Age of Conan

In my humblest of opinions, MMORPGs are the single greatest genre in gaming. I consider myself to be quite the MMO-Connoisseur having played Ultima Online, Anarchy Online, Everquest, Dark Ages of Camelot, Everquest 2, Final Fantasy Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Naturally, I am awaiting the impending release of Age of Conan, but what kind of release will be in store for me? As players of the game know, Vanguard was nearly unplayable at release and for quite some time afterwards. My husband and I duoed our way up to level 40 of a possible 50… only to find there were no end game quests, contents, or hunting grounds because the game didn’t release with any! A year later, they are still adding things promised at release into the world of Telon. Yet this trend seems to be the norm among MMOs in the last few years; the release of an unfinished, unpolished game in the hopes they can hold the subscribers in long enough to patch the problem months down the line. So what do we know about Age of Conan? Well, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of this latest hyped MMO.

Players of AoC will be beckoned into the world of Hyboria: a dark, sinful place full of violence and bloodshed based on the work of author Robert E. Howard. Here, there is no high fantasy; no player roleplaying a prissy elf and making comments about how his armor looks on him. Here, there are only the Aquilonian, Cimmerian and Stygian… three races of human to choose from; none of them good, none of them evil. There is a lot of grey here as to how you will choose to play your character.

The class system is similar to that of Everquest2’s (at least, that they had on release, it’s changed since), you start by leveling to level 5 and then you pick an archetype class such as soldier, mage, priest, or rogue. Again at level 20 the class you chose diversifies. A soldier can choose to become a Dark Templar, Conqueror, or Guardian. All in all, there are 14 classes that stem from the original 4 archetypes. And how you choose to play your character is the path you set out on. Two players may start as rogues, however one may end up as the peaceful, natural ranger… while the other becomes a shady assassin.

PvP and combat are rumored to be epic. There will be three types of pvp: siege, mini game, and drunken brawling. There are limitations, however, as there will be pvp specific areas of the game… and players wishing to avoid the combat can avoid these areas. The Border Kingdom will be an area where players can set up keeps and defend them from other guilds using not only the real combat system, but player built siege weaponry as well. The Arena will be the host of pvp mini games and matches of skill, and get drunk enough in a tavern and you can pick a fight with anyone. AoC will also boast a real combat system which has been unseen in the MMO world. Think TES4: Oblivion, because hitting, blocking, parrying, and dodging will all be manual and based on player skill rather than some hidden talent that receives points as your character gets better at automatically doing it. Archery will involve the same manual essence, demanding players to string, aim and fire all by themselves, as opposed to targeting a mob and hitting a fire button like we’ve seen in MMOs to date. Again, I am reminded of Oblivion; creeping through a dungeon stealthed, aiming my bow quietly at an enemy 300 yards away, and boom! Headshot! This system will make melee combat and ranged combat incredibly rewarding, and allow for player skill to really shine.

However, will AoC be just another MMO that looks good on paper? I was able to get the full beta report two months ago from a guildie of mine currently beta testing the game. From his review of this latest MMO, it may be another shaky release that leaves players feeling disappointed for even buying the game. AoC is rumored to only be shipping with 10-12 of the original 30 zones planned for release. Lag and load times are killing the mood of the game. Classes are unfinished and unbalanced. The list goes on and on. We can only sit back and watch to see if the impending May release is going to be better, that maybe it will release with at least all major issues fixed. I know I will buy it for release regardless of beta testing reports, I just hope they don’t let us down in what could very possibly be the “next big thing” to hit the genre.

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