” which is just anywhere that isn’t your property or public farming land, but other players can then harvest your crops or simply dig them up and destroy them, resulting in nothing for anyone. I’ve destroyed at least several gold in Yew trees around my property, but in my defense they shade my sunbathing spots.
The very idea of this introduces several play styles that need to be considered. For planters, this means finding out-of-the-way areas to plant your crops when your private land and public farms (which only allow a certain few crops to be planted) aren’t enough. I managed to plant a string of turmeric and strawberries right near a starter town by hiding them in the bushes. On the other hand, players looking for free stuff are almost guaranteed to find unguarded fruits and trees if they look into the deepest and darkest corners.
ArcheAge does offer a certain amount of protection for crops and animals. For players who don’t own property, there are public farms that will only allow a small selection of crops to be planted and only protect them for 24 hours. Owning property means finding an open piece of land and keeping up on said property’s taxes.
This leads to the game’s crime system, which is similarly handed to the players to take care of. Stealing crops, digging up plants, and murdering your own faction are all crimes in ArcheAge, but you have to be reported in order for anything to happen to you. Committing a crime leaves footprints that need to be activated and reported, and when the offending player is hauled into court, they are put in front of a jury of their peers to determine their guilt. Sentencing in prison can range from just a few minutes to, in cases where the player has stacked many many charges, hours in length, and you have to remain online for that whole time. Even prison is its own game, with the option to break out and become a pirate.
I’ve found, in my server at least, that having a good sense of humor can often get you a lenient sentence with the jury. One player started off his trial by saying “convict me, I’m guilty,” to which the jury members all called him a liar and subsequently declared him innocent. If you’re a smooth criminal, like myself, you can simply avoid the whole thing by running out the five minute clock on your footprints.
There is a ton of stuff going on in ArcheAge that I barely comprehend at this point, but it all leads to the fact that player interaction operates at a much deeper level than in other MMOs. For instance, you can run trade packages as a method of obtaining gold and gilda stars (used for purchasing houses and other goods). Trade packages must be crafted in one area and taken to another, generally through open-pvp areas where the trader becomes a soft pinata for greedy thieves. The idea is to make piracy a constant threat in ArcheAge, and the system works quite well.
At the heart of ArcheAge, and the root of some of the game’s controversy, is the labor point system. You need labor points to craft, labor points that do not come fast for non-patrons. If you are a patron, you have little to worry about. Patrons receive ten labor points every five minutes while online and five while offline. Non-patrons, on the other hand, have to be online to receive labor points at all. You can still quest and kill creatures at zero LP cost, but the higher tier crafting is going to cost an arm and a leg for non-patrons.
ArcheAge also has a very strange method of reporting bots, one that you probably aren’t aware of unless someone has specifically pointed out to you. Reporting a rule breaker (bot, hacker, afk player) is a skill in your ability window that you use on a targeted player. Reporting a player costs 25 labor, as to keep people from abusing the system, but if you report a bot and it is eventually banned, you allegedly receive a stipend of labor as a reward. Being reported, meanwhile, hampers that player with a debuff that must be removed by talking to a judge (which is simple enough).
Combat and questing in ArcheAge is standard enough, which makes me relieved that the questing apparently only runs until around level 30. You slot abilities, you tab target, and you hit numbers until the enemy is dead and you are not. I honestly have no idea what is going on with the quests, I stopped paying attention to the game’s numerous cutscenes when they started introducing the standard lineup of deities and how I am the chosen one set to save the world, blah blah blah.
At level 20, I feel like I’ve only broken the surface of what ArcheAge has to offer, and it certainly isn’t in the questing. There is a violent rift (get it?) that has shown up between patrons and non-patrons, with clans from both groups only ganking members from the opposite. Trion Worlds actually made a post on the forums asking players to tone down the f2p/p2p vitriol, although they won’t stick their hand in the game because pvp is pvp, and there are courts to handle that sort of behavior.
This is the first part of what will certainly be at least a three part look at ArcheAge, so if there is something in particular that you’d like me to have a look at, feel free to do so in the comments below.