So, last weekend (and the coming one too! *me excited*) I could lay my little pristine hands (okay... my big hairy hands ) on ArcheAge.
I did not have time to test ArcheAge's two most compelling features: craft and pvp. I wasnt high level enough for pvp and crafting is somewhat restricted for "free" users like me.
So... AA comes from korea and well... it's visible... The characters look a bit like...well... "Asian looking characters that got europeanised". The whole game has an Asian feel to it. Its not bad or ugly, but it will not suit everyone's taste. the music playing in loop got a bit on my nerves tbh...
AA runs on the CryEngine which makes it quite good looking. However, I find the visual quality uneven. Characters, and some environments are looking quite good. Grass fields on the other hand feel a bit like green floor with patches of grasses pasted on :s Something just doesnt look right with it. Might explain why I prefer the harani's desertic zones
The 4 races are quite distinct and their starting zones are varied which is quite nice. I also liked the usual traits are not used here. Humans are the "mages", Elves are the brute warriors, Firrans (the cat-like people) are the archers and the harani (the Asians) are the sneaky ones. Lore wise at least. Because the race perks do not influence combat.
Story arcs are twofold. You have the territory arcs, which can be taken by everyone. And you have the race arcs, which, as the name implies, can only be taken by characters from the said race. No class arcs unlike TOR. To be honest, the stories, which are usually something I'm looking forward to, bored me quite quickly. I nearly pressed "esc" to skip the cutscenes, something I never do... There's something dull and generic about the story telling which is a pity for a game thats otherwise quite well made.
Gameplay is rather generic too. Its classic MMO style. Select your target, hit your skills. Its nice you can move while casting, but thats about as dynamic as it gets. Combos (additionnal effects triggered by using skills in the right order) are quite important it seems. And that leads to an aspect Rift player will be quite familiar with. AA uses "skillsets". You choose the 1st at creation, the 2nd at level 5 and the 3rd at level 10. The combination of your 3 skillsets becomes your class. Certain skillsets work better together, which is indicated by an icon when you choose the sets. But you're free. Want to make a warrior that wields fireballs and plays the lute? Go ahead. A mage that vanishes in the shadows? As you wish. But, as said, combos are important, and choosing skillsets that dont really work well together will limit your available combos. The nice thing is they foresaw a name for every possible combination (http://archeage.gamepedia.com/Classes).
PVP seems to be a big and nice feature. Apparently, when you reach certain zones (around lvl 15), its basically fre for all. A guy from the opposing faction made it to there? Well, he can toast you But bad mean evil people from your own faction also can... Except for them, there is a consequence. Guilt points and infamy points. get too many guilt points, and you will face trial, with players as jurors! Infamy points allow you to join the 3rd faction of the game: the Pirates.
Craft is also a big piece of the game. And that will hurt... Basically, you have a pool of labor points. And all actions (mining, identifying an object, planting, melting, etc etc) has a cost. Labor points are account bound. You have a reroll on the RP server? Well, doesnt help, labor points are interserver wide... They regenerate. 5 pts per 5 minutes ONLINE. Mining an iron node costs 10 points... Of course, you can speed things up. But you have to pay...
/break gotta go...