I kind of knew what I was getting into, but it became very jarring after playing 10 levels over ArcheAge’s Open Beta weekend.
I knew the character models would be “asian.” But, aside from the occasional use of some gray haired NPCs, and some other anomolies, every NPC (and every Nuian) was a youthful 16-18 year old. Farmer Grady, Maid Jenny, Mayor Bob. I think the cad who attempted to become king by trying to solve the palace maze (or something like that) had a moustache painted on his upper lip with shoe polish. This is the utopia from Logan’s Run. Nobody is old, everyone is beautiful, and everyone is removed from society at age 21. Military officers, farmers, respected academia types. The officer on the beach organizing the defenses should have been home doing homework and studying for her exams.
Except for the two fat guys in the level 10 area. They were easily 3-times standard size, with round heads and triple chins. “Steven” and “Austin.” They didn’t have quests, didn’t appear to have anything to say. Some weird, bizarro world homage to the Six Million Dollar Man? WWE? Texas?
Playwise, the world based mobs stood around, waited to be killed. From a PvE standpoint there was nothing new. And the bouncing health bars everywhere, certainly plenty old. At one point I was in a compound taken over by brigands looking for their leader. I ran all over the site looking for him, but didn’t see him. I gave up killing these mobs and just stood there, surrounded by red names and player characters. My target eventually appeared out of thin air. And I finally got to take him down. With no interference from any of his minions surrounding us in their dozens.
The overall graphics were okay. Not stellar. Not fresh. They were okay enough for me to bother getting to level 10. (The wife didn’t care for them at all. And she loved Guild Wars, buying every expansion.)
To test other waters, I also created a Firran. I passed on the afro, but picked what I thought were decent enough looking dreadlocks. I pretty much logged him out as soon as I spoke with the first quest giver. She was a pale, ashen skinned, Firran, big eyes, with a ashen color dreadlock cap on her head. Nah. The Uncanny Valley claims another victim.
Transport wise, horses came early enough, didn’t look half bad. I was very pleasantly surprised with the row boat. It actually worked like you’d expect a row boat would. Not bad.
Doing meaningful things, though, cost “labor points.” Mining ore, chopping trees, … probably much more besides. Not sure if I’d get enough of these labor points to do what I want if I’m just free-to-play. And filing a bot report costs labor points. (Really?) I think free-to-play, you’ll earn a point a minute while logged in, up to a certain cap. Paying patrons earn double whether logged in or not, and have a higher(?) cap. Seems like crass monetization to me. (But I understand they’ve got families to feed too.)
I did see some amusing things in this Open Beta. Despite lasting only 4 days, with a complete wipe afterwards, I saw a group of 5 Trailblazers with cargo boxes on their backs heading through the newbie town to the docks. Apparently on a cargo delivery mission overseas. Another Trailblazer was winching her catamaran out of the water, up a hill, and into town. Some strong arms on that one.
The disparity between a “common” player like me, dressed in newb gear, and the “patrons” who’ve paid their way into some alpha/beta level, with their glowing armors, catamarans, gliders, riding elks… There’s going to be haves and have-nots. They could have provided the haves with Rings of the Special Snowflake, with a 5% boost, but instead they’ve issued Finery of the Fashion Gods, maybe with no boost, except to self-esteem in beautiful society.
Eh. Who knows if this will stay on my harddrive. It’s free. It’s got some new things. It’s not making me race to delete it off the harddrive like EQII has done several times now.
But I do feel my time is better spent getting to Honored with the Kilaxi on my Blacksmith so I can craft some better weapons in preparation for WoD. (Where they’ll, no doubt, be replaced instantly with the first quest reward out the door.) (Or leveling a Mage, or Monk, or Warlock, or etc., in heirlooms who’s leapfrogging through old content. There is fun to be had in familiar, near-mindless, but satisfying anyway, progression to the next shiny.)