This is the story of a great game that got progressively weaker. ArcheAge has had its problems, but it’s never turned its back and run away from a cop with a gun. Until roughly a month ago when we were the unfortunate recipients of the latest major patch. Before I detail a few aspects of that patch, let me make one thing clear – ArcheAge was and still is an end game content MMO. In other words, the game began at level 50, and everything before that was a sideline lead up to what the game is about. This is open world, mostly sandbox, pvp, and to do that successfully as a player you have to tick a couple of crucial boxes:
1. You must be at the level cap.
2. You need some opponents.
The last major patch took that away from us by increasing the level cap to level 55, and by making the majority of the available xp grind in a dungeon called The Library. First of all lets talk about the grind. A month after the level cap release and I am half way to level 52. This is a Korean grind-fest that is insane. Some players got there in the first week. I am not one of those players. And with every moment I logged on I felt my will to play drain steadily away. Because where was everyone in the game? In The Library. And what is this Library?
A completely unimaginative grind fest pvp free zone. So Trion increased the level cap in a predominately pvp game and made the only reasonable leveling option a pve grind fest from hell. And the oceans and the lands emptied as one as every player and his dog ground out The Library, (which incidentally is a geometric pattern grid with rooms with books and the same mobs repeated over and over again. No story, no surprises, just grind away). Did I mention the grind yet?
This patch proves a few things. Firstly, we know for certain that there is no future vision for this game in its current iteration. Secondly, we cannot trust that it won’t happen again. Game getting a bit stale? Player-base rightly calling out your game’s defects on the open forums? Throw them another level cap increase, some new crafting options for weapons or armor, and let that keep them busy for a few months while we throw some more cash boxes in the cash shop with some heavenly goodies to distract them from their wallets.
This game was great. I had a galleon, a clipper ship, substantial land, and I was on my way to being in the top tier of geared players. More than that, I was one of the lead officers in a guild that I helped found which in my humble opinion is the best guild on the server with a clear vision statement for the future. The guild was the only thing holding me back from pulling the pin, but in the end it was the one thing that made me pull the pin. As one of the three officers, I owed it to the guild members to provide them with clear direction on why my playing time had slowed down so dramatically.
I’ve played this MMO full time for 6 months. It’s been a blast. But a good poker player knows that when he suddenly suspects that he might have the second best hand, every dollar he has invested into the pot belongs to the pot. It’s not worth hanging around on the unlikely chance that an inferior hand might become good again.
And now I can safely add Trion to my list of do-not-touch-again gaming companies.