Trion Worlds keeps chugging along with ArcheAge, and this week’s Update 2.5 adds some huge chunks of content to the game, all of which can be yours for a song – if you survive the song, that is.
The Bloodsong update adds a new five-player level 55 dungeon to the game, called Mistsong Summit, and it’s not your typical dark-evil-cave-with-hideous-monsters type of place. Found in the Mistmerrow region of the northern continent of Auroria, Mistsong Summit has “a brighter, bolder art theme,” ArcheAge Producer Amanda Fry told MMOBomb in an interview last week. “They’ve [the art team] done a lot of very dark and foreboding landscapes, so I think they were looking to do something a little brighter and different that wasn’t this war-torn wasteland, like a lot of the northern continent has been.”
“It’s ensuring that all of ArcheAge’s unique qualities in zones are displayed equally,” added Producer Mervin Lee Kwai. “A lot of the content that we’ve added has been this deeper, dungeon-delving-style stuff, but we don’t really capitalize on these beautiful landscapes. And of course, the lore of the zone really dictates the look and feel.”
Looking like a quaint Asian village, Mistsong Summit’s three bosses all have a lyrical quality to them. They lure people in with their siren’s call and present a lovely countenance before revealing their true natures as supremely dangerous foes and feeding on their souls. The “Give me your energy” line at the end of the song in the trailer isn’t a request for you to cheer louder…
The second boss, Sojung, exemplifies this theme, starting the battle in the guise of a beautiful woman, a skin that’s stripped away in the later phases of the fight, revealing the hideous monster – the snake-lady in the trailer – that lurks beneath. To get to that point, you’ll have to knock out a ring of six stationary targets around the edge of the room to drop Sojung’s damage-preventing buffs and take her down.
The final boss, Aria, takes the musical theme to a whole new level. She looks like a holographic K-pop star – and is even voiced by a well-known K-pop star in the Korean version of ArcheAge and a singer with a similar style for the American version – and has some unique mechanics that take advantage of this theme. A pair of scrolls roll by behind Aria, and when certain images are displayed, players have to move to certain spots on the ground to avoid environment effects, which Kwai compared to “a dance game.”
Though the dungeon overall is the “highest difficulty” level 55 dungeon that exists in ArcheAge, the bosses can be fought on a number of difficulty levels – easy and normal are currently in the game, with a hard move scheduled for February release. As for rewards, these bosses are the only way to get the new luna gems to slot into your gear, and the gear itself has a new and pleasing visual style: The first boss, Dochul, drops plate gear, Sojung drops leather, and Aria drops cloth.
Bringing balance to the forces
Mistsong Summit isn’t all that’s being added in this update. Another major addition is the implementation of two new arena types, for 1v1 and 3v3 battles, and they’re very different from the current 5v5 arenas. In an attempt to create more balance, lower-level characters are scaled up to level 55, and gear is made wholly irrelevant. Instead, players choose one of eight archetypes such as “Ranged Rogue” or “Defensive Fighter” and receive buffs based on that archetype. Pets and consumable are also forbidden.
While it’s obvious why a developer would want more balanced PvP fights, there’s been no small amount of grumbling in the ArcheAge community about how this approach restricts build diversity and goes against the entire notion of an MMO, especially one that emphasizes freedom as much as ArcheAge. “What that does it is allows them [XLGames] to more easily balance those eight templates against each other rather than trying to force everyone’s build into a balanced system,” said Kwai.
“Eight’s a pretty good starting point, get that live, make sure it’s working in a balance that they want to see as players are actually using it in a live environment and then they can expand from there, instead of trying to add 64 up front and never even balance them,” said Fry. There are still 5v5 arenas for people wanting a no-holds-barred experience, but the smaller, balanced arenas should provide an alternative for players who are less obsessive about builds and gear and just want to bust some heads.
Home, sweet treehouse
Bloodsong also adds new housing options, including cozy treehouses – complete with oak, cherry, or white birch tree – that players can purchase and have three different tiers that players can decorate. Because it’s not that big on the ground, there’s plenty of room in one’s lot for farms and livestock. Despite that, treehouses still have room for the full 150 decorations and have branches that can produce fruit and be struck by lightning – which is a good thing, transforming them into Thunderstruck Logs, which can be used in high-end crafting recipes.
If you’re like me, you might have given up on ArcheAge fairly early in its life cycle, for one reason for another. Since I haven’t examined it that closely, I’m not going to try and convince you that the current game is worth playing, but if you are looking to get back in, now’s a great time to do so. Trion’s giving out a bunch of “welcome back” rewards for players who have been away for at least 30 days. They include coins that can be used to buy temporary buffs meant to help you “catch up” to other players and, through a group buff, should help you make new friends. You’ll also get a costume, a combat pet, and a music box for your house that displays a hologram of Aria and plays her theme. Active players get the same items, except that the “catch up” items are replaced with loyalty tokens.
Update 2.5: Bloodsong should be live in North America and Europe as you’re reading this. If you haven’t jumped into ArcheAge for a while, this is as good a time as any, and if you’re a regular player, take a shot at the new dungeon and tell us what you think!