Letter From The Team: Into The Maelstrom

There may be rough water ahead off the shores of Auroria, but this tempest is here to shake things up in the best way possible.

Update 4.0 or, as we call it, Maelstrom, is swirling into ArcheAge on December 13 (The release date was the 6th, but it was pushed back). But this is more than just another major update for us. We’re going beyond just updating the game, and looking at what we can improve in everything we do.

Set course beyond the uncharted waters

During our trip to Korea in September, the whole ArcheAge staff at both Trion and XLGAMES began discussing community feedback. Since those meetings, we began the process of putting those changes into practice.

Direct communication from XLGAMES

While the Trion ArcheAge team can answer many of your questions, we know there are times when you want to hear the reason behind a recent change, or you want to know deeper details that only a specific developer could provide.

In the coming months, you’re going to be seeing more direct communication from the core ArcheAge team. This process is going to begin with Korean developer diaries and announcements on the Korean development of the game, but it also includes North American and European involvement in upcoming tests. Speaking of tests…

Evening the odds of conflict

Coming in a major update after Maelstrom is our Battle Balance patch. This major re-balancing of skills and combat is taking a hard focus on both class balance and specific skill balance within the world of ArcheAge.

These changes are being tested extensively by the Korean community at this very moment in specially organized “Focus Test Groups,” that XLGAMES is arranging. We’re excited to announce North America and Europe will be participating in these tests for the first time too. It’s important to all of us that we begin including community feedback into game changes before they’re released to your servers.

Get your testing reflexes prepared: we’ll provide more information on how our focus tests will be conducted and how we’ll choose our testing candidates from the community as we move forward.

Let’s talk Marketplace

One of the largest topics during our September meeting focused on our Marketplace. If there’s one thing we have heard you very loud and clear on, it’s that we need to reconsider how items are sold in the North American and European regions.

We’re discussing many ways to improve (no stone is being left unturned here), but we want to highlight some of the changes that have already come to the game.

The first is ensuring that there is more parity between the way items are sold in the North American and European regions versus the Korean region. A clear example of this is the recent release of the Mad Steambike, which was introduced into the game as a design sold for Vocation Badges instead and not added to the Marketplace. This item was released to our version the exact same way it was released to the Korean servers, and we want to keep that philosophy going forward.

There may still be times where some differences need to occur (especially when they benefit players), but we want that to be the exception, not the standard.

The second is continuing to revise the items available in our supply crates, and how we communicate those items to you. Beginning during the summer, we began exposing the rarity category of items in each of our supply crates on our website, so you knew exactly what was in them and how likely it was to get what you wanted. And, beginning in November, we’re taking in feedback and removing T3 Honor Gems from our crates as well.

The third is addressing specific items. In Maelstrom, Bound Regrade Charms up to Red and Bound Synthium Stones up to Radiant will be directly purchasable for in-game currency. This marks the first time some of these items are directly purchasable for a currency earned via gameplay.

Some thoughts on Fresh Start

Finally, we know some of you are extremely excited about the idea of a new ArcheAge Fresh Start server. Many of you have posted your thoughts to our official forums, the community-run Reddit, spoke up in our Discord, or even talked to us at PAX West or Gamescom in person.

It’s easy to understand why there is excitement about Fresh Start servers – they provide an unforgettable gameplay experience you can’t get from any other game.

That experience is special and we will make sure that it always remains that way. But we need to make changes to how we handle these releases.

We know the team said we wanted to do them this year, but we want to do them right. Doing it right means not forcing them out before the end of December. We want these servers to come with additional improvements to our business model, our queue system, and your launch day gameplay experience. We’ve begun taking these steps, and we look forward to new Fresh Start servers next year.

For those of you who experienced our Evolution this September, you know that there were many changes introduced to make your whole experience much easier, less stressful, and as smooth as possible. During all steps of the process, we did everything we could to ensure transparency and frequent communication. The effort you saw there is absolutely the effort we are putting towards any major launches that will come to ArcheAge in the future.

What’s rising on the horizon

We also can’t forget about what has already been planned for our shores. Maelstrom has some highly-anticipated changes that we can’t wait to get into your hands.

Lunagem improvements

If there’s one question we have gotten continuously over the last few months, it’s been “when’s the new lunagem system coming?” Well, it’s finally here, and it brings with it the results of your biggest piece of feedback: “Stop breaking my %*^#$@! gems.”

With the new lunagems introduced in Update 4.0, you’ll be able to slot them into your weapon with the confidence that you aren’t about to witness a precious stone explosion. Gems will also be re-classified into colored categories. Simply choose the color you need (such as red gems for offense) and then uncloak the gem to choose the stats you desire. It’s that easy.

A newly minted folio design

The crafting folio is going for a long-needed overhaul. We’re moving away from the grid of professions to a more streamlined category system that focuses on the purpose of the crafted item more than the profession that makes it.

Looking for that perfect necklace? Just open the character equipment portion of the folio, click on the neck slot, and look at all the necklaces you can make. Assembling a new car? Visit the vehicles section to see what part goes where.

Mix and match your titles and stats

Love being a Mistsong Maverick, but wish you could get that bonus to your proficiencies instead? The game’s new Title Collection system is here to make sure you can get all the notoriety AND all of the statistical benefits. Just choose your title, choose your stats, and save. That’s it!

As you unlock new titles and their corresponding boosts, you’ll also earn experience towards leveling up your title rank. New ranks unlock new cosmetic icons that will be displayed next to your name. Different titles offer different amount of experience – see if you can collect them all!

Upcoming NA & EU Unique Changes

We’re also focusing on making sure that our updates are better tailored for our region. Many of these are pieces of feedback we’ve received from the community after you reviewed the patch notes for Update 4.0’s release in Korea.

The biggest change here is our decision to keep the Ancestral Level system unchanged. Other versions of the game may move to a format where players acquire skill books to unlock Ancestral Skills. We will not be introducing this new mechanic into our version, instead keeping Ancestral Skills tied to your Ancestral Levels. It would be unfair for newer players to have an extra requirement that veteran players weren’t subjected to, and that drove our decision to keep the system as-is.

Some other examples include:

  • No change to labor costs when making larders while still reducing larder size
  • No increased consumption of basic materials. 3 logs will still craft 1 lumber.
  • Allowing old lunagems to continue to be slotted into items post-Maelstrom (though these gems work under the rules of the old lunagem system)
  • Keeping our boss schedule the way it is without changes
  • Reducing the effectiveness of Draughts of Forgiveness (consequences for your actions are coming, lawbreakers!)
  • Keeping the Thunderwing Titan’s cooldown at 48 hours instead of extending to 72
  • …and more that will be revealed as we talk about Maelstrom this month.

New Year, New Rules

What happens after the Maelstrom subsides? Well, that’s just the beginning of the onslaught.

A new year brings new changes to Erenor. New enemies to face, new realms to explore, and maybe some new allies to aid in the fight. Our world is one of beauty and peace, but also of perilous danger if you stray too far from the borders of safety.

The team is retaining their focus that ArcheAge is a world with something for everyone, and our updates next year will continue to reflect that. The release of Battle Balance is just the start – expect more improvements to PvP, PvE, and social systems over the coming year.

The ArcheAge team has many massive ideas for how to move the game forward and how to keep all of our players on their toes. Every group, from green-lifers to die-hard player nations, is being considered when these new updates are being made. Expect more ways to shape the world, more challenges to overcome, and more items to create.

But not only that, expect the return of Fresh Start, with some major improvements. There is nothing like the ride of putting your guild together and rallying your forces around specific objectives, seeing your ownership of the world take shape. From when the first brick is laid into a house foundation until the first flag is raised over a castle, there is an adrenaline rush as you and your friends work together to conquer those around you. That ride is absolutely coming back, better than ever.

Tell your friends: The storm is coming. It’s about time.

Sincerely,
The ArcheAge Team