ArcheAge is a bit of a sore spot for the MMORPG community, wouldn't you say? If anything, it's a solid example of how quickly public perception of a game can change. During the open beta, ArcheAge was heralded as the second coming of MMORPGs, as fans flocked to its pristine ocean waters to be baptized by the healing power of sandbox-meets-theme park MMORPG gameplay. But, weeks after launch, it was nearly a complete turn around.
Well, the good news is that ArcheAge has certainly mellowed out a bit. Sure, it definitely still struggles, but a year's worth of tweaks has led to a new system. Frankly, most are pretty okay with that.
But what made ArcheAge such a sore loss to suffer for the community—at least at first—was the fact that ArcheAge is actually really good. Not perfect, but absolutely full of some really awesome ideas. The good news is that, while no game perfectly emulates what ArcheAge is all about, depending on what you loved about the game you can easily find another that captures some of that same lightning. Here is a list of several games that are just like ArcheAge.
A lot of the allure of The Repopulation exists in its promise to deliver an experience akin to Star Wars Galaxies, you know, before it was gutted to be made more approachable. In many ways, The Repopulation is an escalation of several of the more emergent elements of ArcheAge. It expands upon the idea of crafting, trading, and existing in a world with more choices than wielding a big sword and killing all of the epic monsters, but it does so by diving further into and fleshing out all of that complexity.
Without the framework of classes to guide your character's growth, The Repopulation is a very expansive and overwhelming game to get into. There are so many avenues to go down, so many ways to play the game, that even just the act of choosing (or, better yet, knowing) which to take can be overwhelming.
If you enjoyed the depth behind the crafting system in ArcheAge and would like a game that expands upon it to a greater degree, The Repopulation is absolutely worth looking into. That said, there are some serious issues The Repopulation has to face before it can receive a full-hearted recommendation.
The biggest of which is that, despite having so much promise tied to its pitch, The Repopulation is still deep into development. Being on Steam Early access, updates do seem to be frequent, but there is a long mountain to climb before the game will ever be complete. This problem is never more pronounced than in how awful the combat can be. Though The Repopulation attempts to blend RPGs and shooters, it really just fumbles both, the result being a wholly lackluster combat experience which is a serious drag to play. Everything feels awkward and confusing.
Furthermore, The Repopulation is hardly friendly to new players. While Archeage has a decent level of polish to most of it, The Repopulation is incredibly rough—especially in the tutorial area. If you're expecting to hop right in and have a great time right off the bad, you'll likely be sorely disappointed. It will take time and research before you begin to fully grasp the complexity of everything The Repopulation offers. But, talking with several members of its community, the journey could very well be worth it.
One of the more unique elements of ArcheAge was the ability to combine the skills of three different classes together for form something entirely unique. In practice, it meant that players had a huge degree of choice in how they wanted to play the game. In reality, the result was that people still gravitated toward a handful of overpowered and viable choices. Still, it was a cool idea.
Rift has a different take that accomplishes similar goals, but also ends up being, in my opinion, far more effective. Each class has eight different specialties, called Souls, of which a player can choose three to build their character with. By allocating points into each Soul, they can use that class to fill any number of roles like tanks or healers. Furthermore, you can have up to 20 of these different configurations, called roles, which gives you a staggering degree of versatility with your class. It's awesome to be able to switch roles, and really goes a long way in helping you never feel bored with your current play style.
Rift and ArcheAge also share other similarities, but those are less exciting. For one, both games feature a typical leveling process that involves running around to different zones full of quests and then setting out to complete those quests. It can be pretty boring.
But where ArcheAge mixes things up by offering a big sandbox world that is slowly revealed to you around level 30, Rift does something a bit different. For one, the game seems to adhere to a more familiar World of Warcraft style of content, meaning dungeons and raids are going to comprise a large portion of your time spent in the game. One unique element is the game's namesake, Rifts, which are portals to other planes that players must work together to close.
Being entirely free-to-play, like ArcheAge, Rift actually steers pretty clear of of egregious pay-to-win elements. In fact, Rift is easily one of the most friendly free-to-play games on the market, regulating much of its cash shop items to cosmetic upgrades and things that don't significantly imbalance the experience in favor of those willing to pay. There's even a housing system, like Archeage, which is perfect for those of you who like putting your feet up after a hard day of closing Rifts.
Pirates of the Burning Sea
So far we've covered games that evoke ArcheAge in both the depth of its crafting system and class system. But the most unique element of ArcheAge has always been how deftly it blends familiar RPG mechanics with a wide open ocean to sail on. Sadly, MMORPGs that feature sailing are few and far between, and many of those that do are, for one reason or another, not all that likely to appeal to your average player.
Pirates of the Burning Sea is one of the strongest contenders for MMORPGs based around the aspect of seafaring. Set in the Caribbean, you create a swashbuckler and set out on big adventures in a more historically grounded open world. You can choose to sail under one of the flags of Britain, Spain, or France, or choose to strike out on your own as a pirate instead.
Like ArcheAge, crafting and trading in Pirates of the Burning Sea is one of the best elements of the game. It ties beautifully into the player-driven economy that pumps tirelessly at the heart of Pirates. Even better, Pirates of the Burning Sea has a distinct emphasis on developing your character outside of combat. You can become governor of a port, a trader, crafter, and more.
There is an extreme amount of customization to play around with. Pirates of the Burning Sea boasts over 150 historically accurate ships for you to sail and fight against. And with a wealth of ways to play and combat styles to learn, this is certainly a game to play if you're a fan of games like Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag or Sid Meier's Pirates.
Hopefully some of the options above float your boat. If not, you could always check out Uncharted Waters, which is a japanese MMORPG that, like Pirates of the Burning Sea, features a relatively historical take on sailing. Just beware: The English translation sucks. Darkfall Unholy Wars is another decent contender that features the ability to set sail—though the focus is more on the brutal PvP combat. Finally, Age of Wushu offers a lot of the depth of ArcheAge but lacks the sailing element, but could be worth looking into if you favor yourself a bit of an entrepreneur.
It's always hard to find a game that perfectly captures the essence of another. In this case, there is no perfect substitute for ArcheAge, but, instead, several contenders that manage to recreate its various aspects just as well. While diverse classes and sandbox games are certainly not all that rare, finding a good MMORPG with a well made sailing aspect is an unfortunate rarity. That said, ArcheAge has improved quite a bit from its tumultuous launch last year, so depending on how long it's been since you formed your opinion of the game, it might be worthwhile heading back to see how it has changed. It might never fully live up to its premise (especially now that we know what kind of beast ArcheAge is), but that hasn't stopped hundreds of thousands of people from enjoying it for what it is.