Trion was gracious enough to grant me access to the alpha test phase of ArcheAge. I’ve had access for two days now and put in somewhere around 5 hours of play. I’m still -very- early in the game and haven’t even gained access to most of the features I’d like to try the most (ships, housing).
I want to start sharing my impressions, though, because there’s going to be a lot to say about ArcheAge. Let’s discuss the first few hours of play.
Visuals, Presentation, et al.
ArcheAge is quite beautiful. You can glean that from watching most videos. The engine runs well on my computer at maxed out settings with only the slightest hint of slowdown around what I think could be a shadow issue. From a complete technical novice like myself, the game ‘feels’ well put together and as the end-user I have no technical complaints yet.
Some of the game is still in a language I do not understand — Korean? Other than language, ArcheAge feels Eastern to me. Character models all look feminine and ‘pretty’. Back to how the game ‘feels’, I can ‘feel’ the Eastern influence in the controls and the gameplay. Playing MMOs for almost 20 years gives one that sense to pick up on these things. Keep in mind that’s not yet a negative thing by itself.
The UI is okay at best. It’s very standard, gets the job done, etc. I think the minimap gets in my way, and I’m looking (I actually haven’t begun to look) for a way of shrinking it so that it doesn’t overlap with my quest tracker.
Combat is the typical tab target hotkey fare. There’s one little twist that I haven’t seen before, though, where some abilities are labled something like fast use (rapid use? I forget) and you can hold the button down to essentially spam it. Graev’s character (he also got in) throws these arcane stars from his hands “Hyah hyah hyah!” rapid fire style — by holding down the button he alternates hands and spams them. When I was Shadowplay (I’ve already respec’d 6 times) I could hold down one of my sword swings to have it keep attacking quickly. Other than that, from what I’ve seen in the first 5 hours the combat is fairly standard.
Animations are awesome in more ways than one. Combat looks great. Shooting a bow, swinging a sword, casting a spell, playing an instrument (there are bards!), etc. All look good and feel pretty good.
Mounts, Boats, etc!
I already have a rowboat! It’s awesome! Best experience I’ve had in the entire game so far. Nothing has come even remotely close. Controlling the boat is really intuitive. I’ve done some minor rowing as a young scout and I recall how weird it is to row with your back facing the direction you want to go. As you can see in the video below, it took my brain a few seconds to catch on but once I did the experience was fantastic.
The water is awesome in ArcheAge, and I seriously can’t stand the wait until I can build myself a ship. I’m going to go into this special zone tonight where I can try out the ships and all that good stuff. I’m really excited.
My horse is awesome too. He follows me around like a pet and levels up. I raised him from a young little thing. Took me 3 whole minutes! Although quick, it was neat to at least feel attached in some way to the process. All animations are superb with the horse from riding to mounting. I think, eventually, my horse can fight with me. For now he just follows along like a good horse.
Questing – meh. The early game.
Surprise! Questing is dull. I’ll be harsh and say it kinda sucks. 1-20 feels like it’s one big tutorial. That’s fine and all, but I hope the questing eases up (I hear it does and I’m sure someone will comment) and gives me more of a “here’s your world now go explore” vibe.
The class system is based off of choosing three skillsets which in and of themselves resemble classes. You can pick the typical healer, fighter, mage types then combine them with other classes like witchcraft, songcraft, auramancy, etc., to form something else. Essentially nothing changes from what I’ve seen — it just gives you a name for having chosen three.
There are combos and synergies to consider when choosing abilities. I haven’t min-maxed the best combinations yet, but it looks like shadowplay with songcraft and vitalism could be a sneaky support character that I may want to try out.
As you level up you get points to spend to unlock skills, and abilities within each class rank up. Pick and choose the abilities you want to make your fairly unique character.
Soooo much more to see
I’ve really only scratched the surface. Right now the 1-20 experience feels themepark. I want to get to the sandbox part of ArcheAge everyone keeps telling me about. Press on I shall!