Everyone has idols, people they look up to, respect and draw inspiration from. I am no different to everyone else, but there are two people that I look up to the most. Naturally my idols are in the business of making games. Actually that doesn’t do it justice, these people create living worlds that I dreamed of as a child and the worlds I wanted to make one day. So who are my idols you may ask, they are two visionaries of game development, known as Todd Howard and Jake Song. A lot of people know Todd Howard for his work on the Elder Scrolls games, a popular open-world singleplayer RPG series. Jake Song on the other hand you might not know of, he is the creator of the upcoming Fantasy MMORPG known as ArcheAge.
As a kid I always dreamt of these huge open fantasy worlds where players could enjoy similar adventures to the ones I read about in my favourite Forgotten Realms books. I imagined games where you could truly escape to a second life (no pun intended?) in a world of magic, elves and crushing orc skulls. In a time where the main focus is on monetization and number of units shipped, these two guys lead the charge away from the ‘norm’ and return to what is truly important; making good games. Make the games you want to play and others with similar taste will join you. While developers are going crazy over their demographics, target market and installed base Todd Howard was quoted saying, “if install base really mattered, we’d all make board games, because there are a lot of tables.”
This is why these two men nay legends are my biggest idols, along with their development teams these industry leaders take the risk of creating large living worlds that a lot of us dreamed about making but never considered to be a possibility anytime soon. This brings me to the point of the article today, there is an MMORPG currently in development that surprisingly a lot of people are unaware of. This MMORPG is called ArcheAge and it is a Fantasy MMORPG set to showcase features rarely seen at such a scale in this industry. If you are a gamer like me then things like player cities, castle sieges, player shaped world and extensive crafting are just about enough to replace the girlfriend/boyfriend. Today I introduce you to the new love of your life, it loves you more than the other one ever will anyway, trust me. Prepare for the third generation of MMORPGs, courtesy of Jake Song and XL Games.
ArcheAge provides a massive, dynamic world with a deep lore and history that will not only captivate players but allow them to forge new chapters in the history of ArcheAge. Spanning across three large continents is a seamless world ready to be shaped by players, oh and yes seamless does mean no loading screens. No two servers will share the same experience, and the same location on two different servers may look completely different. In ArcheAge players are free to determine their own destiny, join the bad guys, become a fabled hero or live your days as a humble craftsman. The role you play in the world is determined by your choices and actions, if you wanted to visit a theme park then you are at the wrong attraction my friend.
There will be eight races available at launch, six of which have currently been revealed. Choose from the cat like Ferres, the human Nuian folk, rival human Hariharans, mystical Elves, stubborn Dwarves, the gigantic Warborn and two other yet to be revealed races. Each race has their own story to tell, rivalries, obstacles and challenges to face. Staying in tune with following your own path, players are not restricted by classes. ArcheAge offers preset classes such as a Warrior or Priest but doesn’t stop the player from creating their own custom class. Combine three skills from a list of ten to truly create a character that fits your playstyle.
When players enter the world they will begin their journey on either the Nuia or Harihara continents. From this point forward players are somewhat left to their own devices, as I mentioned earlier you make your own decisions. While a lot of of these freeform sandbox MMOs don’t include regular questing like more traditional MMOs, remember that this is a third generation MMORPG and that means you have freedom to make your own story while also following theirs. Embark on quests, dungeons, raids and adventure… or don’t. it really is up to you.
Under and Overachiever
In ArcheAge, quests are more than a static requirement that must be fulfilled before moving on to the next mundane task. With the under and overachiever system players choose their level of participation in quests and are rewarded accordingly. Given a quest to slay ten wild boars that have been troubling farmers but can’t be bothered? Just kill five and take a smaller cut from the original reward, or kill fifteen and receive a bonus. You choose your level of participation and the pace at which you complete quests.
Build A House
Within your territory you can build your very own house, they will come in many different shapes and sizes and serve a different purpose to each player. Do you build a humble little cottage to relax with friends and family, build a workshop for crafting fine wares or found your own village; one of the many choices you will face in ArcheAge. Most of the playable space is open for players to inhabit and shape in their image. Houses aren’t in pre-determined lots and can be dragged from the inventory and placed in the world on the exact location you want, rotate and move your building until you find that perfect spot and layout your village the way you envision not the developers.
Those who wish to live on the edge may travel north where players reign over territory they claim for player built castles and towns. This land is not safe however, other lords may try to claim your land for their own. ArcheAge features a full seige warfare system, launch catapults to crumble enemy walls, scale towers and breach the defenses; bring your enemies to their knees. With destructible environments and open warfare, players will be required to remain on their toes if they wish to keep their land. To train warriors for battle there is also a battlefield training mode that allows players to practice their tactics and strategies in a simulated environment against other players. Do you rise to power through force or politics? You shall decide how the north shall be ruled.
Constantly, whether online or offline, a player generates labor power. This power is used for performing various activities and to complete certain tasks. Whether building a house, crafting items or participating in entertainment activities, you will require labor power. If however a player does run out and requires some immediately, labor power can be borrowed from other players or NPCs hired to complete the work.
Merchant, Crafter or Farmer?
As I have spoken about, players inhabit and shape this world in many ways. One of these methods is through crafting, which offers the opportunity to forget warfare and focus on a more peaceful life. Do you become a merchant who travels from town to town, buying goods at a low price in places where resources are abundant and then selling them for a premium in a far away location? Perhaps you prefer to craft wares, becoming famous for your equipment and making a fortune out of your home workshop. These are two great options, but there is more to the “other” life than just crafting goods and selling them. ArcheAge allows players to plant seeds, which grow into plants of all kinds. Players can start their own farm growing crops, or even plant trees and if determined enough; a whole forest.
The world is massive, to the point where walking just isn’t an option. Early in the game players are given access to horses, not just because mounts are cool but because you really do need one to get anywhere. Horses can wear equipment and players can even fight from horseback, something we haven’t seen much of in MMORPGs. For players who don’t want to ride, or haven’t received one yet there are other modes of transportation as well that cost nothing. Carriages run along fixed routes between locations, players may jump on or off at any time to explore, hunt or quest.
Due to the game being spread over three continents, players need a way to navigate between them. Players can build ships in ArcheAge, allowing them to travel the open seas between the continents. The game world is completely seamless, meaning no loading screens and you can explore wherever your heart desires. If you can’t afford a boat then players can take the airship, but this has no loading screen either and you can take in all the scenery from above along the way.
Naval Battle System
If you have a big ship with a bunch of cannons, you need to put them to good use. ArcheAge features a full naval battle system that allows players to fight it out on the open sea and assault shoreline towns. Ships are realistically sized and whole crews are required to run them efficiently, players will be in shock the first time their ship is surrounded by pirates relentlessly shooting cannonballs at their ship. Ships can be sunk, but not permanently lost as players can repair their boats at the appropriate NPC for a fee. Have pirate MMORPG’s failed to impress you lately? Well now you are free to go on swashbuckling adventures within this fantasy world. Become a full blown pirate, sail the seas and raid innocent villages for loot and plunder.
If players kill someone of their own race in their own territory they receive a criminal point, receive enough of these points and you are summoned to a court hearing. At this court hearing the judges will determine your fate according to the crimes committed and evidence provided. Players can call forth witnesses, but ultimately if found guilty players will be imprisoned. While imprisoned players will have two choices, complete communal service by digging holes and spending time behind bars, or make a break for it and tunnel out of there! Oh, and as a fair warning to players, if you don’t turn up to caught you become wanted and other players will undoubtedly hunt you down and bring you to justice.
This is but a small glimpse of what is in store for players in ArcheAge. As you can see, players can truly choose their own path and help shape the world. The possibilities and scenarios that can unfold drive my imagination wild and the freedom to make these dreams a reality is why I recommend you keep a close eye on this game. If you ever wished there was a fantasy Star Wars Galaxies style MMORPG or wanted to experience a world with true freedom that still offers the same features of a traditional theme-park MMO then support ArcheAge!
Let us know about your hopes for this game, what you would like to see and best of all what type of character you will become. If you share my passion for games like this, then don’t be shy, let me know and we will bring more ArcheAge your way!
Visit the Official ArcheAge Site to find out more!