Freeholds is one of the coolest systems in Ashes of Creation and one that applies to all styles of play. We’ll be discussing Placement and Limitations, Player Housing and Customization, Freehold Buildings and Artisan Farms, Progression, Businesses, Guild Freeholds and the Underrealm.
1:57 Freehold plots can be purchased and placeable when a node reaches level three, the village stage. Additionally you must be a citizen of the node in order to place your hold within its zone of influence. The main mechanic of a freehold is that they are limited to one per account. And they are roughly half an acre in size. No matter what level the node is, your freehold is a fixed size and will never get bigger once you’ve placed it. This one per account limit means no matter what character you play on, your freehold location, its buildings and progression is shared between all your characters. This leads into a couple of important factors. First and foremost as we are right off the bat of the Artisan series, having an alt for each of the crafting professions will not be very efficient as there are limited building slots available on a freehold. And swapping them around constantly isn’t going to be a viable option. This means the player base is encouraged to interact with each other instead of everyone doing their own smelting or processing. Which is a very good thing for an MMO and doesn’t feel forced in a toxic way like other MMOs do where they timegate certain things like this to force players to interact with each other.
The second major factor is that when you progress your freehold, it feels like an account progression that all your alts can contribute to so all your achievements can be displayed on your freehold if you so wish.
3:44 HOUSING and CUSTOMIZATION
Steven and the team stated that if you wanted, your freehold can just be basically a whole mansion instead of a plot used for production buildings. This means blueprints available for your housing may be tied to the level of the node that you purchased it from. Level three blueprints being scrubby little peasant homes and level four to six getting gradually more upscale.
Additionally the decorations within your freehold may not be tied just to your house as a house can take up to 50% of the whole plot. That probably means that there’s no limit to where these decoration type objects can be placed. Kind of similar to Elder Scrolls Online’s housing plots.
4:39 ARTISAN BLUEPRINTS
Plots are available to place within your freeholds in the form of buildings and farms. The buildings govern the basic artisan skills such as mills, smelteries, farming and fisheries. If you wanted you could set up your freehold to be specialized and proficient in blacksmithing. Having a forge, smeltery and anvil all set up for convenience. Which is why freeholds are important for the artisan side of the game as they offer more convenient setup for players to efficiently produce their goods rather than running around a city between buildings to do it. Additionally other special buildings may be set up such as shrines and taverns which lead into more business side of things.
6:09 BUILDING PROGRESSION
One of the most interesting points of the freehold buildings is that they’re able to be progressed and levelled as you use them. This adds a whole new layer of depth to the freeholds because these levels can be tied to the blueprints that you place reinforcing that commitment feeling when you actually decide on how you want your freehold to be. The main point of an MMO is to interact with other players and the more you’re reliant on others, the healthier your player base will be. Advertisement of your services always sounds better when you can mention that you have a legendary max level crafting station available within your freehold. It ties heavenly into that account progression side of MMOs similar to achievement points where your time invested is rewarded in a non-time-gated way. Using these buildings is the way you upgrade them after all. So actually using the ones in your freehold over the ones in town will be more incentivized. Intrepid’s main challenge here though is how to not keep players huddled up inside their freeholds all day everyday lest they face the situation like Warlords of Draenor where everyone just stayed inside their garrisons all day.
An interesting feature Intrepid stated all the way back in 2017 during a live stream is that certain buildings may be linked together as a business chain. They gave no specific example but let’s use a tavern for hours, you could name your tavern the Narcoverse Inn and license that name out to other players who are looking to make a bit of money but lack the artisan skills in say cooking. Having their tavern linked to yours and sharing your name, this may offer the same level of buffs and food as your parent tavern does to all the smaller ones that are linked to yours through this business license. So these players get paid for the buffs that they are offering in their tavern but you take a small cut. Spreading your skills and your business name across the whole server. It’s a really cool idea and offers a lot of extra world building for servers.
What if we get into some monopoly situations that cause conflict between nodes. Forcing some people to try and hunt down your node and destroy it just to take out your monopoly of tyrant prices for tavern buffs across the server. The whole idea sounds amazing and I hope they haven’t scrapped it since then because it was quite a long time ago.
8:41 GUILD FREEHOLDS
When a guild reaches a certain level, the guildmaster is granted a guild freehold certificate which allows them to place down a guild hall. These guild halls office benefits to your guildmates such as buffs within the node’s zone of implements, limited crafting and basic services such as repair stations and vendors. It also can act as a communion point for certain guild activities for example Wednesday night everyone can go meet up at their guild hall before deciding to go around the world in a big group just to chase down and ruin a rival guild’s day. Anything is possible within these sandboxy MMOs and the addition of a guild hall to enable these kinds of activities is always a welcome one.
The underrealm affects your freehold in a couple of different ways. For example certain artisan related skills are highly affected by the presence of the underrealm. Farming and Animal Husbandry specifically has only certain breeds of animals and plants that are able to thrive in the harsh environments that the underrealm offers. Additionally the underrealm has a unique aesthetic look to it so it would be kind of cool if your buildings took on a unique cosmetic effect whilst in the underground.
10:49 COSMETIC COPIUM
These cosmetic skins related to buildings within your freehold will completely remove any form of visual progression related to the freeholds itself. People will not be able to tell what a maxed out blacksmith looks like or a freehold with a god-tier mansion because people are going to be applying these eye-cancer skins to their buildings. It’s just going to look out of place having this literal gate of hell in the middle of a random freehold within an area of the world.
Freehold visual progression is how the people that play the artisan side of the game can attach visual progression to their character as well as their account as a whole. If you’re going to main artisan skills, you’re going to have multiple alts anyway so freeholds fit nicely with this. These freehold building skins take away as much visual progression to artisan players as I believe cosmetic armor skins take away from the normal players. Ashes of Creation is selling us hundreds of cosmetic skins in a game that isn’t even in its first Alpha phase yet.