Age of Conan Final Impressions: Part 1

SolaceFrom when I first heard about Age of Conan (AoC), I really thought it had a lot of promise. As I started following it, I wasn’t truly sure what was going to separate it from all other MMORPGs. The mature element would surely draw some of the crowd that would otherwise ignore it. Whether it be the psychopath that enjoys the fatalities way too much or the pervert, like me, that likes looking at digital breasts. Many of the features that Funcom (the developer of AoC) said would be included were very intriguing. It all sounded quite grand on paper. Well, launch has come and gone, and with a couple of months of play under the belt, let’s review and see how Funcom did with Age of Conan.

Let’s start with what was done right. The story/plot was interesting. On my first character, I found myself reading and listening to all the dialogue in the beginning area of Tortage. But after Tortage, there are no more voice overs and you are not required to listen to the dialogue to figure out what needs to be done in the quest. So I often found myself mindlessly clicking through the dialogue trees. Although after Tortage, very few quests are actually considered main storyline; you generally get one of those quests every ten levels.

Melee combat was excellent in this game, considering that most melee combat in other MMOs consist of clicking twice to attack. Melee combat was done through the use of a combo system. To complete a combo, you would select a directional attack depending on the combo selected. Here’s how that worked. When you select the combo, the directions and order of the attack would show up on screen. As you completed one part of the combo, the next part of the combo would highlight. To complete a higher level combo, you may have to select Down-Left, Upper-Right, then Center to complete the combo. This allowed for very extravagant attack animations, which had a nice fantasy feel.

One thing they did right was the fatalities. While I didn’t get to see all of them, the ones I saw were awesome. My barbarian ones were particularly nice. One was a punch, followed up with a twirling decapitation. Another was knocking the enemy flat onto the ground, chopping down into the face, and splattering blood everywhere. The third, and the best, was where the barbarian would stab the sword through the chest of the person, reach up, break their neck, and using their foot, push the person off the sword. I witnessed a soldier’s fatality where he knocked the enemy down to the ground followed by a foot stomp to the face.

Something that I wasn’t sure I would like but really ended up enjoying was the resource gathering. There was a specific zone for resource gathering in each region, although one could find resources in other zones while adventuring.  Part of what made resource gathering fun was that it was not all about the gathering. Running from node to node spawned random popup groups of up to six enemies. But what truly set AoC resource gathering apart was the random NPC popups while mining a node. Sometimes it would be a “Jealous Prospector,” other times a boss character. The NPCs usually matched your level so while sometimes the fights were difficult (I would always die to the two wolverines), most of the time they were within your means.

There were other positive points of the game as well. The defense system was implemented well, with the ability to change directional guards and givings advantages over undefended enemy sides. Level progression was fast, which could be good or bad depending on the person. Up through the mid 50’s, there are enough interesting, yet non-repetitive quests to level up through questing alone. There are Fed-Ex quests but they are disguised well. One particularly fun quest had me swearing to my friend that the statues around us were moving (some 20 plus statues).

I wanted to start with what was good in this game. In Part 2, we will be discussing some of the things lacking from AoC.

<Part 1> <Part 2> <Part 3>

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