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Having cognitive dissonance after trying Archeage

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Hey everyone… Help me understand Archeage better.

I'm your typical jaded MMO player, grown up from the starry-eyed state of playing MMOs till the crack of dawn. To give you a bit of background, here's what I've played before: Runescape(pre-2007), Istaria, Guild Wars 2, Mabinogi, Dofus, SWTOR, Dragon Nest, even stuff like Puzzle Pirates. Anyway, onto my main point.

I have been trying to find something that would suck me back into my loving relationship with MMOs for a while now. Recently, there's been a lot of talk about Archeage: Unchained, and it has interested me a lot, mainly because it's a reboot of something that already exists(I fell into the Ashes of Creation trap earlier last year, so I've been desperate for something that could actually deliver). It's an eastern MMORPG, which turned me off on the idea a lot, but apparently Unchained was supposed to remove the most egregious anti-player mechanics. Worth a look into. I read a lot about the game, and saw what people had to say about it in the subreddit here, and got really hyped. Lots of sandbox content- very appealing to me. Lots of class variety. Naval content. Building stuff. All very awesome things. I dragged a friend along on the hype train, and we decided it was a good idea to try out the free, regular version first to see if we liked it, so that we could then buy Unchained when it comes out. We went through the install process last night, fired up the game, made our characters, and started playing.

I feel betrayed. Right as I start, there is a whole host of cinematic content about a story that is forced down my throat. An over-the-top intro with balls to the walls Hollywood-esque action. Epic badass characters battling and dying and a million things happening in like 15 minutes. I have no idea what is going on. It feels incredibly forced. Thankfully, my character wakes up from the dream, and I realize it was all just for show and the absolutely insane story wasn't actually real. We're good.

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Now the game starts, and I am again disappointed. I've never played WoW, but for some reason I instantly feel like I've somehow ended up in WoW instead. The UI, the graphics, the controls, the hotkeys, everything just screams "generic MMO". I do a few quests, reading through dialog about about my character's past which was chosen for me, and fighting some X amount of monsters. I gain a few levels before even noticing where my character level is displayed, or even ever having opened my character window. I feel like everything is being forced down my throat. It doesn't feel like a sandbox whatsoever, and not even like a theme park- rather than being able to choose the rides I want to go on, I am stuck on an interminable monorail with one stop and I need to kill 0/5 enemy to make it move forward.

I know I am being dramatic. My writing here is somewhat exaggerating my feelings. That being said, I can't help but feel like I am playing an entirely different game than what was sold to me. Is this really what people call a sandbox these days? Archeage felt so excruciatingly generic that I wasn't able to enjoy it at all, even when paying attention to all its unique and surprising bits. Am I missing something, or is this what Archeage really is and it's just not the game for me? I really want to enjoy it but I can't help but feel like I got shipped the wrong item.

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