Second Beta Test review of ArcheAge by La2_Cobalt
First Impressions on ArcheAge
"its beautiful here..." As you know, the second
closed beta test of Archeage has started in Korea. In a miraculous way,
it became possible to catch some taste of this promising game. Of
course, MMO games are rather converse to the brief acquaintance, but
even in the short time one can make an initial opinion about the game.
Please keep in mind though that the following description is a product
of a very superficial glimpse on an extremely raw variant of the game,
and when it comes to its publication everything can change any way.
Also, in transcriptions of certain aspects of the game there may be some
factual inaccuracies arising from a limited (better say missing)
understanding of the Korean by the author.
As in any true Korean MMO game, ArcheAge begins from the screen of
choice and the making your character. As up today, a gamer is offered
two possible races: Nuian and Elf (at final release there will be many
more). Nuian are just regular humans, the same way as in any fantasy
game. Elf are elves whose appearance reminds of wood elves. These are
neither "civilized" elves from LineaAge2 nor elegant aristocrats from
Tera but exactly the legendary forest inhabitants. The starting image of
female Elf is typical - bare feet, flower-styled dress, overall -
entire ecology and unity with the Nature.
After the racial
choice, you can choose the gender of your character and adjust basic
characteristics of his/her appearance. And as you choose a class, the
first surprise strikes you - the meaning of "class" is tremendously
changed and re-worked in ArcheAge. In few words - there is a set of 10
skill trees (combat, witchcraft, invincibility, magic, nature powers,
etc.). Any 3 out of these 10 constitute a class. The number of
combinations reaches 120 - this is the theoretical number of possible
classes in this game. During the creation of the character you are
offered 4 pre-built classes - Warrior, Priest, Mage, Ranger and there
also is a possibility to create your own custom class by combining any 3
skill trees. It is worth mentioning that in the process of the game the
skill trees can be switched (not for free), therefore your original
class choice does not predetermine all the future path of your character
as opposed to what we find in the majority of similar games.
race has in its disposal its own starting zone and corresponding story
line. This distinguishes ArcheAge from Tera where all races start the
game from the same location, and the problem of over-population is
solved by means of instancing (parallel copies of the same location). In
ArcheAge, as it can be seen right now, there are no instancing and the
World is undivided and whole, with numerous starting zones in LineAge2
A fresh Nuian character starts in the Solzreed Peninsula
of the Western continent of the World. An introductory video plays
(animation clip on game engine) where the site of your character
appearance - unremarkable marsh - turns literally upside down bringing
the player either into back memories or into a parallel World, to the
same marsh terrain only in dim dusk light. Some dialogue takes place
between the new gamer and two NPC's, one with appearance of a wise
tutor, another one - a blond Elf female. Apparently, the talk was about
the fates of the World but its exact transcript was hidden from me
behind solid barrier between Korean and Russian languages. Screenshot from the introductory video for Nuain
After the video, the character enters a traditional starting zone of a
solid Korean MMO - beautiful terrain, lavish vegetation of a summer
forest, small starting village submerged in jadeЂ¶
Conveniently-positioned NPC's expectedly give you traditional first
quests - kill a mob, bring its skin back. The graphics is of high
quality, the models for players and monsters are quite respectable. The
top-echelon Korean games already put the plank for graphical quality so
high (and constantly push it further) that we are already tired of
The starting video for Elves is much more dramatic. As creatures of
sharpened feeling of honor and duty, elves are cheerfully slaughtering
each other in a sacred circle in front of a crowd. As a result, the
future conqueror of the World gets either orphaned or loses friends -
hard to understand but this certainly leaves her without too many
sentiments. Hard childhood does not dispose to long speeches with
enemies - hit'em by sword, bring the next one. A screenshot from introductory Elf movie (the drama!)
The starting location of Elf (Gweonid Forest) is quite corresponding
to expectations of an elven forest - even more bushy and abundant than
in Solzreed. In its depths, you can find hidden ruins of an ancient
elven stronghold (where the drama of introductory video has taken
place), lakes, magnificent trees and corresponding mobs - wild animals,
earth spirits, fire and water elementals. In the center of a small
lake, there is a grand tree with something looking like a dungeon
entrance, now strictly locked and guarded by a band of elves accompanied
by a brawler-golem. A very atmospheric location, lovers of green should
like it. The starting quests given here are very much similar to those
for Nuian, the differences are few.
Whats nice, is that running elves leave behind a trail of glowing,
grass-growing steps. It looks funny and, against expectations, not very
boring. Hopefully, future races will also have some similar specific
"bells and whistles".
Elf running in the night
Level design and appearance
As one would say - better once to see than hundred times to hear.
This is true - the design of levels is tremendous. The World is
saturated with small details, very-well made and looking convincingly.
While running over these locations, you believe that all this is for
real. It is dreadful to imagine how much of tedious labor has been put
in all of this - grass blades, rocks, various trees, ancient ruins,
modern obelisks are all composed into a single harmonious mosaic. The
topography is well-thought, the roads, villages and castles are not just
randomly thrown but make a distinct system.
The villages are
surrounded by farmers fields, both finished and also prearranged for use
and construction by gamers themselves. Castles are believably complex,
encircled by sturdy walls with small country shacks sticking to their
perimeter. Inside the castle there is always an urban zone with
workshops, stores and gardens, as well as an upper town - white-stoned
villas and capital palaces.
Looking at such a castle, it is hard
to believe that it can be allowed for players to possess. It is too
monumental, complex, extensiveЂ¶ The scale of the castle built invites
for a serious siege, maybe with hundreds of players on each side. The
declared earlier 50 defenders will be just dissolved between the walls,
giving no actual perception of a real battle. However, the sieges are
promised. Interesting to see how they will look like.
The Western continent architecture consists of a contemporary
Western-European style - the magnificent villas hidden behind strong
city walls will make a tribute even to Abramovich, whereas country-side
houses in suburbs and on the fields would very well suit to happy
modern-day German citizens. The Eastern continent though looks
definitely like India with some Arabic influence. The main city of the
East Mahadevi is not completed yet, but after finished it can contend by
its splendor with the capital of the West (up to my recent
As of now, the central city of the West Marianople is the most
magnificent place in the game. It represents an immense conglomerate of
white-stoned palaces, towers and walls, encircled on the outside by
potent moat and a belt of villages, water mills and other country
The city embodies huge cast-iron-fenced villas, tall towers,
cathedrals as well as a bank, a library and even a small theater. Wide
avenues run in all four directions from the central plaza with a net of
small streets between them containing numerous shops. Opposite to the
also not-so-small but badly planned capital Velika in Tera, this capital
has a clear-thought radial/circular structure reminiscent for example
of Moscow. It has even a circular line of a simple subway. The planning
of the capital and other cities is so much plausible - it literally
invites you to live there. However this scale and variety comes for
their price - these places do have the best lags in the game and RAM
consumption jumps up to 1.9 Gb.
The game has excellent time-of-the-day and weather-related
atmospheric changes. Sure, this is a benefit of the graphical engine
CryEngine2, but I have not seen anything like this in an MMO so far.
Fully dynamic lightning, seamless flow of the day - bright sunny noon
gradually fades into evening shadows and then into very dark night which
in turn breaks up in morning haze. In the evenings, I would recommend
you to keep your jaw tightly to avoid unnecessary trauma - not to drop
it in a view of a gorgeous sunset with the last light beams penetrating
The closest competitor to ArcheAge by its graphical solution - Tera -
apparently lacks in technology. Both games have high-quality graphical
engines and luxurious level design. Nevertheless, static global
lightning in Tera puts it to a disadvantage. This is a pity that Tera
fans will have to settle for permanent noon in some locations and for
permanent evening in others, whereas in ArcheAge the atmosphere and
spirit of each place change drastically in the course of a game day.
In general, the game areas are pretty big albeit they are not so much
bigger than in other competing games, for example - Tera. After all,
the size of the areas is dictated by the number of players and it does
not look like that ArcheAge is going to surpass the good ole LA2 in this
regard(Don't agree - RomTim)
. Frankly, a population of simultaneous 5,000-7,000 players can be preliminary considered a real limit for this game(Actually closer to 10,000-15,000 - RomTim)
Some places, especially starting zones have signs of
"Let-me-guide-you-by-hand" where different logical patches are separated
by an impenetrable relief and the roads direct player along steadily
increasing complexity. Nevertheless, this is seen only in few parts and
the wast size of the territories alleviates crowdedness feeling.
somewhat doubt the approach realized back in LA2 where huge chunks of
game territory are assigned to zones for starting levels. Now it is too
early to say if the complexity levels are finally set, but level
distribution of monsters is very reminiscent of classical LA2 - separate
for each race starting zones of big size are allocated for levels 1-10,
not-so-small buffer zones - up to level 20. The zones in vicinity of
the western capital Marianople are below level 30.
reluctantly reminds me of the "nucleus" of LA2 World: a West-East band
of cities Gludin-Gludio-Dion-Giran with attached to Gludin/Gludio
beginner and buffer zones. These areas for levels 1 through 30, which
were a pinnacle of level design by LA2 developers, become too big with
time for low-levels. A modern-day player breezes them through without
even remembering them, as if they never existed. As a result, all these
spaces turn out unclaimed whereas the new levels from recent updates are
already not so well-designed as the starting nucleus. Developers are
trying to confront this now (by converting a 35+ zone into a 83+ zone,
for instance). However, all this just looks as an attempt to offer a
walking stick to the intrinsically faulty planning and breaks the
long-established atmosphere of the game.
Developers of ArcheAge
risk to fall into the same trap except if they have a trick down to
their sleeves, which we do not know about yet. We shall see how good
will the distribution of difficulties over areas turn out to be.
The game world is made absolutely seamless; given that, there are no
means of instant transportation found yet. Also, the game does not use
instances (parallel copies of a given location, usually - starting one).
All this greatly amplifies impression of the grandness and unity of the
game world, because your character has to adventure not by means of
money and portals but in a bipedal manner, quite literally. Given the
oh-not so small distances in the game, the transportation becomes a hard
task. The only teleportation method found so far is your character
death that brings you to the registration point (not often than once in a
half an hour). I do not know if the developers are going to introduce a
teleport system, but they only benefit from its absence - try, for
instance, to cross on your feet the world of LineAge2 and then you tell
if it is small and limited after such a march.
are few alternatives to the bipedal walk in the game - first, there are
mounts to ride and second, there is community transport and ships.
Horse means everything in ArcheAge. Without it you are nobody and you
have no possibilities. Stay on the bus stop watching happy owners of
personal transport passing by you. Thankfully, in the CBT2 it was
trivial to obtain a horse and there was practically no way to lose it.
Already 3rd or 4th noob's quest gives you a quality personal ride. You
can also buy it at any stable for 1000 silver, alternatively, but these
are crazy money for a newcomer who gets paid pennies for his quests.
quested or acquired, the horse appears as an item in your inventory,
from where you can call it and it appears along with its interface. The
window displays the pet's level and action keys - stay/follow,
mount/dismount, skills, show stats, show pet's inventory, dismiss. An
interesting option is a possibility to ride two players. While you
cannot use your fighting skill riding the mount (but your passenger can,
until you train your horse to be able to do so) you can use skills of
your pet instead. Using basic set you can kick of feet your adversary.
Among the pet's stats there are its level and current experience as well
as speed modifier, armor level and set of essential parameters such as
Riding the horse, you can move around pretty fast; this is a nice
opportunity to accelerate out of battle and it can be used regularly.
The horse can jump, buck, and swim. Maybe it was a cheat or developer's
omission, but the author effortlessly crossed on his mount the ocean
between the western and eastern continents. It took a long swim, but in
absence of a ship you have to reconcile.
The horse can be
dressed - you can buy different armor at stables, some of its varieties
increase run speed. You can also level up your horse. Possibly, to
increase its vitality (not to die from one hit of a monster), obtain new
skills or maybe something else. As a rule, if you can level up
something in an MMO, do not postpone this, do not stick with a 15th
level pet on your level 80; who knows - maybe your horse learns to fly
at its cap level?
To level up your pet, you need to level up
yourself keeping your horse in the vicinity. It is not supposed to do
anything - just to stay nearby. Surprisingly - the leveling is free,
none of your host experience is diminished, and your horse receives its
exp "out of thin air" and even more than you if its level is lower. The
leveling rate is few times faster than the owner's.
A horse that
is non-leveled has level 1 and can be easily killed by any adversary.
Surprise - take it to inventory then call it back, and it resurrects.
Almost like a holiday. It is not clear if at the release the horse will
remain as easily available and immortal as now. If so - who will buy
those brand-new horses at stables for 1000 silver coins? There is no choice but to swim.
The ships are also a part of transportation. It is known that you can
build them and then sail on them and man the cannons. On a ship, you
can go down, hold on, or climb up the mast, take the look-out position,
stand by the steering wheel or charge a gun. This is team entertainment -
somebody has to steer, somebody shoots, somebody hangs on the mast or
just fools around. The building materials (metal, lumber and canvas)
along with blueprints can be acquired on pier in Two Crowns zone.
Because a blueprint costs 900 silver, I was deprived from the building
attempt - therefore, I wisely restrain myself from any further comments.
Quite possibly, there was a quest for a free blueprint, but I did not
find it or my level was insufficient.
Central zones of the western continent instill thoughts of a strong
government power. So much strong that it had enough means to connect all
corners of the kingdom by a system of public transportation! Along main
routes, there are "bus stations" and stops where self-propelled
carriages run. You can take such a car and safely ride from point A to
point B with a speed slightly faster than that of a horse. Mobs do not
attack you while in a car and in general - this is classy. Home village left behind...
This way, if you want to come from eastern Garangdol Plains into the
capital city of Marianople, you can just pick a carriage and safely
cross the desert separating them, enjoying views along the way. The
stops are few on the route, you can take the car only at one of them,
but you can leave it at any convenient place just pressing Space. During
CBT2 the rides were free but on the stops there were NPC's who
apparently will sell tickets in the future.
In addition, the
aforementioned Marianople city has a circular over-the-surface train
line, which has stations and NPC employees. The ride is free for now and
can be considered as an entertainment, because horse rides across the
city are more efficient for business purposes. However the views through
the train window are irreproducible and unique. As well as a precious
feeling - "I just rode an elven subway". Of course, WoW has an
underground ride, but the entertainment value is way different.
Game controls - mouse and keyboard, movement is done by arrow
keys (WASD), along with point-and-rigt click mouse control. Space key
causes jump. Jumping is functional - you can go over low fences and
hedges. Jump while on horse is also available, but only in moving. The
horse is not a flee, it only bucks if you attempt to jump from a still
position. Pressing left mouse key results in camera rotation, moving
mouse with right key pressed aligns your character with view line and
cancels its previous movement (e.g. by point-and-click). Simultaneously
pressing both left and right keys causes your character to move in your
view direction automatically. In general, the system is very convenient
and well-thought, mouse and keyboard commands are combining well and I
had no discomfort. Automatic path search is very raw so far,
point-and-click on a remote point may cause your character to lose his
way, take a wrong route. This is especially true for horse riding - it
can even turn into opposite direction or start to rotate. Hopefully,
this is a temporary inconvenience.
Skills are called by numeric
keys - 10 generic + 10 more are called by using Shift option. The main
menus are related to keyboard in an LA2/Aion style; as in Aion, Z button
switches weapon if the inventory has a number of them of the same type
(the weapon type is switched automatically when attacking). Chat window
is opened by Enter key. The chat modes are familiar - regular, shout
(/s?), private (/w), party (/p). There are text commands to invite and
expel party members or call a variety of emotes (/yay, etc).
A question arises - what does ArcheAge's gameplay look like? Is it a
soft lamp of LineAge2 or cold crystal of WoW? Certainly, the first steps
in the game cannot uncover all its aspects, but basics of PvE and
questing are already apparent.
My first main feeling in the game
was something almost forgotten after the projects like Aion and Tera -
equipment freedom. Yes, your character can (and should) utilize any
kinds of weapon! In Aion, available armor and weapon are restricted just
to a couple combinations out of all the variety (though there are even
more serious shortcomings), in Tera, the weapon is explicitly bound to a
class that takes out any flexibility from you. Mage = disk, priest =
staff, mystic = clubЂ¶ No variation allowed. Compared to all this
nonsense, characters in ArcheAge enjoy very nice freedom. Continuing the
idea of the flexible class creation, the character comes into the world
literally equipped to the teeth with various weapons. My mage (one of
"pre-built" classes) had with him a two-hand club, a short sword, a
shield and a bow. And he was proficient with all the above! In addition,
he had in his inventory a less useful for a mage musical instrument (a
All classes in the game have a basic set
of attacks; among those - melee strike, ranged attack, musical
instrument use. The character carries his melee weapon (if it is
one-handed, a shield can be added) and a bow on his back. Weapon type
switches automatically depending on attack type and skill used. There is
an auto-attack option but it cancels any possibility to use ranged
weapons in melee - the auto-attack forces melee weapon choice. This
complicates kiting but still allows some ranged skills. It is
disappointing that the automatic weapon toggle effectively precludes
kiting with a bow under conditions of a heavy lag. Also, the auto-attack
malfunctions if your character is not correctly oriented; the avatar
does not turn toward the enemy automatically that might be just a bug
Physical damage in the game comes in three varieties -
piercing, slashing and crushing. Any weapon piece has a description with
percentage of each factor. Most weapons have single attack types - 100%
piercing (e.g. rapier), 100% slashing (sword), 100% crushing (club,
staff, etc). Interestingly, a bow has 90% piercing and 10% crushing
attack. In addition, each attack type has its potential effects - for
example, a crushing hit has a chance to stun. Probably, armor also has
different defensive characteristics against various damage types.
fights consist of targeting the mob and applying on it all available
hits and skills. The battles are easy at the beginning, and not as
long-lasting as in Aion. The monsters are not very intellectual too.
During the battle, HP and modificators (buffs, debuffs) of the player
himself and his target are displayed, a line of casts is running. When
the defeated monster falls on the ground, you can mouse over it to check
loot presence (if present, the arrows changes to a bag sign). The loot
does not drop on the ground, instead, as in WoW/Aion a window appears.
Everything is done traditionally. The drop is familiar - quest items,
resources, items (fulldrop).
First quests and battles are
unremarkable, such ones can be found in any good MMO. Everything is
understandable without translation - gtt a task, attack first mobs you
see, collect loot, distribute it to the needing ones in the village.
Quest dialogues display reward and number of required items as well as
some other conditions. To teach you extended game possibilities, some
quests require you to climb a tree, to help an NPC, to build a home etc.
As far as i see it, there will be many quests and in addition - a story
line will be present in the game to build an atmosphere.
your character dies, he resurrects at a special obelisk. There is no
death penalty, but there will be equipment deterioration. Next to the
obelisk a servant can be found who will provide you with a defensive
buff for 66 copper coins, which lasts for an hour. In addition, every
class has a basic skill of return to a binding point (Return, 30 min
cooldown) - identical to Aion. The binding is done by interaction with a
characteristically looking pole (not an obelisk), also almost like in
the above-mentioned game. The binding was provided for free in the test,
but not every pole lets you do it. In the description of the skill a
"current" return point is mentioned, where the character is sent to. If
your character dies in a remote location, there is a choice - to
resurrect at the closest obelisk or to go to your binding point.
faction system is apparent in the game, however free PvP was declared
and RvR system is absent. Whatever the actual intention is, all players
and NPC belong to their own factions (and those for Nuian and Elf are
different). Relationships between factions can be friendly, neutral or
hostile. Friendly ones are marked green, neutral - white, hostile - red.
No difference between green and white signs was mentioned - both can be
attacked in PvP using Ctrl-F.
It was declared that for killing
other characters (PK), the perpetrator will accumulate some analog of
karma - crime index. No details are available yet but probably its
amount will depend on level difference. After its value hits 100, the
character will be automatically teleported into a jail and debuffed for
30 minutes making impossible for him to use any skills. While in jail,
the crime index will gradually decrease and when it vanishes, the
character will be freed. How much time will it take - this is not known
for sure, but developers hint that there will be some ways to escape
from the jail.
The game suggests a variety of social elements
and importance of team interaction (particularly for ship sailing),
however in this particular test the socio-political system was in its
infancy. A basic possibility to form parties does exist, but there were
no named monsters, epic or raid bosses. The guild system was also
non-existent. It would be natural to guess that the facets of social
interactions will be a focus of the third stage of closed testing in
Overall, the game is ordinary-friendly to a gamer, its
simplicity and convenience are most reminiscent of Aion, however monster
fights are simpler - in this regard the game is closer to WoW (speaking
of regular mobs, of course). There is nothing of harsh and inhospitable
sandbox where sullied and impoverished characters have to wear rags,
search for hidden NPC, guess actual meaning of quests, and fight by
rusty axes, risking to lose all their hard-gained possessions in an
event of death. Comfort and convenience of the gamer are a spotlight in
this game, along with diversity of the game content. This should attract
both hardcore (due to sieges and PvP) and casual gamers (due to the
absence of significant death penalties, presence of PvP-free zones - at
least at the beginning - and a simple, understandable and hint-providing
Development and leveling of a character in ArcheAge has its own
specifics related to the system of free choice of classes and skills. As
I already mentioned, there are 10 skill trees - combat, witchcraft,
invincibility, magic, bow shooting etc.). Each class possesses 3 out of
these 10 trees so the overall number of classes in the game is 120
(number of combination by 3 out of 10).
At initial character creation, you choose 3 active trees, and the
first level character has one skill from each tree. The basic stats in
the game are STR/DEX/stamina/INT/spirit. Unlike in other games, these
characteristics are not fixed but develop with character's level. At the
beginning they are all equal to 10, and each new level increases them
by 2. A variety of parameters of your character (HP/MP, strength,
evasion, critical hit probability, magic etc) is calculated from them.
The basic stats can be increased/rebalanced using appropriate equipment:
the better quality of an item the better are bonuses. Magical weapons
and armor give big INT/spirit bonuses, melee equipment - STR/DEX. Also,
passive skills from different skill trees may affect the stats too.
are learned from an instructor using Skill Points - studying one new
skill costs exactly one point. SP are acquired when a character levels
up, but not every level. To increase the level of an already known
skill, you will need some money (and the price is quite perceptible).
Now all skills can be learned from the same instructor, who also
performs changes of skill trees (you can disable any one of original 3
and add instead any other). The level of the skill development is
reflected in your character info window whereas skill window displays
all possible skills for the present trees. The skill description
includes info at which tree level (not the same as character level!) it
becomes available for learning. The skills are many, now already about
ten in each tree. I got a feeling that you will never have enough SP for
all of them and you will be forced to choose which particular ones to
learn, that should determine your character built-up.
interesting peculiarity is skill tree switch. In the game, in addition
to the character experience gauge, each tree skill has its own leveling
gauge. In the beginning, they fill out equally and simultaneously with
the overall character experience lever. In this situation, when
character breaks next level the trees automatically get the new level
too. The growth of the skill levels does not depend on particular skills
used, all of them grow equally:
After switching the trees, the timing breaks. The switch can be done
easily - just asking the instructor. In the skill exchange window you
choose one old tree and one new, and then pay 8 silvers (not exceptional
money, even for a noob). The old tree will be disabled and its SP will
be returned to the character (if there were 3 skills learned, the
character will obtain 3 SP), then the new skill tree will appear. If the
tree was never used, its development level will be 1 and the lever will
be empty. Apparently, at high levels it should cause significant
weakening of the character because of the uncompensated loss of the
skills. Now with experience accumulated this tree also starts to
develop, and because of its low level it does so much faster than the
older, already developed skills. No limitations and penalties was found,
the skill tree exchange does not force you to go back to low-level
locations to use its undeveloped skills on weak monsters. However, while
this skill tree is undeveloped, it simply does not give you much
advantage in a battle. Once again, availability of skills for learning
is determined by the level of the corresponding skill tree but not by
the character overall level.
If you plug in a skill tree that
has been developed and used before, but was disabled at some point, a
similar process takes place - the skills of the outgoing skill tree
become removed, SP for them are returned to you. The re-installed skill
tree gets activated with all its skills in a not-learned status but
available for re-learning (for the recovered SP). All paid skill
improvements remain valid, i.e. after skills are re-learned they appear
at the same level as they been unlearned. Such a system allows to switch
between skill trees deliberately, losing nothing except the switching
fee. However, because of the reset of the skills, it is not a one-click
process (as subclass switching in LA2, for example) - you will have to
spend some time to restore deactivated skills. The icons on your
quickbar don't get lost in the process, you can just use separate
quickbars for each particular skill set, without their re-arrangement.
It seems that developing a character with all skill trees leveled up to
the maximum can be feasible.
The rate of leveling isn't clear so
far, initially it is fast, but quickly de-accelerates with level growth.
After 4 days of the cbt, one can see characters of 25+ level while the
level cap is about 50 for now. I do not know if the rate was
intentionally increased, but usually it is not the case because one of
the targets of such tests is to measure actual leveling speed. At first
glance it looks too fast, especially taking into account the size of the
areas devoted to levels 1-30.
In the game, big attention is
given to non-combat interactions with the game world. Next, after the
open class system, a distinguishing feature of the game is a very high
degree of interactivity with the world. Indeed, you can climb trees,
ladders, ropes. Also you can plant trees and other useful vegetation,
collect harvest and other resources, build ships and houses. Sure
enough, there are still many static items and buildings in the game -
you can't climb every single tree or ladder but only specifically
dedicated interactive objects. On the positive side - they are not few
but quite many.
One can expect that the development of
interactivity will inevitably cause some sensitive moments and
unexpected problems, therefore I am glad that finally a team of
developers has risen, which was not afraid of the difficulties and is
prepared to introduce a new degree of freedom of interaction with the
game world in a MMO. Already now, first difficulties were identified and
workarounds found. For example, to plant a tree, a model of the tree is
displayed in front of the gamer, surrounded by a standard frame of a 3d
editor. You cannot place the tree anywhere - the color of the frame
shows you if the planting is permitted there (green - allowed, red -
forbidden). If the color of the frame permits, the gamer can affix the
tree on the chosen spot, set desirable rotation angle around vertical
axis and confirm the planting. Then a small bonsai-like tree actually
appears and starts to grow slowly.
I did not have enough time to try crafting, but it is apparent that a
great deal of attention is devoted to this aspect of the game. Like in
Tera, there is a variety of crafting skills separated into 2 big groups -
collection and processing of raw materials and also item crafting. Each
craft requires its device - workbench, mannequin, kitchen or furnace.
The devices are situated in craftsmanship areas of castles, cities and
villages, but can be also put in zones of private construction - i.e. in
an open space. To learn a craft, recipes are used; some of them are
sold in specialized shops along with the required components (money
sink). It appears that the unique for ArcheAge characteristics Labor
Power is the craft currency. It accumulates up to certain level with
time, even while the character is offline.
Each craft skill is
developed separately which is figuratively displayed in skills window by
an empty development path next to each skill. During the test, there
were no limitations on resource collection - low-level characters could
pick up resources in middle-level locations. Most probably, the system
of harvesting and craft is far from finished, otherwise it remains
unclear why resource gathering can be leveled up. As it stays right now -
it is a cheat opportunity when noobs can collecting precious resources
in high-level zones and sell them in stores for big money instead of
grinding starting quests for pennies.
The money in the game are
made by WoW blueprint - these are copper and silver coins. Logic tells
that golden ones will be introduced in future, but right now they are
absent albeit some prices in shops exceed thousands of silver. In the
beginning of the game, you can make money by selling resources to NPC
stores and doing quests. There are traditional shops in the game, where
you can buy some items or sell your junk. Conveniently, when you NPC an
item, you can Repurchase it, if it was sold by an error. The sell/buy
difference is of factor of 2, i.e. if you buy something from NPC, you
can sell it then for half the money (hello from LA2 economics).
Interestingly, that info on items in your inventory includes their price
to sell to an NPC shop (for those that can be sold). For stacking
items, a price of the entire stack is displayed. Nice touch.
User Interface Overall view of game screen.
In my opinion, the interface of the game is very good. It is
convenient and minimalistic, and looks stylish. As opposed to Tera
interface, which is crowded with tasteless awkward heraldics and other
excesses, the ArcheAge UI is "fantasy"-neutral. Its gaming purpose is
only visible from skill icons. An interface like this can suit any
modern software or website. It is slim, contains no distractions and
takes possibly minimal space on the screen. I would like to compare it
with Google Chrome browser interface that demonstrated to all other
browser manufacturers that the screen should not contain anything but
address line and narrow band of tabs. In ArcheAge it is like that. I
sincerely think that designers of user interface from Tera must sign in
for usability courses at their colleagues from XLGames.
of windows is traditional - character conditions, target bar, chat
window with tabs, inventory, skill list etc. All popping-out windows
have variable transparency, almost any of them can be turned into a
transparent state. Some windows change transparency depending on focus -
active window is denser, inactive - transparent. Therefore, there is no
separate transparent map, just the main map can be turned transparent.
upper part of the screen contains an unobtrusive status bar displaying
Labor Power on its left and the geographic position of the character -
zone name (e.g. Solzreed) and sub-zone (e.g. Newbie Village):
Labor Power element gets the same naively-excessive attention as DP
parameter in Aion. It looks like the designers introducing a fancy new
parameter try to represent it as a cornerstone of the entire gaming
process that must be displayed permanently, higher and bigger than
anything, even than the life level of the character. We will see if this
On the upper right, a string of icons like this is placed:
These are keys to call basic windows and menus - character info,
skills, knowledge base (details below), quest journal, inventory, craft
list, map and system menu. Further on the right there is a button of a
drop-down menu with the same options. Right corner is occupied by a
clock (real time).
The info window on character, inventory,
skills and crafts appear on the screen both at the left and right taking
all its height. Numerous parameters and stats are grouped by meaning,
skills - by corresponding skill trees. The windows design is slick and
minimalistic. A curious solution was used to display character's
equipment. Instead of a separate window with a 3d paper-doll, (or an
ugly silhouette as in Tera), the actual view of the character on the
screen becomes surrounded by two strips of icons representing equipment.
Very efficient and meaningful - why display a separate character view
while it is already in the middle of the screen! Very nice decision.
There is a default quick-bar with skills on the bottom of the screen, for numeric keys 1-0 and their Shift variants:
It looks quite convenient, albeit another option exists with a more traditional multi-raw view:
the quick-bar, there is an EXP gauge over entire screen width.
Interfaces of quest, dialog, and shopping windows do not differ markedly
from their cousins in Aion, Tera, etc. They can be seen on many Korean
Technically, the interface is built as a set of
scripts from Lua language, having various access to the main program
core of the game. On one hand, this gives a potential possibility to
write extensions and modifications of the user interface (with or
without permission from the game publisher). On other hand, the wide
possibilities of the open script system will be used by people to create
convenient PvP radars with auto-spam of potions and other lovely
features of a modern MMO game. At the moment, the game is protected by a
GameGuard-similar system HackShield developed by Korean company AhnLab,
but its potential to stand against collective creativity is, carefully
Also, a web browser Awesomium is built in
the game (a gaming-oriented version of Chromium). It allows for
introducing accurately any extra content into the framework of the user
interface. At the moment, the browser is used to display an additional
info on the game and quests, its page design fits the game organically.
What can I say - such a solution has been in the air for a while and was
long due. I do not know if it will be permitted in the future to twit
or use FaceBook directly from the game, but for now the browser
functions just as a supplementary database for the game only.
The built-in browser with a game lore page.
This is it.
In essence, this is all what I can say about the game based on my
short playing session. It is true that the game did not disappoint by
its graphics and atmosphere of the first impression. Gameplay looks
quite regular; an extended interaction with the world and big politics
are considered to be the main selling points of the game but this is too
far away for now. As of today, there are all signs present that the
game will be playable and interesting.
approach with class flexibility and interchangeable use of weapons is
very welcome - this is a shortcoming in other big modern MMO's (Aion,
Tera). Probably, in the future this may cause big insoluble balance
problems resulting in a limited number of classes actually worth
playing, but at the moment this principle looks very promising.
was very-very glad that the developers had enough audacity to break
away with the long tradition of the minimally-interactive MMO worlds,
outrunning the competition. It is even more enjoyable that this was
implemented within a big-budget project that put the visuals of the game
on the highest level and provided variety of the game content.
The employed video engine CryEngine2 together with the scrupulous work
of the Korean designers and developers allowed to create extremely high
quality of the imaging and a believable world with realistic lighting
and powerful physics.
Among deficiencies, a poor network code
optimization can be mentioned, which causes me to feel ArcheAge much
more laggy than its competitors at higher network loads. The network
traffic isn't used optimally (the game consumes about 2 times more
resources than Tera) that causes uncomfortable delays on limited
connections or on remote from server sites. I hope that eventually this
problem would be solved.
Also, the game inherits innate
graphical shortcomings of CryEngine. The engine cuts off the level of
detail on some objects too often. As a result, on parts of the picture
the texture quality looks more reduced than expected. The engine also
displays characters hair in a peculiar "plastic" way. Nevertheless,
given the early stage of the particular game version, these defects are
No less unpleasant serious difficulties may await
users of "weak" computers that lack operational memory. The quantity of 4
Gb RAM becomes not adequate for such busy locations as Marianople. It
is evident, that the game came really close to the 2 Gb limit for 32-bit
Windows processes. Its client even includes specific means to push this
limit to the maximum possible 3 Gb. However, consuming almost 2 Gb
memory, the game in 32-bit mode in complex situations puts a significant
toll on input/output RAM processes. Computers with only 4 Gb RAM, have
almost no space for disk caches, which complicates resource uploading.
Clearly, no less than 6 Gb RAM should be recommended to allow the OS
cache more data. To play at higher graphical settings, it is better to
get concerned with an acquisition of the best video card possible. It is
good the game is going to be published later than in the middle (or in
fall) of the next year and will come to the Western countries only in
2012 - the hardware manufacturers have a time to issue something new,
and the price of the devices will drop significantly.
solution might be a 64-bit version of the game client. This would allow
to use the entire potential of computers with RAM of 8 Gb and higher.
Unfortunately, we do not know if the developers have any plans for this.
All in all, it looks like one of the best Korean game projects of the
modern times, which is easily able to compete to the equally ambitious
Tera project. Lets hope that its gameplay and socio-political system
will not disappoint, so that the game has a bright future. The
game was tested with a computer having Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 processor
at 3.16 GHz, 4 Gb RAM, SSD Intel X25-M disk, and NVidia GTX 280 video
card. This system allowed to run the game comfortably on Very High
settings at 1920x1200 pics resolution, except while in Marianople zone,
where a deficit of RAM and a limited video card performance become
apparent. A very low player density is also worth mentioning - just 1000
ppl for the entire big game world. In real situation at big population
densities, the game will ask for more serious resources.