Archeage headstart was this past weekend. Recalling that I had (perhaps foolishly) bought a Founder pack, I decided to join the fun.
The launch hasn't been the smoothest launch, but it also hasn't been the worst launch either. There are pretty long queues at the moment, but I think they will die down after the initial rush.
There's a somewhat similar situation with land. Archeage is a "sandboxy" game, with crafting and farming right in the world. It's a non-instanced world too, which is something I have greatly missed. In any case, the open world means that land is valuable and can be used up. Right now, it's almost impossible to find space for a small farm in first few zones.
On the one hand, that's a bit annoying. But it does make the world feel more like a world. Land also has taxes that need to be paid, so I'm fairly sure some plots will start to be freed up in a few weeks.
Personally, I decided to skip the crafting, farming, and trading. I just focused on the questing. This may have been the wrong decision. The non-combat parts of the game are what make Archeage special.
The questing is decent enough. It's very clearly an Asian import. The main story, at least the Nuian one, is actually kind of interesting so far.
Combat feels good. It's tab-target, not action. But a lot of abilities put debuffs on mobs, and then have combos if a debuff is present. So you can figure out and set up chains of abilities, each combo-ing off the last one. It feels quite impressive when you find a decent chain.
The skill system is similar to Rift's, but without classes. Instead you pick three trees from a set of 10 or more. Then you spend skill points to pick up abilities in each tree. Each combination of three has a special name. I went Battlerage + Defense + Vitalism, giving me a class of Paladin (naturally!). I'm using a charge, a filler, and a whirlwind attack from Battlerage, an HP buff and a shield bash from Defense, and a Heal-over-Time from Vitalism.
You can spend gold to change your trees, so you can try many different builds on one character.
Still, though, there's nothing super amazing about Archeage's questing and combat. If you've played any MMO since WoW, you've probably seen these mechanics.
Other than that the only interesting things so far are your mount, a boat, and a glider. The mount levels as you ride it places, and unlocks abilities so you can fight from horseback. As for boats, you get a small rowboat at level 10 or so. It handles well, and feels like a small rowboat. The glider is pretty interesting too. Gliding is fun, though it's annoying when you're trying to glide to a specific location and you're still too high up when you reach it.
As I noted above, it's the non-combat aspects which are the main hook for Archeage, and unfortunately, it's the part of the game that I haven't really gotten to try out. On the whole, Archeage is worth trying. However, if a player doesn't get hooked by the crafting and farming, or possibly the PvP around those activities, I don't think she will stay. So far at least, the PvE alone isn't enough to satisfy.