UPDATE 10/24 – Before you run to the comments to disprove me because of that one time you were ganked in a situation where you probably should have expected it, let me explain the purpose of this post. I’m not saying that ganking is impossible in ArcheAge, especially after level 30 (though I would argue that “ganking” is the wrong term to use after you’ve reached level 30). What I’m saying is that it’s extremely rare if you stay in safe zones, and you’re not going to lose anything if it happens, so there’s no reason not to try the game. You can level all the way to 50 in ArcheAge without ever leaving a safe zone, and maybe without ever engaging in combat. (One could argue that it’s actually faster to get to level 50 by farming and trading than by questing.) Also, your mileage may vary depending on which server you play on. The “original” servers like Kyrios and Naima and Kyprosa are probably more populated with people who came to ArcheAge just to gank people. Now back to your regularly scheduled post.
This has been bothering me for a while. In the western alpha and beta, ArcheAge has been building a rep as a “ganker” game with a terrible PvP community. I don’t mean to pick on Syp specifically, but I think I snapped and decided to respond to the criticism around the time he posted We Don’t Serve Your Kind Here. If nothing else, that article serves as an excellent representative sample of the reputation ArcheAge is building.
I feel like people are getting the wrong impression of the PvP in ArcheAge. ArcheAge is NOT a free-for-all PvP gank-fest. At least it wasn’t when I played. It’s not like the old Ultima Online, where the moment you stepped out of the city, somebody ganked you to take your newbie clothes just for the fun of it. That kind of ganking does not happen in ArcheAge.
And frankly, ganking like that only happens in a free-for-all game if you are unwise, unwary, and unlucky. If you adopt a little more defensive attitude, it’s fairly easy to avoid ganking in free-for-all games. It’s a bit like how we all have adopted basic defensive postures in our real lives: We don’t walk around city streets naked, waving wads of cash around in our hands; similarly, you don’t go exploring out of the front gate of newbie town in torn cloth and a wooden sword without saving your stuff in the bank first.
But that’s beside the point, because you won’t be ganked outside of newbie town in ArcheAge. You can’t be attacked by the opposite faction while you’re on your own faction’s continent, unless a) you attack first, or b) you’re in a war zone. War zones are clearly marked, so you can’t wander into one accidentally. I believe it’s possible to be attacked by someone of your own faction if that person switches into rage mode (or whatever it’s called), but I personally never witnessed such a crime taking place. If it did happen, that person would immediately be a) killed by others and/or b) reported and jailed.
In any case you wouldn’t lose anything. ArcheAge is also not a full-loot game. With one very important exception: You will drop your trade pack if you happen to be carrying one. (But in the course of normal PvE exploration, you don’t carry trade packs.) One time I was in a (clearly marked) war zone and happened to go AFK. That was a mistake, and I don’t recommend it. When I came back, of course I was dead. It was totally my own fault. I should have logged out. But did I lose anything? Nope. Nothing at all. I just respawned and continued my day as if nothing had happened. It was exactly the same result that would have happened if a PvE mob had come across me AFK.
I played the ArcheAge alpha up to around level 30, so I can only speak to that experience. But in that time, I played almost entirely solo, without the benefit of a gang of guild-mates for protection. I was never ganked or griefed unexpectedly (other than the one case above). I was never attacked by someone of my own faction. Once I saw a high-level person of the other faction wandering around a low-level town. It caused some murmuring in zone chat but he caused no harm at all.
Now I did encounter a few opportunistic PvPers on the ocean, but that’s to be expected because all of the ocean is usually a war zone. (Not always, though.) And I did have some of my plants stolen from me on my home continent. I was experimenting with planting some trees on some “public” land that I thought nobody would find while I was at work. Turns out, somebody found it. Lesson learned: Don’t plant on public land unless you’re going to stand there and defend it.
Syp suggested that ArcheAge open a PvE-only server. It’s worth considering, but I think that would be a poor business decision by Trion for one very big reason: The PvE aspects of ArcheAge aren’t that good. I’m sorry to say it, but the leveling and questing is average at best, and the class system isn’t nearly as flexible as something like Rift. Sure, in the first 10 levels, it seems like a whole new world with the cute growing animals and the rowboats and all. But that feeling of freshness doesn’t last very long. A PvE-only server would probably die out very quickly.
What makes ArcheAge stand out in the long term (in my opinion) is its concept of trading, which (I think) makes it similar to EVE. And without the possibility of pirates stealing your booty, there is nothing at all interesting about running trade goods from one place to another place. It’s just a time sink.
Still, you can carry trade goods around in completely safe areas, in completely safe ways. I did it quite a number of times. You won’t earn tons of money, but you’ll earn enough to pay for a farm at least. It’s kind of relaxing in a way, riding a donkey up and down the roads.
So I guess my point is that even if you hate PvP and gankers, you should still give ArcheAge a try. It’s not nearly as bad as forums and comments and Reddit might lead you to believe. ArcheAge may not be designed for PvE players, but there is plenty of room for PvE. I can vouch for perfect PvE bliss up to level 30. Let’s face it, since we’re all so burned out on MMOs, you’ll probably get bored of it by then and want to leave anyway, so what do you have to lose?