r1ft Gaming Blog: Age of Conan: The Twelve Trails of Blood
With the recent blessing of a Warhammer fall launch, we turn our short-term attention span on the Govenator's upcoming game Age of Conan.
Class choice is ultimately important in a class/level based game, especially one based on PVP. Proper research is important.
Massively did a great article on the twelve Classes in AoC - so, if you're like me, and don't know what the hell to play - take a look.
Here's the article, courtesy of Massively.com. (my uninspiring comments in italics)
Herald of Xolti
No doubt destined to be a popular class, the Heralds of Xolti evenly mix might and demonic magic to brutal ends. These men and women fervently worship the demon-god Xolti and in return are granted a shadow of his form and shreds of his magic -- small gifts that alone are reason enough for sane people to fear them in battle. Whether they're tearing through their enemies with two-handed swords or calling forth hellish fires to do their bidding, Heralds of Xolti are truly figures to be feared. Something to remember is that only Stygians can worship the demon-god Xolti for his powers.
A demon guys that swings a two-handed sword. The word in the beta is that these guys are extremely powerful. Like Warlock / WoW powerful. Is it some sort of dev fetish to make demonic classes the best in PVP or something?
Pungent death and icy winds are the calling cards of Necromancers. They are another minion class, although their minions are arguably more frightful; the undying legions. These masters of death will send down a legion of hauntingly powerful undead minions while bringing forth cold, deadly ice magic. Eventually, over time, a Necromancer may even achieve lichdom -- taking the form of a supremely powerful undead archmage. Cloth, silk and daggers are their equipment and Stygian are their only origin -- as one would expect.
Looks to be one of the two main "pet classes". I suspect this to be a very popular choice, mainly for the cool-factor and that Necromancer's are usually very popular (and powerful) in any game they are in.
The masters of demonic minions are the Demonologists -- those who crave power so much that they'll bargain with any dark force for it. The two primary focuses of this mage archetype are minions and fire/electric direct damage spells. This will most likely be an advanced class, as managing your minion plus your damage output can be a challenging task. Still, the rewards are great as there are many dark and beautiful creatures to do your bidding. Although be wary, as your only protection are cloth and silk armors. Daggers are the weapon of choice for this Stygian-only mage class.
For those demon loving, pet loving players, this poses a big problem in deciding what to play. Given the choice of playing something that can transform into a demon, one that can control undead pets, and one that can control Demons, I wouldn't be suprised if a few goth/emo/powergaming kids have their heads explode at the character creation screen.
Here is a class that is going to be fairly popular once Age of Conan launches in May -- simply because Conan himself was a Barbarian. Although that may be reason enough for some players to try this class out initially, there are some other pretty cool reasons to be interested in being a Barbarian. Playing as this class gets you either one giant deadly weapon or two of them -- either way you'll be doing lots of ambushing, followed up by lots of head-bashing. Surprisingly, Funcom considers these guys (and gals) to be a part of the Rogue archetype precisely because of a Barbarians' affinity for surprising enemies with ambushes. Expect to cause plenty of stun and knockback effects if you decided to play as a this class -- also expect to only wear light armors, as you'll need to be able to move around quickly. Only Cimmerians and Aquilonians can become Barbarians.
Finally someone who got a Barbarian type class kind of right. I don't normally go for melee characters, but I'll admit that the screenshot there is a bit inspiring. Likely to be a popular choice (as said above) because of the Conan/Barbarian thing, and because of the Rogue archetype (which is always popular).
The only bow-specialists in Age of Conan, the Ranger is a class not to be trifled with -- as they wield several different bow attacks. At range they are a force to be reckoned with, but if you manage to close the gap on a Ranger they are defeatable. Rangers can wear medium armor and are capable of wielding either one or two weapons, but their melee ability is subpar in comparison to their ranged. They are considered a rogue archetype and therefor use stealth better than most, as it compliments their ranged preference. This is the only class that is available to all races -- Cimmerian, Stygian and Aquilonian -- so be ready to see plenty arrows whizzing through the air.
This class has over popularity just screaming all over it. Not only do we cater to those that love ranged attacks - but we have stealth to deal with as well. Given the track record in games like WoW / LOTRO / DAoC, it's safe to say that there will be roughly 2-3 times as many Rangers as any other class. I understand the draw; all things equal, I love playing an Archer type in any game. Perhaps if the class is horribly underpowered or difficult to play (and I hope it is), we'll see less of the crowd flocking to their haven of Legolas-ness.
There are two specific things Assasins are good at: Stealth and high damage. Every class in Age of Conan can use stealth with varying degrees of success. It is the Assassin, however, that can use stealth the most effectively. Where one class may have to keep their back pressed against a wall and move slowly past enemies, the Assassin is moving speedily and worrying less about being noticed. Aside from stealth, you can also expect to be dual-wielding daggers for vicious melee attacks, using various poisons and shooting arrows from crossbows. It's also good to remember that only Aquilonians and Stygians can become this particular class.
Stealth classes are always popular in games - even more so in PVP environments. I'm sure we'll see tons of these guys running around as well. I'm slightly disappointed that AoC, priding itself on realism, kept with this "duel-wielding" nonsense for it's classes, but it's only a slight nitpick. Anyhow, it seems that all classes in AoC can stealth (to a point), so that's one other thing to consider in our search for the perfect class.
Yet another name by which Conan has been called, but an entirely different beast from the Barbarian. The Conquerer is something of a support/combat class who fights alongside his allies while affecting both them and his enemies. A good example is to think of a Paladin but without the healing aspect and only defensive/offensive auras. Apart from their aura ability, Conquerers can use various battlecries to swing combat in their favor. This is another melee class that can use both two-handed weapons or dual-wield weapons. Being a soldier archetype, only Aquilonians and Cimmerians may become a Conquerer.
The melee support class. They can also duel-wield, which is odd. I just hope they can use a shield. Haven't seen a mention of many defensive abilities yet! Oh, and in case you can't see: yes, that head did get chopped off and is flying through the air.
Another class that can be loosely compared to a typical Paladin is the Dark Templar. The difference, of course, is that with this class you're dealing in dark and powerful arts to achieve victory in battle. Dark Templars can suck the life from enemies to heal themselves and their allies, but also reflect magic back onto their attackers. Hyboria is a land of moral grays, meaning that NPCs won't treat you any differently than anyone else as a Dark Templar -- or any of the more 'evil' classes. However, that won't change the fact that these dark warriors can be a terrifying sight to behold in battle. You would think that because of their focus on dark magic, Dark Templars would be playable by Stygians -- but you'd be wrong. Only Aquilonians and Cimmerians are able to play as this class.
Ahh, the evil Paladin type. It even has life drain abilties and stuff. This combo notoriously reigns supreme in PVP. That said, though, I think the Templar will be one of the lesser-played classes just because of the popularity of most of the other classes.
Out of all the classes in Age of Conan the Guardian happens to be the sturdiest of them all -- being the only class that can wear full plate, which is a step above even heavy armor. They wield sword or spear and carry a mighty shield -- did we mention they're ridiculously tough to kill? If you want to be a full-time-tank, then this is most likely the class you want to play. Aside from the insane HP and plate armor, Guardians allow for a lot of tactical flexibility. While they may not be able to employ magic, Guardians have abilities they can use on the fly in order to deal with different situations. An example would be that they can increase defense at the cost of DPS or instead lower HP to increase DPS. Only Aquilonians and Cimmerians are able to join the ranks of the Guardians.
Sounds like a pretty cool tank class. These are always popular, even in a PVP game, due to the fact that people either like playing a tank class or they just like to be tough to kill. The problem with tank classes in PVP, though, is that they are usually the last to be targeted. All your damage mitigation goes for waste if the enemies are attacking your soft targets and you can't do anything. Due to their superior survivability, they can't do as much damage as other classes, so unless the whole "defense / HP for damage" thing is done very well, Guardians will probably be a bad overall PVP class. Let's hope they aren't!
Priest of Mitra
Out of all the healers in Age of Conan, the Priest of Mitra has the biggest focus on healing. If you want to play a more classic healer then this is where you want to be. Martial weapons and light armor are this classes' equipment of choice -- oh and shields as well. Even though their primary role tends to be healing and support, Priests of Mitra can also use their holy gifts to smite down foes. Any group of travelers would be wise to find a Priest of Mitra if at all possible, as they are masters of healing. Only the Aquilonians praise Mitra and thusly they are the only race capable of becoming a Priest of Mitra.
Great for those heal-bot lovers out there, though I'm a bit concerned on the effectiveness of other healers compared to this Priest of Mitra. If you can't do any PVE-content or survive in PVP without one, then I believe the AoC universe could be a bit too dependent on this one class.
Tempest of Set
Set is an old and extremely ancient god who grants those that worship him the most unbelievable powers. These powers focus primarily on storm, lightning and snaked-themed spells. Many of these spells are area of effect (AoE) spells that damage en-mass. As offensively-based as the Tempest of Set may be, it is still a healing archetype -- one that can heal more efficiently through damage. The Tempest of Set is able to cast a self-buff that will build up their next healing spell as they do more damage to their foes. For people who want to be a healer that can assist in group damage and support -- this is the class for them. This is also a Stygian only class that specializes in martial weapons, shields and light armor.
A hybrid damage/support healer type. Sounds almost a little too good to be true. I'd be curious to know how much damage these Healer archetypes are putting out compared to the Mage Archetypes. The Set sounds like a cool class, but I'm always wary of any Hybrid-class in MMO's these days.
If you want to be a healer but also be able to tear apart enemies in combat, than this is the class for you. Bear Shamans equip the heaviest armor (medium) out of all the priest classes and wield two-handed blunt objects -- although that isn't what makes them such a threat in battle. What does make them a threat is their ability to summon within them the spirit of the bear, which enhances the shaman and can heal or even revive their allies. Bear Shamans do not actually morph into a bear, but they certainly call upon the impressive power of them to great effect. Only Cimmerians can be Bear Shamans.
I played a Shaman in WoW - and I have to say that this class sounds cool as hell. Refreshing, also. That said, though, I'm still wary on Hybrid classes. I have a feeling the Bear Shaman will do the least amount of damage in comparison to the other Healer Archetypes. This could be wrong, of course, but I can't see a class that can tank well, damage well and also heal well. If they can - why play anything else? ;)
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In conclusion, I predict the following classes as the most popular in AoC, by Order, respectively:
- Priest of Mitra
- Tempest of Set
- Bear Shaman
- Herald of Xolti
- Dark Templar
Keep in mind those are only my personal predictions.
The biggest influence on Class choice will be player feedback. There will be "Flavor of the Month" (FOTM) Classes that are considered superior in every aspect (usually PVP). My first prediction is that Herald's of Xolti will become known as the "uber" PVP class and people will flock to them after release.
All in all, some pretty cool Class choices from the land of Hyboria. We'll see in a few weeks!
This article orginally appeared at the r1ft Gaming Blog and is mirrored here with permission of the author(s).