Age of Conan Impressions (Pro/Contra)

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The good:

  • The graphics look pretty good in this one, you can safely say it's the best looking MMO to date and may even remain that till ~2010, especially if they add higher resolution textures and DX10 features like promised. (supposedly coming in Fall)

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  • It probably also has one of the most detailed and diverse/varied worlds in an MMO to date, although some areas do not look "different" enough (there are a lot of small things they paid attention to, there's gulls flying above the harbor, wolves that run around and eat rabbits, hunters that run around and hunt wolves :P dogs that chase cats over the map, guards patrolling the streets, slaves rotting in their cages and the light-houses have smoke and fire coming out of them)

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  • It has an excellent character creator, with which you can make a lot of different looking characters (I'd go as far as to say there probably won't be two chars looking exactly the same in the whole world from the body characteristics and features of the face unless intended (although there's a lack of really "good" looking face models)

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  • It also has some really good looking Animations (involving lots of Motion Capturing they've done... unlike say LOTRO) ... finally, no running around like you have something stuck between your legs
  • Partial Nudity and gore is always a pro in my book :P

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  • The PvP in the game is (at least theoretically) better than in a lot of other MMOs, if you play your cards right your char still has a chance against an opponent that is 10-20 levels higher than you... it's more up to "skill" and "tactics", especially if you are hidden or try to ambush someone, than equipment and levels like in certain other games. Although, that said the classes aren't really balanced that well yet (they're doing balancing-changes with almost every new patch coming in trying to fix it)
  • While Partying there is an interesting feature to make someone an "Apprentice" so you can play with your friends... say you already hit Level50 and he's still Level30, but you want to explore something with him or help him with a quest, you can "make" him Level49 as long as you are in the same area (though his equipment and number of skills stay the same but the damage and attack-rating etc. go up). Unfortunately, again that exact same feature which sounds good on paper can be abused to level other people the "fast way" right now. (e.g. there's no limit to the level "update" and there's level 20 players running around Lvl80 areas, apprenticed up to 79 so they get huge XP bonuses while killing high level monsters with their high level friends.

The bad:

  • Questing seems pretty much like a chore you have to do to progress right now... aside from a few Single Player and Destiny quests there's nothing special about them, it's the same old "kill that guy" or "gather 20 pelts" in an even MORE boring form (e.g. it doesn't really matter what the NPCs say and I'd rather skip it altogether because there's even an "X" marking the next goal on the map where you have to go and they all pretty much say the same...)
  • After Lvl20 you lose voiceovers almost altogether and the game gets more tedious
  • After Lvl50 you'll absolutely have to grind to level, if you're not abusing the system like so many others seem to do... grinding is NOT fun, there's not enough quests to go around at that level and ALL the quests that ARE available consist either of "kill 50 cannibals" or "collect 30 bottles of water" or similar... There's about 30% of questing to go along with the XP bar almost every level, and from there the rest is pure grind.
  • Mounts at the moment are not only expensive, but also useless (but they promised to give them some carrots that make them faster!)
  • There are still lots of bugs in the game people are abusing for personal gain and that let you get stuck here and there (nothing compared to other MMO releases though...) and there's already exploits ranging from duping, one-hit-kills to speed hacks, fortunately they seem to have a zero tolerance policy against cheating and are already banning or suspending people because of it. There's also several instances and quests etc. that are still heavily bugged and are crashing or not solvable.
  • Probably the worst thing about the game, is that it absolutely isn't "done" yet... e.g. (as already mentioned) the balancing isn't right, the player cities don't work like they were intended to, there's supposedly not even any sieges in the game yet, after lvl60 bosses drop no "special items" anymore and stuff like that...
    That's probably the worst thing that can happen to it on release... a lot of people buying and playing it for a while, then getting bored fast or having nothing to do/reach for anymore and just quit (had they added a lot of the missing content before going live it might have turned differently), it wouldn't even be that bad if it wasn't also be combined with...
  • It is easy like hell to level, the "power-gamers" were already 80 (max. level) in 3 days, a function in the game makes it easy for guilds to even ab"use" that and level their "comrades" for them (which are 20+) in lvl70-80 areas, when casually playing the game like it's intended it won't take much more than 1-3 months for normal people to reach either.
  • The game is more on the boring side... I don't know what WoW, LOTRO and some of the other games did "right", but AoC just doesn't captivate or motivate you to play like that, the game is somehow missing the special flavor to make it good/addictive and keep you shackled before the PC for a LONG period of time.
  • There's also bad things to say about the graphics... while a landscape or watching certain stuff looks amazing (see above), you just have to turn around and stare at a rock or at the ground and you'll see stuff like this:

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    This is supposed to be grass

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    And this is supposed to be a rock

    It's not like it is the only game with that kind of a phenomenon though, Crysis for example got it too, even if not as bad... I'd personally hug the guy that develops a method to prevent that kind of textures showing up in 3D games, because it always breaks immersion for me... especially if the gameotherwise looks really good

  • The fighting system is something new, but somehow they screwed it up and let it play like Guitar Hero or similar games... you always have to press the exact same keys (in the first 40 levels that's 1,2,3 for left/mid/right and after level 40 even Q and E for lower left and lower right get added to accomplish skill-combos (and mage-classes don't even have to bother with that)... Now people with keyboards, that have a macro-feature can just bypass those combos altogether by making macros for the certain attacks and binding them on attack-keys (and do the attacks faster than any "normal" player would) and get an advantage out of that... the shield-system sounds nice but just doesn't work. I didn't really touch it/have to touch it since Level1 personally and it seems only helpful if you have a 3rd arm and learn where the ending blow for each attack showing up on the screen will land by heart.
  • There's no quick-travelling system and getting from one end of the world to the other is extremely tedious and takes quite a while (not to mention there's usually an Out-of-Memory crash inbetween)

All in all if you are interested you should probably try to get a friends-key or try it in some other way first and see if you like it, but especially in the latter parts of the game it is considerably lacking right now, if you are SERIOUSLY intending to play it and have high hopes a wait for a few months might be the best way to go till it is out of the actual "Live Beta" stage it seems to be in right now...

Thanks, that gave me an idea of the good features of the game, and some of the problems with it.. the instant levelling of lowbies sounds interesting. To be honest, I think it's very good that lower level characters can actually do stuff with the higher ones instead of having to solo-grind themselves into being able to do most of the content.

Hooray for unfinished games...

I was just curious... is AOC doing well in terms of player subscriptions? I had the impression that it had a reasonably large user base, but maybe that's wrong..

Very nice review man, I've been looking forward to this game and now I know what to watch out for :)

Still gonna play it though, and you can't stop me! :P

Actually I'm waiting for my new computer, which won't be ready for a another couple months (building myself) so hopefully they'll get to work on fixing this stuff...

Nice review, however most of your CONs still outshine the same flaws in other MMOs... so. yeah nice however some of the points could have used better comparison as to WHY they should be better, how they could be improved and why they may have been made that way in the first place.

Example:
"...The fighting system is something new, but somehow they screwed it up and let it play like Guitar Hero or similar games... you always have to press the exact same keys (in the first 40 levels that's 1,2,3 for left/mid/right and after level 40 even Q and E..." -You

The fact is that all other mmos you press 1 button and thats it... in AOC when you level up the skill the attack changes combo, so every attack actually has 5 to 10 different combos each with their own animation.

You also mentioned the grass texture... which i can only assume your compairing to WoW, EQ2 or maybe Oblivion... AoCs is easily on par if not better... Really not sure where you were going with this point comparing it to Crisis which is not a RPG or MMO and not intended for MASS playability... Crisis was made for high end machines... MMOs are made for the Vox pop.

I could go on... but i will save myself the time and say "Nice review, but you need to reassess your arguments, Allot of them are based on your personal opinions that appear to be poorly thought through."

I was just curious... is AOC doing well in terms of player subscriptions? I had the impression that it had a reasonably large user base, but maybe that's wrong..

They already have hit 1 million sales, the question is though how long those people are staying for a monthly subscription after the first month is over, I'm constantly reading here and there that entire groups of people don't want to play anymore.
I don't know if it wouldn't have been better to push it back for a few more months in the long run...

To be fair though, compared to other MMORPG-developers they are being quite communicative with the community and they try to fix stuff fast (patches happen a lot).

There also was an open letter from the Game Director adressed to the community not so long ago talking about some of the "worst" issues in the game:

Fellow Hyborians!

As you may have noticed we have had frequent patches the last two weeks. We hope this will soon start to quiet down, but as long as there are major issues - and there have been - we will dedicate the Conan team to fixing them and giving you these fixes as soon as possible! We have a plan on how to move this game forward because as you know, what you have today is but the platform - the dawn of this world. I hope you enjoy the game as is, but I can ensure you, this is but the beginning!

Our focus from now on can be summarized by these points:

  • We will add content, specifically in mid-late thirties and mid-late fifties and make the leveling speed smoother in those areas, reducing the need to grind.
  • We will have an overhaul of the PvP system - adding consequence and a host of small things.
  • We are fixing bugs you reported through all channels we can get information from.
  • We will add a new large outdoor region in the 55-60 range this summer!
  • This is only a small taster! More information about the exciting summer and fall Roadmap will come the end of the next week!
  • We are staffing up Customer Service, Quality Assurance and Community departments!

I will spend some words on a bit more details now.

1. Filling "thin areas" in our content

We have seen that there are certain level ranges of these Hyborian Adventures that do not have the amount of quality we wish them to have. Most specifically these are the end of the Thirties and the end of the Fifties level ranges. We are addressing this in several ways.

  • Several mid-late thirties dungeons are getting a complete overhaul (Black Castle, Pyramid of the Ancients and Treasury of the Ancients)
  • Several quests are being made fuller and more entertaining. If people wish to revisit these quests, we will add a system to let them try them out again.
  • we are adding first a batch of quests in Eiglophian Mountains (lvls 55+)
  • We are also adding in a bunch of quests that didn't quite make it for launch in the 30+ areas.
  • Around 60 quests through the game have been flagged as "Lore Quests". They will now be patched out with full Voice-Over. (Roughly 1 quest per level after level 20)

  • All this will come in June! In July the first level 80 additional Dungeon will be patched out. More on that later...

2. Overhauling the PvP System

People like our open PvP system. There are many plans on how to give this open free PvP even more meaning and Purpose. In the meantime we will be doing some smaller tweaks, and we plan to get these out sometimes in June. I will not go into 100% detail here, but that will come next week! What I can promise is:

  • An update on how sneaking and perception works in PvP (nothing major, but an adjustment).
  • A change in the amount of information you get when you hover over an other player.
  • An added system of consequence to "ganking". (Killing much-much lower level players).
  • A system of adding consequence to losing a PvP match, and winning a PvP match + turning on PvP Leveling.
  • A change in how Crowd Control (Root, Knockback etc) works in PvP.
  • PvP gear.

3. New Massive Region

We will unveil this location later, but it will feature a host of quests, new monsters and places of dreams or horror. It will be **** towards the players in the late 50s and bridge the experience on the way to Atzels Approach. We have plans for releasing several of the areas that didn't quite make it for the release.

4. Fixing bugs and increasing Customer Service

Funcom has always prided ourselves with having great customer satisfaction. The success so far for this title has left us with the need to increase the size of CS. This will go in parallel with the constant fixing of bugs and other issues that lead people to petition. Included in this is even better testing of the game by increasing the size of Quality Assurance and informing you better about changes by staffing up the Community Department. I know a blurb like this will haunt me always, but I will still venture one: We aren't satisfied until all our customers are! You know we had a very, very difficult launch of Anarchy-Online! That was a very painful process for all of us working on it - 4 years. You might not understand how driven we are to make sure you enjoy this game, and all the support around it!

The future is very bright for Hyboria. There will be many bright mornings following this, the very first. Together we shall surge ahead and build the world even bigger, better and more detailed!

Yours truly,

Gaute Godager

Game Director
Age of Conan, Funcom

Yes, the director being honest about his game in order for it to improve. Fantastic work by FunCom.

In relation to the voice actors, well, a little: The Tortage section is probably the best part of the game at the moment, the voice acting is quite good, and until you've left the place it does a very good job of drawing you into the game's story. I'd even say, that if this were a wholly single player affair, and with a better engine, it could have been a nice RPG.
So, I was a little disappointed when I had to leave all that behind in exchange for pointless NPC's and grinding.

Also, it might just be me...but, there's very little dismemberment, and by that I mean, when you kill an enemy very messily, they may explode into blood and bone, but, this is no more than an effect, the character model itself takes no visible damage..., maybe they'll fix that too...
Not that it's -really- important, just that those screenshots of limbless picts, and even the arm chopping in the opening movie itself left me expecting it *shrug*.

Good review though :D

All my friends who have played Conan have all regarded it as a pile of wank and gone back to WoW. I guess, as with anything, it depends what you look for in a game. Apparently the horrendous amount of instancing and need to load was something which many players absolutely hated, and I concur. Anything which takes away from the fluency of a game makes it that little bit more immersion and as such the whole idea of a 'game' is proved futile.

On a semi-professional note: Don't use ImageBam for images, FFS. use Imageshack.us at the very least.

Is this a pay to play?

GothmogII:
In relation to the voice actors, well, a little: The Tortage section is probably the best part of the game at the moment, the voice acting is quite good, and until you've left the place it does a very good job of drawing you into the game's story. I'd even say, that if this were a wholly single player affair, and with a better engine, it could have been a nice RPG.
So, I was a little disappointed when I had to leave all that behind in exchange for pointless NPC's and grinding.

Also, it might just be me...but, there's very little dismemberment, and by that I mean, when you kill an enemy very messily, they may explode into blood and bone, but, this is no more than an effect, the character model itself takes no visible damage..., maybe they'll fix that too...
Not that it's -really- important, just that those screenshots of limbless picts, and even the arm chopping in the opening movie itself left me expecting it *shrug*.

Good review though :D

It depends on what you're killing. If it's human, you can maim it. Two handed edged give the best fatalities imo, with my personal fav being lopping each arm off followed by the head. And I assure you the model takes damage. Blunt weapons don't tend to show visible damage though. And Mel, they've worked on that. Load times are faster, and it's easier to swap instance to your buddies. It was an utter pain in the arse to start with, you had to keep flicking around to try and find the right instance.

llaunay:
You also mentioned the grass texture... which i can only assume your compairing to WoW, EQ2 or maybe Oblivion... AoCs is easily on par if not better... Really not sure where you were going with this point comparing it to Crisis which is not a RPG or MMO and not intended for MASS playability... Crisis was made for high end machines... MMOs are made for the Vox pop.

I could go on... but i will save myself the time and say "Nice review, but you need to reassess your arguments, Allot of them are based on your personal opinions that appear to be poorly thought through."

I'm not comparing the grass-texture to anything, I'm just stating that they look like crap compared to the rest of the game... to be fair though I add that it is an issue in a lot of other games too, even Crysis (the arguably best looking game out there right now.)
And I can only state my personal opinion, because that is what I have :P I'm quite sure there are people that hate this game from all their heart and there's also other people out there called "fanboys" that would flame anyone saying a single bad thing about it.

Gothmogll:
Also, it might just be me...but, there's very little dismemberment, and by that I mean, when you kill an enemy very messily, they may explode into blood and bone, but, this is no more than an effect, the character model itself takes no visible damage..., maybe they'll fix that too...

Dismemberment is in the game and possible, as Singing Gremlin said, it is possible to cut off both arms and the head off an NPC and it shows on the model too if it is humanoid :D

TheNecroswanson:
Is this a pay to play?

Yes.

Melaisis:
On a semi-professional note: Don't use ImageBam for images, FFS. use Imageshack.us at the very least.

ImageShack is both slower to upload and to view for me and has a greater failure rate, also Imagebam allows bigger images than 1.5MB without "subscribing" (which around half of the images up there are) and it's easier to resize and copy/paste, what's wrong with it? :P

Ah, thanks for the dismemberment tips! Humm...actually, I realised me not seeing this has probably something to do with my char being a Necromancer >.>
Speaking of which, I found the casters combat system plays a lot like Guild Wars.

As informative as this is, I'd hesitate to call it a review. It's more like expanded review notes.

You know, I'd like to hear a more detailed review about character creation... the races and classes and such... I was reading up on the game, and it seems like there's a lot of redundancy in the classes... like a Demonologist verses a Necromancer, Tempest of Set versus Priest of Mitra.... are they really all that different or is it mostly roleplay? Are any of the classes in serious need of an overhaul right now? What are the more popular ones?

Things of that nature

Having not played all of the classes in depth, I can only say that Warrior, Mage, Priest and Rogue are the archetypes, then these are split up further into the individual classes,
they -are- different, but often times bar a few unique abilities, the differences are merely as you say roleplay differences. Or rather, a better description would be that some classes share common abilities but each has their own...uniqueness I guess ^^'

99% of the stuff on that list of things they are fixing should have been done before the game was released. Me no likey.

KamikazeSailor:
You know, I'd like to hear a more detailed review about character creation... the races and classes and such... I was reading up on the game, and it seems like there's a lot of redundancy in the classes... like a Demonologist verses a Necromancer, Tempest of Set versus Priest of Mitra.... are they really all that different or is it mostly roleplay? Are any of the classes in serious need of an overhaul right now? What are the more popular ones?

Things of that nature

H'ok. You have 3 races, Aquilonians (think Roman), Cimmerians (think nordic barbarians), and Stygia (think middle-eastern religious zealouts). The classes are divided into four archetypes - Soldier, rogue, priest, and mage, all of which are pretty self explanatory. Each archetype has three classes, as described below.

Solider
Guardian - The tank, simple as. Either wielding a sword and shield or a polearm, this is the class to take the most damage without dropping. Of course, not so great dps.
Conqueror - Tougher than most classes, but still not as tough as the guardian. However, it does more damage, and more the the point significantly buffs any friendlies around him.
Dark Templar - again, quite tough, a decent second tank. However this guy is a dark voodoo caster too, throwing about evil spells and stealing enemies' life energy.

Rogue
Assassin - Typical rogue. Weak as hell, but high damage. Sneaky devil, turns people to jam with twin daggers and a crossbow. At the moment, it's kinda naffed, and is really quite underpowered, apparently.
Ranger - Bow user. Very high dps, but needs to be further away from the target. At the moment, in the lower levels at least, is overpowed.
Barbarian - something of a soldier/rogue crossover. This guy is supposed to take damage, as many of his skills only work at low health, but he's far from the toughest character out there. Meant to be in the thick of the fighting, but preferably not with the attention's of too many.

Priest
Priest of Mitra - your bread-and-butter healer, very high healing, and surprisingly competent in PvP.
Priest of Set - damage/healer, when not healing, hurling lightning into the fight.
Bear Shaman - solder/healer - In the thick of the fight with his two handed mace, using his healing spells when they're needed.

Mage
Demonologist - Damage-dealer, often has a pet but most of his damage comes from himself, throwing spells into the fray.
Necromancer - Has lots of pets at once, who do all the work for him. Always funny to watch a necro come over the hill with his zombie posse. High damage, but again, weak. Needs toughening.
Herald of Xotil - Shapeshifter/combat mage. One of the highest DPSs in the game. In the fight with his two handed sword, he has very high damage melee moves, powerful spells and the ability to shift into a demonic form.

So, although the classes often overlap in group function (lots of damage dealers!), most of them have pretty separate play styles. Haven't tried them all though.

ImageShack is both slower to upload and to view for me and has a greater failure rate, also Imagebam allows bigger images than 1.5MB without "subscribing" (which around half of the images up there are) and it's easier to resize and copy/paste, what's wrong with it? :P

Dunno, I could swear they tone the quality down on them on upload, though. And they fill the actual image file with ads at top and bottom. Whatever. Photobucket?

Hmm, the Dark Templar always bothered me, it just seems like a profession a Stygian would take up, and would give them at least one soldier type class.

Hey now that's service :D Thanks for the info :D My curiosity about this game has skyrocketed recently, can't wait to start playing it, and hopefully (since that's about a month off) they'll fix some of the problems

I'm on the fence with AoC. The good parts are SO GOOD. But the bad parts are SO BAD. Argh.

My advice - take several alts to 40, and enjoy the unique playstyle of each. By the time you've done that, more content from 40-80 will arrive, I have little doubt.

I've recently decided against going past level 40 with any character until they fix the profession quests and alot of other things that make the game tedious and boring.

For those that are wondering, I have a Necromancer. Little clothie that always gets hit as she was designed to be (pets arn't tanks ;)). She has her damage reduction abilities but those seem to fail after one hit from the mobs.

Eitherway I acquired my tradeskills/crafting professions (Gemcutting and Armoursmithing) to find a problem with each. Gemcutting doesn't actually work when you make gems and I never recieved a Quest for Armoursmithing because my quest log was full. Upon contacting a GM he basically said "We are fixing the Destiny Quests completely before fixing tradeskills".

I rerolled a Ranger.

Kinichie:
I've recently decided against going past level 40 with any character until they fix the profession quests and alot of other things that make the game tedious and boring.

For those that are wondering, I have a Necromancer. Little clothie that always gets hit as she was designed to be (pets arn't tanks ;)). She has her damage reduction abilities but those seem to fail after one hit from the mobs.

Eitherway I acquired my tradeskills/crafting professions (Gemcutting and Armoursmithing) to find a problem with each. Gemcutting doesn't actually work when you make gems and I never recieved a Quest for Armoursmithing because my quest log was full. Upon contacting a GM he basically said "We are fixing the Destiny Quests completely before fixing tradeskills".

I rerolled a Ranger.

Make a gem straight after you load a new zone and it'll log. You then have to change zone, make another one, and then do it again. But hey, at least gems don't crash your client anymore! :P

So I was in Sanctum of Burning Souls last night (SOBS - how ironic).

Client crashed after the first boss, so that was really not cool.

But up until the crash, the fights were - just chaotic crap. The mobs (and even boss) were running around hitting everyone, and yet nobody was even close to dying, even with just 1 lowbie PoM healing. Tactics = NONE. And the critters/creatures were so dark and small, you could not see them amongst the 6 people all crowded around whacking them. Again - chaotic crap.

Somebody tell me it gets better!

 

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