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Archlord II Open Beta Review: An Improved Concept And A Work In Progress

Presented as a sequel of the first game, Archlord II, developed and published by the Korean studio Webzen, immerses players into a fantasy world where war is raging. The gameplay of Archlord II revolves greatly around the clashes between players (PvP), referring to the open-world duels, arena fights, as well as invasions of large cities.
 

Chantra, the land depicted in the game, is populated by 4 races separated into two factions. First of all there is the Azuni faction, a coalition between the forces of the humans and dragon scions. They occupy the south-west part of Chantra and its capital, Steelbreath, is located on the foundations of an ancient human stronghold. They are considered as the "holy" faction of the game, united under the light of the heroine Aries, Saint of the Sun. Then there is the Crunn faction, grouping the orcs and moonlight elves. Located in the north-east of Chantra, and with Bandiluna being their capital city, the Crunn can be considered as the "darkness" faction, having been brought together by the stern leadership of the hero Helliar, the Eyes of the Moon.
 

Graphics and Sounds
Graphic-wise, the background is pretty bland unless you are always playing on a high resolution, and even then it is nothing exceptional. The fantasy world theme has already been seen and reviewed a hundreds of times and apart from the design of a few monsters enough monsters that look successful enough, the title overall lacks in personality. But that's not all bad, and hardcore fans of the fantasy genre will certainly like this return to the roots, accentuated by the Humans vs Orcs plot. At the level of the soundtracks, there are differences in quality depending on the area where you are: some are really nice enjoyable, while others will be average at most. In addition, the cries of some creatures can be pretty weird.

Customization and Innovation
As in any MMORPG, the adventure starts with the creation of your avatar. And at this early stage, I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the opportunities of customization offered. Lets start with the races. Granted, this is the only the Open Beta, and Webzen confirmed that they would be introducing two other races in the future, but the fact that there is only one playable race per faction leaves quite the after-taste. Yes, if you want to play in the Azuni faction, you can only play as humans, and if you want to play in the Crunn faction, you can only play as orcs. In terms of appearance customization, lets say that Archlord II is decent. You get a good number of body types, as well as facial features like tattoos and scars. Unfortunately these will barely matter once you start equipping your armor, and as a result the characters will often look the same.
 

Next, let's get to the classes. In fact, there are no classes in Archlord II. During the character creation process, you will get to choose your main weapon, among the 4 options available. Humans get the 2-Handed Sword, 1-Handed Sword and Shield, Bow, and Staff. Orcs get the Axe, 1-Handed Spear and Shield, Crossbow and Wand. However, once you start the game you can use any of the weapons available, being able to equip two of them at the same time, and switching between them at your leisure. You can unlock skills or upgrade existing ones for each weapon by using them and gaining weapon experience that increase your proficiency level. As you complete quests you also get items that give you a set amount of experience points for your weapons. As such, your other weapons will always be close to the level of your main weapons, making it practical if you would like to change your secondary weapon. This could have made the game enjoyable if it weren't for the gameplay.
 

The Gameplay
If the gameplay stands out in anything, it is by the fact that it will remind you of games released a decade ago. The battles involve nothing more than spamming your strongest skills, using your basic attack while waiting for cooldowns, and using potions when required. The fact that certain skills will do an AoE damage in front of the player may require a bit of strategy, but it stops here, and even these are pretty hard to control.

The path-finding is a real disaster. When your character isn't taking unnecessarily long detours to get to destination, it often foolishly find itself blocked against trees or cliffs. In terms of quests, they are rather repetitive and boring, nothing unusual with FTP MMOs nowadays. This is however worse in Archlord in II where the amount of EXP they give fluctuate too much (a quest may give you over 200k EXP, while another quest of the same level will only give you 20k of EXP). Not so bad in itself, except that the quests (at least those I have tried) net you no money either. Money that you will need for crafting and weapon/armor enhancing. In fact, the best way to earn in-game money if by grinding through instances, killing all the monsters present, and looting all of them manually. While impractical, some may rightly argue that this offers more realism. You can also enter the dungeons alone, or with a party, and two difficulty modes are available to offer more of a challenge.
 

As mentioned above, Archlord II is heavily based on PvP, with the following options being available:
  • Duels: The players of the same faction can duel, anywhere over the maps on Chantra.
  • Skirmishes: Both factions can compete through skirmishes in groups of 5 and on 3 different maps.
  • Battlefields: The factions can battle on a daily basis in massive battles of 200vs200 after reaching level 40.
  • Disputed areas: Azuni and Crunn will be competing against each other in contested open-pvp areas where their quests will often force them to go. The disputed areas are thankfully divided by levels, and characters will no longer be able to enter the lower level areas after reaching a set level limit.
Conclusion
To sum it up, if you are looking for a game that is up to date in terms of gameplay and quality, then please pass your way. Archlord II does not have the interactive battles of Swordsman Online, or the outstanding graphics and gameplay of WildStar. If on the other hand you want to kill time in an old-school adventure, then Archlord II should be right up your alley. While the game also has a couple of gameplay flaws, these will hopefully be fixed in the final release. Fans of the first Archlord game will however appreciate the improvements.

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