ArcheAge is an MMO published by the venerable and veteran Trion Worlds, whom we already know for producing Rift: The Planes of Telara and Defiance. The result is a game with stunning graphics and a fairly solid presentation. The developer is XL Games who are actually totally unknown to me.

The trailer for the launch of this game is beautiful, and a bit overwhelming, but it’s nothing like the game itself—which is much more down-to-earth when it comes to MMORPG graphical technology. Although it certainly does a fair job of rivaling current games such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV and other modern-release games.

With four races, six classes, an extremely extensive character creation, ArcheAge does a good job of providing all the basic tools for new players to embody themselves. The UI and control scheme is also common to most MMORPGs so it does not require much of a learning curve.

This is a beta release, so there may be some bugs and kinks to work out; but overall it made a good first impression on this reviewer. See below for a full and detailed accounting of some the more interesting points.

Graphics and Sound: ArcheAge is a very good looking game with solid

The graphics of ArcheAge look extremely good and it bears a quality reminiscent of many higher-end Asian-styled MMOs. The most striking graphics element is that character hair has animated physics—it will swish and sway with player movement. The result is some pretty nice hairdos (and odd ones of course.)

Character creation is a joy. It uses a composite gallery of portraits for quick selection of different features—from eyes, nose, face, etc.—hybridized with a hidden advanced capability that provides a bunch of sliders. So players who just want to pick from a set of simple features to mosaic a face together can do that and get going; and more advanced players can fiddle with sliders to get their look just-so.

The only weird thing about the game (also notable to Asian-import games) is that women seem to have highly mobile breasts. Simply turning a female avatar can trigger a slight gelatin-like jiggle even when she appears to be wearing leather or other binding fabric.

The environments are detailed and full of stuff. I started my character as an elf, which planted me in a verdant realm filled with grass, trees, and blue sky. The modelers for this game did a good job of producing a vibrant world with plenty of stuff to look at—although it was somewhat trampled by all the other people who’d come to see the same thing.

Animations for characters worked pretty well and fit into the Fantasy motif. I spent a lot of time watching sword attacks, but there are characters that throw fireballs, shadows, and the like. Mine swung her sword with great gusto. The swings would display blazing arcs of silver as she sliced-and-diced the various enemies.

It did seem like most of the abilities seemed a little underwhelming on the animation side; but this is the very beginning of the game. Newbie stuff, so the abilities are all of the bread-and-butter variety.

One thing that I noticed to an extent is that the game seemed to use a certain amount of physics objects effects. Some of the enemies did seem ragdoll a bit when they were knocked down, and their corpses sometimes shifted slightly when I took items from their bodies. Perhaps this will come into use later in the game.

The music in this game is actually extremely good (although it’s also a little loud sometimes.) Unlike other games I did not find myself needing to turn it off entirely or desiring to rid myself of it. In fact, the ensemble and track of this game felt extremely fitting and well produced. There’s quite a variety of music, mostly falling into the generic Fantasy genre variety.

It’s not exactly orchestral assemblages of instruments but it fills its role extremely well. I noticed that the music also changes from place to place, I only explored from levels 1 through 10 and heard possibly four different musical compositions.

In all, the music felt like a living worthwhile addition—although it did seem to be very generic Fantasy.

Really, I could get into the music that played during character creation.

Gameplay: So far pretty a fairly standard MMORPG with room to grow

ArcheAge fits solidly into the MMORPG genre with a control scheme that everyone is likely used to by now. WASD to move, hold-mouse-button to control camera, click-to-target, and then 1-8 for attacks. Mousewheel lets you zoom in and out and that’s that. It didn’t take very long to learn how to play the game from the get go.

For anyone not familiar there is a very aggressive tutorial system that talks at you and tells you what to do and how to do it.

Quests are delivered with the “!?” system, but there’s a slight difference in that yellow exclamation points are normal quests and green exclamation points are your-race-only quests. Normal quests progress the standard zone storyline; whereas race-only quests appear to progress primarily lore for the game. In my case, they told a story about an old elven king who sacrificed himself and the plight of the elves in the world of ArcheAge.

The story was told not just in the quest text and dialogue of the NPCs but also in cutscenes with painted illustration.

New characters get to choose between four different races: the elves and the Nuians, from the western continent, Nuia; and the Firrans, and the Harani, from the eastern continent, Haranya. Nuians and Harani appear to be standard humans; whereas elves are elves, naturally, and the Firrans are a type of cat people.

Currently there are six classes available to players: Battlerage, a standard warrior; Sorcery, an elemental-wielding mage; Archery, does what it says on the tin and shoots arrows; vitalism, a skilled healer/cleric; Occultism, a patron of the dark and necromantic arts; and Shadowplay, a rogue with daggers and a bag of dirty tricks at her disposal.

It seems there are a few others available as class specifications (or potential future classes.) For example, the Battlerage warriors can specialize into Auramancy, which allows them to provide passive support to allies, or into Defence, which opens up a bunch of protective skills and shield skills.

Combat is the basic hotkey based system with the 1-8 keys and also Shift-1-8 as well. Like most MMORPGs a fight consists of lining up and then pressing the right buttons in sequence as they go on and off cooldown; but there’s also a combo system that’s not well described in the tutorial but sometimes pops up that a combo happened when fighting.

Getting from place to place in the starting area the game provides little stones that allow for swifter travel. And, for the expenditure of stamina, double-tapping ‘W’ will cause the character to swiftly sprint across the countryside.

There are also mounts available and at about level six I got to raise one.

Freemium: Expected to be free-to-play

The ArcheAge FAQ includes the question, “Will ArcheAge be free-to-play?” and the reply is a wholehearted, “Yes!” The game will be free-to-play, and have no box price. People will be able to download and jump right in.

Of course, like most free-to-play game ArcheAge will include optional Patron subscriptions and non-recurring passes that will provide numerous (and possibly large) benefits. These benefits include being able to own land in the game for player housing, discounts in the in-game cash shop, boosts, and more.

The cash shop is not currently available for review so GameOgre will have to return to the game post-beta to review that.

Conclusion: ArcheAge is a solid Asian-centric offering from Trion Worlds

This is only a beta, but right now ArcheAge is showing that it has everything that it needs to provide a solid MMORPG along with a compelling narrative. I played through the beginning elf storyline and even just levels 1-10, I can feel the strength of the story. A great deal of the game has not just been able my personal journey, but about the lore of the elves themselves.

A great example is the tournament fight against one of the human warriors. After winning the battle I got a cutscene with a painted illustration of a man in armor, sword drawn, head down; and a story about how when I fought him I saw his face reflected in the blade as he drew it. Except it was not his face—it was another darker visage. The echo of a memory from the sacrifice of the great elven king who once fought his best friend (now the God of Destruction) and who also sacrificed his life to safe the elven peoples.

This story weaves throughout each of the fetch quests, the kill-3-of-this, and the other obligatory MMO grind that persists in the world to drive players to explore and examine parts of the virtual universe. With each section of progression I learned not just mechanics of the game, but found myself drawn into the story and felt like my character was part of something bigger.

Good work on Trion World’s part. We’ll see once the game comes out of beta what kind of community it will develop.


  1. “very aggressive tutorial system” – Very true, I’d often dismiss it only for it to came back with the same message later, it doesn’t ask either… it just starts talking. I think it goes a tad too far.

    I’ve enjoyed the game so far, my thoughts pretty much echo yours. Very intrigued as to where this game is going.

    My absolute biggest concern is the payment model… which as you said we can’t see much of at this point but based on FAQs and early talk I’m pretty concerned about specifically Labor points for Free players. These two really concern me:

    “Non-premium players can’t recover labor when they are offline.”

    “There is no way to receive more labor points. If you need to finish your crafting task you may ask someone to help you or hire another player.”

    I’m hoping the hire part is an official feature and not something that could get scammy but beyond that it seems like quite the handcuff as you can’t do anything crafting related without the points… and seeing how it’s one of this games biggest “why you should play me instead” features it could be a big issue. It’s the same with housing and farming too… have to be subbed to have your own.

    Of course you can just sub and not think about it but 3 of the games most unique features locked away will it really be worth it for free players. It also seems to open the door for putting the points in the shop, which would be bad for even subbed people. I completely understand having to incentive subbing but these games seem to live and die by free players… I think this model could be trouble.

    I hope I’m looking too much into it, maybe it will be fine.

    Aaddron did not rate this post.
    • Ah, yes. I did not get much of a chance to explore the crafting system. Labor points, I started to get the grasp of and how it functioned, I can see how that could become something of a sticking point when it comes to subscriptions.

      It seems to me this is a way that a lot of MMOs have tried to draw money out of players. In Neverwinter it’s possible to speed up crafting by paying with some premium currency ($ now to complete this now!)

      Unlike Neverwinter, this seems more like buying the basic ability to get crafting done (not simply done faster.)

      And with the conclusion, I agree, it’s going to be about how ArcheAge implements it. If there’s a pay-gate between free players and crafting that absolutely puts them out in the rain except to pay for help from premium players it could become problematic.

      I like the work-for-hire concept, if there’s an easy open market for doing hiring, because it could make labor points essentially a premium currency; but to lock up crafting behind a premium currency (which seems like a basic, bread-and-butter MMO concept) would be monsterously frustrating.

      Kyt Dotson did not rate this post.
      • I haven’t got to use it enough either *fingers crossed*

        That said though I got a great session in today and the game is growing on me. Got my first pet and over the course of a few minutes he grew into a mount. He watches battles right now but apparently as he levels (by you traveling with him) he can even help you in fights. It’s been really cool.

        A sort of ah ha moment happened when I seen an airship, followed it to it’s dock… jumped on board… like literally, no clicking an npc and selecting ride. Just climbed up and hoped in. Eventually It took me to another Zone… got a warning about hostile factions so I stayed on the ship and eventually it took me back home. It was an awesome seamless experience. It made the world feel more real to me as it wasn’t just a click where you wanna go and after the cutscene or loadscreen you’ve arrived.

        I went where the ship is scheduled to go and on it’s schedule for departure, I could move around the whole time and probably even jump out. I was in control of my guy the whole trip. It was awesome.

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  2. Now that the beta event is over got a few more thoughts. I’m actually missing the game and definitely looking forward to my next chance to play. I spent a lot more time with crafting, trade packing and farming towards the end of the event… I really liked what I got out of it, I could see myself spending a lot of time in that area but it also made me even more concerned about Labor Points.

    I did not have the points needed to do what I wanted to do which left me with two options… wait it out or buy products instead of spending points farming them myself. Now as a free player waiting it out doesn’t really work as you have to be online to gain labor… I’m not completely gimped though as if I have the capital I can just buy what I need… this can be limiting tho as if the sum (trade pack) ends up worth less than it’s parts (bought items) it’ll be REALLY hard to work around that.

    Public farms are decent but wont be enough for serious crafting and trading. I came away from it if you wanna be crafting, farming. trade packing seriously as a F2P your gonna need a good guild or a TON of time on your hands. It’s not gonna be pleasant on your own. Even with sub I can see some annoying walls… it suppose to help with econ balance so we’ll see. The other big thing I got from it was it has a chance to have a really deep and interesting economy… almost EvE like. I’m really excited to see how that plays out.

    Last but not least is the court system, it’s so amusing reading trials in chat and the idea there is full evidence logs of crimes and that the jury as real players can possibly be bought off is hilarious.

    Overall I’m looking forward to this game even more.

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  3. I tried this video game once and it seems like solid MMO,Recommend it everybody to try

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