Age of Conan’s first major expansion released yeserday, and I for one hope it is the true turning point for Funcom’s dark fantasy MMORPG. Of course the long down time extending into Wednesday morning was a little bit of an early hiccup, but things will hopefully be smoother today. Last year we gave AoC our most-improved award and quite a few folks scoffed at the idea. But I’ve been playing the game off and on myself since launch and have been right there to witness the turnaround. Craig Morrison, much as he did with Anarchy Online, has taken a bit of a wonky game and slowly turned it into something worth my subscription. And with the launch of Rise of the Godslayer, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a place to hang my gaming hat for a little while.
What Godslayer doesn’t add in terms of vertical advancement for your character it more than makes up for with a diverse and involved “Alternate Advancement” system. Reminiscent of EQ2’s AA system, it’s a great way to add skills and abilities to your character without the need of adding pointless levels to the game. Age of Conan was light at launch on content for leveling, and this expansion wisely decided to build upon the mid-game and end-game without stretching the existing content too thin.
It makes me think about other games that would benefit from similar treatment. Champions Online is for sure in need of more leveling content, and Shannon Posniewski has already stated his intent to flesh such gaps out. My favorite part of nearly every level-based game is the climb through the ranks, watching my character grow, experiencing the narrative of the myriad zones. But that only really works for alt characters when there is more than one path to the top. Godslayer seems to be trying hard to create that branching road to level 80, and Champions Online with its natural tendency towards alts would be rightly served by such an addition.
Therein lies the problem with theme park games, I guess. Like Sandusky Ohio’s Cedar Point, the nostalgia for the place will always be there. The thrill of the coasters will always be there. The smell, the look, the overpriced food… it’s always consistent. But without the new rides and changes each year the park would start to become less and less of an attraction for people. The problem is that most games need to be successful to add the wealth of content needed to keep subscribers happy.
I had a point when I started this rant. What was it again? Oh, right. Rise of the Godslayer is out. And it’s pretty awesome. Gotta go. I need to find out how to raise my tiger-kitty.
(PS - Told ya. It's not exactly Blizz MAKING the thing, but this was sort of my point.)