Age of Conan: Class List Down to Twelve, Prestige Classes Possibly Dissipated, Officially Rated "M" by ESRB

by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor

From the standpoint of the community, nothing hits harder than having classes or features in the gameplay that were established by the developers suddenly ripped from your grasp. You base all of your initial gameplay ideas around a certain class, and that class is your basis in the world. As a player of MMORPGs, almost everyone that the Ten Ton Hammer staff has talked to has been there. Today's press event was a hard blow to the general player community, but the general opinion - both from the press and the Funcom side - is that all these particular changes were necessary to make Age of Conan a splendid game. So please read on before you make your final judgments on the reduced class list, possibility of prestige classes dissipated, and the new "M" rating by the ESRB.

Reduced Class List

Before I go on any further with my commentary, I'd like to go over the details of what we've learned about the various announcements made during the day. First off, the official Age of Conan class list has been weaned down to twelve classes. Here's what we learned later on in the day. To make sure that the community knew exactly which classes would be part of the game, I asked the developers during the dev panel exactly which of the classes would be stricken and where they would be integrated back into the game.

Although two classes are being cut from the class list, these two classes will be integrated into the pre-existing Necromancer and the newly dubbed Tempest of Set.

The "class guru" Evan Michaels (who has also done a fair number of our class interviews) answered the question with his official statements. To paraphrase, the Lich's abilities are going to be integrated into the Necromancer's feat and spell list, and the Scion of Set is going to become part of the newest class in the game - the Tempest of Set. For those of you keeping track, this was the Stormcaller/Druid of the Storm class that has gone through a number of different incarnations in its relatively short life span.  Here are Evan's official words on the class change:

"I'm sure you've heard some of it already, but I don't view it as removing classes. What we found was that one of the toolsets was a bit too narrow. People were playing it, but they weren't finding it fun. As we've said earlier, a lot of our classes are "hybrids" of what you'd normally see in an MMOG, and we want people to experience variety in their MMORPG. What we did was we took those two classes and we stored their cool abilities and all the stuff people enjoyed and wrapped them into something similar and coherent."

"The Tempest of Set, which used to be the Stormcaller/Scion of Set has the abilities of both of them. It's just been "re-themed" around a whole Set type of idea. The response to that, at least internally, has been very favorable. The external stuff that people know has also been favorable as well."

"We just weren't very content with those two classes as they were, so when we combined them and started meshing out the new theme, it really meshed well together."

"The Lich we found was a little to similar to the Herald of Xotli. They had a very similar vision, which is kind of our fault for making two classes that are so similar. The people really enjoyed the theme about the Lich - the undead, evil overlord type stuff. We thought that went well with the Necromancer class that we've been trying to evolve away from the Demonologist sort of idea."

"The Necro does get an ability now that allows him to transform into a Lich, along with some of his other cool abilities. It already went along with his whole undead theme and  I think it meshed well. The resulting class seems more interesting and definitely more versatile."

"Almost everything has been preserved from the two classes. Most of the abilities are still there. The only thing that is different is the concept that the Lich was more of a melee class and the Necromancer was more of a spellcaster. He still has all of the spells and trigger abilities of the Lich. The Tempest of Set almost has all of the toolsets almost completely, but re-themed to the Tempest of Set sort of idea."

At this point, Gaute Godager (the head honcho/Game Director) stepped in with his comment on the whole scenario:

"It's interesting because people view class balance and marketing reveal as a sort of contract. It makes it very hard for me to do my job properly, which is to make the game fun. We have to make a decision about how much this is going to shake the boat versus how much worse the boat is going to float when it launches out. I wish I could just reveal the finished game, but it can't be done."

"Yes we expect that there will be some upset people from this, but we are truly sorry that these classes do disappear after we merge them up."

Prestige Classes Possibly Being Removed

Another meaty announcement that came during the entire press day was the reveal that the prestige classes may be removed from the game. According to Gaute, the prestige classes were "limiting players" and that the Funcom development team decided to take more of a "salad bowl" type approach. What this means is that the prestige class abilities would be spread out through the various existing classes will be integrating many of the features previously announced for the various prestige classes. To the Ten Ton Hammer staff, this seemed ideal rather than pinning characters into one particular set of "prestige" abilities.

While this is still a "possibility" type of announcement, the Ten Ton Hammer staff is working on getting a more official answer to this question throughout the weekend. More on this to come.

Please don't panic. *smiles*

Age of Conan Receives an "M" ESRB Rating

Finally, it was officially announced today that Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures will receive a "M" rating from the ESRB and an 18+ rating from PEGI. This means that every single retailer will have Age of Conan available, so stop your beating hearts. AoC will be on game shelves everywhere.

Thanks for taking the time to hear the news from Ten Ton Hammer! We know that you're constantly watching, so we will try to continue to have updates throughout the weekend and into next week! There's more to come!

What do you think about the new class list? What about the prestige classes? Let us know on the forums!

Ten Ton Hammer is your unofficial source for Age of Conan news and articles!

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