The Think Tank: Surveiling ArcheAge's launch

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The Think Tank: Surveiling ArcheAge's launch
Some of the Massively staff have been playing ArcheAge during its head start and launch week, and some haven't, but all of us have been watching to see how the first major sandbox launch in recent memory fares. For today's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about their impressions of the game whether they are playing it personally or examining the launch from an industry perspective.

Anatoli Ingram, Columnist
@ceruleangrey: I haven't gotten around to trying ArcheAge yet, which is weird since I was very excited for it when I first heard about it. I suppose I'm waiting to see how some of the social and sandboxy features even out over time!

Bree Royce, Editor-in-Chief
@nbrianna: I've been hugely impressed with the systems in the game and very jealous of Jef's experiences, but I've been deeply disappointed at the quality of the launch and the bugs and population issues, as well as the housing situation, which I'll go into in more depth in my column tomorrow. At the same time, I'm ecstatic to see that so many people are storming the gates of a sandbox (or sandpark -- take your pick). So much for sandboxes being dead! I just wish the launch were going more smoothly; it always makes the genre look like bumbling amateurs.

Eliot Lefebvre, Contributing Editor
@Eliot_Lefebvre: My time in ArcheAge was unexpectedly brief; I really wanted to like it, but I found while playing it that I just felt meh. Even beyond the usual problems of character wipes, it felt like an ersatz version of RIFT with more PvP and open-world housing. That's not bad, but it's a far cry from what the hype would paint the game as. Maybe it changes a lot at higher levels, maybe I just wasn't playing my character right, maybe lots of things. It seems to have inherited a lot of problems with its design and F2P models that other games have already figured out workarounds for, making these problems the game doesn't need to have.

Ultimately, I see it making a minor splash briefly and then tapering off. On the other hand, I also expected WildStar and Star Wars: The Old Republic to launch with an understanding of what their players wanted instead of having to scramble to catch up with those facts, and I foresaw Final Fantasy XIV struggling against a horrible reputation with little chance of even hitting half a million subscribers, so my predicative models are suspect anyway.

Jef Reahard, Managing Editor
@jefreahard: Loving the game itself, as it's deeper than I expected even after following it for several years. Like, fishing! It's not just a minigame but an early game to late game way of life that, when combined with trading and transporting goods, effectively lets you be a virtual fisherman to the exclusion of all else (or not, since it's just one of your options).

The only negative things I have to say at this point have to do with the cash shop (incompatible with sandbox mechanics and really too bad all around) and the queues that some people are experiencing. Once the usual launch drama is over, I'll pretty easily be able to say that AA is my favorite MMO experience since Star Wars Galaxies.

Justin Olivetti, Contributing Editor
@Sypster: Generally, I'm happy that this game finally made it over here and that friends of mine are enjoying it. It's always hard to tell in the first few weeks whether an MMO will have legs with folks, so we'll have to wait and see what happens when the honeymoon period ends. There's a lot of high drama and first impressions praise going on, neither of which is relaible from a critical perspective.

But it's good to have ArcheAge among our portfolio of games. It has a good reputation and fills a much-requested role of a sandpark for those seeking it. Personally, the housing situation (both for free players and the limited land space) plus the PvP nature of the game will most likely keep me away, which is regrettable, but I have more than enough to play otherwise. If it makes some gamers happy, strengthens the industry, and prompts developers to think outside of the narrow combat-centric box they've created for themselves, I think it'll be a net win for all of us.

Mike Foster, Contributing Editor
@MikedotFoster: I can't speak to the game since I put only about 10 minutes into it. As a launch, however, it has certainly been something to watch. I'm hearing about land grabs and trickery and unfair advantage for pre-order players, but I'm also hearing that those things have been blown widely out of proportion. The demand for equality is most curious to me; isn't the whole point of a sandbox that not everyone has the same piece of pretty instanced property? Either way, the game has made a bigger splash than some would have anticipated, despite the fact that it's a two-year-old "dead" MMO.

MJ Guthrie, Contributing Editor
@MJ_Guthrie: ArcheAge is addicting! I am absolutely loving it (and might or might not have trouble leaving it at a decent hour). While it is true the quests are nothing to write home about, they are far from the only thing to do in game; in fact, I don't think I have quested on my Firran since I earned enough Gilda Stars to buy my house last Saturday. Trade routes, farming, and sailing have gobbled up my time. And then there are the surprise achievements for exploring nooks and crannies, which makes this explorer's heart glad! Finally, a game I can get really lost in again.

What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the most caring of the carebears, so expect more than a little disagreement! Join Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and the team for a new edition right here every Thursday.
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