Age of Conan Final Impressions: Part 3

SullenThere were group quests and particularly hard regular quests that were just too difficult if you were solo or played with a small group. If you waited until you leveled up about five or ten levels though, you could do the quests. Well, Funcom decided that the best way to stop gold farmers was to make all gray creatures and bosses hit just as hard as if they were at your level. This made going back and doing gray quests impossible. And some of the quests rewards were actually quite nice. All this did was reduce the amount of content for people who like to solo or small group.

While I mentioned fatalities in the ‘good’ section earlier, there was one thing that really rubbed me wrong. I was a Barbarian and had access to six fatalities; three for two-handed and three for dual wield, though you would only have access to one or the other. In comparison, if you used a polearm, you had one fatality. Demonologists had two, one for fire and one for lighting, while the Priest of Mitra had it worst of all with only one fatality. And it was boring. The enemy would float in air and then drop.

I could write an article on class balance alone. My playing buddy and I, as we usually do, picked classes together so they complement each other. My friend picked a Priest of Mitra because Funcom said that it was THE healing class. No class would do better. So to go with the PoM, I choose Barbarian, because Funcom said that it was THE damage melee class. No other melee class would have the damage options of the barbarian. Well, I don’t even know where to start here. Priest of Mitra spells were a joke. Most where heal over time spells. The big heal spell could only be applied to a target once every so often. As the amount of time was longer than the recharge time, the PoM would try to heal that target again because the skill had recharged but the invisible timer (no visual indication) hadn’t. This resulted in the spell failing and the PoM would have to wait the whole recharge time again to cast the spell. Also, if you were in a group and a lower level PoM casted the same group enchant as you, their lower level group enchant would overwrite yours.

While my Barbarian had decent damage, it was far from a damage class. And that was only if you are dual wielding and depending on one combo. I used two handed weapons so my damage was considerably less. I did have some crowd-control combos but they were limited and always had way too long of a recharge time. But the shortfall of my Barbarian was her survivability. Barbarians can only wear cloth and light armor (which makes sense given the Conan lore), but they should have some innate evade ability. And while they did have some evade feats, it wasn’t nearly enough. My Barbarian could do fine with one target by herself but with two enemies she had a 50/50 chance of dying. Which is just wrong. To give you a comparison, my Demonologist, which is a caster, from the beginning could take on two enemies with little to no damage. She soon moved up to taking three without much difficulty. By the time I had stopped playing she could take on four enemies at once, with no problem. Also she could do all this without any armor on. Her protection was in her spells so armor was only good for the bonuses.

It was quickly determined that classes Funcom said were damage and heal was complete BS. The Guardian ended up being the best melee class with great survivability and decent damage. The Priest of Mitra, which was supposed to be the best healer class and lowest damage, ended up having the best survivability and damage. The ability to keep themselves alive while having nice single target damage and the best spammable crowd control in the game made them a favorite class. What class ended up being the highest damage class is also laughable; another priest class. Tempest of Set was supposed to do the most damage out of the priest classes, not all the classes.

warlordThe gender attack speed difference was probably one of their biggest screwups. It was noticed the first day that the DPS (damage per second) listing for male avatars and female avatars was different in the weapon description. At a latter date Funcom ‘fixed’ that. Soon after the release, someone realized that their female Assassin had a much lower DPS than their male Assassin at the same level using the same non-combo attacks. It was then confirmed that all female avatars have a lower attack speed than male avatars. After two months of complete silence and two threads hundreds of pages long demanding an answer, they finally said that there was a difference, that it wasn’t intended and that they had just confirmed it recently. They went on to say this fix would be huge, entailing updating 800 to 1000 animations, and would take quite a long time. I think they knew about it well before they admitted it. I think the key to that is the stealth update of the DPS listings on the weapons. At the point they changed that, they had to know that everything was screwed up.  By their own admittance, the damage is based off of animation length. So when they made that original stealth update, they clearly knew. They were just hoping that we wouldn’t notice until they had the fixes.

When Funcom admitted the attack speed difference, they had said that the difference was ‘minor.’ Which I would like to disagree. It was almost half. With a dagger, non-combo attack, in 20 seconds the female avatar averaged 15 attacks. The male avatar averaged 27 attacks in the same 20 seconds. Not only that, but there seemed to be a difference in which directional attack you used on the female. Upper right being the slowest, middle following closely and the upper left being the quickest of the three. Funcom tried a temporary fix. They reduced the speed of both male and female avatars trying to find some kind of lowest common denominator. But sadly, they screwed it up. They made it where edged weapons had a faster attacking speed for female avatars and blunt weapons were quicker for male avatars. With the same update, they also changed damage per hit. They made it where basically female avatars not only attacked faster with edged weapons but hit harder and vice-versa for male avatars and blunt weapons.

There are a couple more things I want to mention before closing out here. There was an odd bug, at least I hope it was a bug, where if your combo was interrupted, all damage you had done would be refunded. That’s to say that the enemy you were attacking would get health back equal to the damage your combo had caused up until the point of interruption.

There were multiple trader bugs but this one irked me the most. Only so many items would show up in the trader window and this was based purely off lowest price. An example would be there were ten sales selling the exact same item, all for one silver and a sale for selling ten of that same item for five silver. The ten single sales would often push off the five silver sale off the trader window even though it was a better deal.

horsesTravel in many MMOs is a pain. AoC travel is better than some I’m sure, but my problem is with its inconsistency region to region, in particular, the Cimmerian zone of Conall’s Valley. It’s twice as wide as any other zone and to go through it you have to go all the way from the west side to the east side. It’s not like it’s a late game zone either. It’s the first zone for Cimmerians after Tortage. Everyone has to go through that zone repeatedly because of the quest locations over level 40 often only being found in Cimmeria.

I have listed much of what I have felt is wrong with Age of Conan. As you may have gathered by now, I no longer play AoC. Sadly, with all mentioned above, I was willing to forgive if it was fixed at some point. On the day I decided to quit, I was reading yet another “I Quit!” post on the forums and thinking that I would still be playing awhile. I was agitated but willing to tough it out. I had convinced my friend to keep playing the game with me. The day in question was a patch day. On those days, I would frequent the forums from work more often than other days. I wanted to know what changes were made that were announced and what stealth updates were added. On this particular patch day, I logged into the forums and see a thread titled “Unable to climb inclines after patch.” I clicked on the thread hoping it wasn’t what I thought it was. My favorite part of Age of Conan was the exploration. Exploring the maps from top to bottom. If I wanted to see what’s at the top of that volcano, I could climb it and see. They had managed to have really far draw distances for good PCs so you could go up on a really high vista and see forever.

Reading the thread in the forum confirmed my fears. They had made it where you couldn’t walk up even remotely steep inclines, effectively making the maps much smaller. If I had a quest on the other side of a hill twenty feet away, I couldn’t get to it now. I would have to walk down the path all the way around which in some cases was quite far. I felt like I had been kicked in the chest. I instantly had no desire to play the game anymore. As the day went on I read about how you no longer get XP for gray quests. That was another blow. If you ran solo or in small groups, you could not do some group quests until the quest were gray. Now they were taking away the reasons for doing them and also taking away a large chunk of their content.

GrrrrrI talked to my buddy and said that I was through backing the game. I would continue to play if they wanted to but I would no longer cheerlead AoC. We decided to cancel that night so that Funcom would know that it was this patch that was the final straw. Before our final decision and shortly after the patch got pushed to the US servers, the first new “I Cancel” thread started. Surprisingly, the first five quit posts were “My wife and I canceled” or “My boyfriend and I canceled” or similar. I wondered if they were like us and enjoyed exploring together.

The canceled posts started to add up. What at first was just a couple of dozens soon became hundreds.  Funcom then closed the thread saying it was against the rules. A second thread popped up and again more “canceled” posts. People had even stopped describing why. They would sign with just a /canceled. After hundreds more were listed again the thread was closed. Before it was though, someone had suggested that everyone post in the official thread for that patch. About that time was when we canceled. We added our two cents to the thread and let them know why we were leaving. My post was number 600 in that thread which is easy to remember. Hundreds had posted before and after us canceling before I went to be that night. When I woke up, our posts were gone. Funcom actually deleted them since they couldn’t lock the thread. And it was “Famine,” the Community Liaison, that did it per their own post.

There is not much more to say about Age of Conan. It was released in an unfinished state. Funcom does not communicate with their community at all. And the community is the worst I’ve seen for a MMO. The forums were nothing but huge trolling grounds. I’m glad I am no longer playing the game. I have more time for other games now. The game is poor at best, a joke at worst. Save your time and money for now. They could make many changes and turn this game around but I doubt it. I think this says it best: if you go to, it forwards you to Funcom.

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(2) Comments

  • Mouser
    03 Aug 2008

    I’m thinking of looking a Tabula Rasa; I can get a client for $9.99 at Fry’s, which pays for the first month. Heard much about it? I played the beta and wasn’t truly impressed, but I’ve heard they have been drastically improving the game.

    Not sure if anything will top GW until GW2 comes out though… HGL is fun sometimes, and looks great in DX10.


  • Taco
    04 Aug 2008

    Wow… I’m glad I stayed away from this one. Memory leaks? zOuch.

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