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