Peach Fuzz and Pretty Boys
As I said yesterday, a friend of mine hooked me up with access to ArcheAge alpha and throughout the day it downloaded and installed. I came home over lunch to take a breathing treatment, and when I got there it was ready and waiting for me. I didn’t get much time to play at that point, but I did manage to create a character. I have to say at this point my hopes were a bit dashed. I generally have a problem with the Asian and specifically Korean graphical style, in trying to create a character I really liked. I had this problem with Aion, GW2, and to some extent Rift. It very difficult in these style of games to create any form of a male that is not a “pretty boy”. I went into FFXIV with the same fears but found myself pleasantly surprised that I could create a character aligned to western ideals with a very nice beard and everything.
ArcheAge unfortunately… this was not the case. They have beard options but essentially they were choices between “Five O’clock Shadow”, “Peach Fuzz” and “Well Trimmed Peach Fuzz”. There was not a single “real” beard option available. This is a little bit disappointing considering from everything I have heard there are some massive configuration options available for the female models. So Trion if you are reading… not sure if this is something you can do but both ArcheAge and Rift for that matter need better beards for the human models. The above character is as “close” to the standard Belghast appearance as I could get out of the system. I can live with it, but I am not exceptionally happy about it. I feel like my choices were as good as possible with the system.
Complaining about the character models aside, the game feels very good once you actually get into it. The first several levels are the same as every fantasy MMO with a series of punctuation leading you around the map and showing you the things you should do. Right now the experience feels a little disjointed since you are supposed to be getting treated to nice cutscenes… that happen to all be in Korean. This also causes some odd shit to happen… at one point last night a rock on the ground was speaking korean to me… and I never quite figured out what was happening there. It was some sort of a tutorial system, and I ended up disabling. The world feels good, and combat feels responsive for standard MMO fare hotbar combat.
I chose to go “BattleRage” for my initial tree and it is pretty much standard warrior fare. At level five I was able to pick a second tree, and I went for Defense… which is as you would expect the archetypal “tank” tree. At that point I had a kit that included a ranged pull, a charge, a multi modal combat attack that could hit multiple targets and a really powerful long cooldown shield bash. That is a pretty great start for any game that only a few levels in I feel like I have a complete enough kit to absolutely run wild with. At level ten I was able to pick up my third tree, which I went Occultism with. Basically this is the “Dark Knight” build from the Korean version, or as it is called here “Doomlord”.
My ultimate plan is to try and create a Shadowknight like tanky character with life drains to and maybe a cool summon or two. Right now I have this really awesome attack called “Hell Spear” that impales every mob within a radius around me on a fiery spear that comes up from the ground. They are rooted and take damage when it fades. This honestly is one of the aspects of the game that most appeals to me, that I can build pretty freeform classes. While it is zero shock that I ended up trying to create a Dark Knight given my love of Shadowknights and Deathknights… I am happy that I am in fact able to craft it however the hell I want to. Looking at the trees it looks like I will be able to build a tank with a charge and a deathgrip type yank ability, which should give me a pretty solid kit for tanking instances… if those even exist here.
Rift and FFXIV Had a Child
One big take away from last night is that the world is gorgeous. Not everything is amazing… and there are plenty of generic fields and forested nooks to explore. However every now and then you are just awestruck by how breathtaking a vista is. Overall like the subtitle says the game feels as though Rift and FFXIV had a child… and then spent time raising it with LoTRO and even an odd Warhammer Online feel to some of the quests. That description will either make you think “man that sounds great” or like some of my friends cause you to affix a firm “NOPE!” sticker to it and move on. I happen to like the mix and this is probably going to be my new “off night” game. I still plan on playing the shit out of Elder Scrolls Online, but this game is probably going to fill that space that SWTOR has recently been filling. The game world has plenty of downtime, so it doesn’t feel like I have to be “constantly on” like it does in ESO.
Granted all of this might change as I move out of the more themepark areas into the more serious sandbox ones. At some point soon I will be turning off most of the channels. I would say already it has one of the worst communities I have seen in a game. At one point I was given a quest where I had to cross a bay on a shitty rowboat. The folks with huge ships took a perverse sense of pleasure ramming into me and trying to capsize my boat as I moved across the bay. Granted they could not actually attack me, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t make my life hell for a few minutes. This “griefer spirit” seems to be infused with the game community so far, and ultimately will probably be the biggest problem I have with it. If you look at most of the streamers, they seem to be almost entirely devoted to ruining someone’s day. Although if you want to watch some streams that are not blatant griefing and high seas piracy… I highly suggest Kiwidream or IRLJasmine.
Systems Within Systems
That is the oddest thing about this game honestly, is that it can be so many different games to so many different people. From my limited experience so far it is very much a straight forward themepark style game. However after watching lots of streams on the game, I can see just how detailed the various systems are. You could in theory live your entire life in game as a crafter, doing nothing but running trade deliveries and crafting goods for sale. You could spend your time raising crops, or animals, or doing nothing but building really awesome houses for people. However you can also spend your time adventuring or as the community seems to be doing… griefing other players. Wading into this game is much like wading into Everquest 2 at this point. There are just a ridiculous amount of systems to try and figure out, and even though the game gives you a summary introduction to each… the depth there is almost staggering.
I am starting to get used to the character especially now that I am starting to shift away from leather armor into plate gear. I feel like there will be a point where I actually enjoy playing the character and the way it looks. As far as the world goes… while it does not inspire me yet to go absolutely batshit crazy with the exploration like Elder Scrolls Online does… I figure as it opens up I will start to feel that way. Right now I am most concerned with staying on the path, since I don’t know where the free for all boundaries are. I want zero part in the pvp aspects of the game, so I will be doing my best to avoid them. I really like the way combat feels, the animations are nice and the abilities while essentially spamming hotkeys… feels good. I feel like it gives any wow-like combat system a run for its money. It is not extremely deep, but what is there is enjoyable. I feel as I keep unlocking skill points and subsequently new abilities it will keep feeling more “fleshed out”. While I do not feel like abandoning all other games and declaring ArcheAge the one true king… I enjoyed myself enough to keep playing periodically and see where the journey leads me. There is a lot to like in this game, and I feel as it progresses, that will increase.