Well, I’ve reached level 20 on my Tempest of Set and I feel like I am getting a solid handle on what Age of Conan (AoC) is like as far as mechanics and game play go. I didn’t arrive at this point until first leveling a Necromancer to level 5 and a Conquerer to level 10, at which point I decided neither one was really to my taste.
Instead of droning on about the same countless problems and complaints that most other players have already pointed out in preliminary reviews, forum posts, and rants, I’m here to give an overall impression of the game from the perspective of a gamer that has seen more than their fair share of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG’s), as far back as the dread days of Ultima Online. Particularly, this is a viewpoint through the eyes of a player that enjoys, above all else, PvP (player-vs-player) combat. So far I have invested about 12 hours into the game and feel that it has been enough time to make an initial judgement call on the quality. Of course impressions could change once we see what level 80 siege PvP combat is like.
The simple truth is, many gamers out there are still playing another MMORPG (i.e. World of Warcraft [WoW]) and have been watching Age of Conan, wondering if it’s worth buying and cancelling their current MMO account for. Will it live up to all the PvP hype in the end?
To start with, I was a bit concerned when I read that many early reviewers who played on PvP servers were being repeatedly ganked and then killed over and over at spawn points in the free-for-all PvP areas. Just to clear the air on that issue, I have not experienced anything of the like. I’ve had a few isolated PvP run-ins, and I was killed after resurrecting at a grave yard once, but there is nothing worse in this game that I haven’t already seen in previous PvP-oriented games. So don’t let rumors like that drive you to not choosing a PvP server if that’s what interests you.
So far, it seems to be a consensus among most AoC players that 1-on-1 PvP seems almost always decided upon who gets the initial jump, unless you play a class that has high survivability (i.e. Guardian or Priest of Mithra). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as this has almost always been the case in the majority of MMO’s, at least in their infancy. Any WoW players remember back to the pre-Burning Crusade days? Mage POM (Presence of Mind) Pyro or Rogue stunlock anyone? Ultima Online had it’s Explosion + Flamestrike + Halberd schwack combo. There are plenty more examples from other games.
Detailed information on most of the game’s classes has been on a lockdown inside the AoC forums for the longest time, so if you’ve been trying to get a handle on how the classes in the game handle I have compiled a quick and dirty run down on the second page of this article. No need to thank me.
At this point in time, while AoC has a different and interesting take on combat to offer (such as the directional melee system, hiding available to multiple classes, the stamina system, and the ability to physically block an opponent’s path), it does not necessarily offer enough to warrant quitting an older, more polished game for if you still enjoy that older game. In the same breath I have to say that if you currently hold no ties to another MMO, then AoC is definitely good enough to warrant a run to level 80 to see the end game PvP (unless you’d rather wait altogether to hear the experience from others, then possibly be forced to play catch up).
My final thoughts are- with the rate that developer Funcom is releasing patches and fixes (scheduled at twice a week now) to balance the game and squash bugs, it will quickly be improving despite the fact that it is a good product already. Given at least 3-6 months this game will offer a lot of the same amenities that those pampered by the likes of other, more established MMO’s will appreciate. The only question left now is what the endgame is going to be like. Personally, I’m going to take my time getting to level 80 so that Funcom has plenty of time to work out all the kinks along the way and in order to leave time for my other games. If I hadn’t already bought the game, knowing what I know now, I’d wait a few months and see what people are saying then before making the purchase.