Well, the time is near and people are getting anxious.
Should I buy AoC?
Should I wait?
Is it crap?
I am here to help answer some questions...
First thing people need to understand. A Beta is NOT a Demo.
Funcom did screw the pooch on this game in reguards to the hardware requirements. Yeah, I said it.
It is like Vista. Now I like Vista and no, I am not a fanboi. I like it a lot, but Microsoft was devious in making the system requirements unrealistic for the current age of computers. If your computer was not a really nice system, you would experience hiccups or slowdowns or just plain frustraition.
Age of Conan is much like that and more.
Now, all anyone has to call experience with Age of Conan is the beta. Keep in mind folks, that the beta is just that a beta. Webster defines a beta as "a nearly complete prototype of a product (as software) <released in beta> <the beta version>". Note the "nearly complete prototype". And a prototype is "a first full-scale and usually functional form of a new type or design of a construction" according to Webster.
Ok, so what does all that mean? Well, if you were making a shelf to hang up on your wall, and you have a bunch of tools that are needed like a handsaw, a circular saw, sandpaper, some pencils, a drill, screws and nails all over the place... And as you are finishing this single shelf you decide to get a little fancy with it and instead of making it rectangle like everyone elses, you add some curves to it. Now your neighbor comes in and sees you working on this single shelf and he sees a big mess of saw dust, tools everywhere, lines drawn on the wood, the wood not even cut right. So he things immediately you don't have a clue what you are doing.
That is a beta.
So you try again. You use your tools more effectively, there is an even bigger mess because you haven't clean up yet, but your fancy shelf is looking a lot better. Unfortunately, you still have your old shelf laying around and all the tools, saw dust, and your new shelf looks better, but you haven't sanded it down or anything, so it still looks a little rough. Your neighbor comes by again and thinks you are either incompetent, or that you have a pretty gnarly shelf.
Age of Conan beta, both the PvP Weekend and Open Beta had the debugging tools and files running at the same time as the client, and there was bloat code that may have been deemed unnecissary and yet remained for whatever reason. That is expected with a beta.
Whatever bugs and irritations that come with a beta, AoC has HUGE system requirements. And this is a good example of those with the bigger system will have an advantage over others. I have helped hundreds of people on the AoC public boards with their systems and sadly a lot of people have computers that are old. I dont mean 2 years old I mean 5 or 6 years old and a DELL or HP... I won't get started on that right now, but I will say,,, Use a computer boutique, don't use the big companies... you will get more for your money if you do.
Was Funcom smart going that route with the heavy system requirements? Only the future will know. Is it a good time to upgrade or build a new computer now? Hell yes. Prices for parts that came out 2 years ago (what AoC was built around) is dirt cheap. You could build your own system for $600 that will run AoC pretty well.
Then comes the question "Why would anyone buy a computer to play a game?" Ok, well that is something a non gamer would ask, but we all know the answer. And that leads to a whole other debate. I ain't going into that now, this is going to be long without it.
I mentioned that players with a better system will have an advantage over others with a lower end system. It is true and here is why. Older games you can adjust your viewing distance without taking a huge system hit. AoC, you do it with a computer not good enough and you will have yourself frustraition beyond belief with the stuttering and video lag and crashes. Same holds true for particle effects.
I know... "Dude what does that have to do with advantages?" I will answer, but you PvPer's don't be flaming me for giving out the secrets, but on the Free For All servers (FFA) and border keeps, you can actually see someone running around before they can see you with those settings turned up. Partical Effects distance? Same thing.... that Demonologist being cool casting lightning on his mobs, well dude, that lights you up like a Christmas tree for those who have their settings up.
Right or Wrong, Funcom opened that door...
Button mashing people have called AoC. I say, you haven't played the game. Autoattacks ARE nice, when you are grinding.. but it is lame. Especially for those who are killing things afk. I like the attack sequence in AoC, and will the possible decapitation get old? Maybe after the millionth time, but you know what? Who Cares. I mean really, the melee is interesting, very very interesting and no one has done it, and the only one who came close to it was DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) and City of Heroes/Villains. And an even closer representation would be Elder Scrolls: Oblivion with the attack direction coming from your movement. This makes it simpler and your combos are not impossible to get off, but you can mess up on em, especially in PvP.
PvP... it is fast. Very very fast. Faster than any I have ever seen. I think they need to slow things down a bit, as you tend to kill or die before you realize it. Now this is group PvP... One on one PvP is a bit more definative, even though the Ranger is still very very powerful. One on One PvP lasts about 30 seconds, tops, unless you run.
The visuals in this game are over the top, and aside from the beta graphical glitches, I say that this game has outdone itself in that department. The shadows and lighting techniques really give the world a breath of life.
The "instancing" is one thing that has been in heated debate with AoC. Let me explain how the "instancing" works. You take one city, Tortage, and you make 10 exact copies and throw players in each of those copies, and that is instancing. AoC does this for all their areas. Now, the lands they explore are "instanced" but it is huge. And when I say huge, I mean it will take you awhile to run around and explore it all kinda huge. So yes you have load times, but it is large enough that it won't happen often. And it is "instanced" and you are free to change to difference instances to meet up with your friends. And the instance your friends are in are shown on the friends list for your conveinence. Honestly, it isn't that bad, nor is it noticable.
The grouping of friends... AoC seemed to be pretty sharp on this. Bascially, after you are shipwrecked, you are alone in a solo instance. You are in it for about an hour, if that, and you get to level 5 where you enter Tortage and are with other people. Cool beans, right? Not exactly.
You now have your Destiny Quest line to follow and this can only be done Solo... Yeah, solo. And you have to do this quest line which scales to your level, by the way, and depending on your base class can be pretty rough. But it takes you away from your friends in groupage.
On top of this, but after Tortage is no longer available you are transported to your Race's home city. So if your guild or friends are not of the same race, you have a small problem. Oh, I forgot to mention, if you are on a FFA server, you will be alone if no other guildmate is near you, so you are easy pickings for the packs of PKer's out there.
I do not know if you can go to the other racial cities right off the bat, so to give AoC a fair shake, I cannot answer that.
I think I am going to be done for now, but that is a lot of reading and good luck to you if you do choose to play. I will be in game.