I was there on day one when ArcheAge first launched in the West. I had more fun playing ArcheAge on its first months than I had ever had in an MMO before. Whether I was questing, crafting, selling, or even doing some high-seas piracy, ArcheAge had so much to offer me that it had its hooks in me deep. Sadly, like so many free-to-play games before and after it, ArcheAge soon was plagued by monetization and pay to win issues that ultimately killed the game. It broke my heart to see it collapse as quickly as it did, but I allowed myself to hold onto my pleasant memories and hold out hope that one day I may be able to return to the game. That day has finally arrived with the release of ArcheAge Unchained! Read my review to find out!
Publisher: Trion Worlds
Developer: XL Games
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: October 17th, 2019
At the time of its initial release, ArcheAge was one of the most open ended MMO’s that you could play. There was a nearly endless amount of things that you could spend time doing each day that you logged in.
For the traditional experience, you could always simply level up through questing and advancing through the world. Conversely, you could dedicate yourself to your farmland, tilling your fields, and shipping off packs of goods to sell to turn massive profits.
If you were feeling a little bloodthirsty, you could take to the seas and engage in some massive open world PVP against your enemies. I saw some awesome PVP during my times playing ArcheAge, hundreds of players working together to try to commandeer enemy ships full of trade goods.
There are so many ways to enjoy ArcheAge, even down to the class system which has plenty of branching paths allowing you to create your own custom class to your liking. You can choose from a handful of starting classes, from rangers and casters, to fighters and rogues.
But as you level up, you can put skill points in both that class and into other classes allowing you to multiclass into your own unique hero. There are two major factions in ArcheAge which are simply called “East” and “West”, and depending on which race you select will determine which faction you are on.
The cornerstone of ArcheAge is its PVP system and the battle between these two factions. As fighting breaks out in the world, a region may become less and less stable before erupting into an all out battlefield for players to fight each other.
But there is also the ability to kill members of your own faction, which gives you negative karma and criminal points. After you build up so many criminal points, you will eventually be kicked out of your faction and be forced to join up with the pirate faction, a third faction of just dedicated PVP mutineers.
Simply put, if you are not a fan of PVP, there are other things to do, but PVP always did come first in this game. There is nothing more terrifying than walking a trade pack to a merchant and having to go through hostile territory to get there, and being forced to watch every corner to ensure another play does not get the drop on you.
The visuals of ArcheAge are where the game begins to show its age. It is not the best looking MMO on the market, even when you take into consideration that it is already pretty old, the game barely holds up. When I look at it, it gives me RIFT or original Guild Wars vibes.
The environments are pretty lackluster, and there is not much in the way of dynamic or interesting lighting. Even the character models, other than the female Dwarf models, are pretty uninteresting as well.
The game is not outright ugly, it is more just the fact that I have been spoiled by games like Final Fantasy XIV, Elder Scrolls Online, and even modern day World of Warcraft.
The sound of ArcheAge Unchained is where things can get a little strange though. Some, but not all, characters are voiced. Some of those characters are voiced in English, while some other characters were voiced in Chinese.
It is honestly a toss up to see what language the NPC will speak when you talk to it. What makes this even more strange is that on either faction is a human variant.
On the West, is a European variant, while on the East is an East Asian variant. So, one would think that the NPC voices would reflect this, but that is not the case.
If I am being honest, I wish that all the voices were in Chinese, but the little bits of English voice acting that I did hear were terrible, sometimes laughably so.
In fact, there was a point in the beginning of the Western human starting questline where the voice acting was so terrible, that I had to leave the room because I was laughing so hard.
Luckily, the sound effects themselves, the sounds of combat, farming, traveling, and so on, these are all fine. They do not offend in any way, they get the job done, in other words, they are serviceable, which is enough for a game like this.
I will leave you with this one last piece of information. In ArcheAge when a player breaks the law, they are not punished by the GM’s in the game. Instead they are put on trial where they must plead their case to a jury of their peers.
These trials are public and players can watch them in person or read the chat logs in world chat. These can be for all kinds of things, and usually have some hilarious results. There are so many fun stories that I have from being on both sides of the bench.
Honestly, I would be lying if I said that ArcheAge Unchained is not going to have an uphill battle to fight, the fact that this game has failed before, and it even failed its first attempts to return do not bode well for new players.
But this game is one of a kind, there really is no other MMO quite like it, and that is enough for me to justify playing it myself. There is enough in ArcheAge for me to recommend it to anyone looking for a little change of pace from other MMO’s on the market.
ArcheAge Unchained is a fun, bizarre, and honestly, pretty niche MMO that still holds up in all the most important ways. Now that it is no longer weighed down by scummy monetization, I would say that this is the time to give it a try.
ArcheAge: Unchained was reviewed on Windows PC using a review copy provided by Trion Worlds. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.