Age of Conan Class Interview #5: The Barbarian

Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor Answers by Evan
Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor
Answers by Evan Michaels, System Designer for Funcom

If there's one class in Funcom's Age of Conan that will be played more than any other, it will be the Barbarian. Derived from the namesake of the universe (Conan the Barbarian), this class has been described as a savage, brutal, and undisciplined brute. To find out a few more details about the blood-thirsty class, Ten Ton Hammer's managing editor, Cody "Micajah" Bye, sat down with Funcom's Evan Michaels and really got to the core of what drives this enraged berserker. Cover the eyes of your women and children because the Barbarian is going to be one hell of a nasty combatant!

(Editor's Note: Due to the mad rush of the holidays, the Barbarian screenshots are still in transit. Keep checking back here at Ten Ton Hammer to see a group of exclusive screenshots focused on the Barbarian and his destructive rage!)

Ten Ton Hammer: You’ve opted to put the Barbarian character class under the Rogue archetype; why was that decision made? Aren’t the Barbarian’s your typical melee class / fighters? What makes them more of a Rogue than a Soldier?

The Barbarian is a vicious foe.

Evan Michaels: The way we have looked at it is that Soldiers are what one would view as more “martial” types of warriors, whereas Rogues are a bit more on the individualistic side. Barbarians, at their core, are far more Roguish—wearing lighter armor, being extremely offensive-minded, and generally not being what may be considered a “disciplined” fighter. We’ve always felt that there was an important distinction here, which is why we branded the others as “Soldiers” rather than the typical “Warrior” or “Fighter” labels to be a bit clearer.

Ten Ton Hammer: When it comes to defense, it doesn’t seem like the Barbarian tries to protect himself in any way as he is more interested in killing his enemies than protecting himself. Is this a correct assumption? If so, how will players keep their Barbarian characters alive? Will they have natural resistances, high hit points, or anything of that sort?

Evan: You are correct in your assumption that Barbarians are not heavily focused on defending themselves via armor or shields as, for instance, Soldiers may be. Barbarians typically rely on either evading the attacks of their opponent or killing them quickly enough that defense is not a huge concern. That said, Barbarians are typically a bit more on the “tougher” side than an Assassin or Mage might be in a toe-to-toe battle.

Ten Ton Hammer: Aside from the combat-oriented skills that you’ve detailed in the class preview on the main site, are there other skills and/or abilities that make Barbarians more “savage?” For instance, some sort of tracking skill, foraging, the ability to enter a frenzy, etc?

Evan: In addition to the primary skills that you mentioned, the Barbarian class has a number of themed specialized feats that certainly give a “savage” feel to the class as a whole. For instance, in their “Berserker” tree (which is primarily focused around two-handed combat,) one could find the following feats:

Even a Barbarian gets cold sometimes.

  • “Rampaging Horde”, which increases the damage of the Barbarian based on the number of other Barbarians nearby
  • "Thirst for Blood”, which causes every attack within range of the Barbarian—be it by friend or foe—to have a chance to cause the Barbarian to gain increased damage and regeneration
  • “No Escape”, which allows the Barbarian to hurl their weapon at an opponent at range, causing heavy impaling damage in addition to stunning them. (Consequently, the Barbarian is disarmed during this period, but that is a small price to pay for the result!)
Between those and many other similar abilities, one can start to see the aggressive nature of the Barbarian class pretty clearly.

Ten Ton Hammer: In the class preview for the Barbarian, you pretty much illustrated the fact that Barbarians will be unequaled melee class fighters. How then will they be balanced compared to the more typical “tank” characters – the Guardian, Conqueror, and Dark Templar? How are you balancing the character compared to those other classes? Who would win in a straight up fight?

Evan: Barbarians are very brutal melee fighters, having the highest area-oriented melee damage (as the Assassin specializes mostly on single-target damage) and some of the highest overall damage potential in the game. Compared to the Soldier archetype, Barbarians obviously have the potential to dish out significantly more pain in general while Soldiers are a bit more resilient. Both classes have their strengths and weaknesses, so it would be very difficult to say that one would specifically or always have an advantage over the other. A Soldier would specialize in wearing down their opponent and surviving a bit on the longer side, while a Barbarian would rely on pure aggression in addition to their stuns, knockbacks, and other forms of crowd-control to dispatch their foes.

Ten Ton Hammer: When it comes to true fans of the Conan the Barbarian, it seems like there is no better choice than a Barbarian if you want to play as the embodiment of the hot-headed warrior. Do you anticipate that your game – at least on release – will be full of Barbarians? What are you doing to make the other classes more attractive to the Conan fans?

Evan: Obviously a “Barbarian” in the context of Conan is somewhat a quintessential figure, and thus will most likely be fairly popular. That said, we feel that all the classes currently in-game have enough interesting elements to be appealing in their own right. Our goal has always been to have classes which are appealing and fun to play.

Ten Ton Hammer: On the other hand, why would a Ten Ton Hammer reader want to play as a Barbarian? What sets this character apart from any of the other classes and why is he / she fun to play?

Evan: The Barbarian is really an aggressive class, which makes it very enjoyable to play for those who like being up front and in the fray. Unlike the Assassin and Ranger, which have to worry more about positioning and being a bit careful, Barbarians are a bit more on the “reckless” side, jumping into action and causing as much havoc as possible in a short period of time. Anyone who likes a very fast-paced, damage oriented class will probably feel at home with the Barbarian class as a whole.

Nighttime is a perfect hunting ground for the Barbarian

Ten Ton Hammer: Anything else you’d like to tell readers about the Barbarian?

Evan: As we looked at the Assassin class last time, another important distinction between the Barbarian and Assassin is that the Barbarian is a bit more of  a “team player” and has a few more abilities which directly support and buff his team. For instance, one of their final feats in the “Reaver” tree (which is their dual-wield focused branch) “Blood Bath” causes all attacks performed on the target to have a chance to inflict bleeding wounds—even those from their teammates.

Another facet about the Barbarian which I find very enjoyable is the general theme that he is more effective when the odds are stacked against him and his group, and he is surrounded by enemies. Having many abilities which hit multiple targets, become more effective when more enemies are around, and also having the ability to become empowered by being at low health means that Barbarians will always be a really useful class for any group to have around in a pinch—in addition to being fast-paced and enjoyable to play.

Ten Ton Hammer: Thanks again for this detailed information on a class that may be one of the most popular in the Age of Conan! In two weeks, we'll be taking a look at the final Rogue class: the Ranger. Along with the typical class-oriented questions, we'll make sure to include a few about stealth as well for those individuals that are dying to hear more about this in-game mechanic! Thanks for visiting Ten Ton Hammer, and we'll always be your unofficial source for Age of Conan reading material!

What do you think of the Barbarian? Is it savage and bruatl enough for you? Let us know on the forums!

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