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Home > Archeage, General > The Pros and Cons of Archeage: Crafting and Travel

The Pros and Cons of Archeage: Crafting and Travel

November 11, 2014

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In LOTRO, I got really into crafting. Like a lot. I had every craft maxed.  Also in LOTRO, and especially in games after that, I got really into PvP. That basically became all I do.

So my mission in my MMO-life became finding a game that has both really deep, rich crafting, and awesome PvP.

Oh. Hello, Archeage.

Archeage is a newish MMO that launched in the US and EU in September 2014, but it had been running in South Korea since January 2013.

Some of the main features of Archeage that distinguish it somewhat from the competition are:

  • Lots of crafting skills, including artistry, husbandry, machining, commerce, and other standards like alchemy, weaponry, etc.
  • Open World PvP zones from level 30 (some limited OWPvP before as well)
  • Crime and punishment, including trials where players serve as jurors
  • Rift-style class building
  • Naval combat

It is my goal to talk honestly about the game flaws and strengths, review it a bit, and talk about my experiences in it. Over the course of the next week or so, I plan to release 5 articles on Crafting and Travel (today’s), Housing and PvP, Leveling and Classes, The Endgame Gear Grind, and the Trial System and Game Infrastructure.

Note that everything I say is a matter of opinion. The solutions I offer are merely the perspectives of a gamer with a scientific background in programming, but by no means am I a developer who knows what it would take to implement any of it. I simply believe in presenting problems with solutions, rather than just focusing on the negative.

Today will be a bit shorter, due to the intro, but let’s head to the crafting discussion and the travel methods used in the game!

Crafting and Trade

If it is one thing Archeage does a lot of, it is crafting. There are 21 different “proficiencies,” of which only about 12 are ones that you usually see in MMOs. Even those are not as standard as in other MMOs, as you might be able to craft housing items or gliders or other unusual items. The following are the various proficiencies, with the standard MMO ones first:

  1. Alchemy – Potions, enchants
  2. Cooking – Umm…food
  3. Handicrafts – Jewelry, fishing poles, instruments, other enchants
  4. Farming – vegetables
  5. Fishing – more on this in a bit
  6. Logging – standard woodcutting skill, as well as tree-tending in a garden
  7. Gathering – flowers and medicinal ingredients
  8. Metalwork – plate armor, diving gear, also metal refining
  9. Mining – metal gathering
  10. Tailoring – cloth armor
  11. Leatherwork – leather armor
  12. Weaponry – metal weapons
  13. Carpentry – housing items, bows, staves
  14. Construction – house building
  15. Husbandry – livestock raising and breeding
  16. Machining – makes gliders, ships, vehicles
  17. Printing – books and paper
  18. Masonry – stone, teleport stones
  19. Larceny – from opening loot purses or stealing plants from other players
  20. Commerce – trade runs and auction house sales
  21. Artistry- create songs to play on instruments and play songs better

Cons

Overall, crafting is quite involved and oh so very, very grindy. There are many inter-dependencies, restrictions on how many proficiencies you can have at particular tiers, and many ways that materials are removed from the economy, making auction house prices pretty high.

Also, there is this thing called Labor. Labor is spent when crafting, opening loot bags, identifying items, etc. It regenerates 10 Labor/5 minutes if you are online, and 5 Labor/5 minutes if you are offline. That is, if you pay a subscription. Otherwise, it is 5/5 and 0/5.

Labor is basically the Facebook-currency of the MMO landscape. It is ridiculous, annoying, needless, infuriating, frustrating, and a bunch of other negative words (*pant pant*). It serves literally no purpose except to slow players down and milk money out of them in the F2P shop and through the subscription. For all of Archeage’s innovations, the anathema that is Labor is the worst. I cannot think of a single reason Labor is a good thing. By all means, if you have an idea, enlighten me in the comments!

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Pros

All of that being said, the inter-dependencies make you dependent on other players and your guild for other proficiencies’ products, and that makes for interesting trading and dynamics. No one can be all things, so you have to have friends, or at least business associates.

The restrictions of proficiencies make alts necessary if you want to specialize in more things. That is good, because alts are not necessary for combat purposes, as you can learn any combat style with your main character, given time.

The way that most people make their money is by turning their materials into trade packs. Trade packs can only be made in a particular zone, and they must be sold in a different zone. If it is on the same continent as the starting point, you will make gold. If it is on the other continent, you can either get special currencies or special crafting resources. These packs are automatically placed on your back, slowing your movement. Also, if someone kills you, they can take your pack. You might think that this is not a good thing, but for a PvPer, it is a beautiful thing. This makes caravans and escorts necessary when traveling overseas, and even continental trips can be dangerous if pirates find you.

Trade packs have two effects. One, they remove materials from the economy, creating a large demand for materials on the auction house. Two, they make PvP worth doing, and some groups go out specifically to find enemy ships to attack and loot. It is the first time the grindy, money-making activity has made my adrenaline run and my blood pump.

Fishing

Fishing in this game is actually a pretty fun minigame. There are two types, one based on regular ol’ worm fishin’ and one based on fly-fishing. The worms come from farming, and the sport-fishing uses lures purchased with the crafting currency. The sport-fishing is a minigame where you react to the fish’s movements and wear its health down. The higher your fishing skill and the better quality pole you use, the more DPS to the fish’s health you do, allowing you to take in bigger and bigger fish, which can then sell for a fortune.

Travel

Travel in this game comes from five main character-controlled sources, as well as two public-transportation options. The player has the option of using a mount, a car, a boat, or a glider. The public transportation system relies on a series of carriage stations, as well as airship towers in several zones.

Pros

Mounts in this game are something special. Instead of just shelling out hundreds of gold for a mount at level 25 after having walked the desert for half the game, you actually are presented with a mount fairly early, around level 7. Not only that, but it is part of a quest chain that has you raise the mount from a foal or cub. Then it acts as a companion as you level, sticking around to gain xp after you dismount. This means the animal will level up, giving access to skills on that mount. You actually kind of grow attached to the little guy, which is especially heartbreaking when the animal is killed, albeit temporarily.

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You also get a donkey through a quest line that is faster than a horse when you are carrying a trade pack. And by that, I mean the horse gets slowed to a crawl and the donkey moves slightly faster than you would without the donkey. The donkey has a skill called “Dreaming Donkey” that allows you to use a carrot from your inventory and hang it on a pole in front of the donkey so it moves faster. Pretty hilarious. I named my donkey “Burrito,” which of course means “little donkey” in Spanish.

Vehicles come in shapes such as the racecar, or the farm cart that carries multiple trade packs, or in the farm wagon that came with Auroria that waters your crops for you.

You get a basic rowboat with a quest line, and more advanced boats are waiting out there for you to enjoy. I have a clipper ship that fires a harpoon to grab other ships and pull them in. The clipper is fairly affordable, and they are really fast. I am going to save further discussion of the ships for my PvP post tomorrow.

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Gliders are a pretty interesting method to make your way around, and they are great for climbing mountains. Basically, you have a slot for your glider that is replaced by a trade pack, so they are mutually exclusive, but gliders can help you fly over mobs, or get down a cliff safely. They also can have skills that do cool things when you need an extra boost. The Ultimate Glider has a boost up that allows you to pretty easily scale mountains, as long as you find purchase after each boost.

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Finally, you can teleport to places using special consumable stones and your aptly-named Teleport Book, which keeps track of the places’ Memory Tomes as you pass them in the world. You can also interact with Memory Tomes to set them as your saved location for your Recall skill, which is free (doesn’t cost stones).

The public transportation provides a way to get around if you have a tradepack and no options for speeding yourself up. More in a second, though.

Cons

Mounts are frickin’ awesome, there are no cons.

Ships are also frickin’ awesome, pretty much in love with my clipper. Did I mention you could put a crest on the sail, and you can import that crest from outside of the game? Yeah…that’s a thing.

Gliders are really not a great design for a glider though. I MUCH prefer Firefall’s take on the glider, though I can understand that we don’t always want to have super agile gliders. However, I do very much wish that there were a way to come down from a glider that doesn’t involve free-falling from a hundred feet hoping I don’t lag just as I need to hit my Drop Back skill to reset the fall damage.

The teleport system is very clever and has just the right balance of convenience and cost.

The public transportation sucks.

Carriages are never helpful, because they are too fast to catch and too slow to wait on. If you encounter one, it is going back the way you came, which is not useful. There is too far of a gap between them, so it feels like an eternity waiting on it.

Airships are death and pain and a costly loss-of-a-tradepack just waiting to happen. If you lag while you are on one, the game’s engine does something really stupid. It doesn’t recognize you are on a ship, and it instead holds your position constant until your lagspike has faded, which of course means the airship moves on without you. This means that you fall to your death and lose your pack, unless you are very fast at hitting that Drop Back skill. No idea why this made it through beta, but it is annoying.

Check back for the next article on Housing and PvP! What are your thoughts on crafting? Any changes you would make if you were in charge?

EDIT: Forgot Teleportation! Added.

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  1. November 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Labor is something that actually keeps the game rich, and I really approve of its use. It may not be managed as best as possible between the generation rates and the cash shop sales, but these are probably necessary for a few different reasons. Labor is your limiter. Without labor, everyone does everything, all the time, with no penalties. There is no room for specialization without labor. Without the labor mechanic, a couple of your “Pros” that you mention would go away, namely the restrictions.

    A great example of this is Guild Wars 2.

    In GW2, everyone can harvest everything. And since everything gives experience to harvest, everyone does. This means that basic materials (copper, iron, lumber, etc) have basically no value. Similarly, low end items sell for basically nothing and are rarely any higher than vendor price or the price of the materials that the item salvages into.

    Labor solves this. If you want to spend your labor on getting 90,000 artistry skill, that’s awesome, but you aren’t going to be able to also max out your commerce, logging, and weaponsmithing at the same time. Labor adds value to your choices here, which increases specialization and thus the desirability of high end crafting professions. If you want to craft high-tier armor and make tons of gold off of it, you’re going to need to put in the labor effort and get there, and it will be a valuable skill because *not everyone will be doing it*. Most people have some amount of skill in everything, but very few have put in the effort and money to get the 20,000 alchemy proficiency so they can make the oils and sandglasses and stuff. It also adds value to refined materials.

    If you look again at GW2, a refined lumber is worth exactly as much as the unrefined resources, because it took barely any effort to refine. In Archeage, labor gives you some tangible cost. A great example is hereafter stones: 50 labor for 3 of them is a sizable investment, which gives the stones some amount of base cost in addition to your resources. This *really* helps make the crafting worth it, since things like high tier armor/weapons have an intense labor cost to create, so it’s an additional marketable piece on top of the raw cost of crafting.

    Lower (or no) labor generation while offline is also important. This keeps players from establishing a ton of free accounts and logging them in to perform specific tasks. Having full offline generation or offline generation for free accounts would easily allow players to evade the mechanic and make it worthless.

    It also keeps you logging in as a patron. In addition to your loyalty coins, labor after you’ve capped out your maximum is wasted. If nothing else, you want to log in and spend your labor to stay below the cap so you aren’t wasting a valuable resource.

    • November 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      These are some very good points. I may have to write a follow-up article on Labor, because you bring up some excellent reasons for Labor to be in the game.

  2. Harry
    November 12, 2014 at 1:04 am

    I find that the labor system controls the economy to a certain degree.
    For instance, if you have to spend more labor to make it, it’s worth more money.
    The more labor intensive it was to create/harvest, the more gold it is worth.
    Which in turn boosts the price of things like armour, weapons, fishing rods – because you have to spend to labor to gather mats, refine them into craftables (logs/lumber, ore/ingots), turn THOSE craftables into items, and often scale up items in quality and rarity.

    I think if AA was subscription based, many of the discrepancies with labor would disappear.

    • November 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Hey thanks for commenting. I actually think you have a very good point that if AA were sub-based it wouldn’t need Labor as much. I think that is true, and that is what I am used to, hence my internal struggle with this mechanic.

  3. Nuker
    November 12, 2014 at 7:46 am

    I agree withHarry.

    Labor creates a system of consequences. You have to decide on what you want to focus on. You can’t just do everything in a day, so to speak. I.E. I want to get some husbandry skills up. So I do that, and it can cost a lot of labor. But wait, I can finally put together that fishing boat and start fishing. But sports fishing can cost 100 labor per cast, so now I have to make a decision – stay on course with husbandry or abandon it and go fishing all day.

    It also creates the system of relying on others, as you mentioned in your article. Division of labor is a thing in this game. Some people don’t do much, so always have some spare and they offer to process raw materials, even for free sometimes.

    Yes, labor does suck and if you want to do ANYTHING related to professions, you pretty much have to get patron. Thankfully that can be had via in-game gold.

    • November 12, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      Consequences! Very well put, I think that makes a lot of sense. That was mentioned to me on Reddit as well, with respect to losing packs and such. Y’all are slowly convincing me. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Bill
    November 14, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Aside from what others have said about labor, it also keeps PvP areas populated, Unless Im the only one that goes and kills reds for their packs on freedrich when I’m out of labor. 😉

  1. November 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm
  2. November 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm
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