Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
When novelist Robert E. Howard first conceived of style="font-style: italic;">Conan the Barbarian
in early 1932, he could not have imagined the impact the muscle-bound
conqueror would have on the world. Novels, short stories, comic books,
feature films, television shows, and video games have all been spawned
out of the world that Howard first created, one that is eerily similar
to our own and yet maintains an element of the fantastic that few
authors have emulated. The world of Conan is a dark, gritty place, and
fans of Howard’s works have been exploring that place for
The day that the developers at Funcom announced that they were creating
an MMOG based on Howard’s creation was a day of rejoicing for
many Conan aficionados. The fans were finally going to have an
opportunity to explore the world that had been only seen in their
imaginations, and it would occur in a game called style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.
Yet years passed by and the developers at Funcom continued to promise
those same fans that their world was coming. It simply was going to
take more time than expected. The steadfast remained beside the
Norwegian-based developers through thick and thin, until the eventual
day came when Age of
Conan was released upon gamers everywhere.
The developers behind Age of Conan wanted to make a testament to Robert E. Howard's original writings.
On May 20, 2008, the world of Hyboria emerged before the eyes of
thousands of eager gamers who were ready to take the plunge into that
bloody landscape. But as many MMOGs are prone to bugs and other issues,
so was Age of Conan.
Although a number of reviewers were quick to heap praise and accolades
upon the game, many gamers were experiencing a variety of bugs and
unexplained bans. While some players enjoyed smooth, glitchless
gameplay; others were beat down by constant graphical issues.
At Ten Ton Hammer, we have a policy to give newly released MMORPGs
several weeks to reach a comfortable place in their gameplay state.
Although games should be fairly polished when they are initially
released, most MMOGs still encounter some growing pains once they are
able to nab game data from thousands of players. On top to of that, few
MMORPGs can really be experienced within the first week of gameplay,
and we wanted to insure that we had at least encountered up to 40
levels of experiences before weighing in on Funcom’s MMORPG.
While this review does not attempt to place any sort of scoring on the
end-game raiding, sieging, or PvP elements in style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan style="font-style: italic;">(Editor’s Note:
That’s an article for another day), we do hope
that we can offer gamers who were still sitting on the fence about this
MMOG some answers regarding the current state of the game and whether
or not they’ll have fun roaming around the world of Hyboria.
Since we’ve published href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/34090">multiple looks
at the initial experience in Age of Conan, this review will
offer a more comprehensive look at Age
of Conan and what gamers can expect in their travels
Battling Your Worst
Due to their very nature, most of the gameplay in MMOGs focuses around
combat. The rise of massively multiplayer games has been centered on
this idea, and millions of players have logged in to MMOGs simply to
continue to explore the ever-growing intricacies of their favorite
game’s combat system. Starting with the graphics-based MMOGs,
combat has become the ever-present factor in our MMOG play sessions.
Unlike many MMORPGs, Age
of Conan uses a combat system that is giant step away from
the combat many players grew used too in style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest and style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft.
Rather than simply have players hit their auto-attack buttons and shoot
off spells and abilities as their cool down timers wear off, style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan has
players actively engage in combat using their “directional
keys” which fall unto the “1-2-3” buttons
on a keyboard. Along with the direction keys, the AoC developers also
created multi-movement combos for players to use as part of their
combat encounters. For example, my Conqueror can use the combo
“Feint Attack” that calls for the player to make an
upward attack and a right directional key attack. Once those two keys
have been pressed, my Conqueror would break through the defenses of his
combatant, leaving my enemy wide open for my slashing attacks.
Combat in Age of Conan is definitely one of the key elements of the game.
While combo systems aren’t entirely new, the idea of using
the directional attacks in conjunction with shield indicators that
appear on every enemy in the game is a novel concept. Though the shield
indicators may appear clunky to some, they certainly force the player
to be more involved with the combat process. Rather than simply sitting
back and spamming one hot key over and over again, players are now
forced to examine their enemies to see which combo would truly be the
most efficient at dealing damage to the enemy.
For me, the combat system is probably the best part of style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.
Although some players have argued that the melee combat in the game can
become monotonous, I have yet to experience any sort of discomfort from
swinging my sword in a variety of directions. The variety of player
character combos does diminish quite dramatically after level 20, but
even with that in mind the combat still retains a fascinating sort of
interactivity that really isn’t a part of any other MMORPG.
When you combine the hands-on nature of the combat with fatalities that
are as gratuitously violent as anything from style="font-style: italic;">Mortal Kombat, you
create a system that is absolutely action-packed and dramatic to
The counter-point to this argument is the fact that most spellcasters
still retain many of the trappings that are part and parcel to the old
style of MMOG combat. Many of the “pure”
spellcasters, like the Priest of Mitra, Demonologist, and Tempest of
Set, still wage war using the standard hot key method. Though the
developers at Funcom have stated that this occurred on purpose, I was
still slightly disappointed that the pure casters didn’t have
the amazing assortment of fascinating combos that were available to the
horde of melee classes in the game. That said, I’m sure that
plenty of gamers appreciated the fact that some of the old MMORPG
flavor still existed – at least in some part – in style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Age of Conan: Unchained Game Page.