Few MMORPGs are as ambitious and expansive as Archeage online. From taking to the high seas to crafting a place to call home, Archeage is a game that invites players to connect with a rich and incredibly massive world. The game adopts the traditional aspects of predecessors like World of Warcraft and Everquest, while at the same time developing innovative features that provide a, at times, unforgiving level of realism. Archeage is a game filled with potentially brilliant ideas, that can be incredibly entertaining for the right kind of gamer.
A Rich and Immersive World
Archeage was initially released in Korea in 2013 and was later introduced to the United States that following year. The Korean developed game was a refreshing departure of what was available at the time. A vast majority of MMORPGs were being criticized for hand-holding players and offering limited features which in turn resulted in less than favorable gameplay. Archeage broke that expectation.
Here is a game that presents a rich and immersive world to players that is almost fully interactive. The vast oceans that separate continents are real and you can cross them in a boat you’ve crafted if you dare to. Those trees that line the landscape can all be climbed. All of the beautiful architecture you see in the game can be adopted and recreated in a home of your own. Archeage gives players a freedom that is relatively unheard of in the MMORPG genre.
The MMORPG genre is notorious for having games that are light on story and heavy in tedious grinding. Archeage breaks the mold through the creation of a riveting story for players to interact with. With fully voice-acted NPC dialogue and beautiful cinematic cutscenes, players can feel like a significant factor in this vast world.
Archeage is also beautifully designed. Few games manage to create such a consistently breathtaking world. Sailing across the ocean on your own customized pirate ship as you head towards one of the world’s many continents is downright breathtaking. While you can stay shoreside and farm, quest, or explore, the true heart of the game is at sea. With a boat of your own, you can engage in fierce naval combat against other players.
However, amongst all this excitement and beauty, therein lies some obstacles that are difficult to ignore.
With all that Archeage does right, there are some areas where the game falls short. What turns many hopeful players away is Archeage’s pay-to-win scheme. This pay-structure is no problem for players who are willing to pay a monthly fee, but those who expect to bank on the free play option might be severely disappointed. The accessibility gap between paying players and free players is less evident during the early levels of the game, but as the hours’ progress, free players will find it difficult to keep up with their paying counterparts.
Another thing that Archeage could do without is the somewhat strange labor system. Crafting is an essential aspect of the game, and it can help players advance from land-dwelling fishers to sea-faring adventurers. If a player wants to craft something, they must spend labor points to do so. Labor points are earned based on the number of hours spent in-game. Often players will find their playtime cut short as they have to collect labor points to progress. This feature damages the game to some capacity and can turn away many casual MMORPG players.
Lastly, parts of the game can feel like a drag. While fighting giant fantasy spiders, and taking to the sea can all seem exciting at first, they can start to feel like a chore. After level 15, progression is difficult, as you are expected to put hours and hours of grinding into level-up. Archeage can be praised for its size and realism, traversing this massive world can eventually become mind-numbing over time. Crossing the ocean during hour one can feel amazing, but the charm tends to wear off after several hours at sea.
Since the slow-fall of World of Warcraft from top MMORPG, many a game developer have tried to reclaim Blizzard’s former glory. Archeage developers, XL Games, have put forth a concerted effort to create something remarkable, and in many ways has succeeded. Players are given a kind of freedom that many die-hard MMORPG fans have dreamed of for years. It can seem as though nearly anything is within the grasp of possibility in Archeage. You can construct a naval fleet for your guild, build a substantial in-game farming business, or explore every inch of this vast virtual world.
However, there are aspects to Archeage that can feel like a complete turn-off. That’s not to mention the hours upon hours needed to accomplish anything of note. Taking that into account, it’s easy to see that Archeage is not meant for the casual MMORPG gamer. For those of us, who remember the golden days of World of Warcraft, and long for something new and breathtaking, Archeage can live up to what it promises to a point. However, this is not a game that is designed to be easily accessible, and that is something that isn’t so easy to ignore. For that reason, we give the ambitious Archeage Online 8.0 out of 10.