Fallanx – eplayer

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Posts Tagged ‘XL games

ArcheAge

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To keep up with with korean’s mmo theme, I couldn’t avoid mentionning this ambitious project.

archeage logging screen

When I first heard about ArcheAge, I was really impressed by the amount of interresting  features announced. A sandbox mmorpg using the latest version of CryEngine including physics with PvP, PvE and indepth crafting. I had to put my hands on this promising game and managed to access the 3rd stage of the Korean closed beta.

Developped by XL Games since several years now, Jack Song, who was also known for developping Lineage; is in charge as the lead designer. So once again we are facing a major Korean product with a strong NCsoft influence. ArcheAge is taking place in another heroic-fantasy world divided in 3 main continents, two are faction owned  and one last remains free to be conquered. Allowing players to build houses, castles, ships to fight with. It supposly have everything players might expect from a new AAA mmorpg.

The character creation process is quite regular with predetermined classes such as mage, tank, stealther and so on. You could also create your own class by choosing 3 sub-classes but i found this option very innefective due to the total lack of balance compared to premade classes. Your character is also bound to a classic level system with specialisations as in most mmo nowadays. Depending on your race you will have access to various mounts who will level up as a pet. You can also fight mounted but it quickly appeared to be inneffective. Each type of mount will also have specific racial skills.

The sandbox aspect of the game is backboned by an elaborated crafting approach, XL Games managed to encourage players interractions without forcing it. To do so they introduced a Labour Points system. You’ll need to use your Labour Points for each crafting related actions. Gathering materials; refining them and also crafting final products will cost you precious LPs. They are available in limited amounts  with a slow regeneration rate. This system as it flaws since you cannot craft all the time as you quiclky run out of LP while gathering. Hopefully they will introduce some countermeasures as it is frustrating if you’re aiming for a full time crafting carrier. On the other hand, with a small group of players you can quicly achieve interresting crafting projects. Building your first ship is quite impressive as you litterally see the hull slowly taking shape as players work on it. Same goes for building houses, starting with basic foundation first and then with a solid structure. Building large castles will require large guild members effort with skilled crafters.Numerous video perfectly illustrate the crafting process such as the following.

Guilds should quickly get an advantage in the game as they will managed to craft more structures on a already announced limited amount of building plots.

PvE mostly consisted of uninteresting quests with a few exceptions; mini bosses and unfinished dungeons.  AI and pathfinding were also pretty poor with numerous bugs compared to competitors. They did some efforts using the physics engine to reach specific areas with a rope or destroying bridges full of monsters but generally speaking it was trivial and under exploited. The PvE aspect was definitly unpolished and by so,  failed to impress. On a side note I have to admit the barrier language didn’t helped much :p

The best quest, real players blood..

Killing monsters was too boring, so i decided to taste the PvP actions; starting with my own faction. Once at level 20 you can attack innocent players from your own faction. I quickly realise my mistake when i found myself judged after killing several comrades; some afk i confess. When you kill a player from your own faction; he litteraly drops a pool of blood. Only witnesses of the murder can pick it up and then report you to local authorities. After a few murders, i found myself teleported to my own trial; quickly sentenced and thrown in jail with a massive debuff for 30 minutes. In the future; trial should be a mini-game where you might be able to defend yourself using arguments. I believe if you are sentenced several times, your character becomes a red ‘PK’ also known as pirates, with substential malus.

With the ship we builded, we went to explore the other faction coasts to confront them in PvP. Epic in scope and thrilling in execution; this was truely the best experience I had in the game. With one captain steering the vessel and several other players manipulating cannons, we quickly ended up shooting every hostile on sight. This was great fun and surpinsigly smooth and fully functionning.

Unfortunately they didn’t implemented castle sieges in the beta but this should be one of the main PvP features. Hopefully this will be added in the next beta stage. During my PvP sessions i noticed that a tiny level difference  had a huge impact on the pvp outcome; implying that a race to the maximum level will take place at release.  I also took note of massive imbalance between classes/build. According to the development team this is working as intend and players will have to coop with it..

Despite some clunky animations, the overall visual experience was astonishing. Most characters are very well designed and the surrounding vegetations are truely amazing. The CyrEngine is doing a great job; especially during sea battles, with debris flying over and ship sinking in the deep with a burst of bubbles. Casting a freezing spell on a player in PvP also looked very cool, especially when he’s in motion. Graphic chart is surprinsingly not so asian oriented and avoid the infantile approach Tera had. They also managed to avoid the cartonish style many developpers like to adopt since blizzard’s blockbuster. Western players should appreciate this and it was an absolute treat for the eyes. the only downside is that you’ll need a high end PC to properly run it; limiting de facto the player base.

During this close beta who lasted less than a week, i tried to explore and get as much ingame experience  as i could. With the help of a few other players, we managed to build a basic house, a fairly sized ship to sail and pvp with. We also cleared the first dungeon despite numerous bug. I must admit that I had a great time, you always feel busy and I am confident they will fix the PvE.

With an already impressive features list,  they are still adding more fresh content. They just released a new video allowing players to glide using some sort of delta plane device. This makes me believe the development team will provide us with a rich game. Talking about an eventual release, the game is not even announced in the west yet and despite XL games denial, i know from trusted sources that they approached several publishers. Tencent already signed a deal to publish it in China. Word is there should be another closed beta phase before the open beta in november. These dates are not confirmed.

Most of my playing sessions were livestreamed and are still available on this page.

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Written by Fallanx

July 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm