Age of Conan: Hands-On with the Demonologist in the Sanctum of the Burning Souls
During Ten Ton Hammer’s trip to the icy reaches of Norway to
preview Funcom’s upcoming MMORPG, Age of Conan: Hyborian
Adventures, Cody “Micajah” Bye had the opportunity
to play through mid-level dungeons in the game as a Demonologist. This
dungeon, named the Sanctum of the Burning Souls, was rife with
atmosphere, combat, and strategy, and Cody used the Demonologist to the
best of his (not-so-great) ability. Please enjoy the reading!
“Whoa. That can’t be good.”
Those were my words – or at least my thoughts –
when my group made it to the last area in the Sanctum of the Burning
Souls, and all that was left before us was a huge set of narrow stairs
leading up to a immense crumbling stone structure. Feelings of dread,
excitement, and the anticipation of finding spoils ahead were making my
heart beat with ever-growing rapidity. Nothing says ominous like a long
set of rising stairs.
Stygian warriors may
not be entirely prevalent in the Sanctum of the Burning Souls, but
you'll face many enemies similar to this one.
However, we didn’t just teleport to the bottom of the epic
stairs in the Sanctum of the Burning Souls. Oh no...there was plenty of
wanton mayhem and mischief on the way. Before we continue down my path
of vengeance, destruction, and multiple deaths, let me set the scene
for you, chronicle my progression through the Sanctum of the Burning
Souls, and give you a small taste of what the Demonologist can do. If
you’re interested in furthering your Conan education on this
particular subject, feel free to read href="http://forums.ageofconan.com/showthread.php?t=53602">Stephen
Spiteri’s own hands-on report or watch the brief
clip of href="http://forums.ageofconan.com/showthread.php?t=53596">Ben
Avery’s video. We’ll have our own video
up soon, so you’ll soon be hearing the curses I spewed at the
top of my lungs whenever I drew aggro.
The Sanctum of the
When we entered the Sanctum of the Burning Souls, it was obvious that
our group wasn’t entirely prepared for what we were about to
encounter. While some of the press members admitted to being in the
beta, many of these classes were new to the veteran individuals. We ran
through the dungeon like any group first entering this encounter and
died like the little nooblets that we were.
That said, it wasn’t long before we finally merged our
collective focus and started to take down these monsters. Being a
six-man dungeon, our ten players were often too much for the beginning
mobs, and we tore our way through the first few sections of the Sanctum.
The first area you must play through in the Sanctum is a swamp-like
section that rests just outside of the Sanctum proper. Ruins and
cracked stone foundations litter the area, while half-standing
staircases lead you to other areas of the dungeon. Initial
mobs that we encountered (Drowned Ones) were difficult at first, but
without any sort of strange abilities, we quickly devised the best ways
to defeat them and dropped them back down into their swampy habitat.
This is the sort of
moody, dank atmosphere you'll encounter while traversing the Sanctum.
Overall, there were approximately eight different types of monsters in
the dungeon, ranging from over-sized spiders (Acheronian Spider Queens)
to the always awe-inspiring Blood Defiler. Each of the monsters really
looked outstanding, and their animations were nearly spot on. Every
time I got hit by one of the creatures, I could almost feel my bones
crack through the computer monitor. The loot that was dropped was also
appropriate for the monsters that we killed.
From what I could tell in my brief pass through the dungeon, there are
four major boss encounters in the Sanctum of Burning Souls. The first
encounter is near the beginning of the dungeon, and you take on the
“leader” of The Drowned Ones. Another is an
encounter with an immense Blood Defiler who is quite awe-inspiring when
you look upon him fro the first time. The third boss is the ever-famous
vampire Akivasha who loves hanging around the Sanctum because of the
enormous pools of blood that happen to be everywhere. And finally
you’ll face the Acheronian Warlord, a giant, horse-faced,
Where quests are concerned, there are multiple objectives to complete
in the dungeon along with the typical loot mongering, so players will
have every reason to go to the Sanctum in the first place. Quests are
fairly standard fare, yet the entire setting of the Sanctum makes all
the quests interesting simply due to the gloomy, dark atmosphere.
All in all, I thought the entire encounter was epic and easily
navigated without feeling entirely linear. There are several areas that
branch one way or the other, but not so many that you feel like
you’re taking side roads after every combat situation.
At the beginning of the dungeon, it quickly became obvious that the
Demonologist is meant for intelligent ranged attacks. Unlike the
Necromancer that played through the campaign with us, the
Demonologist’s pet enhances the entire group –
acting as a buff for everyone in the group while also adding a bit of
DPS to the mix as well. However, I often focused less on my pet than on
my own spell-flinging, which was much more integral to this group
The Demonologist will be able to wield a variety of
different spells, including electrical.
The range of the Demonologist’s spells is enormous, with
everything from your standard flame spells (Flameburst, Flamestrike,
and Flamebolt) to the more intricate unholy damage spells (which
weren’t always effective in the Sanctum), and also
integrating electrical themed spells as well. With a wide range of
spell abilities to choose from – direct damage, area of
effect, snares, damage over time, and stunning – the
Demonologist must often be aware of what sort of spells are best for a
particular encounter rather than leaving anything to chance.
However, damage spells aren’t the only things in the
Demonologists arsenal, and I would argue that this pet/nuker/caster
class will also be important in granting his teammates the buff spells
they need to last through the encounter. Along with the buff of the
pet, the Demonologist also enhances other caster’s abilities
and has some fairly useful general buffs that he could lend to the
This all sounds tremendous, right? I can just hear the Demonologists
out there getting there arguments ready for the “Which class
is the best?” conflicts that are bound to pop up. The
Demonologist does have an extensive arsenal of spells and abilities at
his disposal, but he doesn’t have one thing.
The Demonologist, at least the version I played, was incredibly
squishy. If your pet isn’t tanking the mobs for you,
you’re in deep trouble. In the sort of group encounter I was
engaged in, it was almost suicide for me to cast any sort of area of
effect spell, as I knew the mobs were going to come chasing after me
just as soon as I dropped one of those particular spells. If
you’re not wary of your environment, it could mean a quick
death for you.
That said, the entire mechanic of the class could change once
spellweaving has been integrated into the game. If a spell combination
could do AoE damage and root at the same time, this class could be
exquisitely deadly. We’ll just have to wait and see how the
Demonologist shakes out when the game releases in May.
Be on the lookout for our video from the Sanctum play session! It's
definitely hilarious to watch.
think of Cody’s description of the Demonologist? How would
you like to see this class handled? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?p=201821#post201821">Let
us know in the forums!.
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