Yes. I said it. Age of Conan has a positive side.
While sifting through my various study papers and letting my mind wander once again, I started to think about all the negative vibes out there about the AoC and how many people were upset with the final product. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no level 80 anything yet so I don't know every detail, but I have noticed a lot of positive things coming from Funcom through this pretty centerpiece.
Zomjesus, did I just mention leveling as a positive to this game?! Yes. Yes I did. Although the leveling system is a bit slower in the 40's and needs to be worked on there, I have found it to be much MUCH smoother than in any other MMO I have ever played. The "brick walls" (so to speak) are left to a minimum compared to other titles, and from the sounds of it Funcom is trying to iron out those little tidbits.
Leveling is suprisingly fun when you're on a long string of quests and those usually last until near the end of your progress in the area. AKA: your next 5-10 levels (except for the 40's. I know.). This is a very VERY nice breath of fresh air for me, who would constantly be turned off to MMOs when I would get hit with walls every few levels. Even grinding can sometimes be fun. I, personally gained 2 levels looking for some of the more rare equippable armor sets with my friends...er...people I had met minutes before-hand and felt like talking to.
"But, vex! You're not on a PVP server! You can't possibly know how much ganking hinders your leveling experience!" OH, HO, MY FRIENDS! I *AM* on a PVP server, and still have all of these positive things to say. But this ganking issue brings me to my next (kinda) positive.
I know you all have been hearing nothing but dread about this system ever since launch, but there are some benefits to the system they have set up (and are getting rid of soon)! This system gives you FRIENDS. I made 4 friends in less than half an hour because we all decided to travel in a pack to protect ourselves. Needless to say, we kicked butt until someone 10 levels above us came along; but my point still stands! Not only are these friends you make incredibly useful and sometimes fun, but your friendships can be long-lasting! You can form guilds with these people, join guilds with these people, pillage, plunder, all that good stuff. It's like one giant corny montage of friendship.
Not to mention this system also supports...well, support. In guilds and otherwise. Need someone to cover your back? Sure! I can finish those missions later anyway. Good guilds are formed around helpful members and this system supports that kind of helpful...ness. Why worry about other people killing you when you have cover? Even if you do die, you can strategize revenge or laugh about it together. That's more important than leveling, anyway. Having fun with it.
I cannot stress enough about how important fun is in an MMO. It's why we play it in the first place! We want to be able to escape from our world in an enjoyable manner. Just about all the basic gameplay (except for gathering of any sort...that's never fun) is designed around the fun-factor of the title. The combat system is really engaging and gets me into the middle of the action, making sure that my adrenaline is pumping if a fight gets close. I can remember tensing up quite a few times when I just barely beat a few people after they jumped me.
The bottom line is that the game is fun (again, except for that 40's gap...I hope they fix that.) and FUNcom really lives up to it's name in this aspect. Everything doesn't feel that repetative as you go through it because every fight is different from the last, no matter how you approach it.
For me and a few others, the launch itself was frustrating and disappointing, filled with errors, bug and the like; but as a whole I must say that I'm impressed with how they preformed. For the first 3 weeks of AoC actually being out, it's doing remarkably well in almost all aspects. Sure a few things need tweaking, but they're fixing most of the problems in upcoming patches. I think this launch was so smooth because they do actually listen to the community. Although they almost seem embarassed about it and try to keep it "hush-hush", they actually read the forums and listen to what people have to say. I never said they were the quickest executioners, though.
All and all, I'm happy with how it came out. This first month is the hardest for them, and it can only get better from here.