Trion Worlds and XL Games are announcing today that the massively multiplayer online role-playing game ArcheAge will enter its closed beta test in the West on July 17.
The online free-to-play game comes from a South Korean development firm headed by Jake Song, the creator of the smash hit Lineage. Redwood City, Calif.-based Trion Worlds will publish the game, which is already live in South Korea and Russia, in the West. The deal uses Trion’s expertise as an online game publisher of titles such as Defiance, Rift, and Trove.
Scott Hartsman, the chief executive of Trion Worlds, said in an interview with GamesBeat that ArcheAge will stand out as a “triple-A sandbox world,” or one where you can pretty much do anything. In ArcheAge, players will be able to create unique and elaborate homes, build farms that drive the world economy, and sail their ships to uncharted lands where they can construct massive castles. Players can fight each other in a player-versus-player system that has big battles on land or sea, or to just live the life of a pirate.
“Jake Song came out of retirement to create a living, breathing, massive world,” said Hartsman. “It’s a big fantasy virtual world for the modern era. It has even taken us by surprise in how successful it has been in places like Russia. It is the deepest game I have ever seen.”
Hartsman said that North American gamers will be getting the battle-tested version 1.2 of the game in closed beta. And he said the monetization will not be onerous, and the game will not have ads.
“We will have no tricks, no traps,” he said. “We give away more than anyone else. The monetization will focus on cosmetics or making the game more convenient for players.”
The title has modern 3D graphics built on top of Crytek’s CryEngine.
“There haven’t been good triple-A entries in this sandbox category in a long time,” Hartsman said.
The game has story-based missions, and lots of “high fantasy” lore. But it also lets you become a seasoned craft or trade expert. Hartsman said the most direct competitor is Eve Online, the sci-fi game with its own player-run economy. Hartsman said the game has a lot of emergent gameplay. You can, for instance, use a harpoon to hunt fish. But you can also harpoon an object on land and tow your boat to the shore. You can also fire the harpoon at an airship, even if the game designers didn’t intend for that kind of combat. The character editors have dozens of options for customizing characters with things like scars or make-up.
There are nine character classes in the game, and they level up to 50. ArcheAge also has 21 trade skills that you can level up.
“You don’t have to master all of those skills to be a valued part of the community,” Hartsman said.
XL Games has been developing the game since 2011, and it launched its Korean version in 2013. Last November, Trion and XL Games started working on the technical integration for a North American launch.
“We have a lot of pent-up demand for this,” Hartsman said.