Last played: 2014
I debated whether to include ArcheAge and one other game on my list, since they’re both unfinished games. But hey, if they’re charging for it and letting us play unfettered…
I’ve already written quite a bit about the game. My formal preview/review (so far) can be found here and it was part of the the reason for this blog post. MMORPG.com’s Bill Murphy echoed my sentiments recently in this article. There’s also the 2008-era combat system to gripe about if you’re looking for more reasons to hate on the game.
But I’m going to power through it when it comes out, because the later game sounds outstanding. It’s one of the rare games where I’m likely to ignore my seething hatred for “the real game starts at level X” mentality prevalent in so many games. I’ve been following the game for three years, ever since we interviewed Jake Song for Massive Online Gamer, and it sounded (and looked) great then, even in its early, pre-alpha state. Regarding its sandbox nature, here’s what Song had to say:
“Ultima Online was a ground-breaking game, and it still is, even in today’s point of view. However, too much freedom damaged other players’ gameplay and players got fatigued… We are pursuing a sandbox type of game, but also working on combining valuable lessons we’ve learned from previously released MMORPGs, such as providing user-friendly guides for beginners, safe zones, and content for those players who wish it, and not forcing party-play, etc.”
The “too much freedom” line probably drives a spike through some people’s heads, but I think the days of truly anarchic sandboxes are over. There was a comment thread on Massively a while back where some rational people came to the conclusion that sandbox != free-form murder simulator, that you can have “nice-ish” sandbox games where people don’t just have free reign to grief other people with impunity.
Of course, the hardcore gankers/griefers will howl about “carebears,” and even those of a less violent nature will probably feel constrained at one point or another. It’s a difficult balance to keep, but one that’s probably necessary. Heck, even Eve Online has high-sec space for less-daring players to roam around in.
(As a side note: In nearly every MMO I’ve played in that doesn’t have full open-world PvP options – mostly Guild Wars 2 and LOTRO – I’ve heard at least one Neanderthal say something to the effect of “Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if we could take our max-level characters into a level 10 zone and totally thrash newbies?!?” Any future ideas you have for how to improve the game will now be ignored.)
With so few sandboxes out there, a lot of people have their hopes pinned on ArcheAge. It probably won’t be old-school/hardcore enough for some, but that’s not the approach you take in 2014. If XLGames/Trion can maintain a reasonable balance between freedom and restrictions, I think it’ll do fine.