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ArcheAge – Day 1 Impressions

ArcheAge

After my first night battling with log-in queues and some regrettably jerky graphical issues, I’ve come away somewhat pleased by ArcheAge – Trion World’s newest MMORPG offering.

ArcheAge is a little different to the company’s past offerings. With the likes of RIFT and Defiance both releasing as full retail games with either huge acclaim or even a 3-season spanning TV series behind its belt, ArcheAge launched with little fanfare and as a F2P game from the getgo – and that’s evident right from the start.

Those who have ever been tempted enough to download any old F2P MMO offering in the past either between shunts with more reputable online games or by those just looking for some good old-fashioned free product will have by now noticed the largely present issues with these types of games.

Cumbersome UI layouts, clunky visuals and usually questionable translation jobs await those picking up most games that stem from popular Korean-made virtual worlds, and ArcheAge certainly displays the same tiresome tropes right off the bat. But that doesn’t immediately spell trouble – at least, not for those spoiled by numerous high-quality MMOs like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV or even Trion World’s debut ‘RIFT‘.

Pushing past the edgy beginnings of the game and you’ll find a world that, while evidently humongous in size, pushes the bar of graphical expectations in a F2P-developed game. Vast fields, living encampments and varied NPCs make the starting zones of ArcheAge distance itself from the likes of titles hosted by most other F2P online game portals.

It’s by no means the type of game to be so generously designed as to have you flicking off the UI and spamming the PrintScreen button as you ride between quest hubs – not yet, anyway – but it certainly does something to keep your attention a little better than most games I’ve tried in the past.

While the trudge up to level 10 only took around 3-4 hours, it wasn’t all fun and games. While the combat system feels very combo heavy with gradually increased speed, there was a very noticeable disconnect between sending and receiving attacks not quite feeling true to form.

It’s hard to put into words, but brawling between 2-3 feral ostritch-type creatures didn’t always feel like a real fray. But it’s difficult to argue that the actual system wasn’t enjoyable. Certain attacks trigger certain damage-boosting affects for other attacks if timed correctly, while firing off a sub-weapon like a bow helped fill in gaps between auto-attacks, or just made a good amount of opening damage before charging in for a stun. It’s a system that, while currently void of any recent evolutions in the genre like real-time dodging, feels fun to pull off in quick succession.

Admittedly, I haven’t been one to rush straight into learning the lore of any MMO I come into contact with. For me, it’s something that’s only relevant after I’ve proven to myself that I’ll still be booting the game up in a month’s time. And 1 day certainly isn’t enough time to be coming to that conclusion.

Story and quest progression seems to roll out in Guild Wars 2 fashion with comic-style cutscenes and full-screen NPC dialogue which certainly makes a change of pace – while the voice acting in such situations is surprisingly strong. Sadly, however, a few jarring performance hitches are holding back this F2P offering from acting like a P2P game. An image boost that’d help ArcheAge steer clear from the pits of any collective MMO list’s dark corners.

I’ll be clocking in more time with with game over the coming days and/or weeks. There’s a lot of undiscovered ground right now, and it’s only fair to give it all a shot. It’s looking fairly promising right now, but server congestion and stuttering issues need to be addressed ASAP before the victims become lost causes.

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