ArcheAge

Korean Sandbox MMO - ArcheAge has deep housing and PvP systems, plus a little PvE to go on the side.

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Game overview

ArcheAge is a free-to-play (with an optional subscription) MMORPG developed by XLGAMES, published by Trion Worlds, and created by the Korean game designer, Jake Song. You might remember him from Lineage, a game he helped to create way back when. Park originally envisioned ArcheAge as a “sandpark” MMO, meant to mix the openness of a sandbox game with the more structured approach of a themepark MMO, but as time went on, the game became more theme and less sand, with a fair amount of paying-to-win.

➔ Main points:

  • Great graphics, higher system requirements
  • Houses give you a place to rest your feet
  • Interesting justice system.
  • 120 Classes

Full review

At its onset, ArcheAge feels much like any other themepark MMO. Choose one of the game’s six races, split between two factions, select one of ten skillsets, such as Battlerage or Occultism, and then get leveling. The first thing that you’ll likely realize is just how good ArcheAge looks, even for a game going on four-years-old. The CryEngine is put to work here, and the result is quite fantastic, assuming you possess a computer powerful enough to run it.

Classes All the Way Down

After a bit of leveling, you’ll be able to unlock a second skillset, and then a third, and then you’ll have created a class. ArcheAge features 120 different classes, each one a combination of three of the ten different skillsets. There’s a lot of potential here to mix, match, and conjure up some unexpected synergies, like a warrior who crafts songs and loves the occult.

Killing a green deer.

But no matter what class you choose, expect to engage in some Labor, one of ArcheAge’s mechanics that has a lot in common with stamina found in other games, although not nearly as restricting. Labor is necessary for a lot of what happens in ArcheAge, from crafting to farming (on an actual farm, not grinding). You have a limited amount of labor points, and gain more over time, but only while logged on.

This is also where ArcheAge’s subscription model really comes into play. Patrons, as they’re called, gain many increased benefits, including a boost to their labor pool and its regeneration. Not only that, but patrons can also gain labor while offline. Other patron benefits include a queue priority, an experience gain bonus, access to the auction house, the ability to buy land, and loyalty tokens which are used to buy special items at the Loyalty Store.

So, yes, treating ArcheAge as a free-to-play game will leave you at quite a disadvantage. Unless you directly buy anything you need… with APEX. These tokens, when consumed, grant 1250 credits (ArcheAge’s premium currency). APEX can also be traded, or bought and sold on the Auction House. Meaning that players can earn credits by simply playing the game. APEX doesn’t quite make up for the benefits of being a subscribing Patron, but it does help.

If you’re an established playing, you can easily earn enough gold (Gilda Stars) through in-game means to buy plenty of APEX tokens. Of course, if you’re that ArcheAge wealthy, you’re probably also pretty deep into ArcheAge’s end game, which means that you’re either running dungeons like a madman, engaging in some PvP, or playing interior decorator with your house. PvP is the most involved, so we’ll save that for last. Dungeons are about what you’d expect from an MMO. You go there to farm up some loot and to engage in those lovely social activities.

Bringing Down the House

Housing is a bit more involved, but it’s only available to Patrons. You can subscribe for that, or use those nifty APEX tokens. Once you’re a patron, though, you’re free to build yourself a house. First you’ll need a blueprint, though, and the materials to craft it. Of course, all of this is quite laborious, so you’ll need plenty of labor, too. Then once it’s built, you must pay taxes on it, or risk losing it, and if you’ve built it in the hostile northern continent, it can be destroyed by enemy players. Taxes are dependent upon where you settle, as well. In the South, the tax rate is set by the developers, but whoever holds the north gets to set the taxes.

City life.

The Art of Killing

PvP in ArcheAge entails either dueling other players, flat out murdering them, or conducting some good, old-fashioned cross-faction battling. Dueling is the simplest form of PvP. Nobody dies. Everyone’s happy – the winner more so. But when duels escalate, someone dies, and when that happens, it’s murder. Murder – as defined by ArcheAge – is when one player kills another – which coincidentally is also the definition under normal circumstances.

Of course there are rules and regulations for such activities. Firstly, a player must declare themselves hostile by going into Bloodlust mode. Anyone they attack will be able to attack them back without repercussion, but if the player that Bloodlusted kills a player of the same faction, they will gain crime and infamy points. You can work off your crime points by doing quests, but if you’re too much of a scoundrel, you’ll be sent to jail after a trial by your peers.

ArcheAge has an entire justice system at work.

Players who commit crimes leave behind evidence, which other players can use to report, and guilty players can be sentenced to jail from anywhere between a few minutes to a few days.

Jail life is, as imaginable, not great. You gain a debuff that disables all combat and mobility skills, and you’re left with little to do. You can play soccer, or kill rats, or hang out with other inmates. You can bust out of jail. This is relatively easy, but you’re still stuck with that pesky debuff, so don’t expect to do have too much fun after an escape. Committing crimes also earns you infamy points, and getting too many of those will make you a proud member of the Pirate faction, but you can always rejoin your original faction by working off the infamy points. There are also Castles, which you can declare war against and siege once every three weeks.

Fight me!

Conclusion

Though you could argue the game is pay-to-win (you could certainly pay to bypass a lot of hurdles) you could also become wealthy all on your own and not have to worry about paying for anything. But it’s debatable whether or not ArcheAge’s sub-thousand player count has the long-term economy to support such lofty goals. But update 4.0 for the game is due out by the end of 2017, so perhaps there’s some silver lining anyway.

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Graphics: full 3D
PvP: guild or factions PvE PvP
Cash shop influence: average
Exp rate: medium

Originality
The game's justice system allows players to report criminals and send them to jail.

What We Liked..

great graphics

interesting PvP mechanics

in-depth housing system

.. and what we didn't

Dwindling player base

easy to pay to win

weak PvE


Fun factor
3.5 out of 5
Community
3.5 out of 5
Graphics
3.5 out of 5
8.1
Outstanding

Review summary

  1. Classes All the Way Down
  2. Bringing Down the House
  3. The Art of Killing
  4. Conclusion

What we liked..

great graphics
interesting PvP mechanics
in-depth housing system

.. and what we didn't

Dwindling player base
easy to pay to win
weak PvE
8.1
Graphics - 70 / 100
Fun factor - 70 / 100
Longevity - 70 / 100
Originality - 70 / 100
Community - 70 / 100

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