ArcheAge

ArcheAge is a new free-to-play fantasy sandbox MMORPG by XL Games and Trion, the developers of Rift, that was released on September 16th. It is based heavily on farming and crafting with an emphasis on PVP. I’ve been playing ArcheAge since just about release day (I downloaded the game on release day, but the queues were outrageous for the first several days, so I wasn’t able to play right away). Although ArcheAge has a lot in common with other MMORPGs, there are some cool things that make it stand out.

ArcheAge

Good things:

  • Houses in ArcheAge
    In-world housing

    Housing and farms. There is in-game housing that is actually in the world instead of instanced and stupid like in other games. You can also build farms in the world to grow plants and raise animals for resources.

  • Ships. Players can build ships that allow them to sail the seas, search ship wrecks for treasure, go deep sea fishing, and take on a life of piracy. I like using the harpoon to make ships go places they shouldn’t be able to go — on mountains, in cities, airborne,… 🙂
  • Gliders. Instead of normal flying mounts, gliders work like a real glider would. You can’t just fly up and down and sideways however you want.
  • Trade run in ArcheAge
    Trade run

    Trade runs. You can gather resources into a trade pack that you carry across the world to NPC traders. Trade packs make you move slowly, but donkeys, ships, farm carts, and carriages can help you get around faster. You can do short, safe trade runs for a smaller reward or you can go on longer, riskier routes for a better payoff. Trade packs can be stolen in certain situations, though, which makes trade runs exciting.

  • Trials. Trials are awesome. If you see a crime,  you can report it, and the criminal will eventually go to trial. 5 players are selected to sit on the jury and determine the defendant’s guilt or innocence. If found guilty, the player is sent to jail for a period of time decided by the jury.
  • Crafting. The crafting system is very extensive. You can make anything from potions to furniture to gear to farm tools to musical instruments that play custom music.
  • 120 different classes. Rather than having a handful of predetermined classes, players get to choose 3 out of 10 different skillsets and add spend skill points in those 3 skillset trees as they see fit.
  • Airborne ship in ArcheAge
    Sending my ship flying with some harpoon trickery

    You can play how you want. You can gain experience from just about anything… questing, farming, mining, and even using the auction house. If you get enough infamy, you can even become a pirate, able to be attacked anywhere by anyone.

  • Levels are important, but it’s still possible for lower-leveled characters to take out higher-leveled characters, especially when the higher-leveled character is outnumbered.

Mixed things:

I’m not sure whether to put “free-to-play” in the good section or the bad section. Although ArcheAge is promoted as “free-to-play,” it’s pretty much a necessity to have patron (paid) status. You have to be a patron to own land (houses and farms) or sell things on the auction house. You’re also severely limited in labor points (necessary for performing most actions) if you don’t have patron status. However, you can buy patron status with in-game currency, which I think is great.

Gliders in ArcheAge
Gliders
Trial in ArcheAge
Player trial

Bad things:

  • Queues. Server queues were absolutely horrendous the first week or more of the game. The queues have improved enormously, though, and don’t seem to be an issue anymore.
  • Player collision. It drives me crazy when I am pushed around unable to move because of player congestion. That’s just part of this game, though.
  • Mob tapping. If someone else attacks an enemy first, it’s theirs. You don’t get any credit for the kill and you don’t get any share of the loot. This is common to most MMORPGs, but I really don’t like it.
  • Minimap. The minimap is terrible. It is zoomed out so far that it is hard to find what you’re looking for and there isn’t any way to change the zoom level.
Placing plants in a farm in ArcheAge
Placing plants in a farm
Auction house in ArcheAge
Auction house

And if someone from Trion reads this, here are 4 minor things I’d love to have changed:

  • Name the screenshot files according to the date taken (YYYY-MM-DD…).
  • Add an option to zoom in the minimap.
  • Stop requiring that the auctioneer be targeted when using the auction house.
  • Do not include fences in the decoration limit for houses (or up the decoration limit to accommodate). I have a farmhouse with fences around it and I can only have a handful of decoration items in the house.

Overall thoughts:

I’m enjoying ArcheAge so far. I wasn’t sold on it right away, but it has been growing on me. My friends who used to play Ultima Online back in its heyday are loving it, saying it’s the closest thing they’ve seen to UO. Since the game is free, ArcheAge is definitely worth trying out if it sounds interesting to you.

[Edit] More things I’d love to have changed:

  • An option to disable right-click attack.
  • A way to preview sheet music before buying it. I keep hearing about people who assume they’re buying one thing and end up with empty sheet music or get rick rolled.
  • Fix the bug that resets your settings.

I rage quit yesterday after remaking my chat tabs half a dozen times and being killed twice by guards after unintentionally right-clicking a red on the docks (once, I was just trying to move; the other time, I right-clicked a chat tab, which made me attack a red).

[Edit] Game over

I quit the game and blogged about my final thoughts.

Guild Wars 2: Release Day

Standing on a hill (by nebse)
Standing on a hill (screenshot by nebse)

Nick and I started playing a new MMORPG: Guild Wars 2, which was just released yesterday. We hadn’t been planning on playing it; in fact, we knew nothing about it prior to Monday. My coworker casually mentioned that it was coming out and that evening, Nick happened to see a screenshot (on right) posted on Reddit that made him want to play the game. How cool is it that the character’s knee is bent while standing on a hill?! We looked into it a bit and once we found out that there was no monthly subscription fee and that there was even a gnome-like race (the asura), we decided to give it a try. A few clicks later, we were downloading the game.

Getting started

When we started the game, we had to pick which world server we wanted to play on. Unfortunately, you can only play on one server in GW2 (unlike World of Warcraft, where you can have characters on multiple servers). You can switch servers, but it’ll cost you. Apparently, you can still play with friends on other servers, but you won’t be able to participate in World vs. World PvP.

Character customization

There are 5 races to choose from: Asura (short and clever), Charr (aggressive and feline), Human (boring!), Norn (Nordic shape-shifters), and Sylvari (inquisitive plant-like humanoids). There aren’t factions in GW2, unlike WoW.

There are 8 professions (aka classes) as well: Elementalist, Engineer, Guardian, Mesmer, Necromancer, Ranger, Thief, and Warrior.

Character customization
Character customization

Character customization is pretty detailed, reminding me more of Skyrim than WoW. You can tweak all of your facial features, height, skin color, etc. AND you can dye your armor! I wish there were more colors to choose from when dyeing armor, but 21 colors isn’t bad.

After you’ve picked out your race and profession and customized your appearance, it asks you a few questions about your character to help create your character’s personal story. This affects your character’s personality and in-game storyline events. I think it’s really neat that the decisions you make have an effect on the game.

Playing the game

I have to say that our first hour or two of playing the game were a bit overwhelming. The controls and UI were pretty straight-forward, but figuring out where we had to go and what we had to do took a little getting used to, as can be expected when playing a new game. It probably didn’t help that we were trying to stick together in a party with a friend of ours instead of learning the game at our own individual paces. At one point, we became separated and couldn’t figure out how to get back to each other (it seems like the separation was probably due to server overflow).

Cinematic conversation
Cinematic conversation

One thing that impressed me right away was the cinematic conversations that take place in the game. The characters in the cinematic conversations move and do a pretty decent job lip-syncing the words. It’s a lot more interesting to watch and listen to these cutscenes than it is to click through a bunch of dialogue screens. And if you don’t care about the storyline, there’s a button that let’s you skip over it.

Dynamic world event
Dynamic world event

Another aspect of the game that I really like is the dynamic world events, a lot like rift events in Rift. When there’s an event nearby, it alerts you and everyone else in the area. Everyone who wants to participate can then work together to complete the task.

I’m still learning how combat works, so I’m not going to blog about that just yet. I really like how quickly health regenerates when out of combat, though. That was one of my complaints about WoW.

Overall Thoughts

It’s too early to say for sure, but it seems like Guild Wars 2 is going to be a pretty fun game. It doesn’t feel radically different from other games in the genre, but they’ve obviously learned a lot from other games about what works and what doesn’t and they’ve added some neat new features. I’m excited to see more of the game!

From WoW to Rift

WoW - Eris and Lich King
Me and the Lich King (WoW)

After over 2.5 years of playing World of Warcraft, Nick and I finally called it quits in early February. In that time, I played all 10 classes (every class except for two (rogue and hunter) up to level 80+). We had fun questing, raiding, and PvPing together, with friends, and from people we met from all over the world… but eventually we grew a bit tired of it. And the task of leveling my eight level 80’s to level 85 with the new expansion, Cataclysm, was daunting… having to repeat the same quest chains over and over again did not sound fun. 🙁

We had (or, are having?) a heck of a time finding a good replacement, though. We played Little Big Planet 2 for a while. Then, we started playing old favorites like Age of Empires 2 (best game ever?), Warcraft 3, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Nick and me (Rift)

A month ago, we started playing Rift with some of our friends from work and personal life. It feels a lot like WoW. It has a couple of nice features, like rifts and invasions, that keep the game interesting. It also handles groups well. In Rift, you are able to easily join public groups and merge groups to form larger groups. This comes in handy, especially during a zone invasion, when everyone in the zone is working together to extinguish the rifts and invasions. When it’s over, hitting “unmerge groups” removes your original group from the larger group. Very cool. Nick and I are still learning a lot about Rift (so we haven’t made our minds up about it yet), but for now, it’s a fun outlet… even though there aren’t any gnomes. 🙁

We’re also looking forward to playing Diablo 3, Torchlight 2, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. 🙂