The first step in Archeage is creating a new character. When you select three primary skill schools, you get many tips on your selection. As announced, there are preselected classes along with a custom class.
Special attention should be given to your character’s customization. Some details of the character’s appearance can be freely modified; some of them are selected from a list. For example, you can pick scars and tattoos from the available options, but still be able to move them across the face freely, rotate them, and increase them in size. There are not so many types of customization available yet, but we can still get an idea of what will be available for the release.
After the loading screen, we get an introduction video. There is no sense in telling you what goes on in the intro, you still won’t understand either you will lose interest to watching it. However, I would like the developers to make these cut scenes more epic. Not that I didn’t like it, but the possibilities of Cry Engine 2 and the animation we have seen on the clips would be enough to make something way more epic. By the way, your character takes part in such cut scenes, and it’s rendered with the game’s engine.
The game loads quite fast. The good part is that, when you enter the game, you only load the necessary part of textures, and all the other details load as you play. This is very good for people with unstable internet – if you get disconnected on a serious battle or any other important matter, you can return to the game in a relatively short period of time.
We start in our race’s start location, and we receive our first quest “on the spot”. The first quests are pretty easy and traditional. Developers give us time to get used to the game and look at the abilities of our character. Fairly close to the place of our appearance is the town. It has everything we need for the first hours: post office, various merchants, quest givers, skill trainers and other NPC’s.
Quests in this game are quite diverse. I have only done like 5-6 quests, but I have already looted monsters for trophies, planted a few trees, collected eggs from bird nests on the trees and even travelled around the place. Several abilities are given out immediately on the start. And it’s fairly easy to use them.
The zones in Archeage are huge. As promised they are incredibly beautiful, and completely seamless. The starting areas and cities are especially beautiful and detailed. The first thing that comes to mind is that the developers have decided to show that they can do everything beautifully and accurately. However, some other locations don’t shine with fine textures and richness of landscapes, but it’s for sure a matter of time. I think their goal in this CBT was to test some new aspects of game play.
The world is very diverse, although unlike some other games, the transitions of scenery are not as noticeable. All locations are connected in a logical order, so you can’t find snow-capped mountains near the desert, as it happens in some other MMORPG’s. You can easily get lost in Archeage; there are just so many roads in this game. And I’m not joking about getting lost, because that’s what happened with me, after I wandered through several locations in an imprecise direction. What really makes me happy is that the locations aren’t separated from each other clearly. You can traverse from one of them to another anywhere you want, as long as it’s not over a mountain top. Some locations have similar terrain and flora, which connects them between each other, making them a united part of a whole big world despite the separation of the zone maps. However this similarity doesn’t mean absence of uniqueness, in this case it’s more like an emphasis to the realism.
You can find many different innovations in ArcheAge that have not been previously combined in any MMORPG. You can already ride around on horseback, establish settlements, build ships, plant trees, collect resources, and travel. The game is very atmospheric - when i played, i felt being a part of this world, even considering that everyone around me spoke in a foreign language including NPC’s. Archeage special atmosphere - it is not like anything else, it has its own comfort and charm. The world is so extensive and fascinating that you inevitably feel yourself as an ant, but you realize that you can still find a suitable place for yourself in it.
The target combat system looks very interesting in ArcheAge. Fighting in Archeage is very exciting. Even now, the game has a wide variety of tactical opportunities. For example you can raise a player in a floating bubble to help him jump up on a tall object, heal yourself, cast on him a long spell meanwhile, run away from him. Or you conjure a stone hand to hold the enemy on one place until you cast another fireball. You can also do it the old way, rush at your enemy, knock him off his feet, throw him up in the air with a mighty blow and slice him open with a finishing blow (that’s not a hack’n’slash combo, just skills used at the right time). Characters and abilities are animated very realistically in a beautiful way. The way characters fall is always different. Depending on how the body fell down, it rolls down the slope if it died on the mountainside or if it was knocked down off the cliff. You can feel the power and the slaughtering effect of the abilities in ArcheAge, you won’t envy the person hit by a fireball. If you die - just click a button and you will appear nearby the nearest priest. If you kill a monster, just click on his corpse and select the loot you need, or just simply to kick the body around (Yes, it does move when you kickit). You can learn a large variety of skills from a Skill Trainer by using your Skill Points. There won’t be enough points to learn all the skills, so this opens a door to the uniqueness of your character.
I really liked the way armor and clothing looks on players. Clothes are very detailed and fit well to the character. It’s quite difficult to find an ugly dressed character in ArcheAge. I was very pleased by the harmony of the appearance, of many characters gathered in one place. All of them were dressed differently and wore different armor, but these differences are not striking. Moreover, unlike many games, in ArcheAge each player is free to wear what he wants. There are no restrictions, but it’s more profitable to wear a certain kind of armor to suit your style of playing. Such moments are a step forward when compared to other games.
It should be noted, that the races of Men and Elves are not alike. It’s not just about the differences in appearance and culture; it’s also about their behavior. They have specifically different cities, different looks, physique, style of dress and animations. I have also managed to see the Dwarf and Ferre races in the beta test. But unfortunately, it was too brief.
At this point, the only means of transportation in ArcheAge are carriers, horses and ships. In this Closed Beta Test, I got a horse almost from the beginning of the game. The way it behaves is very neat. It moves quickly and smoothly, and turns around comfortably fast. The horse’s animation is arranged so that the movements look realistic: for example, it can’t jump on one place (it stands on its hind legs instead), neither turn around 180 degrees in a jump. Also, the horse can wear armor, gain levels, and learn new skills. At level one it can only knock back enemies, but as it levels, it gains access to skills like throwing the rider off to selected position – a quite long-range skill or a skill that allows the rider to fight mounted. In addition, you can dismount from your horse, order it to stand still or follow you. If the horse gets killed while someone is mounted on it – the rider will fall down on the ground to continue the fight. You can also ride your horse together with somebody. Moreover, the passenger can thus fend off enemies - wield a weapon or shoot a bow.
You can also find an island or just some free spot with great sights and lay the foundation of your house. Your house is your fortress and your new home. You can build and manage furniture freely around your house, invite people to your house, smith some armor if you install a forge in it, do plenty of stuff, just remember to clean the mess up! Outside the house you are free to construct a farm and a garden, the crops you grow belong to you, and you can collect them once they are ready to cook something or just sell it on the market. If you construct a group of houses with your friends, you can actually form a village, because it is possible to construct not only private houses, but public ones too.
The sea deserves special attention. ArcheAge is the first MMOPRG, where the sea is a legitimate part of the game play. Spending a considerable amount of time to reach various islands, naval warfare, the atmosphere of sea travel and the beautiful sights won’t leave anyone cold-blooded. To lose your ship at the middle of the sea is a quite serious danger, since the distance to the nearest land is significant. To control the ship decently, a team of 2 to 10 people is required. At this moment, you can raise/lower the anchor, raise/lower the sails on each mast, climb the masts, take the steering wheel in control and lower planks at the sides of the ship, to walk aboard. In addition, at this CBT, each ship had 4 cannons on each side. If you fall off the ship, you can climb back up on the net, hanging from the deck. There is however a bind point system in game. You use some binding stone, and you can return to it with a help of a skill, which has a cool down of 30 minutes. But if there would be no such skill, you could do stuff like leaving some guy on a deserted island :thumbsup: .
You can also lose your ship in battle, but you are likely to die earlier from a cannon impact on the deck. Oh yes! The cannons are really dangerous and besides, long-range. If you aim for the coast, you can hurt or kill players and monsters that situate there. Piracy in ArcheAge will flourish just because having a ship is a great advantage for its owners – it is sort of a mobile fortress, which can destroy everything on its path. Apart from that, it’s incredibly fun!
ArcheAge has a very convenient interface: it’s easy to use and freely manageable. At the top of the screen, you can see all accessible menu’s with intuitive icons. You can move around and resize the interface freely. I was pleased to see, that the interface has everything I need, with nothing extra. It is worth noting, that the characters equipment and characteristics interface is situated at the sides of the character, instead of having a doll to dress up like in other games. However this is subject to change after the 2CBT, but I do hope that XLGames will still leave the possibility of resizing and managing it around enough.
The graphics in this game are simply divine. The view distance is amazing, for instance you can see the two Twin Mountains, known to every fan of ArcheAge from the port city of Solzreed peninsula. From the position where I stood, it was a 5 minute horse ride up to the mountains. Trees and grass in ArcheAge behave as in reality - they sway and cast shadows. If the sunset is shining through a tree, its rays are visible in the evening’s haze. A light haze hides objects, situated very far away, which makes them look even more beautiful. It doesn’t look on screenshots as good as it is in action. Birds fit well into the overall picture. They fly just like the real ones, sometimes gather in flocks and fly over some place. Locations have different looks depending on various weather conditions and the time of the day. From all this diversity, I liked the sea sunsets on tropical islands most of all.
We can now draw a conclusion - This game promises to be a new hit in the MMORPG genre. Farmer, soldier, pirate, magician, merchant – even on this state of development, the players sphere of activity is already forming up. All these aspects of game play, capabilities in physics and graphics, functions, and most importantly – the wisdom of the developers highlights ArcheAge from the total mass of MMORPGs. The game play is alike Ultima Online in its freedom, and the pve does look similar to World of Warcraft indeed. Everything described above is subject to change before the game is released, but I’m sure the changes are for the best, because at the origins of the development stands Jake Song, and he knows what he’s doing.
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