Baby Come Back
Falling in Love With Age of Conan All Over Again
It has been a arduous five months since the release of Age of Conan for the players, for the fans, and undoubtedly, for Funcom as well. For the loyal, we've seen a pre-release hype build unlike any other MMOG to date, followed by a rather disheartening trend of watching friends and guild mates move on in droves. Why do so many still hang on to what others have deemed a sinking ship?
Well aside from the glaringly obvious fact that plenty of people enjoy playing AoC (shocking I know!), I can really only speak for myself.
I like this game. I enjoy so many aspects of it and while I know there are things to be done to make it better, I can still see the potential just right there on the very edge of being. We all fell in love with something. Sure, it could be akin to meeting that gorgeous gal over the internet and declaring your unending love before you've met her and found that she's not quite as hot as you first thought she was. It doesn't take from the feeling of knowing that there is something there. Age of Conan might not be what we all envisioned, things rarely are, but slowly we are seeing that amazing potential make its way out from under the hazy clouds of technical bugs and questionable design decisions to reveal the game that we had all hope for so anxiously during pre-release.
I'm not going to dwell on past mistakes though as that has been harped on quite enough. What I'd like to do here is let the public know the amazing growth that Age of Conan has been experiencing and what the future might hold for one of the greatest games ever to be created.
The Ghost of Gaming Past
Updates have been a consistent part of the game since release. It started out with mostly minor fixes and tweaks from common bugs but the most notable change has been the actual playability of AoC. With frame rates going up and technical issues going down, gone are the days when players will simply call it a day out of frustration. The average user will experience much better performance these days and while the graphically taxing portion of the game is still there, slideshows of the beautiful landscape are lessened with a few adjustments to the video settings. Overall, this has been the biggest improvement thus far allowing players with older comps that just meet minimum requirements to still have a reasonably good and stable experience!
Another big change has been the overhaul of the PvP system. Let's face it, some players come to various MMOGs to experience Player versus Player combat and if a game lacks in that arena, you risk losing an entire sub-set of players. Funcom is understanding this and they are working to make improvements to the PvP system that had players everywhere drooling many months ago by adding a truckload of tweaks and small fixes along with PvP specific gear and future plans to add more details and a notoriety system that will ease some of the imbalances.
There are a whole slews of other much hoped for changes such as the fixes to gems, class issues, and crafting fixes that we will be seeing much more of over the next few months. Really, so much has been addressed that I'd urge those who have been away a while just to browse the update notes to get an idea of the massive amounts of work that has been poured into the game recently.
What has been accomplished up until now is just the beginning. So much more is planned...
The Future Looks Bright
If you haven't heard, Age of Conan has a new Master and he's whipping this puppy into shape! If there has been anything that AoC fans are hungry for, it is a Game Director and developer team that would listen to the cries and pleas of the public and we have been granted this. Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison has taken the helm with the promise to focus more on community feedback and his plans are Earth shattering to say the least.
First up, PvP will continue to get major attention which is good news for all. Another aspect of the game that is getting some love is the crafting system. Crafting in AoC, until now, has had some pretty serious difficulties that has made a portion of the game that many player just outright have avoided. Striving to make crafting a more viable part of gameplay we are seeing immediate changes to recipes, the addition of new recipes, and uniquely crafted items such as culture armor will make crafting more user friendly and more worthwhile. The importance of handing players a useful system that will enhance the game experience is untold. With both the PvP and crating alterations, the secondary aspects of Age of Conan will soon be one of the brilliant spotlights of character advancement.
Mid and upper levels zones have come under scrutiny lately and while it seems character stats, crafting, and PvP are at the forefront current, I won't be at all surprised to see playable content eventually becoming a point of interest. With much of the players at mid-level and cap, the importance of giving PvE players plenty to do is going to eventually be a priority. The demands for more quests and more high levels content will hopefully be fed giving players who adore straight up adventuring through the lands much more to hurrah for!
Other bits that are being worked on but we still haven't heard a whole lot about is the implementation of DX10 which we should be seeing shortly and the plan on server merges. Server merge has been something that has been on the lips of players often lately and if this happens, it could mean a lot for player communities and marketplace interaction. Keep an eye out at Ten Ton Hammer and we will be sure to sound the alarms when more news trickles out on these important topics.
So what does all this mean for gamers? In a nutshell, it seems that Funcom is paving the road to begin wooing back the jilted players. Not an easy task to be sure, but with the change up in leadership and a push to make good on past promises, Age of Conan could still have a chance at being what we had all hoped for those many months ago. As the shine wears off newer games, and the older games work feverishly to cling to their current following, plenty of gamers will be without a home until the next generation of MMOGs hit the shelves. This is the perfect time to re-hype this fabulous game that is still building towards its full potential and a perfect time for players to give Age of Conan another look.