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You find us in a state of weary world wandering, free from respite and the peace it would give. Transients that have yet to find a home that may not exist. I talk of course about the constant MMO hopping that Pie and I seem to be caught up in. Lately, we have been playing ArcheAge, an interesting Korean sandbox F2P MMO. Is it necessary to mention that it is Korean? Yes. I tend to think that Korean game design has something that Western game design lacks, at least in the MMO space; an unrivaled amount of freedom.
I have to say about this about the game; it is insane. There are 12 base classes that can be combined into any set of 3, offering 120 combinations, each with unique names such as Sorrowsong, Lorebreaker and Dirgeweaver. Skill points can be mixed and matched across your 3 classes to create combos that synergize for powerful effects. A majority of the skills have a number of combination effects that can be strung together in chains, enticing people to play around with multiple different combo effects within their own build or coordinate effects between other players to maximize their affect. The sheer volume of possible combinations is downright daunting but offers an unprecedented amount of customization.
There are 18 different professions such as printing, commerce, husbandry, and artistry where you can create your own phonographs and compose your own in-game music. Commerce is one of the large driving factors of game activity, a chief revenue source of gold wherein you craft local specialty packs and establish trade routes in order to maximize profit. The further you travel with a pack the more you bank, assuming the demand is high enough. That's right! NPCs track the supply of each pack, so if there is an influx in supply, the demand (payout) will reflect that. You can take the trade packs modest distances for smaller rewards or go big, construct a boat and take them across the ocean. But the ocean...she is full of dangers.
You see, the servers are all open world PVP, with both of the two factions constantly warring and vying for territory and resources. Although the zones from 1-30 are completely safe from harm, 31-50 zones are contested and it's anyone's game on the high seas. Since trade packs can be stolen from other players, there is an active PVP scene where massive guild coordination is required to make large scale oceanic trade runs or band together to stop the opposing faction from delivering their goods, reaping 80% of a trade packs value at a merchant NPC (20% goes to the crafter regardless, in most cases).
Think that's piracy? Oh ho! No, that's just war. However, if you like, you can start stealing from members of your own faction, or killing them, increasing your crime points and infamy. You can go to trial and be judged by your peers, sentenced to jail where you are forced to carry out your sentence or break free. If you want to play good prisoner, I guess there is always playing some footy. Did I mention that with enough infamy, you can be kicked out of your faction and turned into an actual pirate? Doing so will land you as kill on sight to any guard, but comes with its own perks such as a private pirate island and no crime points for killing members of the two official factions.
Since so many components are required for everything that needs crafting, it creates an immense economic ecosystem where different professions are constantly trading with one another to create what they need or want. As such, much of the open world housing has players competing for land to feed their needs. You can try planting in the open world, but other players can steal from you. If they do, they at least leave crime scene footprints that you can report to get addend to their criminal records. Of course, if their larceny is high enough, they may have a higher chance of not leaving crime scene evidence. This same larceny rating, by the way, also affects their rare drop rate.
This game seems so broken in so many ways and I can't help but love it for that very reason. So many western developed MMOs would never break their game, trying futilely to balance it, thus leading to the dreaded homogenization and stagnation we see so prevalent on the MMO scene today. Though I am doubtful ArcheAge will be a home as I'm unsure if we can be as active as the game may demand, it is definitely an interesting experience. I really applaud the design as it heavily encourage being part of a community; this is a game you shouldn't be playing alone. Isn't that what MMOs should be in the first place?
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