Breathtakingly beautiful. Now that the game is no longer plagued with ridiculous bugs such as looting issues and getting stuck, zoning into Age of Conan for the first time in a year gave me the same reaction as it had initially. The skeptic inside of me scoffed, though. A pretty game will never mean a good game.
I believe a game should have an amazing grasp on three major aspects of the gaming world: PvP, PvE, and Community.
Before jumping right back to my eighty, I decided to take a few days away just to re-learn the game. I played multiple alts, and I have to say the difference between servers is dramatic. The RP PvP server, Cimmeria, was the first server I tried. The global chat of the game seemed filled of ignorant immature people, and it wasn’t until I joined a guild that I began enjoying the server. Eventually once I got a feel for the game, my main was on the other PvP server, Tyranny. Comparing the two PvP servers, I would have to admit that Cimmeria seemed friendlier – by a long shot.
I then tried the PvE servers out. I’ve never condoned cutting PvP out of my playing experience, and I have to admit – the community difference between PvE and PvP servers is completely worth giving up world-PvP. Fortunately mini-games and organized PvP are not effected by the type of server you chose.
In regards to PvP, Age of Conan started out terribly imbalanced. Eventually, after small ability tweaks, Funcom decided on an entire re-vamp of classes; shortly after, Funcom also decided that crowd control was too powerful in the game and made vast improvements on that system, as well. While no game with multiple classes will ever be perfectly balanced, Funcom has gone through extraordinary lengths to ensure that no class is too weak, nor any too strong. In all honesty, I am extraordinarily impressed how far their PvP has progressed.
In patch 1.07, which was released on March 30th, Funcom answered the wishes of all AoC PvPer’s when they released the Shrines of Bori. SoB is an ongoing outdoor conflict which is guild-based. It takes place in Cimmerian End, and has capturable objectives. The less players you bring, the bigger the rewards; although right now it seems almost impossible for a small guild to beat a large well-organized one. Like all experimented content, Funcom is waiting to see how it plays out before making any official changes. Personally, I see this as a huge stepping stone in end-game PvP content.
While organized PvP is starting to get more attention than before, one thing any veteran player can’t ignore is Age of Conan’s raiding system. Most raiding games have shifted towards an extremely fast paced, hectic raid style. AoC has stayed with the more traditional pace, similar to the original EverQuest.
Every boss encounter immerses you into the fights and you aren’t forced to focus on one thing in particular. No one role is incredibly easy, and there isn’t some mod telling you what to do and when. The overall experience is simply fascinating, as it takes incredible concentration and team work during the entire fight in order to down a boss. Funcom’s developers hit the nail on the head when it comes to raiding. It has been years since I’ve enjoyed a scripted encounter like I have while raiding in Age of Conan.
Which leads me to my next topic: guilds.
Most gamers can look back to the very beginning of their gaming career and remember the name of the guild they belonged to. In fact, I bet you don’t just remember the name, I bet you remember the leader, the officers, and the good majority of players in the guild. In some sick and twisted way, your guild was once like a family to you. That feeling of community seemed almost lost with recent MMOs, including Age of Conan when it first released. A guild was once a place to achieve goals together. An environment in which to do things you never thought you could do. As MMOs changed, guilds evolved into a self-centered way to get what you wanted out of the game. If it helped the other people that you used, good for them. I never expected to come back to Age of Conan and find that guilds are once more what they used to be. Funcom has done an absolutely amazing job with the guild system, and I can only hope they continue building the incredible community atmosphere.
So what is it about this game that should make you want to give up your current game and character to invest more time in another game? I will admit, to the new player, or even someone who is coming back after a long absence, the world might seem dead. That being said, the population is growing daily.
Personally, I say see for yourself. As for me the answer lay in the company, Funcom. I have never seen so much effort put into a video game, and honestly, I’ve never seen a group of people care so much about one game. Their communication with the player base is by far the best I’ve seen on any forums. The company has class advocates that speak one-on-one with players and relay information, suggestions, and needed changes directly to Funcom.
Once a“WoW killer,” AoC was quickly narrowed down to four servers. That would be a devastating blow to any business, yet they’re still adding content. They’re tweaking balances for PvP. They’re working on a new expansion, Rise of the Godslayer. They’re giving it more than just a hundred percent – they’re giving it everything. After dealing with one company’s extreme indifference to the opinions of their customers, and another’s shallow words on hopes for the future, and even still one company’s inability to make a game worth playing in end-game – Funcom’s sheer determination, clear communication, and constant content progression is relief, to say the least.
While there aren’t many “original” ideas floating around in Age of Conan, they’ve taken every great idea from the prestigious games out there today and incorporated them with strong lore. Overall, the game isn’t the best game on the market. But it does by far have the most potential.