Hey everyone. I'm writing this to clarify some things about AoC. Currently I am a level 63 Stygian Herald of Xotli in Legends on the US PvE server named Thog. I'm writing this mini review type thing to tell people about AoC's strong points and flaws.
I want to get something out of the way VERY quickly. AoC does not in the slightest way resemble that piece of crap game called Guild Wars. Guild Wars is not an MMO, I don't care what you say. It is just as much an MMO as a lobby for an FPS. Guild Wars is pure junk. In AoC you will come across quite a few loading screens, very rarely do you actually find yourself in a solo instance that isn't accessible to anybody and everybody that decides to go there. The world is not even nearly seamless, like WoW or LotRO, but again, you very very rarely find yourself in a situation that other plays cannot join in on. The only exception to this I have seen as of Level 63 is the Vila quests in the Noble District of Old Tarantia, where you cannot even bring party members with you. The way AoC handles this "instancing" crap that people think is so bad is like this, for example, you may have 100 players in Tortage, perhaps at 101 a new instance of Tortage will be open and from there on all players entering the zone will go to instance #2 rather than #1. If your party members are in #1 you will join #1 upon zoning in regardless of capacity. It is actually a pretty good system, and theoretically prevents a zone from getting overpopulated. The exception to this system is in the Border Kingdoms, where I am quite sure there is no limit, unless there is a siege battle going on. Not once did I feel I was in a single player game, the game feels just as much like an MMO as WoW or LotRO did.
Onto the graphics. They are just awesome. They really had alot of very talented artists doing their modeling and texture work, this game without a doubt has the best graphics of any MMO to date. It could use quite a bit of optimization, and hopefully we will see some in the future.
The sound, much like the graphics are better than any MMO I have played, they did an excellent job with the sound, from the music to the sound effects it's really great. I think of it as Crysis is to graphics as Age of Conan is to sound, provided you have the hardware to support it.
Leveling. From levels 1-20 you have way more quests than you need to level, from levels 20-30 you have a good amount of quests, no grinding necessary. From level 30-38 it is still pretty good. 38-40 is a bit of a dry spot, they could use some more quests for sure. 40-50 is pretty good. 55 is where you say goodbye to your beautiful quest driven experience and say hello to Asian grinder. If any of you have played this Korean MMO called Perfect World think of level 35+ there, you get like 1 quest per level and the rest of it is grinding. In AoC it isn't quite at that level, you get like 3-4 quests per level, but there is a hell of alot of grinding, I really would never expect this level of grinding from a Western MMO. I just ground out level 62 and I really did not have a single quest for the entire level, I hope for Funcom's sake they get their Quest Developer's working like crazy to make up for the huge deficiency from 55-??(Guessing it won't get better at all) I'm really just happy that grinding isn't quite as boring as in other MMO's, because the combat at level 63 is still quite refreshing compared to what I'm used to and it's still alot of fun getting into a group of 6 and grinding out a level by doing huge pulls.
The community is decent, like all communities it has its bad apples, you really cannot get away from that. I hear the PvP server's communities are really, really horrible however the PvE servers seem quite good as of now.
To be totally honest it seems like everything can be broken after level 20 is broken. Guild cities? Broken. Respeccing? Broken. Classes? Many of them were broken, some have been fixed. Quests? Many are broken. The Pyramid in Khopshef Province? Broken. That Princess in SotBS? Broken. There is something wrong with just about everything that can have something wrong.
Nonetheless, the game has massive potential. Despite its many flaws(and there are alot)it is keeping my interest and is truly a fun game with many new ideas that should be a big hit in the future. If you cannot put up with the amount of bugs currently in the game you should probably wait 3-5 months, because with some polish this game is sure to be a big hit.