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17th August 2014


"Asian Fantasy MMOs oh how I love thee!"

Written by TheSnowedOne

In coming to review ArcheAge I should state this upfront: I love Asian PvP MMOs. My first experience with them was Guild Wars and then I really fell in love with AION and despite NCsoft's poor handling of them I was still attached to the beautiful graphics; the character customisation and the feeling of accomplishment over western MMOs which tend to be "easy mode" for leveling. For me it kinda seemed pointless to have a leveling campaign if you could get from level 1 to max level in a couple of days.

The Good

Image of characters in ArcheAge

ArcheAge however is a blend of traditional Asian PvP MMOs and the new sandpark style MMOS being released at the moment including EverQuest Next and Age of Wushu. And there is quite a lot to play with in this eastern wonderland, from traditional crafting, farming and player housing (non-instanced which is a bonus)through to flying machines, cars, submarines and full on naval combat. The fun pretty much starts as soon as you make a character; as after picking a race and drilling down through all the (granted eastern influenced) looks and character customisation you find yourself at the choice of your initial class. Sounds normal to any MMO right? Well in this case no and for two reasons.

Firstly you will eventually add two other classes to your character as you level; with an initial 10 skill sets this leads to a potential 120 different which is one of the largest number of classes I've seen in an MMO. More importantly however; your classes are not permanent. Don't like how your occultism is working for you? Change it for Shadowplay. Need some more buff capability to go with your Vitalism? Swap out your Archery for Songcraft. You can even switch back and not lose any progress; making it possible for you to learn all 10 specialisations to max level on one character.

Image of a sea battle in ArcheAge

Now the combat system isn't a new standard in MMO gaming being somewhat of a hybrid hotkey/archive moment system although it does seem to lack any dodge mechanic which for us non-NA high ping players is probably a bit of a godsend to be honest as they never seem to work as you want them under high ping conditions. However if you are coming to play ArcheAge it isn't the combat that is going to keep you entertained for hours on end, it is all about the crafting and exploration. Want a horse, go buy a foal and raise it. Want a boat? Find blueprints, make a dry dock and build one. House? Farm? Car? Castle? Guilder? All of these are craftable options and each of them also bring something new to the game-play. Horses let you travel faster along with cars and gliders. Houses give you additional storage. Farms let you cultivate animals and crops etc. You can then share a lot of these options with others in various ways.

In fact there is so much game outside of the standard leveling system you can often find yourself lost for an entire weekend doing the additional content and still at the same level you started by the end of it. It can get quite overwhelming especially for completionists. With the closed beta still in progress it is going to be hard to see if this will suit everyone but one thing is for certain; it will certainly peak the interests of those looking for a change.

All this may sound a bit of an endless chore; you won't care too much with your surroundings. ArcheAge uses CryEngine 3; having upgraded back in 2011. Wait? What do I mean back in 2011 - isn't this a new game? That is one of the other things about a westernised Asian MMO; quite often they have been out and running for a number of years and ArcheAge is no exception having been released in Korea for close to 4 years now. So all the usual issues with balance and stabilisation are a non-issue with a mature and still very up to date engine.

The Bad

I glossed over the combat system but it has to be said given it does lack a sense of impact or real focus damage you get in other games. Combined with some clipping you often end up just spamming the same keys and hoping that your standard train does what you want it to so you can move onto the next mob. This wouldn't be so bad if you could get XP by doing something else and you sort of can with all the crafting and gathering but it pales in comparison to combat XP.

The Ugly

Unfortunately like any Asian MMO it does tend to overdo the whole cutesy panties-clad females with jiggle physics. Whilst there is a slow trend in Western MMOs to move away from this style of women in-game; they are going to be here for the foreseeable future if you like the Asian PvP MMOs. As such most of these MMOs tend to carry a similar stigma to being an ecchi manga fan. This really isn't helped by some of the female character sounds during combat which I swear would be better suited to a Japanese school girl tentacle hentai.


Despite the lackluster combat and the "fan service" stereotypes I still love the game. Especially when I took my first flight over the ocean in a glider to catch up with fellow guides as they charged off to pirate the seas and manages to drop my wings and land on a boat and just join in the fun. With the beautiful Crytek engine making the water sparkle and the sun glittering off the waves I immediately fell in love with the game; especially when you take a bunch of your mates along for the ride with you.

Rating 4.0/5

6th August 2014


"Buckle Up Cupcake; you're in for a hell of a ride!"

Written by TheSnowedOne

Released in June of 2014, Wildstar is the hit new Massively Multi-player On-line Roleplay Game (MMO) of Carbine Studios - a subsidiary of NCsoft and founded in 2005 by ex-members of Blizzard after the original World of Warcraft (WoW) release. Considered a cartoon blend of Sci-Fi, Wild Wild West and just a hint of the hit cult TV series "Firefly", Wildstar has generated a lot of hatred from die-hard WoW fans who look upon it as nothing but a cheap knockoff of the original WoW MMO.

The Good

Image of characters in Wildstar

Graphically similiar to the cartoon style of World of Warcraft, Wildstar has it's own unique flare and style with a rich dialogue of tongue-in-cheek humour; blended with a strong and compelling backstory based around the world Nexus; a planet rich in resources and technology of an extremely advanced race of aliens known as "The Eldan". The two player factions (Exiles and Dominion) both come to the planet at approximately the same time, with races within each faction each having a backstory, subplots and motives to the story and unfolds during leveling. The content and story is engaging and funny. You will be giggling each time you level and some of the story-lines and quests are going to be tickling your funny bone for years to come.

On both sides there are a race that would suit the whims of any MMO player - from typically human races through to furry such as the Aurin and Chua to more exotic races such as the Grannok (sentient rock creatures) and Mechari (self-aware robots).

Classes are multi-role capable with each class being able to fulfill at least two of the typical "holy trinity" of MMO gameplay, for example medics being both capable of being healers and DPSers (or a blend in between). A secondary "class" known as Path allows you to tailor how you want to level; either through constant combat as a Soldier, solving mysteries and technology as a Scientist, mapping the entire world as an Explorer, or creating and maintaining faction based resources and bonuses by being a settler.

Image of Aurin in Combat in Wildstar

One aspect of the game which is my favourite is combat which is much more dynamic than most traditional MMOs. There is a PvE only dedicated targeting system which is supplemented with (or in the case of PvP exclusively uses) "telegraphs" - zones which are displayed on the ground which show both the area of effect for both your own skills and that of enemies. In addition you have a wide range of movement through both double jumping, sprinting and dashes.

There is also player Housing; normally a cosmetic addon with no real benefit; the sky plots of Wildstar are actually used for a place for generating rest XP of your character based on the quality of the decor you gather. In addition there are many sockets with FABkits which can be found, purchased or created to fulfil a number of roles; from being a resource for gathering crafting components through to party quest hubs and other more general resources such as vendors and mailboxes. In addition you can become neighbours with any number of people; allowing you to share resources (and even set a percentage fee on any materials gathered from your plot that goes directly to you). On the server I'm playing on there are a number of gathering circles dedicated to various types of gathering nodes which are used as a hub for everyone to swap resources.

The one final thing that has to be mentioned is that Wildstar supports user-created addons much like WoW; on launch in fact there was already a rich database of addons available via Curse and automatically able to be managed by the Curse client. Some of them are quite impressive; adding management options for a number of facets of the game. For those who are wondering none of the addons will allow you to easily beat other players; Carbine Studios learned from other MMOs and made sure that none of these addons can affect in-combat game-play.

The Bad

On launch unfortunately there was a large amount of "botting" (automated gathering; often using speed and teleport hacks to be able to instantly gather nodes) of resources. This is due to a rather staggering number of hacked accounts which pushed Carbine Studios to quickly setup 2 Factor Authentication. In addition they have done a number of mass-bans of botting/hacked accounts and have vowed to keep working on the situation which has improved things considerably but did seriously damper the launch. This continues to be an issue which is probably in no part due to authentication services being backed by NCsoft. Unfortuantely NCsoft has a reputation for not being very customer focused. To Carbine Studio's credit they still remain very active on the forums and seem to be aggressively trying to deal with the situation. Time will tell if they will be ultimately successful.

The Ugly

Despite nearly 9 years of development going all the way back to 2005 there are some balancing issues and problems at the end-game with players being restricted to dungeon runs for gear and equipment needed to go onto more hardcore raiding. These dungeon runes are graded from Gold down to Bronze with only "Gold" runs being valued by the general public. Unfortunately to earn Gold requires some actual knowledge and experience with each dungeon. It is not uncommon for public dungeon runs to disband after only 10 minutes if it looks like they will not be able to attain this rating - leaving many smaller guilds whom do not have a large number of level 50s to group together out in the cold when it comes to end-game content. It is early days though and with Carbine Studios commitment to the community thus far it is hoped that even these issues will be overcomed.


With the free month subscription now long past; Wildstar continues to be growing and engaging content. If you are caught between MMOs and looking for something fun and different to play around with - you certainly won't be disappointed by checking out this MMO out for a month or two. Just don't subscribe for any of the longer term subscriptions of 6 months or more because if Carbine Studios does not pick up their act there will be much better MMOs to play down the road.

Rating 3.5/5

Wallpaper provided by ArcheAge (China)

Textbox Pattern by Subtle Patterns

Last Update: 23rd August 2014

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