Ten Ton Hammer is taking a look back at the Age of Conan of
yesteryear and comparing it to the game that players log in and enjoy today.
Some things have changed and some have not, but we want to know: Will these
changes may be just enough to woo back previously disappointed fans?
Age of Conan has seen an overhaul of nearly every major
feature in game and some needed it desperately. In todays article, we are
going to talk about the meat and potatoes of AoC gaming: combat, questing,
siege, and PvP gameplay. These are the features that attracted players to the
game and are the features that initially drove them away just as quickly. But
have they changed for the better?
If you missed it, check out
last weeks Age of Conan article featuring technical improvements, gem
downsizing, and the server merge.
Combat. More than Just Blood Splatters.
I joke a lot about the gore of AoC being what keeps me
interested, but like most gamers I do take my gaming seriously and combat
gameplay is a big hook for me. AoC has, what I think of as, extraordinarily
interesting combat. I like that when Im taking down a group of Atzels bad
guys that my position and combo choices are things I need to think about and
attention is required to ensure my characters safety. The lack of auto-attack
keeps me from alt-tabbing out of game incessantly to check my IMs, and this is a
feat no other game has yet accomplished for me. While interesting combat is
good, well-designed and fair combat is even better, and this is where AoC has
There are all sorts of patch notes that highlight changes
and formulas that players come up with to calculate what is happening in game
down to the last hit point, but none of that interests me. All I care about is
how the class feels when I pull out my sword and hack at things. Combat
continues to hold the same dazzle as before, but a returning player will
definitely feel the benefit of a year of tweaks. The most notable change is the
boost to survivability. All classes have been granted health point increase and
damage alterations, all of which means that you can kill more, kill quicker, and
live longer when taking on appropriate enemies. My once flimsy Barbarian is
actually making it through reasonable multi-target combat without dropping to
the ground like a nut-kicked sissy. My Dark Templar once again feels useful
after having been tossed into the too frustrating to play pile for a long,
long while. My Conqueror has always been my bad ass favorite, but she too is
plowing through mobs like a hot knife through butter.
Now some may think that these changes make the game easier,
but I believe it puts it more on par with where it should be. AoC has a
freakish aggro range on social mobs so it has always been highly important that
any player roaming soloable lands is able to comfortably take on more than one
enemy at a time. Combat is NOT fun if you walk into a camp to complete a quest
and die repeatedly before you give up and decide to tackle it in another couple
of levels, when really you should be outgrowing that area.
All these changes have balanced challenge with fun making
them some of the best updates this game has experienced since launch.
Questing Beyond Wanted Posters
In my many, many (shut up, Im old okay?) years of gaming
Ive noticed one thing. Gaming companies always under estimate the speed and
ferocity in which fans will consume content. This was apparent when shortly
after Age of Conans launch, mid-level players were left standing around
wondering where exactly the content was. Levels 50 through 70 ended up looking
like a vast wasteland of mob grinding which is just about as appealing as
peeling off your own fingernails. Id stake pennies that many players walked
away from AoC in this level range just out of sheer boredom.
The quick fix shortly after launch was the rash of wanted
posters that went up in mid to upper level zones. The wanted posters didnt
even pretend to be interesting and even though they provided some experience and
a bit of coin, I started avoiding them entirely every time I walked into a
While I applaud the desire to give players more to do, I
think gamer tastes have expanded slightly beyond kill ten rats making these
wanted poster quests nothing more than companion quests to real quests.
Has the quest been put back into questing? Yes it has! As
I ran through level 50, 60, and level 70 zones, I found tons of beautiful
exclamation points on my map signaling me to all the new quests available. I
stumbled upon new areas within original zones that gave storyline quest series
that were interesting and fun, yielding worthwhile rewards. The Eiglophian
Mountains now have a nice crop of new quests (yes, all the wanted posters are
still there for those who enjoy them) and Ymirs Pass, which is one of the newer
zones added as free content, had quite a bit to do for players in their mid 50s
through the mid 60s. I spent a couple of days questing in Ymirs Pass and
havent even touched upon the bulk of the zone!
adventurers, the addition of these quests means less grinding and a far smoother
progression without those annoying content gaps.
Sieges and PvP. People Still Do Those, Right?
Before launch, Age of Conan appeared to have an amazing
focus and a solid grip on player versus player gameplay with Border Kingdoms,
PvP mini-games, and large scale sieges all being prime features that had PvP
fans dying to get in and give it a try. Unfortunately, many of those fans got
in-game and declared PvP in AoC to be completely broken. So what needed fixing
and did it get done?
Sieges are such a cool concept. Guilds can battle it out
on an epic level for fame and glory using their wits and skills. The trouble
with sieges ended up being that siege weapons didnt always work right, random
crashes happened just a little too often, and the game stopping bad lag rendered
sieges useless for a whole lot of players.
Luckily, most of these issues were easy fixes once they
were finally attended to. Sieges work quite a bit better now, though the lag
can still be painful. Of course there will likely always be a struggle with no
bugs and exploits, but like with any game, these will be dealt with as they crop
Mini-games, also another good concept, just never gained a
whole lot of attention. I didnt even hear about them myself until I had been
playing AoC for many months. The mini-games have been completely reworked and
promoted bringing in interested players to enjoy various games, like capture the
skull or annihilate opposing team scenarios. The bones are there to make this a
well used feature, but players still seem to want a little more meat put on
these PvP encounters. A great solution would be creating cross-server
mini-games to promote not only interest in the scenarios, but also a fun and
healthy rivalry between server populations. It may not be completely feasible,
but anything that would get players into mini-games would put to use a very good
aspect of the game that is being completely missed by many.
Ive always thought that open PvP in AoC was quite good.
Aside from class imbalances and lack of players joining in, the PvP system had a
lot going for it but growth continues for this feature as well.
Consequences are extremely important in PvP and this is
something that Funcom has taken the time to address with the Notoriety system.
Being marked as a murderer or a criminal for stepping over the line of kosher
gameplay goes a long way in enforcing the play nice policy. Of course there
will continue to be players who enjoy these tags, but at least they come with
some forewarning and griefers will receive fewer benefits for their troubles.
Were Not Done Yet!
Check back with Ten Ton Hammer next week as we cover Age of
Conan updates to itemization, classes, and crafting!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Age of Conan: Unchained Game Page.