Wednesday 5 April 2006
Despite having been in beta testing in its homeland since the middle of last year, and on shelves there since January, a veil of mystery surrounds Archlord's workings and its success to date.

The one thing that is abundantly clear - and doubtless made the game look like an easy sell and therefore a sensible buy to Codemasters - is its unique selling point. Every month, players will compete to unite the five Archon relics and so become the one and only Archlord, ruler of the entire gameworld (or rather, we assume, server).

Alongside special equipment, a bodyguard and access to elite areas, the Archlord will get powers that allow them to shape the world for other players, presumably to the advantage of their guild and the disadvantage of everyone else.

It's not clear what these are, although some are certain to be economic; furthermore, on the mechanism by which the Archlord will be chosen, whether the position can be held more than once, and all other questions, Codemasters is worryingly silent.

Worryingly because MMO player-ranking systems are famously difficult to balance, and because a great many of them become horrifically unhealthy night-and-day endurance tests.