The last preview and review I wrote was, a Korean to European localisation of a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) published by Codemasters, RF Online. In all honesty I slated it. Someone has been very brave by giving me access to, the European localisation of a Korean MMORPG published by Codemasters, Archlord. Is this pure folly or an attempt to prove that the Brit publisher/developer has confidence in their new title?
Archlord is another MMORPG coming to the market in an attempt to get players to part with their hard earned cash every month to play. I won't go in to the story at all I'll leave that for the review, instead I'll give you a brief overview of the game based on both my time in the beta test and information given to the press.
Archlord is your typical MMORPG, you player a character and kill monsters and complete quests in order to gain experience. Experience increases your level thus increasing stats and giving you access to more powerful skills and equipment.
A Little Different?
So what's Archlords special hook? I hear you cry. All MMORPGs have some kind of special hook to make them a little different and stand out. Well the clue is in the title, once per month a character will become the Archlord and in effect be the leader of the land. This gives the player access to a host of things such as unique armour bodyguards and castles. Also the Archlord can help out their friends with money, this is especially important as a single person will not be able to become Archlord alone, they will need a well equipped well organised group of friends to help beat off the competition.
The Game Itself
In short the focus is on end game PvP, which is very similar to other Asian MMORPGs such as RFOnline. From playing the game it is definitely more focused on destination rather than journey.
Character development currently feels a bit linear. Early on in the game each level gives you access to something new, such as a new group of skills, the ability to wear armour or a new crafting skill. The problem is that all characters in your class will get the same access and two characters of the same class at the same level are likely to be near identical. My experience in the beta has been limited and so I can't comment on the differences in later game and with a level cap of 100 it could change significantly.
Crafting plays a part in the game, at level 7 a character can start gaining trade items from corpses and at level 10 can start skinning them. Again this system feels a little linear it would have been nicer to see a system where a character has to choose a branch of crafting to go in to.
The games quests are a little too simple and dull for my liking and nothing like those you'd expect to find in games like Guild Wars and World of Warcraft. They are much closer to RFOnline quests and are a little disappointing.
Graphically the game looks a touch dates, I would put it below Guild Wars in terms of graphical detail.
The games subscription works a little differently to most other games in that there are varying packages available. Each month a player gets a number of credits based on their subscription package. These credits can be used to purchase in game items to boost their character in some way, for example your character will gain experience at an improved rate for a period of time. The maximum package cost £27.49 per month which is well above the cost of a typical MMORPG but the lowest package costs only£6.99 per month which is below the market average. The argument used by the publisher is that the players that pay more will make the game cheaper for those that can afford less. For me this goes against the spirit of gaming in that players with more real life money will be better off than poorer real life players. For me the idea of online gaming is that we are all equal and should rely on skill and commitment. We will know a few months after release exactly how successful this strategy has been.
There are a few bugs and omissions that I'd like to see fixed before release. The interface is awful the WASD control system doesn't function effectively and translation is terrible or none existent in places.
This is another Asian grind fest similar to RFOnline, which I admit I was very critical of. Though in truth Archlord feels like a much more compelling game, and I have enjoyed playing it significantly more than I did RFO. Hopefully on release a lot more bugs will be ironed out. A level cap of 100 and a controversial payment system might put some players off. I should be able to give a more complete analysis of the game upon its release.