It’s almost hard to believe that ArcheAge has been out for two months now. Since September ArcheAge has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Today we discuss longevity. Does ArcheAge have it? I know it’s a touchy subject, but one worth discussing none the less. In this article we will attempt to make a critical analysis of ArcheAge’s staying power. I already have a feeling when this article gets posted around the net some will accuse me of just “whining”. I really hope those reading know better by now, I’m not, but I will be analyzing some of the more nuanced aspects of ArcheAge and the genre as a whole.
Since the launch of the title ArcheAge has received massive criticism. You see some level of criticism from the vocal minority in every game, in this case some of what is being said is more than well deserved. Five minutes browsing the forums or reading the faction chats you are sure to find something along the lines of “this game will be dead in a month”. Is it true? A year from now will those who remain be walking in a ghost town? The most honest answer I can give is possibly.
On one hand, ArcheAge does a lot of things well. It will keep its niche audience and I can’t foresee the game shutting down anytime in the next few years. The real question though, is does this game have the key ingredients to keep most of us playing consistently for years to come.
In regards to longevity one of the most redeeming qualities is its progression systems. ArcheAge has no lack of different grinds. The first being the journey to level 50, but that’s only the beginning. Reaching max level will take most players less than a month; some can complete the grind in a matter of days. There are ten different skill trees to level up as well. The best part about the skill system at that you don’t need to role alternate characters to progress with the different trees. Leveling all ten will keep you busy for some time and helps with ArcheAge’s overall longevity.
Beyond the Skill trees there are also the profession grinds. ArcheAge features a complex crafting system with 21 different profession trees. While one character can only level 3 of these to max level, it will take quite a bit of time to do so. Love it or hate it, the labor system serves to keep the pacing in check. The labor mechanic helps keep players from grinding through the professions too quickly. Although you can purchase labor potions to speed the process up, for most it will take some time and effort to get a skill to max.
The gear grind is another beast entirely. Due to the games crafting system, getting the best of the best gear is quite a feat in its self. The best gear in the game is undoubtedly crafted equipment. Unfortunately, creating end game gear relies heavily on RNG. The supply of top tier crafted equipment is hard to acquire and therefore very expensive on the open market. Getting a set of Delphinad in Mythic rarity is a feat only a small percentage of players will ever achieve.
Theoretically the games PVP and siege mechanics drive the longevity for ArcheAge. In practice though, the game has been off to a bit of a rough start. Auroria sieges have only been live for a couple weeks now, so time will tell If the PvP has the staying power to keep players interested. Thus far, PVP has proved to lack the balance and competitive nature that drives PvP oriented MMORPGs. Several guilds on my server alone have left ArcheAge, opting to return to games with a more structured PvP environment.
Now on to the bad, as much as I hate to admit it, Trion’s handling thus far has been absolutely abysmal. The early months of the game have been plagued with hackers, poor server stability and a host of game crippling bugs. At times the game has been nearly unplayable. You can’t get players to stick around for the long term if the game lacks any semblance of stability. In the long run the early issues might just be a hiccup, but for most of the community, it doesn’t bode well.
Another major factor in longevity has very little to do with the game its self. Even if ArcheAge delivers a solid stream of content and has minimal stability and mismanagement issues, it could still fail in the long run. At the time of its release there were very few sandbox style MMORPGs. The pickings at this moment are quite slim, but that’s rapidly changing. In the next year or two the landscape is going to change dramatically. There are several big budget sandbox style games on the horizon, not to mention a slew of independent releases. In the long run this could sway the player base in to other games.
ArcheAge is a solid sandbox offering, and I really hope it finds its stride. Thus far it’s been a rough start, and the moral of the player base is pretty low. On the bright side, ArcheAge has plenty of mechanics to keep players grinding for a long time to come. ArcheAge has some great things going for it but Trion can’t get its act together all the progression systems in the world won’t keep me around for years to come. At this point I still log in on a daily basis, and the game still has some wonderful moments. With that being said, I can no longer turn a blind eye to the gross mismanagement of what still has the potential to be a first class game. There are other titles on the horizon. Will Trion be able to keep up in the upcoming age of the sandbox? Only time will tell.
The Hasla Herald is a weekly column dedicated to all things ArcheAge. Normally the column goes up every Friday. If you haven’t read previous issues of the column you can find them by clicking here.Related: ArcheAge, Column, Hasla Herald, MMORPG, Trion Worlds