Over the last few days, we’ve spent time talking about a lot of different aspects of Age of Conan, but in the end, it’s the high-level stuff that makes or breaks an MMORPG for many players, especially the hardcore folks, that makes all of the difference.
Traditionally, PvP and raids have dominated the endgame of most MMORPGs, and while Age of Conan follows that trend, they have found a new approach that will not only call upon players to fight against each other, but to plan and organize fights over property that actually means something.
Before I get ahead of myself, maybe we should spend a little bit of time talking about raids:
The folks at Funcom have told us that there will be 8 raids at launch with somewhere around 19 raid encounters (bosses) between them. These raids are intended for characters who have passed the level 80 barrier and are looking for something new.
Conan’s raids will be divided into three tiers. Tier One raids have no restrictions to entry, which in order to access any of the Tier Two raids, you will have had to complete at least one of the Tier One raids. Tier Three, as I understand it, is the most restricted of all, requiring players to have completed all of the Tier Two raids before they can enter.
Raids are designed for groups of 24, and are estimated to take somewhere between two and three hours to complete.
That isn’t to say though that the game won’t have smaller group instances for characters of lower level, but the hardcore raids are meant for the top of the heap.
City building in Age of Conan is a large-scale group application of crafting and building gameplay, allowing guilds of no less than 30 members to work together to build a permanent city for themselves.
These cities will allow the builders a surprising amount of leeway in what buildings go where. The only building that must be constructed in a specific spot is the Keep. While the building lots have already been chosen, which buildings go where is up to the players themselves.
Guild members of guilds who have built a city will have the ability to teleport themselves home to make the city easier to access.
There are two kinds of player-run city in the game. The crafted villages that we talked about above, and the kind that will keep major guilds fighting each other for land. The PvP village.
For those who can remember back to the Games Convention in Leipzig last year, the guys at Funcom unveiled a new feature: Siege PvP. You can check out the video of that presentation here.
In a nutshell, I find that the best way to think of the Siege PvP is to think about playing an RTS. In an RTS, you almost invariably end up staging at least one major attack on the stronghold of your enemy. He defends it, while you use your armies to attack. Now, imagine if each of those units on your RTS map were controlled by an individual player, filling a number of roles from working a siege engine to defending the engines of destruction from attacking defenders to using your Mammoth to knock down the walls.
The objective of Siege PvP combat for the attacking force is to take the opposing team’s Keep, which is located at the heart of the PvP city. There are two layers of walls between the attackers and their objective, not to mention any number of players on the side of the defending guild (including mercenaries) who might stand in the way.
The objective for the defending force is pretty self-explanatory. Keep the attacking force from defeating your keep. Obviously though, this task isn’t as open-ended as a real siege, and a time limit of 90 minutes is placed on the battle. If the defenders can hold off the attackers for at least that long, they win the battle.
Reading the details of this set-up does bring a few questions to mind. Most notably in how a guild could possibly have their PvP city defended 24 hours a day. In real life, places like that would have 24/7 defenders, but in the world of MMOs, where many people work a 9-5, how will your town be defended when your level 80 Barbarian leader is reading inter-office memos? Simple, battles over PvP cities will be arranged in advance, and will only be attackable during specific hours of the day.