Note: This article is aimed towards F2P folks who want to play the sandbox elements of the game, and not for those who are playing to PVP.
I spent pretty much all weekend playing ArcheAge — mostly afraid to log out due to queues. Also, needing as much labor points as possible. I worked my main up to level 21 and completed several of the trading quests in order to get my donkey (such a loooong quest for a F2P player). I also rolled an alt on one of the new servers to experience life on the East side.
In all of this, I’ve come to one conclusion: If you’re a casual player who has only a few hours to give this game here or there, the F2P model may not be for you. If all you want to do is quest and PvP, you’ll probably be fine. If you’re interested in the sandboxy crafting, gathering, farming, building, fishing, etc… you’re going to have a much more difficult time. This is all due to the labor system.
The Labor System
In AA, everything revolves around the labor system.
Want to open that loot bag? Costs labor.
Want to feed your animals? Costs labor.
Want to harvest your crops? Costs labor.
Want to make and turn in a trade pack? Costs labor.
Want to report that bot? Yeah. That costs labor. (Though I heard you get labor back if it’s a legit report.)
About the only thing that doesn’t cost labor is questing and PvP. But to me, questing is just a way to gain experience while I wait for my labor to regenerate.
How do you get labor? It replenishes over time.
If you’re a Patron (paying player), you earn 10 labor points every 5 mins while you’re logged in, and 5 labor points every 5 mins when you’re logged out.
If you’re F2P… you get nothing when you’re not logged in. You get 5 labor points every 5 mins when you’re logged in.
You can also purchase Worker Compensation potions from the in-game store for real cash, or spend your gold to buy it in the auction house from someone who bought it for real cash. You can only use one of these every 12 hours per character, and this can get really costly over time if you’re income is low (which it may be due to the fact that labor is capped at 2000 points and only replenishes when you’re online).
That part of it left a bad taste in my mouth being obviously Pay to Win, and going against the idea of playing this game for free. Again, it follows the Farmville or mobile app mentality of wait for points to replenish, or pay money not to have to wait.
What does that mean for the causal player?
If you only have an hour or two to toss at this game, and you’re F2P, you’re not going to have squat when it comes to labor points. I was logged in for as much as I could be over this weekend, because I started to feel the squeeze on my points when I began my trading quests. At first, I didn’t realize how fast it was going. Oh… mining a node? That’s 10 points here or there. Looting a bag? That’s 2 points here or there. Crafting that armor, which is part of a quest… that was 100 points a pop!
At the end of the night, I crafted up my trading pack for my donkey quest… made it all the way to my destination and found out I didn’t have enough points to turn it in! So… all I could do was stand around and wait for them to regen (about 20 mins for me), so I could simply complete a quest. That was frustrating!
I quickly saw how this works. I wanted to craft some hereafter stones so I could warp around rather than spend so much time on the road. Only… that would cost me at least 50 points… which is 50 mins of waiting. That means I have to travel everywhere by mount, which takes much, much longer. I stopped mining nodes and looting bags because I just didn’t have the extra labor points. I needed to save it for harvesting my crops and animals… and then make sure I have the 60 to make my next trade pack and 60 more for the turn in.
The trade pack alone is 2 hours worth of being logged in.
I decided I wanted to try my hand at fishing. Except, to fish I need worms. You’d think this would be a simple thing, but no. To get worms, you have to process seed packs on the farmer’s workbench. A farmer’s workbench requires you to own land. Can’t own land if you’re F2P. Yes… I could pay the extraorinarly high fee to buy them from the auction house, but I’m hardly making the gold as it is.
So no fishing for me, either! (Each time you cast the rod, that’s 5 labor points, btw…)
This whole labor point system feels like a glorified MMO version of Farmville. Yes. I said it. But it’s the truth.
I’m enjoying the game… but the F2P aspect is crippling to me based on the way I’d like to play it. No land for a personal farm means running all over the continent to use public farms (if they have room), and being limited in how much I can grow. No teleportation means I spend most of my time running around taking care of crops for trade packs and not leveling. Low labor means I’m limited in what I can do unless I try to stay logged in as long as I can. Over the weekdays, that’s not viable for me.
My solution (the only solution I can see): I splurged for a month of Patron status. Yes… yes, I did. I figured if I’m going to play this game and give it a fair shake, I need to not feel crippled by the limitations it places on me with F2P. I’m giving Trion a month to capture me. If I progress and feel like there’s just not much to it later on, then I’ll at least know I tried it out to the fullest.
Queues are still a pain… I’m sitting in one right now after switching from one server to another. But they’re working on getting them under control. They opened new servers (I actually got a garden plot on Lucius!) and they locked down character creation in most of the original servers. We’ll see if Patron status gets me in more quickly or not.
Update on My ArcheAge Progress, And Why I Eventually Left