ArcheAge: The Hasla Herald Issue One

The dust has settled, the open beta has ended and many of us are patiently waiting for ArcheAge’s head start this Friday at 1pm EST.  I’m sure many of you may have played the game at some point in its various stages of testing. Others might have decided to wait for the game to launch. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait much longer. ArcheAge goes live for a general audience starting September 16th.

MMOgames plans to have plenty of ArcheAge related content to suite your fancy. In the coming weeks we will have a slew of articles for your enjoyment, including guides, a review and starting today, a weekly column. In our first issue of the appropriately named Hasla Herald, we will discuss one of the most hotly debated pre launch topics. Is ArcheAge becoming Pay to Win? On Tuesday evening Trion held a live stream on twitch responding to some of the concerns from its player base. For anyone interested the stream can be viewed here.

There is no doubt that gamers get a little finicky when it comes to changes in their favorite titles. Often times the most vocal are those in the minority. Examples of this can be seen in pretty much every balancing patch for any release. It’s the nature of the world; you can’t please everyone every time. With that being said, there is a growing level of apprehension regarding the supposed “pay wall” in ArcheAge.

The main worries of the player base are in reference to changes affecting two major game mechanics. The first of those being changes made to the Labor system. The other is in regards to the implementation of “Archeum Crates”. In this week’s Hasla Herald we will be taking a look at both the revisions made to these systems as well as Trion’s response to player criticisms.

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For those of you who haven’t yet played ArcheAge, labor is a mechanic in the game that is used for every non combat related activity. Skills such as mining, fishing, farming and all forms of crafting consumed labor as you trained them.During the early stages of the Alpha labor regenerated at a rate of 20 per five minutes while online with a maximum pool of 5000. This rate has been cut down to ten per five minutes for patrons and five per five minutes for non patrons. This by its self is not a huge issue for most of the player base. The changes can be rationalized; it’s not in a developer’s best interest to have the player base rush through the content as quickly as possible.

The main issue with the change in mechanic has to do with the use of “Labor Pots”. Prior to the change a player could use a Labor potion once every 12 hours. The potion instantly restores 1000 labor to your labor pool. Your labor pool is account bound, meaning you have a shared labor pool spread across all the characters on your account. Labor potions on the other hand are character bound. What this effectively means is you can use one labor potion on each character (up to four per server) effectively gaining 4000 labor. While these potions can be traded from player to player, the primary method of obtaining labor potions is through the cash shop.

Trion has stated that in previous betas players have requested to see more labor potions in the auction house. In attempt to remedy this they decreased the cool-down of labor potions from 12 hours to four. In addition to the reduced cool-down they have cut the price in half. The community as a whole did not seem very pleased by these changes. Some people dislike the concept of any purchasable labor acceleration method, claiming that by its self is “pay to win”. I would disagree with this statement. We have seen EXP acceleration methods in other cash shop based games, they rarely skew the balance.

In the live stream last night Trion has addressed this concern by saying that they will most likely be reverting back to the original pricing with a 12 hour cool down. Like most balance changes, these aren’t set in stone yet. Trion is only the publisher and all tweaks must be cleared with XLgames before making it in to the current build.

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The second of the two major complaints is a little more disconcerting. It is in regards to the implementation of “Archeum Crates”. Crafted gear is undoubtedly the best equipment in the game. High end crafted gear uses a resource called “Archeum Crystals”.  There are several types of crystals needed for crafted gear, something we are bound to go in to later in greater detail. There have been a number of tweaks with crystal drop rates over the course of the alpha. In its current form the “easiest” way to get crystals seems to be from opening coin purses, the drop rate for which seems abysmally low. There are reports of players opening 200 or more high end purses and only receiving one crystal. I sincerely hope this is one of those issues that gets ironed out rather quickly

In the recent stream Trion has stated that supply crates where never intended to be the main source of Archeum in to the games economy. The crates also give a variety of other cash shop items. These items include cosmetics, labor potions and almost anything that can be purchased normally. They are essentially a form of gamble boxes with the potential to yield more or less value than the purchase price.  The crystals are apparently meant to be a bonus on top of other items obtained in the box and run on a separate RNG table.  The publishers state that they will be reviewing data and making additional tweaks to the drop rates.

This still leaves the big question. Is ArcheAge heading in a “Pay to Win” direction? I guess that depends on your definition of pay to win. There is some valid concern regarding Archeum loot tables. According to one estimate if you were to open enough boxes to obtain enough dust for top tier gear it would cost over 1.3 million US dollars (source). Trion has showed a level of transparency stating these will be adjusted, time will tell if this comes to fruition. Labor potions on the other hand shouldn’t be too alarming  A fellow player put it best, Labor Potions are more “pay to wait” rather than “pay to win”. If you haven’t played ArcheAge yet or some of the comments floating around the net have you weary, I wouldn’t be too distressed. I am still heavily optimistic that ArcheAge will be an enjoyable and rewarding title for some time to come.

For more information on common questions regarding launch please check out this post on the forums. Once again, thank you for reading. We are excited to hear your feedback and to see you in game! Be sure to check MMOgames next week for extensive launch coverage.

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