You know it is not a good sign when picking up a new game if you have to schedule time to force yourself to sit down and play it. Such is the case with Codemaster's latest MMO, Archlord. Nothing in the manual, or the box art, or the online forums immediately inspired me to install the game and play to my heart's content. Later on, I would come to find that nothing in the actual game would please my heart, either.
If there was a catchall term to describe Archlord, it would be "Store-brand MMO". Like many big grocery store's interpretations of tastier, more expensive products, Archlord imitates many play mechanics found in other MMOs. Unlike these other MMOs, however, Archlord leaves a nasty aftertaste. Graphically it bears a strong resemblance to Lineage 2, but it lacks the bustling activity and plethora of things to do. In fact, for being a title that has just recently released, Archlord has startlingly few people playing it. It has simple quests which are good for leveling and easy money, but they quickly grow extremely repetitive. If I come across one more "Go talk to the Village Elder" quest I'm going to bite my tongue in half.
Repetition, always necessary to some degree in MMOs, quickly becomes the forefront of your gaming experience in Archlord. There are many quests, as I stated previously, that deem it extremely important for you to talk to the village elder. Not 1 or 2, oh no. More like 7 or 8. Then there are the infamous "kill x amount of x monster" quests. These don't bother me quite as much, they're found in pretty much all MMOs, but this is about all the excitement you will find as far as questing. Nor does it do much of anything to further the burning question of why your character exists.
There isn't much for character development in Archlord. In fact, at the beginning of the game you are dutifully enlightened as to the legend of the Archlord, and how one who posesses the 7 magical keys will unlock powers beyond their wildest imagination and rule the world, etc, etc. Well, this is wonderful, but what it doesn't tell you is what your character is doing in this village, what their ultimate goal(apart from becoming Archlord) is, or much of anything else except for the obvious assessment that you are an inexperienced Human/Moon Elf/Orc and you must go talk to a lot of people and kill things until something else comes along.
Even the character customization falls flat. In Archlord, you have three choices of race; Humans, Moon Elves, and Orcs. No matter how much work you put into attempting to define your avatar as unique and special, it will inevitably wind up looking just like all the rest of your race. My wanderings around the human newbie village were sprinkled here and there with other humans who were dressed just like me and who looked just like me as well. If I want to feel like an Imperial Stormtrooper, I'll go play a Star Wars game. Not a fantasy MMO.
The community of Archlord, something which has always been vital to the success of an on online game in my experiences, is also disappointing. In all the time I played it I only ever saw three types of conversations in map chat; flame wars, "WTB/WTS" spam, and "looking for party" spam. Unlike RFO, Codemaster's other MMO, it seems that the players of Archlord are much younger and much less interested in playing together, preferring instead to solo and start crap over map chat.
I myself was involved in a bitter trading scam with some extremely dishonorable players early on in this game. It happened over something called "Chantra points". Chantra points in the Archlord beta were designed to be a sort of microtransaction currency. One used their credit card or Paypal to purchase these points, which could then be redeemed for special items that could not be purchased. Players in the forums complained that microtransactions weren't fair, and so the actual purchasing element of Chantra points was removed and changed to a system where points were distributed at the same time you paid for your subscription. Too bad there's nothing about this switch in the Archlord website. Or, to an extent, the forums. So, I being the cheerful and benevolent human that I am, cheerfully agreed to trade with another player some items redeemed with these points. I had no idea what they did, why I had them, or how I could get more, since this information was scattered in various places all over the forums and I figured if it was really important it would be in a sticky somewhere.
To make a long story short, I was scammed out of almost a million gold's currency worth of Chantra items. It was extremely embarrassing and partially my fault, as I probably should have taken the time to wade through the entire forums to see what I was getting into, but at the same time it never really occurred to me that some players existed solely for this purpose. Oops. My bad.
In other words, I don't recommend this game at all. Save your money for something more worthwhile, and go to Wal-Mart and push all of the different stereo buttons they have on display. Or go to a farm store, buy a 50 lb bag of corn, and while away an afternoon feeding some very happy waterfowl. Or buy some colored chalk and decorate some campus sidewalks. You will have way more fun than you would if you played Archlord, and save some money too.