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Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day one

Jef Reahard
09.13.14
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I'm standing on a sun-baked rock along Nuia's northern coast. The waves lap at my feet, little bubbles are visible just off shore. Wispy strips of white cirrus float overhead, framing a baby blue sky that meets the ocean somewhere beyond a hazy horizon I can't quite see.

I've been standing here a while because there goes the sun, melting into the water and leaking red-orange streaks across the purplish waves as I watch. Up the cliff face behind me, a gaggle of green-named newbs mosh about in the newb area doing what MMO newbs do.

A couple of them make their way down the cliff face to join me. One of them jostles my character and apologizes. He didn't realize there was collision detection and he's very sorry and wow, this game is pretty, isn't it?


Presentation

ArcheAge is pretty, particularly when you consider that it's basically looked like this for four years now. This is an old game, see. It's old in terms of its throwback mechanics, and it's old in terms of its development cycle, which started in 2006.

It's the right kind of old, though. Not the wrinkly, forgetful sort of old, but the experienced sort that knows what it likes and knows how to present itself in the best way possible. The prettiest part of ArcheAge is probably the water. An eon ago I wrote that you might want to bring a towel, and nothing's changed. It still looks and moves like a real ocean does, to the point that I can almost taste the salt in the air standing here on this virtual coast.

Some dude on a hang-glider interrupts my reverie. He soars overhead, stuff pops and falls from his craft -- was that fireworks? "Praise the sun," he shouts to everyone in particular. I can't really disagree.

Character creation

As perfect as AA's visuals are, I'm a little annoyed with my character. Some of the colors are completely different from creation screen to playable game. Ordinarily I'm not too picky about these things, but since ArcheAge is a game I've been anticipating for an eternity and very likely my MMO home for the foreseeable future, I've got to get this right. I spent a good hour trial-and-erroring the creation screen blonds, most of which are actually gray/white where it matters. Some of the fair-skinned pigment options are similarly off, and who wants zombie skin in a world like this?

One other bone I have to pick with XL's character creator is the lack of body sliders. There are a ton of options for facial detail including blending, rotatable/resizable scarring, age lines, etc., but there are no body sliders whatsoever.

For my Harani alt, I envisioned a big, burly guy who could basically break you in half with his bare hands, but I'm forced to play this shrimpy little waif of a dude because, well, XL excised body sliders. Not only that, but my Nuian human hands are ridiculously out of proportion. I mean, he's got giant frickin' paws that are literally bigger than his face. Does that seem right to you?

Launch issues

Another launch day turnoff relates to the character slots. For some reason I was under the impression that being a Founder/Patron and spending $150 would give me the max number of character slots. As it turns out, I had two to start with, and I could unlock more if I forked over a couple thousand cash shop points (it's the fourth page under the item store's 'General' tab, if you're looking). Not a huge deal, since the $150 came with a sizable chunk of said points, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

In gameplay terms, there's little reason to fiddle with extra slots at all. You can essentially multiclass in ArcheAge, and you can change any of your three base classes at any time, provided you have the coin. I have friends who rolled East, though, and as in many Korean PvP games, there's no contact between opposing sides outside of a lengthy learn-the-other-faction's-language quest that I'll get around to eventually.

I've had some account problems that weren't deal-breakers but were certainly annoying and certainly did cost me some play time. The last three times I tried to log in, I was treated to one of those we've-sent-a-security-code-because-you're-logging-in-from-a-new-location popups, only I wasn't logging in from a new location. I was logging in from the same location at which I'd been playing the game 30 seconds earlier before it black-screened to my desktop.

Speaking of crashes, I experienced that one consistently while trying to log into my Harani alt. I could make it through the opening cutscene, but it took several tries before I could actually load in. Frankly neither of these problems would've been a big deal were it not for the resulting queues, which jumped around from 20 minutes to an hour and a half in my case.

And I know it sounds like I'm being a little hard on a launch-day MMO. It's because I'm fairly invested in ArcheAge already and have been for a number of years. I want this game to be good, simply because so much of what it offers is otherwise unavailable in the post-2004 MMO space.

Launch diary

I did eventually leave the newb lands. We'll get to those experiences over the course of this launch diary series, which will run for several days. I'm not racing around in ArcheAge, though, as it's silly and pointless to treat this game like a typical consume-all-the-content themepark. Much like my previous launch journals, this isn't a review series but a snapshot of my particular play experience, which may help you decide whether ArcheAge is worth your time.

Check in with me tomorrow and we'll talk about the game's class and skill systems as well as recap my in-game activities for days one and two. We may even touch on the pay-to-win accusations that have been leveled at ArcheAge in recent weeks.

For our complete AA launch week diary series, see the links below.
  • Massively's AA launch week diary, Day one
  • Massively's AA launch week diary, Day two
  • Massively's AA launch week diary, Day three
  • Massively's AA launch week diary, Day four
  • Massively's AA launch week diary, Day five
  • Massively's AA launch week diary, Day six
Massively's not big on scored reviews -- what use are those to ever-changing MMOs? That's why we bring you first impressions, previews, hands-on experiences, and even follow-up impressions for nearly every game we stumble across. First impressions count for a lot, but games evolve, so why shouldn't our opinions?

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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