ArcheAge Noob Closed Beta Impressions

ArcheAge, Firran

Recently I have found myself quite interested in the upcoming Trion title ArcheAge. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. ArcheAge is an Asian-inspired fantasy sandbox title where player vs player combat is the norm coupled with a full player-driven crafting economy. MMO purists should be rejoicing, for those that constantly complain about the “downfall” of MMOs and the “dirty casuals” that infect the genre, this is a title that actively promotes their preferred style of play.

Believe it or not, I don’t subscribe to that ancient style of thinking. I take no joy in slaying other live players, or the imaginary competition of loot races, I’m not a fan of PvP. I’m also not a fan of crafting, either, as most crafting systems entail as much entertainment as watching grass grow. I get more enjoyment standing in front of my sink, instead of a crafting station, cleaning dishes for 20 minutes. That at least nets me clean dishes, something a lot more valuable to me than digital ingots.

Yet it’s the pureness of the concept, the overwhelming statement of “this is not the game for you” that is quite tempting. It’s a challenge and feels like the perfect chance to test whether this MMO style really is for me or not. Plus, it’s always good to try new things. So, ArcheAge beckons.

I didn’t pay for it, though. Despite the overwhelming prevalence these days of paid alphas and betas and the ridiculous prices thereof, there were plenty of free beta keys to go around. With that in hand I set the 20+ GB download to start and promptly went and played Marvel Heroes for a while. Don’t look at me like that. Marvel Heroes has come a long way since it started and is really a fun dungeon brawler! Nightcrawler is a freaking blast to play. About 2 hours of downloading ArcheAge later, though, I was able to get in.

ArcheAge, Firran

Sure, this is a “water buffalo”… I guess…

Why is it in Beta, anyway?

First, I get it. This game doesn’t actually need testing. It’s been released in Japan for the past year, and Korea for the past year and a half. So this whole beta is nothing more than a sales ploy. At most, Trion is testing for translation accuracy and different cultural metrics so they can accurately determine prices for cash-shop items for the NA/European audience. That’s cool, though, and they’d be fools to not take advantage of the hype and make boatloads of money while they’re testing. In that effect, charging for alpha/beta makes sense. At least the game is polished and playable, which is a lot more than I can say for most paid betas.

Logging in, I created my first character, a Charr Caitian Firran. As in most fantasy, the choice was elves, humans, other humans, and cat people. Throw in a short race, and you could have the lineup for every other fantasy game. Oh, wait… that’s being planned. I opted for the non-boring race that wasn’t aligned with those dirty elves. Some pretty great cutscenes followed, describing how the Firran were a nomadic race, how they were at war with the “other humans” and beat them but then became lazy and then got beat themselves, and how they were once more on the cultural upswing. Sweet. In fact, all the cutscenes were pretty sweet. Nice art style and good exposition that wasn’t useless or felt out-of-place.

ArcheAge, Firran

Now THAT’s a moon.

We Heard You Liked Punctuation…

I approached my first NPC, I saw it, and I sighed heavily: A giant yellow exclamation point. This again? Could be me, could be that I’m getting old, but the yellow exclamation point has been done to death. They told me some short statement and sent me along the road to the next hub. Here, same, and they sent me to the next hub, and to the next hub, and to the next hub. Go kill 10 rats, then come back here so I can send you to the next hub. This is one of the many reasons I don’t play World of Warcraft anymore. This style of gameplay was popular and novel over a decade ago. It’s lame. We haven’t grown out of it yet? At least cover it up better to make it not FEEL like hub-jumping.

I know, though, that the whole point of ArcheAge isn’t the story. So these hubs just give brief exposition, a little cultural identity and send you forward, ever forward, sometimes without much sense, and very quickly. At the end of my session I was already level 10, and had been through 6 different quest hubs.

This is by far not the meat of ArcheAge. Sad thing was, though, this wasn’t even a real taste. If you want your whole game to be based around crafting, trade and PvP, then, I don’t know, why not have that from the very beginning? Why start with Game A and then slowly merge into Game B? If people are coming for Game B, then give them Game B! Why have them slog through Game A first, especially a really terrible, half-assed Game A?

ArcheAge, Firran

So. Darn. Cute.

But, Wait! It’s not All Question Marks! 

There were some really great novel concepts, though, that were shown in the introductory zone. Use of supplies to help build structures. Nice graphics. Musical instruments used by anybody to give bonuses and help in healing. Getting your first mount and raising it from a cub (alright, it took about a minute to fully grow, but it showed the promise of more). Having your mount fight by your side (couldn’t get this to work initially, my mount wouldn’t get out of follow, but the commands were there, so it’s coming), putting armor on your mount. Housing. Working with a farm.

The jewel, though, is the class system. Fully switchable and seems so deep it makes TESO’s look like child’s play.

I started with an offense “occult” as my first specialization. Next, I chose a physical “defense” style. Not sure if I can make those work, but who knows. Could be fun. Last, I picked a “music” style, because why not? The combination, as random as it is, is called a “Dark Aegis”.

A dark magic slinging, shield bearing, music blasting cat-man riding a huge fanged white lion. I can totally dig it.

ArcheAge, Fiiran

A Dark Aegis and his snowlion, ready to… do something in the next zone, I guess.

More, Please

If I’m allowed in future betas without paying, I’ll definitely keep it up. So far I feel like I truly haven’t experienced ArcheAge. I want to taste more and start getting to the real game before I make any lasting impressions or commitments. The game feels really solid and true to their intent, even if the starting zones may not fully reflect it. From watching ArcheAge streamers on Twitch like Pookahontus, even the PvP looks like a blast to play. Maybe I’ve just taken PvP a little too serious all this time.

But who knows if it will catch on. I’m an anti-social MMO gamer at heart and this is a cooperative game. But even in my casual style, if I can still feel like I make a contribution it may make it into my rotation.

My suggestion to you, dear reader, is that if you can snag a beta key you should at least give the game a shot. Like anything else, you never know if you’ll like it until you try it.

// Ocho

12 thoughts on “ArcheAge Noob Closed Beta Impressions

  1. Looks nice….has pets that fight…I like…will follow development.

    (Want to hear more about the Marvel game mentioned – good dungeon brawler…)

    • Oh, Marvel Heroes? Surprisingly kick ass. Instead of race/classes, you pick one of the plethora of Marvel heroes they have available, Xmen, Avengers, Guardians, etc. Since it’s FTP, they only give you a choice of about 10 to start, but you can earn unlocking the rest by playing or buying them. Lots of explosions, lots of huge boss fights, not a ton of time investment needed. Very easy to jump in and out of. I’ll do a writeup on it sometime soon, maybe after I level my Nightcrawler a little more. 🙂

      • Oh yeah, totally give it a shot. This should be a big tell: I’m not a superhero fan at all. Never collected comic books, never saw any of the movies. That is, UNTIL I started playing MH. I don’t think I’ll be collecting any comics anytime soon, but I have been picking up the movies on Netflix since I started. Mostly, it’s just really fun to play.

  2. Two things, 1) “there were plenty of free beta keys to go around.” – Do tell, cuz I ain’t found a single one yet. I play AA on the Russian server, so I get the general gist of it, but I’d love to know what exactly my quest givers are asking me to do, and I’m not paying $50 (!) for a beta key.

    2) Marvel Heroes – oh wow, someone else besides me plays this? We are going to team up one night and kick some butt together. My handle is HZero (obviously), give me a yell in game or a time to meet you.

    • I acquired my first beta key from Rixty, a FTP payment service, they had a few. I gave that key to a friend, though. Then, I was kinda sad I gave it away, but found Alienware Arena, I think, had a whole bunch more and I grabbed one from them. Just do a search for ArcheAge keys closer to the 30th. There will definitely be more. If I come across an extra, I’ll let you know.

      As for Marvel Heroes, I was shocked how much I found myself enjoying it. 🙂 Started with DareDevil, and he was a blast. But he wasn’t my favorite. So I spent a few bucks and picked up Nightcrawler. Such a blast to play. If you find me first, my name is BigMikeyOcho. 🙂

      • I will definitely look you up. Hawkeye is who I started with, but the ranged skills are a bear to manage in later levels, so I spent some money in the BOGO sale and have been splitting time between Moonknight and Taskmaster, two of my favorites.

  3. I was trying to find the answer to a really obscure question for Divinity Original Sin, and somehow I ended up here. Soooo glad I did, I signed up for the beta and got a key an hour later. Can’t wait to check this game out.

    • Wow! Congrats! That’s awesome to hear. After giving it a try, hopefully you come on back and let us know what your thoughts are. Sadly, I’m still waiting on my official Trion code. Have to keep scrounging for another code. I could of course *gasp*pre-order the game, but I have a thing against paying just to be in alphas/betas. Of course, as I said above… this isn’t exactly a “beta” as we know it.

  4. Totally with you on the Game A, Game B bait-and-switch. I played the Korean beta, and they introduced the features that make AA cool MUCH faster. I think I had a boat, a glider, and a mount by level 5 or 6. Then they changed it so you’re doing more ? ! and less… well, experiencing the game until, mm, level 12 I think when you’re just back to quest hubs for I don’t know how long (got up to level 24 or so I think before I was just done with waiting to get beyond the boring stuff).

  5. Pingback: I’ve Got ArcheAge Envy | MMO Gamer Monkey

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