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ArcheAge: a fantasy MMO with tall ships, sieges, and an EVE attitude


One of my most pleasurable surprises at E3 was a Trion-published MMO called ArcheAge. It caught me completely guard, ambushing my low-expectations for an imported Korean fantasy MMO using some spectacular ship battles, castle sieges, and an overall sensibility that sounds much more like EVE than any generic fantasy MMO.

“ArcheAge is about building a nation with your friends, then defending that nation,” producer Brian Clark told me at the outset.

What we saw took place in an archipelago whose islands functioned roughly as high-security PvE zones and open-warfare PvP zones. Most of the world is PvP, where pretty much everything important is managed by players. Caravans are organized and guarded by groups of players, while other players are able to raid players from opposing factions or even prey on their own kind.

Get caught poaching your own allies’ stuff, however, and you’re liable to end up in court judged by a jury of your player-character peers. Repeat offenders, Clark warned us, will be identified as pirates and will show up as “kill-on-sight” for every player on the server, and will be banished to a special starting area that they call “pirate island”.

I know what you’re thinking: that sounds awesome! And it kind of does… until you realize that pirates are outlaws, unable to trade for goods with other players, unable to interact with NPCs, and totally dependent on looting or PvE to get new craftable items or gear.


Crafting is more than just a time-sink in ArcheAge. In addition to the usual crafting stuff, like weapons and armor, you eventually start unlocking far more intricate, multi-step crafting recipes that require a tremendous amount of resources. For instance, players can build and operate their own warships, with tall masts, sails, tons of cannon, a hold for gear, and a proper quarterdeck. But you don’t just get a recipe for a man o’war and suddenly one springs into existence. Instead, you build it in stages, each stage consuming lots of resources, until eventually you’ve completed it.

The reward, of course, is a fully operational warship. But you need a crew to help manage it. While players can operate things like ships and castles by themselves, it’s wildly inefficient to be running and back and forth between weapons stations and controls. So you’ll want buddies to crew the guns, control the sails, and helm the ship, or God help you if you run into someone with a full complement. Or try to take part in a fleet action.

Things like army battles, sieges, and fleet actions should arise as a consequence of the player-driven politics in ArchAge. There are no NPC factions to speak of. Instead, players will have the opportunity to become landowners who have their own player vassals and tenants, and presumably enter into alliances with one another that could rise to the status of independent nations.


However, to help keep the rich from getting endlessly richer, there are a couple things that should prevent land ownership from becoming a ticket to Easy Street.

First, your friends and tenants could always get sick of your rents and your leadership and overthrow you. Second, there’s going to property tax of some sort in ArcheAge. The details weren’t too clear, probably because they’re boring in the same way tax code is boring, but there’s only so much land to go around in the world, and so it sounds like you’ll have to pay to maintain your holdings. That could means squeezing your tenants, so it’s not hard to see how you suddenly might find a hundred of your closest friends setting up trebuchets outside your castle walls.

ArcheAge is already out in Korea, but when it comes to the western version from Trion, they’re not quite ready to discuss the business model or the release date. Either way, the ship battles and sieges alone were enough to capture my imagination, and it will be interesting to see if it ultimately delivers on its epic ambitions.