It's hard to believe it's already been nearly six months since the launch of Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures (AoC), but it has, and what a road it has been. With hype around the game building so high that anyone would be hard pressed to meet it the game pressed on as mechanics evolved, some were shed, and an adult film was made. Yes, I said an adult film. One that was inspired by AoC. Finally, a movie where the hero gets it in the end. See what I did there?
src="http://i157.photobucket.com/albums/t64/Coyoteesharptongue/_costume.jpg" alt="PvP" width="161" height="269"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 336px;" />
One of Age of Conan's big drawing points were boobs.
Past and the Road to Launch
AoC established a huge following of loyal gamers when the game was announced. With over 800,000 members registering on the Official AoC site, this game was already poised to be one of the strong MMOG showings of 2008. This could either be attributed to the fact the game boasted excellent combat mechanics or lots and lots of animated boobs. The road to launch was one of the brest...er best hyped for any recent MMOG. With excellent trailers, several Developer Diaries, and the new Hyborian Insider videos, players everywhere awaited the launch of AoC. As launch grew closer, reality set in, and Funcom was forced to shed a few mechanics due to time constraints in preparation for launch. Some of the casualties of this cut included Drunken Brawling (much to the dismay of Hyborian drunks everywhere) and the PvP Towers that were initially going to be the Battle Keep equivalent for smaller guilds (or as I like to call them, screwed) who didn't have the forces to take and hold a Border Kingdom Battle Keep. Despite having to shed some of its mechanic fat, AoC still managed to launch with a lot of what was promised.
When the media embargo lifted during beta there were many who rushed to publish news and pictures of animated breasts from AoC. The positive reviews poured out from everywhere raising the hype even more. AoC's popularity soared so high it inspired another Conan movie, though probably not the one you're thinking about. The movie inspired was called The Rage of Bonan, an adult film by Whorelore complete with catchy taglines like "Rogues do it from behind." How can you go wrong with Oscar Wilde style wordplay like that?
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/49185" alt="PvP" width="500" height="223"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 500px; height: 223px;" />
Rage of Bonan is an adult movie created on the road to launch.
On May 20th, 2008 Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures went live. The game was a quick success with over 400,000 box sales initially and later with over 700,000 registered users. The game was living up to its hype as players engaged in real time PvP and massive siege play for control of the Border Kingdoms. Unfortunately, AoC was a victim of its own success and hype and post launch flaws became more apparent. The game was plagued by memory leaks that caused several performance issues for many players and a few bad bugs in massive PvP sieges that made victory for an invading force impossible. The siege problems have been fixed luckily, but this aspect left a sour taste in the mouth of many players. The game still has a few problems, but Funcom is working to improve and fix the issues that need to be addressed. However, in this business you only get one chance at a first impression and performance and siege bugs may have been one of the biggest banes for AoC in the beginning. At least we still have boobs.
title="Ymir's Pass"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/49192" alt="PvP" width="640" height="391"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 122px;" />
Thunder River has some of the steepest drops in Hyboria.
The first 20 levels of Tortage were very polished and put together nicely. The downside is that with every new character, you earn another trip through the hamster wheel that is Tortage. After an alt or two it won't be long before you will be ready help Strom burn that accursed city down yourself.
Once you have exited Tortage the game was very different. Voiceovers were rarely found outside of Tortage making the game feel less complete after the well developed voiceovers you became accustomed to early on. In some cases there were gaps in content making the game feel like leveling up in some cases sent us back to the old treadmill days of games like Everquest. Despite these gaps in content the road to level 80 introduced players to several new areas to engage in. Thunder River is still one of the best looking areas in the game. Just mind that first step at the prison colony. It's a long way down without a parachute.
src="http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z286/zcusmc/PoliceBrutality.jpg" alt="PvP" width="600" height="750"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 250px;" />
Guards will now take the time to split the skull of any person flagged as a murderer.
One could argue the launch of AoC was both good and bad. It certainly had elements of both. By financial standards the game was a huge success as hundreds of thousands of people bought the game and logged in to sample the real estate of Hyboria, and how many other games actually have an adult film named after it? On the other hand, performance and bugs plagued the game which certainly dampened the enthusiasm of the community at launch. Despite these issues, AoC has moved forward and still remains a successful game.
Present Day Hyboria
With the departure of the now former Game Director, Gaute Godager, the game is now under the vision of the new Game Director, Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison. Thus far under his watch there have been two huge patches that introduced a ton of fixes and new PvP content such as PvP levels and the new Notoriety system with even more content on the way.
The Notoriety system introduced a new system best equated with crime and punishment, so griefers and fans of Fansy The Famous Bard beware. Players who attack and kill lower level players now must reap what they sow. When players engage in this activity (now defined as criminal activity), they will earn murder points that when enough are built up will prevent the player from being able to enter cities and use merchants. If deemed a murderer the guards will now beat a player like they owe them money. This new system is one that has been on the books a while but has just now made its way into the live game. While this system is an excellent addition to the PvP servers, it does little for the PvE servers. Don't worry PvE goers, your update is coming.
title="Ymir's Pass"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/47456" alt="PvP" width="640" height="391"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 122px;" />
Ymir's Pass will be part of the first free PvE content update.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the great content push by Funcom is that there has yet to be a PvE free content update released for the live servers. Luckily, there is one currently on the Test server that with any luck might be in before the end of the year. (We can hope right?) The new area called Ymir's Pass will offer a nice boost of content for players between levels 55-65 and provides a new dungeon called the Amphitheater complete with its own giant. The last time I was that close to a giant my character became one with its boot. If you're interested in taking a look before it launches, make your way over to the Test server. If you need a primer read Savanja's Test server editorial.
If you are one of the many players that quit playing AoC not long after launch you might want to give the game another try. You might be pleasantly surprised with the current state of the game as it has improved a lot from the initial launch version. Performance has improved greatly and the graphics have gotten even better. With recent updates Funcom has made the game a lot more friendly to all systems and a lot more interesting for PvP action.
title="Expansion Art"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/49186" alt="PvP" width="425" height="254"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 121px;" />
The first AoC expansion is in the works.
AoC has improved greatly in the six months that its been live and sometime soon we will be given our first PvE focused content update that will bring Ymir's Pass to live servers and with it a slew of new quests and group oriented activities. Time will bring many more changes as that ever so elusive DirectX 10 update is implemented and the PvE free content update is pushed to live servers. Server mergers will soon be coming to offset any population imbalances and ensure that player communities remain healthy and ensure that players can find other like minded sociopaths.
Sometime in 2009 we will be treated to the first expansion for AoC. While we don't have a lot of solid information on what will be included in the games first expansion we can speculate that it might involve a new class or two, several new areas to explore, countless new quests, and new group and raid content. Of course, we can't forget the shiny new gear and boobs.
AoC has had its fair share of problems, but the developers at Funcom have fixed many of the issues that plagued the game early on and they continue to work diligently to improve the game with big updates. What started as a game with issues has shaped up to be a great triple A product that many players will enjoy. With both free content and an expansion in the works I think it is safe to say Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures is building momentum and will be around for a long time to come.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Age of Conan: Unchained Game Page.