For those of you who may have been living under a rock for the last few days, Funcom recently announced that their first expansion for last year's MMO release, Age of Conan. Post-announcement, there are a number of questions left unanswered.
No New Classes or Levels
Why the decision to not add any new classes and not extend the level cap?
"We wanted to add more content for the classes that were already there," Ellingsen said. "We feel that there is a very good diversity in the classes that we already have. We wanted to give people the opportunity to expand the characters that they already had, so we want to allow for lateral as opposed to vertical progression.
Speaking specifically to the level cap, Ellingsen said virtually the same thing; that the company was looking to expand on what was there to begin with, giving player an opportunity to take the characters that they currently have and build on them rather than simply stacking a few new levels on top.
"We wanted to add more content for those who are in that level range," he said. So instead of adding more levels in that way, we wanted to give high level players more options.
Most paid expansions run with either a new class or a raised level cap. How do you justify charging players for this one?
"I don't think you need a new class and a rasied level cap in order to call it an expansion," he began. "We are adding an alternative advancement system that I think is going to be quite similar to actually getting higher levels. You will actually be expanding a character that you already have and for us that just felt more natural with the current condition of Conan. We wanted to add more diverse high level content to the game."
"We're adding a huge amount of content," he continued. "So it's not just something that we can just put in a patch. We are adding new features including the factions system, which is quite an elaborate feature. Players will also be able to expand their characters way beyond what's possible now. We're putting more effort into alternate advancement than adding more classes and levels... We feel that there is such a great collection of characters in Conan, there are a lot of classes in there. We basically want those classes to work even better, to have even more content available to them, to have more than just adding another class and opening all the cool new stuff only for that class."
So, why the decision not to add another starting area to the game? Some players feel as though Tortage is simply played out.
The long story short here is essentially that the focus of the content for this expansion was meant to be for players above 20th level, meaning for players and characters that had already played through the Tortage experience.
"We adding a little bit of low and mid level content, but mostly this is a high level expansion. That's been our goal from the beginning."
"With Tortage, we understand that there are people who want new ways to start a character," Ellingsen said of the current starting area. He went on to say, however, that feedback on the current starting area has been extremely positive and because of that they feel that at this time their energy is better spent getting new content out for high level players rather than changing their early game experience.
Factions and PvP
When asked about the addition of factions, and whether or not these factions would result in deeper meaning to the game's current PvP system, Ellingsen responded by saying that the faction system is the upcoming expansion is actually a PvE focused feature. However, he did also state that Funcom has plans to upgrade the game's PvP outside of the expansion through patches.
The newly announced wolf and tiger mounts will have to be raised from cubs into fearsome riding beasts. Obviously, this is going to take a lot more effort than obtaining your average mount. Why then, would players care? It turns out that there is a lot more to the wolf and tiger story than is known by some, including the fact that players who obtain a wolf or tiger cub will actually be given a choice. Should I train this animal to be a fearsome steed, or will I train it to be a powerful pet, ready to attack at my command?
"We wanted to make it more of a story," Ellingsen said. "Instead of just going out and buying a mount and getting it at a certain level, we wanted to tie that in with the whole story of what you're doing... It's really about the story between the player and his or her pets. It's going to add a lot more gameplay to mounts in general. It's an exciting way to acquire a mount, something that feels a lot more Conan-esque."
With Rise of the Godslayer only recently announced, there were a number of questions that Funcom simply wasn't able to answer just yet, but MMORPG.com will continue to watch the RoG expansion carefully and check back in throughout the expansion's development cycle.