Age of Conan – After a Week

I’ve been playing AoC for about a week now and I’d like to share some additional early impressions.

Character Slots

The game gives you eight character slots regardless of server. Therefore, if your slots are full and you want to play on a different server, you must delete a character on the old server to make an open slot. This really doesn’t bother me as I feel eight slots is plenty. Really, if I had eight slots per server I would probably have to create name holder characters on each server. I can’t do it in AoC, so I don’t have to. I like that.

Classes

I’ve tried most of the classes that appealed to me, but I have settled on a Barbarian. The class feels very fun to me. I charge into groups of mobs and by positioning my character properly, I can damage all of them at the same time. No need to lock onto one target and kill it first then move onto the next. In AoC, if you swing a sword in front of you anyone within range will take damage. This makes positioning very important and changes the way I fight. Because it has collision detection, I will often try to lure the mobs into a doorway to clump them all together for me. The Barbarian is one of the rogue archetypes so stealth is a big part of the playstyle. Sneaking around things is very much an option.

Instancing

AoC uses instances quite heavily. If I have a quest to go to an island and fight crocodiles there, I will enter a shared instance. If it is heavily camped, I will click on the instance change triangle and choose a different one. Makes it easier to find the mobs you need instead of waiting for respawns. There is also a large instance of the city of Tortage to play at night without anyone else. When you are playing this instance, you get the whole town to yourself (everyone else is sleeping except some NPCs). This allows the game to have very unique and customized quests for your character. You can level up to 20 almost entirely inside this “solo” instance. Because of all the instancing, it feels very much like a single player game without a seamless world. However, the quests are some of the most interesting and unique of any MMO I’ve played.

Combat

There are some interesting twists in combat. The casters get something called “spellweaving” which allows them to combine spells together as long as they remain stationary. I have not experienced this option so I will not attempt any further clarification on it. The melee classes get something called “combos” to use while fighting. There is no auto-attack in the game, so you have to swing the sword yourself. You have three directional options: left, right and middle. When you are fighting, you observe the mob you are fighting and see what direction they are not currently defending (there is a visual representation on screen), and you swing on that side for maximum damage. Now, add in the skills. Most of the skills have a combo. This means, you use one of your attacks and it will have a followup directional attack. So you might use skill 4 which has a combo with the right swing (3). You will then press 4 and follow with 3 to create the combo. Each combo does something different. As you move up in level, the skills go from 2 key combos to 3 and 4 key combos. A keyboard that can assign macros helps a lot here, as the combo keys are not randomized.

Graphics

I really like the looks of the scenery and character models. Granted, I have a Core 2 Duo with 4GB RAM and an 8800 GTS 640MB graphics card. With that setup I can run at high detail all day long. The viewable distances are simply amazing.

Summary

To sum up, my Barbarian is level 16 and is still working the the “Destiny” night time Tortage instance. I have not grouped up with anyone but I am in a guild. Our guild is already starting to construct a city, but I have not visited the area yet. I created several characters up to 10 in order to find the class I enjoyed the most. I really don’t care for the casters or the Ranger class. The melee combat system is just so much fun. That said, this game very much feels like a “something for me to do until WAR comes out” game. I do not see me playing it for much longer than this summer, but perhaps my opinion will change over time. Is it worth buying? Yes, just for the Destiny quest lines alone. Very good stuff. You may just find out this is a pretty great game and stick around.

I will continue to share my impressions as I advance in the game.

– Ethic

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Ethic

I own this little MMO gaming blog but I hardly ever write on it any more. I’m more of a bloglord or something. Thankfully I have several minions to keep things rolling along.

17 thoughts on “Age of Conan – After a Week”

  1. That’s a good article, except for the part where you say that it’s just a placeholder game and you intend to abandon it as soon as the next MMO du jour comes out.

    I’m not saying that every MMO you play has to be the GREATEST THING EVAR, but you weaken your credibility when you predict the long term viability of a game based on a cursory look.

    Especially since you have no reason to believe that WAR will be any better at all. If you don’t base your review on total quality, then you’re just admitting that anything new is better in your eyes and you’re just going to hop from game to game forever, never making a personal investment in a character or world. A.D.D. for gamers.

    Which kind of misses the point of an MMO.

  2. That is how it feels to me for my play style. I thought that was sort of assumed. Looking at the design of the game, I do not feel it will be a long term game *for me*. I made no claims about the game itself and it’s long term success or failure. Everyone interested should try it and see for themselves.

    The design of WAR is a lot more appealing to my play style. If it sucks, I won’t play it for long either. LotRO is my main game and I invested in it fully. I can play two MMOs at once. I usually have a main and then one for when I want something different. WAR is the game I plan to play side by side with my wife as it appeals to both of us. If we don’t like it, no loss on our part.

    Also keep in mind, I never really intended to play AoC at all because of the design. However, I heard enough interesting stuff about to go ahead and spend some money on it.

    One more thing, you wrote: “…you have no reason to believe that WAR will be any better at all”. Perhaps I do have reasons to believe – the game is in beta testing after all.

  3. If you’re on a PvP server, the game completely changes once you get out of tortage. Once you start getting killed by random people you’ll find out if you really like the game or not.

  4. I’m playing on Hyperboria, which is RP-PVP, and it seems fun so far. If you have a problem with ganking, you can instantly shift to another instance of the area you’re adventuring in to escape the ganker.

    Or you can jump in the water – people can’t attack in the water, hehe.

    Ethic – when you say that you’ll be abandoning AoC for Warhammer, you could mention what features are the compelling draw for the jump.

  5. It just doesn’t blend well with my own personal play-style.

    Looks amazing, has some intriguing concepts, but for me, it’s just one of those things that makes me go, “meh…”

    Plenty of people enjoy it. I just don’t.

  6. Regarding WAR: the public quests and the entire realm vs realm system are just two of the reasons. Most of all, an MMO my wife wants to play with me.

  7. Good insights and very fair comments about AoC. Spellweaving begins at level 40, I believe, so it may be a while before you see it.

    I’m sure many people are using AoC as a placeholder game while waiting for WAR. That’s my intention too. And it’s not that AoC is a bad game. Else why would anyone bother even playing it for a few months? There’s just only so many MMOs one can subscribe to at any time.

    What’s left to be seen is if players will follow through with their plans to jump ship.

    AoC’s multiplayer experience should deepen in theory as one gains levels – gathering opens up, then crafting, mounts, spellweaving. People who don’t guild up will probably end up bored, as the higher level game looks very slanted toward groups and guilds engaged in communal construction (of guild villages and so on) and destruction (siege PvP, raids).

    If you’re in a guild, however, the tendency might be to go where the bulk of your friends are. Some guilds might end up carving out a niche in AoC and staying put, others may tire early and do a mass exodus to the well hyped game on the horizon.

    Who knows, maybe WAR’s promises might end up evaporating on contact with the game for some, and they might decide that constant WAR isn’t for them. And meander their way back.

  8. It has been a few months now that my wife and I have been active in any MMO. All of the positive comments about AoC almost made us pick it to play around with until WAR, but we ended up just passing and waiting it out in the real world for a few more painful months.

    God, I can’t wait for WAR. It just keeps getting better and better, every news bit, interview or screen shot that I see.

    ~Cyndre

  9. @Cyndre: I highly recommend AoC overall, but I specifically do not recommend it to people waiting for WAR.

    The two games are going to end up very dissimilar and AoC definitely takes “getting into it”. If you’re waiting for another game, AoC is not for you. Just IMHO.

  10. I’ve been playing AoC as well, up to lv 53. At first it was a blast, now it is getting to be a grind. The quest are thinning out, the mobs don’t drop anything worthwhile, etc… I hear there is a patch coming Monday that will have bosses drop loot finally, and make raids worthwhile, we’ll see.

    I started AoC planning on staying with it but now that I’m half way done, I’m not so sure. the graphics are great, but end game, just doesn’t seem there. Doing nothing but siege warefare with raids in between doesn’t seem like it will be that much fun. Yes my guild already has a city, but there is no benefit because that hasnt’ been programmed in yet. In about 3 months this game should be ready with all features, but by then WAR will be close. Looking at WAR, it will probably be something I will try as well and I think by then, I’ll be pretty much finished with AoC.

  11. I’m another waiting for WAR. I also hadn’t even planned on playing AoC at all. But new MMO content is thin on the ground and I just can’t play anymore WOW. AOC is fun and worth the box price. However, WAR has more features that cater to my play-style.

  12. Maybe that is why I just abhor the thought of playing WAR…so much of that game makes me feel like WoW
    Same thing happened to me and LOTRO…

    Yet, AoC has been an amazing experience…more in tune of the type of game I like..
    Thanks for helping me get over that hump, and I can go on with my life knowing the type of MMO I really like now.

  13. I’m just waiting for a demo for AoC to be available. Which is pretty much the way I am with any MMO. just don’t see th epoint in dropping full price for something I don’t know if I am going to like, that i won’t be able to pick up and give another try again at a later date without signing up for a month.

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