So I’m playing ArcheAge.
After quickly coming to the same conclusion as Aywren that it was not worth playing as F2P – in my case, not owning property could be acceptable, and the lack of offline LP was bad but could be coped with, but the final straw was the fact that you can’t list auctions unless you are a Patron – I ponied up and have had nearly two weeks under my belt as a fully functional member of ArcheAge society. I even managed to get on the unofficial Oceanic server, Kyrios. I tried a little of the Harani starting area on another server while I was waiting for Kyrios to start accepting new characters again, so when it came time to make my “real” character, I chose the Elves. I’m not a fan of the default ears on the AA elves, and given that they are indistinguishable from both Human races otherwise, I guess there was really not much point to my choice. I made the ears as small as I could, and covered them with a thick head of hair, and off we went.
I guess the main reason I went with an Elf is for the racial mount. Horses, even though they are incredibly well animated, are boring compared to lions, weird demon-faced kangaroo-things, and…elk! I’d heard great things about the quest to obtain your first mount…and, well, here is my little baby:
After playing with him, feeding and washing him, my little baby grew up into a magnificent companion:
I’m playing as an Eidolon at the moment (Shadowplay/Auramancy/Witchcraft) to get as many tricks and instant-speed attacks as possible. This was shaped by my early experiences with AA…namely, that it isn’t going to be easy for me to actually do anything in realtime.
There are several reasons for this. First, is the joy of Australian ping. I don’t want to be casting at half the rate of my opponents because my feedback is terrible – I figure instant speed casts let me at least remain on par with amount of actions before I die. Second is that my computer is fairly old, at least 5 years now, so the demands placed on it mean that my animations are not smooth and responsive very often. It takes a while, even on normal graphics settings, for my immediate surroundings to draw themselves in, and even longer – I’m talking minutes – if it is a crowded place I am zoning into, such as a city or housing area. Taking the public carriages and airships makes for a very jerky and disjointed ride. Third is that I am still kind of starting out. I have only just managed to secure a plot for my first garden (#Bragtoberfest! Awww yisss) and I am just saving up stone, iron and lumber for my thatched farmhouse when I can nab a plot of land for that. Only then will I start thinking about possible PvP or action-intensive activities – the only thing I’m doing until that stage is trying to complete the trade run to get my scarecrow farm, in case I can’t find enough land for the farmhouse.
So PvP is going to be a nightmare until I get a new rig. PvE combat is okay at the moment as long as I am careful, but I’m resigned to avoiding much combat for the near future.
So let’s talk a bit about the stuff I like and dislike about the game. The dislikes are mostly to do with the way F2P has been implemented. It’s one of the poorer implementations I’ve seen – you can’t really play the game properly unless you are a patron (subbed). I am very unimpressed by the fact that all the three races I have tried (Nuian, Harani, Elf) are virtually indistinguishable from each other apart from clothing and starting mounts. They even have the same emote animations. I have played through the whole storyline chain now, and there are two points that I came to really dislike: the narrator uses a gratingly forced dramatic style that seems to want to imitate the Galadriel narration at the start of the LOTR movies, but fails horribly; and the cutscenes where this narration happens is very poorly placed – it comes right after the quest you’ve just completed that reveals the info the cutscene is (re-)explaining. It’s basically telling you what you’ve just done, with (towards the end, at least) very little extra lore or contextual information.
Oh, and the fact that everyone is The Beautiful People – even the old folks are just young folks’ bodies and faces, with grey hair and hunched over a bit – is starting to creep me the fuck out.
There is a ton of stuff I love about AA, though. Many small things, like mounting up gives you different animations depending on where you are in relation to the mount. The incredibly deep and time-consuming crafting system. The animations in general – this is the first MMO I have played where movement animations are as smooth and natural as WoW’s, both for players and mounts. Rift, LOTRO, even TSW, the running animations just felt slightly off. Not so in AA. I love the travel trade-offs: you can travel around the world quickly, but it’ll cost you in resources (LP, materials), or you can take the public transport (which has all the pros and cons of, well, public transport), or you can ride your own mount, which saves resources at the expense of convenience and time. I love the armour choice trade-offs: plate gives you more physical defence, cloth gives you more magic defence, and leather gives a balance of each. You can get bonuses for wearing the set – leather gives you extra crit and evasion, for example – or you can mix and match without penalty.
I’ve liked the looks of the gear so far, even though short skirts are still the norm for Korean MMOs, it seems. And damn, AA does baby animals so well…
It remains to be seen whether I will extend my stay in AA beyond the next month. It has its hooks in me, but there are enough irritations to keep it perpetually on the edge of losing me.