ArcheAge VERY Early Impressions

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!

  • Posted this in the forums but might as well repost here:

    Even when you start doing the sandbox stuff.. farming, trade runs, building a house, etc.. the best way to level is still the good old quest grind.. youll just be going back and forth between both
    you can level from gathering/crafting as well but youll miss out on combat pets (everyone can get foxes, wolves, etc.. to fight with them) and other things.

    however once you get 30+ your questing is in the pvp areas.. which can make it a bit more exciting lol.

    Also crafted gear is way better then anything else in the game
    you will have to specialize eventually though.. for instance i think master alchemist are the only ones that can make the hourglasses needed to repair a destroyed ship (only 3 people in alpha right now can even make this item)

  • Unless they publish it with BOTH pvp AND PVE/Normal realms they will eventually fail.
    Up until now i have yet to see a “sandbox” meaning anything else besides ffa pvp.

  • This game needs pvp to function.. Trade routes are useless if you can’t lose your trade pack by pirate players.

    PvE server will not work for this.. The whole end game is about sieges, trade routes, ship battles etc
    Aka world pvp

    The game has a jail / punishment system for pkers.

    Pvp doesn’t work In other games cause of consequence.. This game has it.
    You can be locked in jail for up to 24 hours and even kicked out of your faction and forced to join the pirates.

  • @Qyte I totally agree…the game has so much awesome pve features and a whole virtual world to “live” in it would be a shame to fail as just “another pvp sandbox…”. Except if trion aims for Darkfall playerbase size..

  • @ john if PvE servers are half the games features would be broken?

    You’d lose trade routes.. You’d lose the criminal jail/ court system, no reason to fight on the oceans, etc

    This game does have safe zones already you can build your house and garden if if that’s what you want. It’s not completely ffa

  • @Bartillo I already expect the 80% of the population to join the pirates either way, so I don’t see this as a punishment…because being the bad pirate is cool..

    And I expect at the end of the month there will be only pirates in the game and they will eventually quit too since there will no be sheeps around and since “pvp players” avoid to fight against “pvp players” … because as someone already said:

    “The trick of selling a PvP-MMO is creating the illusion among gankers that they are respectable fighters while protecting them from respectable fights, as their less skilled half would be massacred and quit instead of “HTFU” as they claim.”

  • @Bartillo

    I don’t care about those systems you mention 🙂 I want to level my class, build my house, build my ship and sail…do some dungeons, e.t.c. I don’t ask for all servers to be pve of course, I just ask to have the option to roll into a pve server even if I know that I lose half the game.

  • I’m in between MMO, and ArcheAge is #1 on my list. (no ESO, no Wildstar for me) I’m hoping to see more vid on housing and ships and other things. I’m weary on PVP after 30s though. If the Punishment system really work, then that’ll make it interesting.

  • If you think this game needs a PvE only server you should probably at least attempt to look at the game systems rather than mouth off about what you “expect” to happen without even understanding how come of the basic features work. Disregarding it as “lel FFA PVP noty” is beyond ignorant.

    Gilda stars (the currency for house, boat blueprints etc) can be earned doing overland trade routes on a tractor trading within your continent. One of the streamers mentioned that this was 100% carebear and you could completely avoid all PvE zones, and whether that’s 100% true or not, all the info suggests it is exceptionally easy to avoid PvP if you want. Of course, this earns you less gilda stars, and the tractor can only take 4 trade packs (compared to the 50 on the trade ship). Oh, by the way, you can only be attacked in international waters, so there is a coastal zone where you’re completely safe from attack. Did I mention that more than 60% of the game’s landmass isn’t a PvP zone? And that you can level by crafting if the idea of another player possibly being able to attack is such a mortifying prospect?

    Such a FFA PvP game, Trion pls nerf.

  • @Dril

    May I ask why you are against a pve server option? There will sure be lot of pvp servers for everyone like pvp. Why is so important to you so that there is not a pve server? Do you think that playerbase will be so tiny that it cannot afford 1-2 pve servers? Or you afraid that 80% of the people will roll on pve and there will be gang fest?

  • no way this game will have a pve server. it doesnt work.

    If you want to build a house, craft, and farm in safety you can do that. you just never need to go in the ocean or leave your home factions continent.

  • a pvp game requires crafters, gatherings, trade route runners, etc to function..

    look at eve online. you can be ganked and killed everywhere and lose millions of isk, hours of work in a second and it has 500k+ subs.

    The only way the pvpers can function in eve is because they have manufactuers and miners to support their endeavors.. its all needed for the economy to work.

  • Anyway every sandbox mmo coming out will be pvp focused.. The Repopulation, Camelot Unchained, Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous, etc.

    If you want a sandbox it will be pvp focused… thats how it is.

  • Why would I be against a PvE Server? Because MMOs are only fun with an acceptable population. Creating unnecessary options for players, because they base their PROJECTED fun (remember, you haven’t even experienced it yet) on an idea that 3 letters can completely define their experience is just not reasonable.

  • Thus far it looks promising.
    I’ll keep an eye out for now.

    I liked the rowboat section.
    But something was missing like Graev rowing and and you at the front pointing lannnnnd
    I seen a picture where 2 can be on one of those boats.

  • I don’t see why you have to jump down PVE fan’s throat. In the early days you have 20+PVE servers and 5 PVP servers. (EQ had the Sek servers) How bad is it to make majority of the Server FFA PVP and give some of the PVE customers a couple servers? I mean there were RP servers in many MMORPGs after all.

  • They so eagerly refuse the chance for pve servers because the morons know that at least 90% of the players out there will definetely choose a pve server to go on. And if not from the start 99% will immediately switch after the 1st or 2nd gank. There will be no more sheep left in the end to satisfy them.

  • Bartillo said: “you just never need to go in the ocean or leave your home factions continent.”

    Or I just never play the game that will exclude me from some areas because of the fear that a vast minority loud population will not have their “content”. I will laugh when Archeage population become smaller than Darkfall…also I do not craft to restore my lost stuff from pvp

    @Lokked I totally agree that if they offer pve server, the pvp server population will not be acceptable (as qyte said and I agree). Although have no worries that pve server population will be acceptable enough. Also the option IS necessary for me because I am 100% confident of what makes me have fun and what not. I am in the MMO scene over 10 years, i know very well what ffa pvp is.

  • @Bartillo said: “a pvp game requires crafters, gatherings, trade route runners, etc to function..”

    I like that you wisely chose your targets in pvp…

  • How would PvE servers work? There would be no risk during trade routes.. There would be no pirate faction.. No sieges.. No criminal jail / court system.. No honor system.. No reason to fight on the oceans.

    The game would be dead.. Trion has already said the end game of archeage = pvp

  • I don’t want risk on trade routes. The game Housing, Building ship and sailing/exploring oceans, dungeons, 120 class combinations to play/test/level, RP. And I say it again, let trion offer the option of pve server and we will be here to see which servers are dead..the pve or the pvp… The pvp servers will be dead in the first month if the pve player get ganged more than twice.

    Aion reached 4 million player in a few months and lost 80% of them. Everyone I know from my guild (10+ people) stopped because of the gang after level 40. Of course this is an anecdotal experience, but why Darkfall, Age of Wushu and every other ffa pvp game except EVE have failed? Simple because they could not keep the pve guy around and because pvp players are small percentage of playerbase and they also quit the game “suddenly” when the pve guys leave..

    I know pretty well the “Need for the sheep”
    (I had the same opinions long before that post) but I am sure that people is not stupid anymore and they know very well now the ffa pvp that is extremely difficult to lure the pve guy into the camped “trade routes”.

    Again, I insist and I challenge Trion to offer 1-2 pve servers and then see what type of server is dead and what type is full.

  • To those that ask for PvE servers in every sandbox game that comes out: go play A Tale in the Desert.

    Also, I don’t know why they always fail to mention how no company designs and launches a non ffa-PvP sandbox, if as they say, there such large numbers of people that wouldn’t want to PvP and would flog the PvE servers leaving the PvP ones empty.

    Wow, great idea! How can it be that no game developer has ever realized that? Send them a letter!!!!!

    Sandbox games NEED player conflict. Period. Otherwise, they are a glorified Farmville, and no one wants that, as you can tell by the sheer number of games aimed at the PvE sandbox crew, that is… ONE, that almost no one plays.

    The Eve model does it right, by protecting the players that doesn’t want to PvP at all, and designing a world that allows that people to enjoy the game fully. That is, they need to feel that, by not PvPing, they are mostly only missing… PvP itself. Not half the game.

  • By the way, I’m a PvPer and I like sandbox games. I like the thrill of danger and trying to improve my surviving skills. But I never gank anyone. The last one I played was Age of Wushu, spent some months there and didn’t attack a single player that didn’t attack me first or was clearly hostile. There’s many ways to play PvP.

    I don’t like gankfests and it frustrates me as much as the next one when I get gangbanged for no reason by people that only aims to screw your enjoyment. So:

    – The chance for PvE players to fully enjoy the game without feeling they are missing half of it

    – REAL consequences for people whose aim is to screw with other people’s fun just by the sake of it

    That makes it for a game that can work, if the game is good, that is. In AoW’s case, it had some good systems to prevent griefing but the system was not harsh enough, so griefers gamed it to avoid the penalties. But that was only bad design. It can be done differently.

  • “Sandbox games NEED player conflict. Period.” Who says so? Sandbox is not tied to pvp in any way…just because korean sandbox games have pvp does not make sandbox as a definition depend on pvp.

    Also you still talk with hypothetical scenarios and your arguments are what the companies that created sandbox game have chosen.. and 90% of them failed miserable, so I don’t see how the argument

    “Wow, great idea! How can it be that no game developer has ever realized that? Send them a letter!!!!!”

    has any value…also I may send them a letter but my letter will not make them money out of their failed product…

  • Also why are you mad? I did no said that all servers will be pve… what are you worrying about? according to you all the players will understand how right you are and join on a pvp server, while I will be in a miserably empty server… what’s your problem? Why an option for others is a problem for you? (you don’t have to answer, I know very well why..)

  • Oh, you know I don’t have an answer! And you also know why is that. Cool, tell me why, please.

    It’s not Korean sandbox games have PvP. It’s Planet Earth’s sandbox games have PvP. Do you have an answer on why is that?

    I repeat, go play A Tale in the Desert. There you have your wildly succesful PvE sandbox with no PvP at all.

  • John, you say earlier you’re willing to sacrifice half the game to avoid PvEing.

    You can do that on normal servers. PvE servers are not only a redundant idea mechanically, they would also give you **exactly the same experience you can get on a normal server** plus the added option of doing meaningful content when you’re willing to commit to playing an MMO rather than an online cooperation simulator.

  • You don’t answer me why you afraid the OPTION of 1-2 RP or PVE servers… you are still are telling me stories about previous sandboxes, developers, UFO, e.t.c. that does not prove anything. I ask why the OPTION of a pve server does so much afraid you.
    Anyway, I am done discussing this… If Trion aims on playerbase size of Darkfall then they can have that… Also I do not wonder why this game starts as PVE and don’t even try the sub model…

  • @John:

    I no longer believe in the universal MMO concept, that is attempting to design game mechanics that cater to all play styles, more often than not meaning comparable PvE and PvP accessibility; I much rather would have have a game be designed around one core philosophy and do it well than jerry rig it to balance PvE and PvP playstyles.

    If it is accurate that AA is designed to be primarily a PvP game with some PvE elements then I think it would be unwise for the devs to design servers that undermine their core philosophy, i.e. where functionally half of their product is broken on release.

    So while it is reasonable to state that you like PvE-centric games, I find it unreasonable to be frustrated that a PvP-centric game isn’t Pve-centric.

    I sometimes see this attitude in Metacritic user reviews where someone reviews for instance a turn-based game and derides it for not being a real time strategy format; such criticism is unreasonable and inappropriate.

  • Dude, I’m not afraid of anything. I don’t know where you got that idea. It just doesn’t make sense. They are not designing a pve sandbox. No one does. there’s a reason for that.

  • @Gankatron

    I did not asked the game to change its philosophy… and be pve centric. I just asked to be able to enjoy the pve elements of the game (whichever they are) in a pve environment. If I can’t do that, I will not play it. I also predicted that the population size will be on par with Darkfall.

    Also AA is a universal MMO concept….it tries to attract both the pve and pvp players with different game elements. Leveling, crafting, Housing, Dungeons are all pve elements of the game. For example you can say for LoL that is not a universal “MMO” concept, as it is clearly only pvp game. (I have MMO pn quotes because LoL is not exactly MMO, but it is massivley multiplayer game). And yes, it would be stupid to ask pve server in LoL, but for AA I don’t think so…

    Anyway, players are now aware of the types of games, and the pve elements of AA will not lure them into the pvp-only servers…so I am sorry but no pve guy to use the trade routes and as said prepare for a Darkfail 2.0

  • Tbh I don’t think Western players know how to pvp. Basically they all stack up on one side or in one guild then roll over everyone. Western players seem to ruin pvp game after pvp game. This is my biggest concern for pvp in this game.

  • @solar: OK I’ll bite. How are Asian guilds run differently that makes them superior PvP’ers?

  • They tend to spread thmeselves out population wise. Good guilds often put themselves opposite one another rather than all bunch up on one side. Aion for example was a lot more fun on Asian servers as there was a lot more balance between the factions. Aion was my only experience but it seemed they seemed a lot more into competiton rather than simply rolling over people.

  • My experience in GW2 in US servers was similar with large guilds distributing themselves onto different servers to foster competition.

    Within the server there were negotiated agreements for regional as well as temporal distribution; it could actually get annoying as people would sound off if you wanted to play in an area that was relegated to another guild at that time (but one could turn off their guild tag to be somewhat less noticeable).

    Granted smaller guilds then tried to glom onto the more successful servers which could throw off balance, but that isn’t always a good thing when zone population limits are getting maxed out.

    I don’t have direct experience with the Oceanic servers to know how an Eastern mindset may differentially approach zerg aspects, but it seems that zerg ftw application is more likely to be dependant upon game design than individual preferences as it can be such a successful (albeit boring) and tactic with relatively low logistical requirements (“Everyone to Bay, NOW!!!”).

  • *…as it can be such a successful (albeit boring) tactic with relatively low logistical requirements (“Everyone to Bay, NOW!!!”).

  • Update to this discussion if you pay attention to the time stamp. People are already dropping off alpha (alpha mind you, and most paid a large amount to try the game). The ganking is indeed bad and the one sided zergs are at full pace. Its bad when you cant even step into the 30+ zones which is half the continent without getting ganked repeatedly.

    In these zones there are no flags. Its 100% open pvp even by your own faction which it usually is. If you want to primarily enjoy pve with some pvp thrown in when you want to participate forget it. If the whole faction continent was accessible with open pvp everywhere else it would be a success but in the current state its gonna fail. Sheep are leaving to greener pastures.