Already over a thousand words in and I’m just now getting started on Gameplay. It’s been a while since I’ve played a game that required this much detail in the review. And that’s one of the things that’s refreshing about ArcheAge. It’s simple yet complex, which makes it interesting and fun. Everything you could want from an MMORPG. Something that a lot of developers seem to fail at completely, unfortunately.
A lot of people get confused when they try to place ArcheAge into a genre. Some call it a sandbox and plenty of people are quick to point out that it isn’t. And those people are right, to a point. The term I’ve found the most exactly describes ArcheAge is Sandpark – that is sandbox and themepark mashed together. It’s got the typical features of a themepark MMORPG such as quests, dungeons, world bosses, and click-based combat. But it also has sandbox features like housing with lots of customization, territory control for guilds, sailing, trade packs, and a player-run economy. It is, in my opinion, nearly the perfect balance of sandbox and themepark elements.
Speaking of questing, it’s probably my least favorite thing in the game. The primary way to level up and get low-end gear in ArcheAge is through questing. And these are your typical “run here” and “kill X of Y” type quests. Nothing special and highly repetitive to the point that you might even accidentally burn yourself out on the game. However, questing isn’t the only way to level in this game.
You get EXP from just about everything in the game. Heck, during the beta I would let my Labor Points (something I’ll get into soon) recharge up to 5,000, chug a vocation potion, and then head over to the massive mine in Solis Headlands and get a few levels while getting a nice chunk of iron ore and stone for my guildies to use. I also typically get enough exp while crafting to go up at least one level during each session. It may not be the most efficient or quickest ways to level, but it’s certainly possible to do so for those that don’t want to make combat their main focus of the game. Not that I’m saying you should do that – combat is very much a core component of the game and it’s something you shouldn’t avoid. But it is possible.
Speaking of crafting, there is a lot of it. From cooking, to tailoring, to masonry. There’s a skill for just about everything you could want in a fantasy setting. And they’re all pretty interlocked. You won’t be able to efficiently get everything you need for your primary craft by yourself unless you spend a lot of labor points and time preparing. This dependence between the crafting professions means you’ll want to work with others or, at the very least, take part in some trading via the auction house.
There is an item in the game that is required for crafting all gear. Accessories, armor, and weapons. At first, the Archeum requirements for this gear isn’t too bad – especially since Trion has listened to the cries of the players and introduced better Archeum drops. But, even with those changes, it seems impossible to get the thousands upon thousands of Archeum you’ll need for some of the better crafted gear. The reason for this is mostly the RNGesus, as a lot of the later gear is basically a dice roll to see if you get the exact right kind that will unlock the ability for you to create the next set. It gets frustrating, to say the least.
It sucks knowing that high-end crafted gear is a pipe dream for a lot of people.
There’s also an interesting Trial System in the game, where players can volunteer (by completing a short quest line) to be a Jury candidate. Once someone has gotten enough crime points and then die from PVP, they are sent to court where they’ll sit in front of a Jury of their peers (who have access to a list of all reported crimes) and plead their case. As you might imagine, this can be quite hilarious at times. Unfortunately, though, as you’ll see in the community section of the review, anyone and everyone can hop onto the trial chat channel and throw in their two cents. This has kind of turned Trial chat into a general chat channel. Another downfall of the system is that it’s very easy to rig it so that your friends are in the Jury when you go to court – either by careful timing or by just having a large amount of players in your guild/alliance.