One bad ArcheAge post (because Trion) needs to be balanced with a positive one, so let’s talk about the great questing!
The above line actually isn’t sarcasm.
AA has surprisingly entertaining questing for an MMO. Now I’m not talking about the quest text, because I’ve been skimming and mostly skipping that due to the fairly terrible translation; I’m talking about the mechanics. AA has all of them. Probably literally. If there is a quest mechanic out there, I’m guessing AA uses it. And that is a huge plus when talking about a sandbox that, more than most other games, really does let you gain XP in viable ways without touching a quest.
AA will allow you to quest as if the game was WoW. You can go from one standard quest hub to the next, never branch out, and most likely hit the level cap. I think you’d have a terribly boring time, but a sandbox is about choice, and if you choose to bore yourself, that’s on you.
AA also has some ‘out of the way’ quests. Sometimes these are one or two simple steps and act as an XP bonus, while other times they are cross-zone multi-step epics with suitable rewards. These reward moving off the standard ‘quest path’ and digging into the side bits of a zone, or killing a named mob (or bunch of random mobs) to see what happens. The nice thing is that sometimes nothing happens, so you don’t always expect every action to be rewarded. When you are, it feels like you actually found something.
Then there are a slew of hidden quests. Some are only ‘hidden’ until you click an item to start them, while others require quite a bit more legwork.
My favorite so far featured a set of five tombs, and the normal quest progression only takes you to one of those. When you kill a mob inside that tomb, you get a drop that seems to have no purpose. If you read a book at the bottom of that tomb, it hints at something behind a locked door, and that in order to open it you must collect the four broken pieces. However the pieces aren’t called “key piece 1”, but rather broken armor piece.
Still without anything showing in your quest log, you can opt to head into the other four tombs and kill the named mob for the broken armor pieces. Once you have all four, you head to the fifth to craft the key on an anvil at the bottom. With that key you can finally open the sealed door in the first tomb, which then takes you to a bit of a boss fight and finally, only after that mob is dead, do you have something show up on your quest log, which directs you to the NPC to claim your reward. Totally optional, not exactly mickey mouse to complete, and actually fun questing content. A nice piece of advanced ‘themepark’ in a sandbox.
AA has a pretty short level 1-to-cap game (I’m currently 41 and haven’t really been trying to gain XP all that much. If I had to guess, I’d say you could hit 50 in a week with some semi-serious grinding.), but that short leveling game does have some nice PvE content. Why it really works great in AA is that you don’t have to just quest until the cap and then do other stuff.
The way I’m currently playing, I’m doing that ‘other stuff’ 80% of the time, and when I need a break or playing for 30 minutes at off hours, I’ll do some questing and I’ll enjoy it. Hell sometimes I’ll even be amused by a quest. That’s more than enough in my book here; given how good the ‘other stuff’ is in AA.
I like how the numer of mobs to kill or items to collect is generally pretty low. No Nesingwary-style kill 20/40/60 mobs. You’re moving on to the next hub before you get bored with the area. If nothing else the quests give you a tour of the zone and you can explore further as you want.
City of Towers did have some mild climbing/jumping “puzzles” (pretty easy so barely worthy of the name) made substantially more awesome by the existence of gliders to get from rooftop to rooftop. Every game should adopt gliders as the solution to the problem of unlimited free flight messing up quest flow and zone design but still allowing the awesomeness that flying over the landscape is.
Yea gliders are a post for another day, but in short; they are indeed awesome for the reasons you mentioned.
I actually don’t think the translation is bad at all. Admittedly, I haven’t read much of the quest text since level 20 or so.
There was a lot of that sort of stuff in vanilla Wow – quests that weren’t marked as such that you could easily miss, locations that seemed to have no purpose until you approached them in just the right way, etc. Ravenhold, for example.
I’ve found the PVE/questing in AA to be rather mediocre actually. The quest text is usually generic and repetitive, usually boiling down to “there are wild _____s attacking our fields, kill 15 for me!” and the vast majority of quests are either ‘kill X foozles’ (or until X foozles drop), ‘use the object on the foozle’, ‘click on X foozles’, or ‘deliver the foozle.’ (One quest where you’re literally asked to deliver someone’s lunch stood out for sheer lameness.)
I’m guessing it’s for the same reason Eve’s PVE is notoriously lacking – the devs had better use for their resources, but knew a PVE system is expected so they put in something that did the minimum to keep people happy. When you look at The Secret World, for example, you can see how dull the quests in AA are by comparison. Of course, AA’s strength is that there are other, more interesting things to do.
I’ve leveled from lvl 15-30 without doing a single quest, just farming/harvesting/crafting and well doing some of the trade run quests.
Heck crafting hereafter stones (the items you need to teleport) is like 2000xp a shot (and 50LP).
So from that angle, doing a quest hub run (i.e. doing 10 or so quests) is actually quite fun if you combine it with all the crafting/trade running.
I also agree it’s pretty mediocre questing, and gets very repetitive, but it’s still pretty much up there with MMO questing kill-10-rats standards. Very few MMOs have the ability to break the questing/leveling game from the crafting/end-game . AA , you can be sailing around the high seas at lvl 15 doing trade runs and making tons of gold if you want to, or you can be grinding out a heap of quests .
I also like how harvesting/crafting is not tiered like with WoW (i.e. you really only start crafting at end game) . You find lowbies and lvl 50s equally gunning for that mining node , since both can do exactly the same stuff with it regardless of level.
I guess this adds to the more “alive” feeling of the world. You can be lvl 50 and still end up in Arcum Iris as your home (this is a starter zone) and be seen mining/crafting/farming there just as much as someone who sticks to the lvl 40 zone etc.