ArcheAge CBT4 Review and Extensive Game Info
ArcheAge is currently in its 4th closed beta test which has been going on since December 8th, 2011 and will last for 80 days. We've been very fortunate and XLGames has invited us to play in the beta which is normally restricted to just Korean citizens (you need a Korean Social Security Number to sign up).
Some of our community members have mentioned an interest in creating a wiki for ArcheAge and so I've included as much information as I can to aid them in collecting and providing correct and up to date game information. Because of that this will probably be the most detailed review of a game you'll ever read.
When you read this, keep in mind that this game is still under development and there are still many features to be implemented including some major additions. XLGames has stated their original plan was to have 4 CBT's and then go to Open Beta but more recently said that depending on how CBT4 goes they may or may not have another CBT (just to give you an idea of how much is left to be implemented). Anything you read about in this review is subject to, and is even very likely to, change. I've tried my best to make the information as accurate as possible but I cannot guarantee it will be up to date or accurate in the future (after Feb 4th, 2012).
EDIT: CBT4 is over and many changes/additions have been made, most notably the addition of underwater content, more siege weapons, huge changes to the crafting system, changes to labour points used, and changes to some skills. The contents of this review do not reflect these changes/additions.
XLGames has stated there will be a CBT5 but no date for it has been announced.
Although the game is from Korea and will be released there first, XLGames have stated that they have developed ArcheAge with the mindset of distributing it all over the globe. There have been no publishers or release dates announced for a NA/EU/Russian/Australian release as of yet. XLGames will be the publisher for Korea and TenCent Games has been chosen for China.
All names provided in the review below are subject to change when the game is localized to your area.
Since the review is so big I've broken it down into sections (sort of) to make it easier to read.
Table of Contents
XLGames have stated that there will be 8 playable races when the game is released with a few of them being unique to ArcheAge. There are currently only 4 playable races, but there was a concept sketch provided on the official page that gives us hints to what the others look like.
The currently implemented races are Nuians (western humans), Elves, Ferres (cat-like humanoids), and Hariharans (Asian humans). The other 4 races are guesses from the concept art and some translations from Korean fan-sites: Dwarves, Faeries, Warborn, and the Returned.
Each race has their own starting area. The Nuians and Elves start on the western continent (often referred to as the Nuian continent) and will belong to the western faction at the start of the game. The Ferres and Hariharans start on the eastern continent (often referred to as the Hariharan continent) and will belong to the eastern faction at the start of the game. Before anyone complains about factions let me just say that XLGames have stated that you will be able to create your own later on (not currently implemented). The starting areas/faction alignment are unknown for the other four races.
Other than the first four races that we mentioned none of this is confirmed, but it gives you an idea of what we believe the other races will look like. Concept art with different races:
Unfortunately the character creation process doesn't have very many options at the moment. Not all races/genders receive the same amount of options to select from for each of the following categories: face, hair, skin colour, hair colour. After you've chosen all those you can put scars and tattoos on your face and freely size/place them. Also, it seems like a good portion of the face options are designed for an asian audience.
Here's a video of the current character creation options:
All races have their own racial passives but they are very minor ones so as not to force people into a decision for race. Translations on these can be found here: http://archeagesourc...-racial-skills/
Graphics / Game World Design
The graphics in this game are truly amazing. XLGames has gone to a lot of effort to make the game world as real as possible. The different world areas seamlessly blend together and there is a large variety of ecosystems included. In ArcheAge you'll find anything from grasslands and deserts to dense jungles and forests. You'll also find things like volcanoes, snow-crested mountaintops and spectacular waterfalls.
The game world is extremely vast and open. There is nowhere you can't explore and some spots can be tricky to reach. There is no loading between regions (unless you teleport) so once you're in the game world it can sometimes be difficult to tell where one area ends and the next one starts.
While in ArcheAge you'll be graced with things like thunderstorms, snow falling from the sky (just in certain areas), leaves falling from trees, fog disrupting your vision, and even some whirlpools on the ocean. This game also has some of the most breathtaking sunsets (and sunrises) I've ever seen. The rays from the sunlight breaking through trees are especially picturesque as well. Even the wildlife in ArcheAge is realistic. You'll encounter birds flying above (complete with casting their shadow on the ground) and herds of zebras running together. The water on the ocean looks like real water and the way the waves break on the boats is insane.
Even on low settings the game looks amazing, but as in any game, ArcheAge really comes to life when you up the resolution and the settings. Your draw distance on a lower end system is pretty good, but will increase considerably on a higher end system enabling you to seemingly look out across the land (or ocean) forever.
Here's a few videos to show what I mean:
Oh yeah, the game has a full night/day system too:
Equipment, Items, Drops, etc.
Good equipment plays an important role for your character. You can use swords and plate armor on a mage character, but staffs and robes will be more effective. You get certain bonuses when your armor set consists more of the same type of armor (robes – cast speed / leather – crit rate / plate – physical defense).
An armor set consists of seven pieces: helmet, chestpiece/top, elbow/forearm protection, gloves, belt, pants, boots. For some armor sets you get bonuses for collecting 3, 5, and 7 components of the set (this refers to a specific set and not the general type stated above, those bonuses are separate).
Jewelry boosts the various main stats and comes with the standard necklace, two earrings and two rings.
Note: the two earring slots and also two "underarmor" slots (one for chestpiece, one for pants) are shown, but currently they haven't added any items for the underarmor slots in the game.
Currently there are a few capes that I've seen. Some you get early on from a quest, the other type you have to buy, and the last you craft. The first two have lower stats and go down to the small of your back while the last goes down to your ankles. The capes can have custom designs put on them by going to some station in the higher level towns and paying 5 gold to get an "ink" to be used on the capes and ship sails and perhaps more items later on. This ink can be used 5 times before it runs out.
Then you have your weapons. There's a wide variety of types you can choose from in both two handed and single handed forms for most. Daggers, axes, clubs, swords, staffs, wands. They vary in attack speed and damage.
Next are your shields that come with a variety of different styles.
In other games you are usually required to have a certain class to equip or effectively use a bow, however ArcheAge allows anyone to equip and use a bow.
Every player also has the opportunity to carry around and equip a musical instrument which can either restore hp, mana or give you a short increase in attack speed. Unfortunately we can't all move around like Lindsey Sterling while playing the instruments, only those with the bard skill tree can move while playing.
Lastly, you have a spot associated for the stuff you're going to be carrying on your back. Gliders and resource packages will make use of this spot.
The gear types are like this common(white) / uncommon(light green) / rare(green) / ancient(light blue) / hero(blue). The modifier only increases def amount and durability and other than the icon, the item looks the same. For weapons, the damage and durability are increased. The bonuses to the def/dmg are about 4-5% per degree of rarity (i.e. blue gear being 16-20% higher). Because of the way defense works in this game (% dmg mitigation) an extra 16-20% on all your gear might only net you 4% reduced damage. Overall it's a good balance so as not to give too much of an advantage to the players with the blue versions of the same gear but to still give them a nice bonus. Generally the def/dmg of the blue gear are equivalent of the common level of the next tier in gear, but the stat bonuses of the next tier make them more desirable than the blue gear of the lower tier.
You could upgrade your weapons/gear using stones obtained from quests or as rare drops (or from bosses). Depending on the level of the stone it added +1 to +9 to a certain character stat (strength, intelligence, agility, health, spirit). Using another stone on the same item replaced the effects of the previous one, so the bonuses don't stack. This is currently the only way to enhance your gear other than upgrading it to the next tier.
Battles for raid boss spawns will probably be pretty common (first person to tag a mob gets the credit/loot for the kill) as some of the best gear drops from them.
There were two instanced dungeons in CBT3, one for the Nuian continent and one for the Hariharan continent. Both of these were removed for CBT4 (there's just what looks like a caved in mine entrance instead of a portal into the instance now). Right now there's a couple caves in the low level areas with mobs in them but no bosses. All of the bosses are open world and range in level and difficulty. Some bosses you can duo while on other bosses it's a very good idea to have 10 people. These are referring to the various level 30 bosses. Then there are currently three mega lvl 50 bosses which are pretty tough. The Kraken and the Pirate Boss are two. Both of these guys will need a big coordinated force to take down. Here is a video of the Kraken being taken down.
The pirate boss is also pretty difficult as him and his minions use cannons to 3 shot a tank as soon as they in range.
You get a special glider from the kraken and the pirate boss's loot is unknown at the moment. A special boss on the 3rd continent drops an item that allows you to declare war at sieges. General rewards for raid bosses are arkhium (powder for level 10, bars for level 20, and cubes for level 30 and I'm assuming jars for Kraken/pirate), enchant stones to put on your gear (+2 stat for level 10, +4 stat for level 20, +6 stat for level 30), rare/ancient/hero gear appropriate for level of boss, 30 min consumable buff "books" that increase attack power by 20 and attack speed by 10%, and some of them drop little statues/paintings of themselves that you can place as a trophy in your house.
You can use food to obtain certain effects like more mana/health or to restore mana. There are many different types of food and they have different strengths, these can be bought from the stores or crafted and last 30 minutes.
You can purchase/craft potions that restore hp instantly and over time, restore mana instantly, and increase physical defense. Long cooldowns prevent spamming. Their effectiveness per cost also decreases rapidly with the tier of the potion (cheapest potion heals about 200 health and costs around 1 silver but most expensive heals 1400-2000 and costs about 2-3 gold to make...). Players generally have about 5k to 10k health (with around 14k with the absolute best gear w/ health stacked).
You start off with 50 inventory slots and 50 warehouse spaces. Warehouse storage is shared across towns and can be accessed by talking to the Warehouse NPC (not in all towns). These can be upgraded by clicking on a little bag icon with a "+" on it at the bottom right corner of the associated storage windows. Upgrading gives you 10 more slots and the fee for upgrading is minimal at the start, but quickly grows substantially as you go up (to go from 50-80 costs ~ 2 gold, but 80-90 costs 4 gold and 80 silver). Max inventory/warehouse space is 100. If you need even more storage space you can craft a storage chest to place in your house. This storage chest holds 50 items and cannot be upgraded.
A large portion of your money gained as you level up will be gained through questing. The initial starting quests are quite varied and introduce you to a lot of the game's components. It is highly recommended that you do these as you'll be given some great gear to travel around ArcheAge with (rowboat, glider, mount) and help you against mobs (armor/weapon). Unfortunately the variety in quests afterwards is a little limited. For the most part they are your standard kill X number of this mob, collect X number of items, talk to this NPC, interact with a special item located somewhere, or use this special item on mobs. There are however a few quests that stray from the standard formula, like this one quest that has you swimming in an underground tunnel grabbing bubble from air vents to prevent you from losing all your breath before you reach the end. The quest markers are super helpful in figuring out where to go and finding the right mobs/npc's (pretty standard in most games now, but almost essential if you don't speak the language).
The quests don't require you to do these things a crazy amount of times like some of the grindy games do. The most was around 15, though there were some region based quests that had you killing up to 300 mobs of any type in that region. These region quests were implemented later, but I'd guess you'd kill almost all of them through completing the other quests in the area. Because the quests are completed so quickly, you are constantly being greeted with new mobs, NPC's and areas.
Quest rewards vary and include things like exp, money, armor, weapons, enchant stones for your gear, food, and other useful stuff. Note: the region quests give honour points too.
You are not forced to do any quests and can roam the land freely if you wish. However, there is a quest-chain that you can follow to guide you through the leveling process and the different areas as well as learn about the lore of ArcheAge. The quest chain does not take you through every small nook and cranny of the land so there are some hidden quests for you to find if you're a little more adventurous.
ArcheAge questing also has some cool features, if you don't like a particular quest you can turn it in early and still get partial credit. If you feel like being an over achiever, a lot of quests can be completed 50% more (collection quests) for some bonuses (more exp/money).
A video demonstrating the quest system and the jungle area:
Exploring the Land and Getting Around
Going by foot takes forever and you have to be careful to avoid monsters if you're going to an area that is higher level than you. A mount is essential for getting around anywhere in ArcheAge, and if you level them up they get skills! Your mount starts off at level 5 with two skills. The first allows your mount to kick its back legs at an opponent and of course you have to face your horse in the right direction to do this. The second skill allows you to slash at your enemy while on the mount. At level 6, you can shoot an arrow while on your mount. At level 8, your mount gets a sprint skill to increase its speed for about 10 seconds. This increases your speed by 50% but it also doesn't allow you to turn until its worn off so you better aim your mount in the right direction or you'll go off a cliff/into a wall. At level 10, your mount gets a temporary buff that increases its defenses. Your mount levels up by having it out while hunting, but you have to keep a close eye on it as it will die relatively quickly. You can purchase armor for your mount to make it live longer, but even with armor and having your mount at a decent level, a character at your level will still be able to kill it in a few of their most powerful shots. With quick reactions you can unsummon it before too much harm is done. When you resummon it, the health will be at the level it was when you unsummoned. If you're out hunting and your mount dies, you can resummon it and it'll fall over on the ground. You can temporarily resurrect it but it has only 1 hp and runs 30% slower. In order to fix up your horse, you can bring it to the stables and resurrect it for a fee (increases with your level, not the mount's). Stables are only on the starting continents. They recently included a new item that you can purchase from the stable that lets you fix up your mount anywhere but it costs more than what you'll pay at the stable.
It's also important to note that you take a second person with you on your mounts! This person is free to shoot arrows at things that you pass too. There are several mounts that you can get: a donkey (from starter quests), a horse (later starter quests), a faster horse (10 gold from stable), a yata (5 gold, fast but can only carry one person, looks like jar-jar binks), a lion mount (only from Ferres' starter quests and is untradeable), and another faster lion mount (5k honour points, looks more like a panther).
Other options for getting around are the carriages, however at their current speed of travel (slightly slower than a horse) and the frequency with which you see them stopping at stations (about 5-10 minutes apart) their only practical use is to have a scenic tour of the land with no risk of getting attacked by mobs.
The most scenic route and the one that really puts you in awe of the amazing terrain and area design that XL Games has put into ArcheAge is on the airships. With these you go travel high above the terrain between the main towns. The best view is of course from the edges of these airships, but beware, you can slightly push people in ArcheAge so if you're not careful, you will get shoved off mid-trip. Unfortunately, the wait for an airship is often very long (up to 15 minutes depending on when the last one left), but the scenic views are worth it. The airships appear to travel relatively quickly while you're high up, but the same trip on horseback would not take too much longer. There is also a sort of floating platform that can take you around the capital city Marianopole, but I never took it.
When you start your character you are given a special book that lets you create a portal to previously visited locations. You can save locations into this book by purchasing and using a special ink or by using a special pedestal in towns. Other people can use your portals as well, so if you want, you can use it to bring your friends to a far away place! You can only create a portal if you have a teleport stone in your inventory. These are consumed upon creating a portal. The portals only go one way so you have to make another one back if you forgot to bring something. If you feel like policing a certain area you can also destroy portals to prevent people from entering/leaving the area. Also, you if you die you have a debuff on you for 2 minutes that does not prevent you from making a portal, but prevents you from entering a portal.
You can also have a recall skill to bring you back to the town whose pedestal you last interacted with that's on a 20 minute timer and is usable for free.
One word: GLIDERS! These things are awesome. Hop down from some elevated location, spread its wings and soar! You get one of these very early on from a quest. The view from the glider is astounding and the fact you can control it and spawn it any time makes it a great tool for exploration! Beware while running away from a fight with a glider as if you're shot with an arrow the glider will unsummon and you will fall to the ground (and subsequently take a lot of damage or die if you were doing it off a cliff).
Boats! There's currently three kinds of sea bound vessels that you can summon and captain. A simple rowboat (given from a quest early on), a sailboat which is very speedy (the recipe is given from a quest but you have to craft it, also a recipe for a sailboat with a shootable harpoon is purchasable for 8 gold), and a galleon with cannons on it (100 gold). Crafting components for the boats are wood and cloth, however if you want to craft the galleon you're going to need a special item only dropped by a certain raid boss (the big tree one). The boats are all extremely well done and have many components you can interact with. The rowboat has a small lamp on it, the sailboat has the lamps and sails that you can raise/lower, while the galleon has all that and an anchor, extendable planks, a climbable mast complete with a crow's nest up top, 4 fire-able cannons per side and some gears to change the angle of the sails. As if this wasn't enough XLGames also implemented a feature to put your own design on the sails, the ability to name your vessel and the ability for your ship to be damaged by monster/player attacks. The most sturdy vessel (the galleon) has 30,000 hit points and can have 1,000 hit points repaired at sea by spending 2 wood and I think 1 labour point so a healthy supply of wood is recommended for any extended sea battles. If your boat is completely destroyed you can (at the moment) not resummon it for 10-15 minutes, but when you do it is back to full hp. Mobs in the ocean are not everywhere, but if you're cruising along in your speedboat and have the game on low graphics settings the draw distance of mobs and reaction speed of the boat can make it difficult to avoid aggro'ing the mobs. Also they will tend to attack your boat before they attack you.
Islands in ArcheAge come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are very tiny and not worth much note as you could only place a few trees on them while others are larger and have room to place several houses on. One of them even had a permanent thunderstorm on it and the area grows dark as you approach it! Others still have some of the sea monsters hiding out on them. Then there's two big special islands out there. An island in the middle of the ocean is rather large and has a bunch of boxes in the middle that you can break for a chance at some cool loot or other things like teddy-bears that you can place in your house! (takes one labour point to break the boxes). The other main island is the pirate island. There's the standard shop NPC's here but you can't interact with them (unless you're in the outlaw faction) as well as some level 50 mobs and the badass pirate boss mentioned earlier.
Gathering Materials, Crafting, and Labor Points
Materials were either dropped from mobs, or obtained from various resource nodes (this includes cows/sheep). Each resource node is pretty intuitive as to what it gives, sheep can be either sheered for wool or butchered for meat, trees give lumber for crafting and sometimes acorns for use in food recipes, mining nodes give ore and gemstones, etc.
There are a ton of craftable items in ArcheAge: all your gear, gliders, boats, houses, potions, food, furniture for your house, siege weapons and lots of yet to be added items. In most cases you will need to refine the resources into higher tier versions of those resources in order to craft your item. Some components also need to be bought from the NPC's.
In order to craft an item or refine it, you must bring it to the appropriate crafting station (anvil, smelter, oven, workbench, etc.). Each of the main towns has what you need to craft everything, while the smaller towns provide only some crafting stations. On the third continent there are no crafting stations so players have to purchase the recipes for the crafting station, place them, transfer the required packaged resources, and build the crafting station themselves. At the moment players can only create the crafting stations necessary to refine and package resources. Thus all crafting of gear/potions/food needs to be done on the starter continents.
EVERY player can craft any craftable item in the game. There are no previous skill requirements and no class/race restrictions. The only requirements are that you have the correct ingredients, enough labour points, and a suitable crafting station.
All of the crafting recipes are viewable to anyone at any time by pressing "O" so you can plan out what you need and quickly check it while you're out of town (very convenient).
For the first 15 to 25 levels, it does not make much sense to craft gear as dropped/quested items are quite sufficient. Quest items are NOT repairable so if they get down to 0 durability, you need new gear.
Previously XLGames mentioned that only crafted items could be upgraded, but that's no longer the case! The crafting system for gear requires the previous tier gear as an ingredient for crafting. If you take a rare item (only available as a drop) and use it as an ingredient, the resulting item will be a rare item of the next tier (common turns into common, uncommon into uncommon, etc.). If you have placed any enchantment stones on your gear and decide to use it in a craft to bring it to the next tier the enchantment is lost.
Labor points regenerated at 1 every 5 minutes (giving you 288 for each day). Your maximum labour points start at 50 at level 1. At every 5th level you get an extra 50 maximum labour points (at level 45 I have 500 max). When you use labor points you gain experience relative to how many labor points you use for that activity and this amount increases with your character level (at level 45 I get 160 exp per labour point, meaning if I use all of my day's labour points I get about 21% of a level). Any sort of crafting, gathering, refining, building, or repairing (boats, not gear) requires labour points. The amount of labour points required varies depending on the task. There's a large number of categories that each of these tasks fits under and for each labour point you spend doing that task you get 1 "point" attributed to your skill in that area. Each labour skill area goes up to 1000 points. At 50% and 100% the amount of labour points required for the tasks decrease. The amount that the labour points decrease varies depending on how many the task was supposed to take, but we haven't found any good description for this. However, a Korean fansite posted some detailed information on gathering crops with 100% labour skill. If at 0% gathering took 1, at 100% it would be 0, 2(0%) -> 1(100%), 3(0%) -> 1(100%), 5(0%) -> 2(100%), and 7(0%) -> 3(100%).
Building Houses and Boats
The small houses are relatively cheap at 10 gold. There are larger houses available for 100 gold and much larger houses (meant for guilds and have multiple floors) for 2500 gold. There are several types of each that give you the option of choosing the roof color and siding type of the houses.
The resources required for building the houses must be put into a package (each package contains 100 of a type of resource) at the appropriate crafting station. These stations are provided in most of the housing areas, but must be built by players on the 3rd continent. The amounts required vary depending on the house/boat. For the small house it's just a simple 200 wood and 200 stone, while for the guild house it's 6000 wood and 6000 stone. The quest given sailboat requires 200 wood and 100 cloth, while the galleon takes 1000 wood, 1000 cloth and a special log from a raid boss.
To build a boat you must click the blueprint and select a place to build your boat on water that is deep enough. As soon as you do, a partially built dock appears. As you bring resource packages to the dock, the dock becomes fully built and the boat begins to appear. When the boat is complete the dock lowers the boat and splashes rise up as the boat enters the water. The boat is then unsummoned into your inventory as a little paper with a boat icon on it. You can resummon/unsummon your boat later using this item.
Placing your house is a little less simple. You can currently only place your house in areas designated by XLGames. When you click the blueprint you see a preview of the house as you are sliding it over the ground. Each house a circle of influence around it where you can place things and have them be protected from theft. The circles must not overlap with other housing circles. If everything is good and it is an acceptable location to place your house, the house preview will turn from red to the house's normal colour. When the house is placed you are greeted with the foundation of it that you can build upon.
Note: both houses and boats can be rotated while placing them.
Here's are some videos of the small and large houses being constructed/decorated:
Feel free to skip through large parts of this one:
Crops, Livestock, Etc.
ArcheAge is one of the few games that lets you change the world around you. Other than by making houses, you can do this by planting crops and trees and placing livestock around the world.
From one of the quests you are given a scarecrow that you can place in one of the housing areas. You cannot purchase another. This takes 200 wood to construct and, like a house, it has a circular area of influence that protects from theft. Each crop/tree/livestock has it's own circle that cannot overlap with each other and aids in guiding the placement of the item. You can place your crops/trees anywhere (other than inside towns, on roads, steep slopes, inside houses, etc.), but livestock have to be placed inside the protected zones. If the trees/crops are outside of the protected areas, they can be stolen by other players.
There are currently 37 crops and 25 trees to choose from so there's lots of variety. For livestock you have the standard roosters, cows, pigs, sheep. Trees are essential for gathering wood but some varieties can also provide you with fruits and nuts for cooking meals. Crops are important component in meals, but a few are also used for making potions. Livestock produce eggs, milk and wool while alive, but you can butcher them if you want meat in your meals.
When you initially plant a tree or a crop, they appear in a very early stage in their development. As time progresses, they grow through various stages and can be harvested. You halve the growth time by dumping water on them (obtained from a well). Roughly 1 in 10 crops will give you a seed to replant when you harvest them.
Neither your crops or livestock are permanent. Crops wither (disappear) if they are not harvested in time (crops mature at 1/2 life, wither at full life). Livestock will become sick if not attended to. If they are left sick for too long, they will die!
All seeds and livestock can be purchased from NPC's in town. They can all be sold for different amounts and take different times to grow/mature.
You can have a maximum of 5 people per party and 10 parties per raid group. Both the party and the raid have their own chat channels. You cannot currently invite the other continent's races to your party (this is expected to change when player created factions are implemented which are different than Expeditionary Forces).
These are basically like guilds in other games. Your Expeditionary Force's (EF) name will appear under your name when you are a member of it and the EF gets its own chat channel. You can have more than 200 players in an EF and several different "officer" levels that give you various rights within the EF. Creating one of these can be done at an NPC and costs 5 gold. You must have a minimum of 5 members to start an EF.
They just implemented the family system so we haven't gotten to test everything out yet but here's what we know. You can create a family for free without going to an NPC and have a maximum of 8 people from any race. By creating a family you can share access to your house and scarecrow. Under your EF tag you get the family tag. It states the head of the family as well as your status within the family (brother, sister, or any custom thing you want).
The skill system in ArcheAge is a little different than most games. In ArcheAge any player can learn any skill. There are a total of 10 skill trees, but only three can be active at one time.
Skill points are based on your character's level. At level 1 you have 3 points available, at level 2 you have 4 and every 2nd level after that you get 1 extra point. These points can be used to learn a skill (at level 1 the first skill in each active skill tree is automatically learned) through the skill window (viewed by pressing "K").
Each skill tree will have 13 active skills and 5 passive skills. Not all skills are currently implemented yet so it looks like some have less. Each skill tree has it's own level. A skill tree levels up only when it is active and takes the same amount of exp as a normal character level. The skills for each of the skill trees are unlocked for learning at certain skill tree levels. For active skills: 1, 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, 29, 32, 35, 38, and 41. For passive skills: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50. Skill points must be spent to learn both active and passive skills.
Skills can also be upgraded. When your skill tree gains levels, the upgrades for certain skills are unlocked. The levels at which these upgrades are unlocked vary from skill to skill. Some skills can be upgraded many times while other can only be upgraded a few. In order to upgrade a skill you must pay a fee (currently set to 0 in CBT to let people test out different builds). Upgrading skills increases their damage, duration, or buff amount and makes the skill use cost more mana.
Changing skill trees can be done at an NPC in the larger towns. This costs a fee and you can currently only switch one skill tree at a time. When you activate a new skill tree all of your skills in all skill trees become unlearned (they remain unlocked though) and you have to redistribute your skill points. You also have to re-upgrade your skills (and consequently pay the fee again). If you are activating a skill tree for the first time, it will start off at level 1 and thus only the first skill will be unlocked.
Your skill trees will only gain experience if your character gains experience. So if you have a level 40 character and replace all of your skill trees with some that are at level 1, you must kill a level 31 mob (or use labour points/turn in a quest) in order to get any experience put into the new skill trees (exp gained from killing a mob decreases as your level surpasses that of the mob, eventually going to 0 exp when you are 10 levels higher, drop rate remains the same regardless of your level).
Since leveling using labour points is slow and killing higher level mobs is pretty much impossible with a level 1 skill tree, I feel this system NEEDS some changes for it to be practical (switching back and forth every day to use your labour points on it is not an option as you'll spend not only a fortune on switching back and forth, but an even larger one on re-upgrading your skills).
Each skill-tree has a varying degree off different types of skills you can have, the five categories are: Physical Attack, Magical Attack, Protection, Weakening, and Reinforcement. You can pick and choose your own personal build from the official site here: http://www.archeage....fos/ability/11. We are currently working on translations for the individual skills and effects in each tree. Our current progress on these can be viewed here: http://archeagesourc...ticles-guides/. Note: videos of most of the skills can be found there as well.
Most skills can be combined into a combo with another skill or be enhanced by using other skills. Generally these combos are created when the player is in a certain state (stunned, paralyzed, knocked down, slept, etc.) and can be chained together into other combos. It is extremely important to get combos as the damage increases substantially. Some skill trees are natural partners to one another due to the combos possible, but you will always have combos that you can't do with your currently equipped skill trees. This opens up the possibility of some nice group mechanics and coordination.
Trading in ArcheAge is done in the format of a public trade channel and trading in person. There is also a mailbox if you wish to send messages and/or items to someone you know (even players from other continents). The price is very cheap so even low level players can use it. There are both express and regular shipping options. It doesn't look like there is an option to do COD mail (Cash On Delivery) yet.
ArcheAge offers a large list (around 50) of emotes for players to use to express their emotions as well as a cool dance option. You're not limited to standing in one spot while dancing and can move around to change the way you're dancing. Even the jumps in dance mode are different (think of a skateboarder doing a grab). When you get a large enough group of players together all dancing, party lights appear out of nowhere.
Here's a small dance party:
Player-vs-Player Content, Class Balance
Mounts of other players are relatively easy to kill and do not seem to contribute negatively towards you (other than ill-will from the player whose mount it was). You can attack anyone and everyone in ArcheAge regardless of your race and location (outside of towns). Attacking the races from the other continent can be done without being in PvP mode, but if you want to attack your own continent's races you have to toggle it on (Ctrl-F). (note: there's some glitches with this at the moment so you can't attack everyone on your side, even if you both have PvP enabled whereas normally only you need PvP enabled to attack someone)
The penalty for dieing is a 2 minute debuff that decreases your main stats and your regeneration rate. It also prevents you from jumping into a portal. When this debuff runs out you get a 10 minute buff that increases your stats and regen rate. This seems really silly as you shouldn't get buffed for dieing... You could also purchase a buff from the resurrection shrine attendant for a fee (attendant is not there on the 3rd continent). There is no wait time to respawn, just the loading of the respawn area. If you were carrying a resource package on your back, it drops to the ground and other players can pick it up.
When you die your gear loses durability. At a certain point the gear is considered damaged (around 1/4 durability) and the stats are decreased substantially. At 0 durability the gear is still equipped but has 0 stats. You can only repair your gear at NPC's in the starter continents. Note: gear is also damaged over time by fighting mobs. The costs to repair your gear are based on the cost of the gear with a damaged set of high-tier gear costing a sizeable amount to have repaired. At high level it costs enough to make you think twice about recklessly engaging in PvP.
An instanced battleground exists for players lvl 15 and above and is meant to be used as a training ground for sieges. The battleground takes place inside a castle with a bunch of large container-like boxes to provide some cover. There's also some stuff overhead that can be reached via some ladders. Up top, there are some cannons you can use to shoot down at your opponents on the ground, however you can only use them to aim in the direction that they're facing, so you can't aim side to side very much from that initial direction.As you get more kills in each battleground instance, you unlock skills/summons usable in that instance (very much like in Call of Duty or Crysis multiplayer). These vary from a self heal to summonable sentry turrets or even mini-raid bosses with 23k hp. Each battleground round is 15 minutes and when it ends, points are awarded for various reasons. The team with the highest score (the most kills) is the winner. If you're on the winning team you get a varying amount of points depending on which level range you were competing in (anywhere from 20 - 40 points). Everybody gets 5 points for each kill, 20 for most kills overall, 20 if you have no deaths, and 20 bonus for something else (not sure). It's supposed to be 8 vs 8, but the players that were supposed to join have the option of joining or not so not everyone does and one team is sometimes down a player... or two.
These points can also be gained by killing raid bosses within 10 levels of your character or by killing mobs on the 3rd continent.
Players can turn in their points at NPC's in most towns for rewards such as: a special lion mount, a special siege tank, a special glider, various weapons/shields with varying special attributes that would be beneficial in pvp, special arkhium to use to upgrade these weapons/shields, and an exp potion.
There's some opportunity for aerial combat in ArcheAge as well. There are a few consumable items that you can purchase from one of the NPC's that let you do various things with your glider. The first one let's you gain a bit of height (long cooldown). Others allow you to drop a barrage of bombs either in two lines (both do about 500 damage). Then there's also one big keg bomb that deals more damage (~2000). The first two cost 20-50 silver and the keg bomb costs 1.5 gold. As consumables these are pretty expensive to be burning all the time so you better have a good reason to use them. If somebody manages to escape the range of your bow, you can shoot 'em out of the sky from your own glider using another consumable (shots are fired from the front of your glider in the direction you are facing). There's also an item that lets you drag a line of smoke behind your glider.
Horses are a great tool for Player vs Player battles too. The sprint skill allows you to quickly catch up to opponents and, if aimed correctly, knock them down (does no damage). You can jump off your horse at any time so once you're done knocking them down you'll be free to capitalize on that. Something that I haven't seen used much is the horses ability to kick it's hind legs. You have to aim it, but it knocks them down as well. Best part about this is that it's an Area of Effect (AoE) and is on a much shorter timer than the sprint skill. You also have the option to slash your opponents, but you have to be really close so it's not the most practical skill to make use of unless you're charging past a few stragglers and want to reach their main force. I've seen some excellent use of players charging in with their horses and using the sprint skill in mass PvP. They stagger their positioning and the timings of it to make it very difficult to dodge and keeps everyone down so they can use some nice AoE spells while you're all still grouped closely. In theory if you do this well enough the first people would have time to line up their horses to use the kick skill and give the others time to do the same. This essentially keeps them knocked down on the ground permanently and done enough times, kills them. So if you've got a well coordinated force, you don't even need to get off your horse to kill people!
Before people cry that this is unfair and imbalanced, I'd like to point out that there are ways to avoid this. The fortification skill tree has a skill that creates a large circular barrier that prevents people/skills from going both in and out of it (sometimes useful for trapping people trying to run away). So if your tank has enough foresight he can stop it.
With 128 different skill tree combinations it can be difficult to create a good balance. Some combinations are capable of keeping a player CC'd constantly until they die and so a lot of battles go to whoever attacks first. Unfortunately a lot of the PvP has been against players better geared (game seems to only give me drops useful for other classes and I can't trade due to my lack of Korean) so our testers haven't gotten to test out balanced PvP too much. Then there's the 70% of the time where you are ganked while grinding which doesn't help.
Each skill tree has some form of CC that they can use and a lot have one big damage dealing skill. As I stated before, skill combos are essential to hit in order to deal enough damage. Unfortunately the timings are such that a huge lag time (like the 500ms+ I get) make landing the combos rather difficult (and most close-ranged melee skills) so it's something to keep in mind if you plan on playing on the NA servers from EU or vice-versa. Using food in battle is definitely recommended because it gives you some nice bonuses and actually makes a fair difference.
Since the power of a lot of skills is upgradable, you're not going to do very well in 1v1's against higher leveled players. Gear isn't the easiest thing to come by, so it may take a little longer for some players to get it but the top tiers aren't as unobtainable as they are in some games. That doesn't mean that you're going to be useless in PvP, it just means that in 1v1's you're going to be at a disadvantage.
Here's one of the official videos of the tank class combo (my class) doing PvP where the battles are a little more drawn out than most that I've experienced:
Sieges and Territories
The sieges were a feature that was released just last week, but there were issues with it and so they removed them again the next day. They're going to be releasing them again this weekend so hopefully we'll be able to provide some more complete information regarding them then.
Here's a video from the official site showcasing what they envision sieges to look like:
Here's what we do know.
In order to be able to declare war and participate in a siege you must obtain a special drop from the raid boss on the third continent. Sieges only take place on the weekends and last for two hours. You can only have one attacking and one defending expeditionary force. Each side can currently have only 50 players participating (there are some rumors that if things go well that they will boost it to at least 100 vs. 100). If you're not signed up for the siege or if the player limit goes above the allotted amount you will simply be teleported back to the nearest resurrection shrine if you try to enter the siege area.
Right now there's no real benefit to owning a territory. Just the chance to take part in sieges. XLGames mentioned that each claimed territory will have an area of effect around it that will let the owners charge taxes to whoever placed their houses in that area. When a territory is owned, the giant stone sword in the ground goes up into the air and glows. This is the central point of the territory and what everything is based around. For 100m around this sword, territory owners can demolish anything and claim crops without any penalty. This area is generally used to build the defensive structures like gates, towers, and walls to protect the sword during sieges (not 100% sure, but I believe you have to destroy the sword when attacking in order to win the territory). The walls, gates, towers and the big sword have 500k-2mil hit points so you'll have to bring a lot of firepower. These, like the houses, are also placed freely by the players and so you can design your own custom castle. The price of the walls, gates and towers vary from 1 gold to 10 gold. The territory area of effect is 250m around the sword. Both of these circles are displayed on the map to aid players in knowing if their constructions are safe.
A siege just wouldn't be complete without siege weaponry. Two of these are currently implemented in the game with hints of more to come. The siege tank has a cannon on board and moves at a decent speed. The siege tower is very useful tool for getting up on the castle walls. Early concept videos of ArcheAge showed some battering rams, but these are currently not available. Some of the recent images from the official ArcheAge page also show a catapult.
For some reason the siege tank does not require a blueprint so the ingredients required are easily viewable using the crafting recipe window. It's expensive and requires some hard to get components. Arkhium trees require arkhium water to grow (so it's only useful to plant these on the 3rd continent) and cost 5 gold each. On average, when chopped down, an arkhium tree will yield 2 arkhium logs (1~3 random). The siege tank requires 5 of these logs and 10 branches from trees that were struck by lightning. As you can imagine, these branches are the bottleneck for the production of the siege tank. On top of that you're going to need 900 iron ore... Then smelt that iron ore into iron ingots and then smelt those iron ingots into higher tier iron ingots. Since ore nodes yield 1~3 iron (or average of 2) you can quickly see how much work it is to craft a siege tank. They keep tweaking the damage and range of the siege tanks so I haven't gotten a chance to see them action in their latest implementation (darn branches struck by lightning are hard to get so I don't have one of my own) but a ranged AoE is always a good thing to have, especially when you have multiple people with them (the tanks are also useful outside of battle to help you ferry arhkium water across the land on the 3rd continent since you don't have to be in a siege to summon them).
The siege tower requires a blueprint that costs 10 gold and is placed just like a boat except on land. This is expensive to build as you have to create 4 packages of arkhium logs. Arkhium log packages require only 5 (instead of 100 like other resources) to create. Since each arkhium tree gives an average of two logs you're looking to spend 50 gold just for the logs, or a total price of roughly 60 gold for the siege tower.
And here's some footage of the actual sieges so far (i.e. the first two days of sieges after they were fixed):
Killing someone from the other continent can be done without penalty. However, if you decide to attack someone from your continent, you will spatter blood which will give you crime points. If you kill them then the blood will give you more crime points. Witnesses to the crime can pick up the blood and submit it (just click on it in your inventory) and report it. Blood is currently not trade-able.
If somebody was daring enough to plant things outside of their protected area you are free to steal them! If you decide to steal something from someone else though, you will leave behind footprints for each item you steal! (you are given a pop-up window to confirm that you do infact want to steal their stuff). Players can pick up these footprints and report you for the crime. Footprints disappear over time but I'm not sure how long it takes for this to happen. It's definitely less than a day though. If you want to be really sneaky you can scrub away your footprints or blood using a consumable item (a broom) so that others can't report you. However, if you stole enough to really aggravate them then they have the opportunity to play detective. They get a consumable (powder of some sort) that they can throw over a certain area to reveal footprints/blood that have been hidden.
When you collect over 100 crime points and you die or log off and on again you will find yourself in jail! It takes a fair bit of killing/stealing to find yourself in jail so you've got lots of room to explore your evil side. When in jail you get a debuff that lasts 30 minutes that prevents you from using any skills or teleporting. For the first 10 minutes in jail you are stuck in a jail cell. After that time the door opens and you are let out to explore the jail. There are some boxes you can break open to obtain the various pieces of the prisoner uniform. There's also a soccer field with a ball to kick around and a scoreboard to keep you and your fellow inmates entertained. If you don't like kicking a soccer ball you can kick the rats that are roaming around. If you kick enough of them they will eventually drop a key! This key can be used to open the door of a tower that contains a bunch of chests inside it. The chests give you a parachute (the icon looks like one anyway) that you can use to escape. So you climb to the top of the tower (has to be done on the outside of it using a very narrow spiral ramp making you risk falling down and dieing) and use the parachute. The parachute is really just a glider but it forces you in the direction you were facing when you launched it. It lasts for 10 seconds so you better have aimed it well enough to land in the water, otherwise you will fall and land on the ground and die (the jail is located on an island and is pretty much like Alcatraz). Unfortunately, since the debuff lasts 30 minutes you still can't really do anything if you escape from jail. You can summon your boat but you can't use it. I'm hoping they change this before the game hits retail.
It appears that your crime status is separated into two components. The first is the 0/100 that is needed to go to jail, and the second is your overall crime rating. I've been to jail twice now but my crime rating is only 140. There's a couple possibilities for this. It could be that the game takes into account how far apart your crimes were (sort of like in real life where if you commit a huge string of crimes together people will really take notice), or it could be that lesser crimes like theft and smacking people around without killing them add less to the crime rating. It didn't seem like the crime rating went down for time spent in jail.
If your crime rating reaches 3000 you get forced into the outlaw faction with all the other bad guys. The only place where NPC's will interact with you then is on the pirate island. There is some quest you can do to decrease your crime rating by 10 but I haven't done it so I don't know the restrictions (if you have to be over 3000 crime rating or how long it takes).
Things I Didn't Like About ArcheAge
With so many great features in the game that are so well implemented it's hard to find things not to like about the game. I've mentioned a few of them in the other parts of the review but I thought it would be good to have them all collected in one area. Some of them are pretty minor and a lot of them can be attributed to the game still being in development.
Character creation options are too limited (both in choices per option and number of options)
Crafting stops when someone else uses the same crafting station
Random areas causing large frame rate drops on high end systems
The potential to hide caves or special things in dense bushes isn't used enough (i.e. Put in more unique things for explorers to find)
When you break out of jail you still have the 30 minute debuff on you
Sieges are limited to 50 vs 50
The lion mount is only available for the ferres
As I stated at the beginning of the review, there are still many features to be implemented and ArcheAge is still very much under development.
Some of the features to still be implemented/worked on/added or said to be thought about being added are:
4 other races: dwarves, faeries, warborn, returned
About 70% of the land! (that's right, only about 30% of the land is currently playable and still this game is HUGE. Note: a lot of the areas have been made already but are not yet playable)
Player created faction system
Additional siege engines (ram/catapult, more?)
Larger sieges (rumored to go to at least 100 vs 100)
Fishing boats/industry (thought about being added)
Lots of crafting recipes/items
Hireable NPC's (thought about being added, for doing labour work and maybe even as a vendor)
It's rare that a developer lets so many players into the game design process at such an early stage of development and allows full non-disclosure of the games features.
XLGames has stated that they're designing ArcheAge with the idea of it being very social. Everything they've done so far both in game and the tools that they've provided on the official page have shown that they really care about creating a solid community and getting feedback on their game.
EDIT: The specific pages below were taken offline about a month after CBT4 ended, so all the links are broken. Here is the official English page instead: http://www.archeage.com/en
Some of the tools are here:
We're all about creating a great community here at ArcheAgeSource too. Our forums are very active and a great place to learn more about and discuss the game. We'll do our best to pass your comments and ideas on to XLGames. You can join the forums here: http://archeagesourc...ection=register