While the vast majority of ArcheAge’s underwater terrain is simply empty peaks and trenches, there’s loads to find down there. Oysters and abalone can be harvested for some quick gold and shipwrecks randomly spawn treasure chests that can be brought to the surface and salvaged. There’s a volcanic field of steam vents I haven’t been able to explore yet and plenty of high level enemies to skirt around or be slaughtered by. That probably explains why I keep finding long-lost trade packs at the bottom of the sea.
Unlucky trade runners get caught by seabug mobs or giant jellyfish and the pack they were hoping to sell overseas for a hefty profit or rare crafting materials slowly sinks as they respawn back on shore. That was apparently the case with this pack that took me a few attempts to drag out of enemy territory and swim to the surface. My boat has oxygen tanks but once you reach the trade pack you have to swap backpack items. Without breathing potions or buffs it’s always a frantic speed-swim to see if you can make it back to the surface before dying yourself.
This one wasn’t too much of a problem to cash in. In less time than it would’ve taken to grow the ingredients to make these trade goods myself I brought it up, sailed to shore and rode it into town for a spot of gold.
The part of town in ArcheAge known as Vilanelle is ridiculously picturesque. It’s like walking into a traditional Japanese painting with huge, rounded mountain spires, stepped rice paddies, and deep red pagodas and temples dotted everywhere. I’d tried climbing those mountains in the beta with the basic glider and just ended up falling down a lot. But with my Ultimate Glider and some downtime between crop harvests I decided it was time to try again.
Hopping from one outcropping to another, using the glider’s upward boost ability to get some extra lift, I finally reached the top of a mountain. Naturally, all I found were other peoples crops. It costs money to have a farm of your own in ArcheAge so people will go out of their way to hide their secret gardens in what they think are remote locations. Trust me, I haven’t found a single corner in this game where there weren’t crops planted or other players dashing by, no matter how secluded it seems to be.
Anyways, I kept circling the edges up there, just looking to see what I could see, when my mouse cursor slid over something odd. It was too small on the horizon but the pop-up said ‘Falcorth Snowlion Yarn’. Surely people aren’t growing livestock up here too? I drew closer, aware that the item was on a pretty steep slope. Oh! It’s a trade pack of Snowlion Yarn! I looked around for a while, expecting the owner to come bounding down the mountaintop as well, but no one ever showed. Maybe they were trying to transport it on an airship and fell to their death, leaving the pack behind when they respawned. Where the tooltip would normally say the owner’s name it only said ‘Free Loot’ or ‘Free Goods’, something like that.
With Katy standing by in case I also fell and died, I managed my way down the mountain and rode the pack over another map to turn it in for 4 gold. That money will go towards replacing the trade pack that was stolen from my dead body when we were trying to finish our large farm. It was a heartbreaking ambush I wish I’d handled better. I may not tell that story. Anyways, it all worked out… except for whoever made the Snowlion Yarn. Sorry about that.
Much of what brought me to ArcheAge is the stuff you see above. I’m not into 50-man raids or guild meetings or PvP; I’m into crafting, farming, and other less glamorous pursuits. Once I reached the Blue Salt Brotherhood — the NPC characters that embody most of these skills — I focused almost solely on their quests. Not only do they reward you with designs for your own farm plots, they open up the arduous, terrifying and frequently boring art of trade runs. This is probably what most of my posts on ArcheAge will be about.
I’m no MMO player but I think the trading mechanic is unique to ArcheAge. It requires you to grow or gather all the ingredients for a regional specialty, trek to a specific crafting station and then slowly transport the final product to a remote buyer. The first two trade quests are pretty easy and let you get used to the process. The third run sends you across the PvP ocean into rival faction territory to make the sale. Last week we were finally ready to brave the open waters with our heavy packs in tow.
Katy and I patiently awaiting our watery demise
That same day we had met another adventurous couple that were several levels higher than us who offered to go along. Carrying a trade pack means you move at a snail’s pace and can’t attack unless you drop it on the ground (making it fair game for anyone to grab). Companions are always helpful… even though none of us on this trip had a ship bigger than a rowboat.
The first obstacle we ran into were seabugs, big mid-30’s mobs spread out in front of us like World War II floating mines. It wiped out our companions and I but Katy was somehow immune and carried on rowing the boat. Meanwhile, my pack was sinking to the ocean floor and I was spawned way back where we started. I swam to the gravesite marked on my map and after a few lung-emptying dives I spotted my pack! We were back in action, now spread all over the sea trying to find a way through the seabugs. I kept going more north than west and started circling around an ominous isle topped by dark clouds and lightning… and more seabugs.
The bugs soon became the least of my worries as more and more clipper ships floated by. I caught the attention of the second guy and he swung my way but despawned his ship on accident. He was now keeping pace in a rowboat of his own. I thought my eloquent plea of “please no?” would be enough but even my explanation of earlier tribulations wasn’t swaying him. I veered around some outcroppings and lost sight of him when I ran into another clipper ship, this one much closer.
There’s just no reasoning with some folks
The captain of the ‘Good Ship Griefer’ used some spell to pull me out of my rowboat and leave me waffling in the water. I decided this could only go one way for me so I dove as fast and far as possible, hoping to put my pack out of reach without risking his own life. Respawning all the way back where we started (again), I resigned this trade run to the history books and tried to keep up with what Katy was doing. She was piloting one of our companions rowboats which eventually despawned, leaving her even more vulnerable as she swam through the ocean. With the goal slowly drawing nearer it was a giant level 50 jellyfish that took her out in two swipes.
Trade runs, everybody. They’re hilarious and heartbreaking and definitely something I’ve never experienced in a game before. It’s like Animal Crossing with tension; like if one of your villagers could viciously destroy you on your way to pay off Tom Nook. There are surely more stories of epic calamity to follow.
I haven’t posted an “of 20xx” roundup to the site since 2018, which is embarrassingly only a few posts below this one in chronological order. 2019 was a speeding bullet train of stress thanks to my last job, destined to burst into flames and derail once we hit 2020. I dove headlong into work on Delisted Games while being unemployed and looking for a new job, and didn’t feel like I had anything to say about what I played in 2020. Spoiler alert: I feel even worse about, well, everything in 2021. But I made some neat graphics for Instagram and wanted to write just a bit more about a few things from the year.
[HOT 2022 UPDATE: Sony finally sent out their PlayStation stats and my numbers were a little off. I updated the graphic above and some wording below but basically it just puts Rocket League in the Top 5 thanks to all the time spent playing (and idling) with my nephew]
It’s been coming on for a while now but I think it really coalesced in 2021: I am most happy playing games that simulate work and let me grind away at a personal little empire. At the top of the list is Grand Theft Auto Online which I added another 188 hours to in 2021. The Cayo Perico heist not only introduced a whole new island to the game but it also allowed me to tackle the entire thing solo. At one point I got the run, from setup to payout, down to under 3 hours. Along with most every other activity in the game, there’s still something I find satisfying about just being there… despite the overzealous griefers.
ArcheAge doesn’t have an in-game counter but by my best estimates Katy and I have already logged close to 200 hours with it in December alone. I never thought I’d go back to the game which I haven’t touched in nearly 7 years. But after the news that my dormant inventory was eligible to be transferred to a new publisher, I figured if I was ever going to check it out again, now would be the time. What I didn’t expect was becoming immediately hooked and totally overwhelmed by all the mechanics all over again. I am once again loving exploring, building, and adventuring with Katy and rediscovering favorite areas and gorgeous scenery that honestly still holds up.
What the crap!? My entire experience with Elite: Dangerous was just in 2021?? From February through April all I did was explore, mine asteroids, and try not to get trapped in outer space. All told, I probably experienced less than 0.01% of what the game has to offer after 120 hours. Things changed pretty dramatically around May, though, after we finally got a PlayStation 5. Astro’s Playroom was a dazzling diversion ahead of a ~70 hour run through Horizon: Zero Dawn. And then we discovered Tower Unite. Ho boy, that’s as close to Ready Player One’s Oasis as we’re likely to get in my lifetime. The lawless cavalcade of player-made character models is fantastic but what really hooked me was designing my own vapor cave. Beyond minigolf and go-karts, it was tailoring individual objects, colors, music, and lighting to fit my aesthetic mood. And oh what a mood it is. By far the most creative and artistic thing I made all year.
With Earth Defense Force 6 being teased again (and so, so far away from an English release), Katy and I had no choice but to go back to EDF5 for our fix. It continues to be a fantastic and hilarious experience like no other. We even picked up the spin-off Iron Rain since it was on sale but that was a much shorter and less fantastic playthrough. Getting back to the grindy, work-like gameplay, I spent not-a-little amount of time with both Snowrunner and Banished in the mornings before my actual work. Finally, with so much work going into recording, research, and modding, it’s no surprise that Dinosaur Hunting added up to a few dozen hours of in-game time in 2021.
Thanks for digging into GameLuv's illustrious past! Don't forget about the calendar, category and archive options to the left. I've tried to keep things well organized over the years so you can find whatever obscure thing you may be looking for.