The Age of Conan expansion, Rise of the Godslayer is based in the land of Khitai. A land imagined by Robert E. Howard the creator of Conan the Cimmerian as an exotic land of 9,999 gods, a rich, influential land in the Far East. Funcom has interpreted that as a land, peoples and architecture reminiscent of Ancient China and influenced by a romantic, folkloric European view of Chinese culture. Khitai is a land that Conan visited as a young thief, seeking a gem of fable. Instead, he found an alien being of power which had been bound by the wizards to do their bidding, and worshipped as a God by the faction. Out of mercy, he killed it as it begged him, and in turn, Conan earned the enmity of a powerful sect.
"Rise of the Godslayer is very much a story driven expansion," said Craig Morrison, Executive Producer of Conan at Funcom. "Players have to make choices and every choice has consequences."
The trailer we viewed showed vast lands, adventure in the shadow of the Great Wall, different factions and exceptionally detailed armor and architecture. Funcom drew their inspiration from the cities and cultures of Ancient China and Korea for the look and stories of this expansion and it does look marvelous. Craig was pleased to talk about the optimization of their games and graphics engine, and the improvements they have made since launch. "The zones are stitched together in Khitai," he said. "Now you can look behind you and see the play fields you've left."
There will not be a new class or levels introduced in Rise of the Godslayer, but an alternate advancement system which introduces a new set of feats above the regular feats. These new feat tree abilities are advanced by feat points which are earned in game play like XP is. At this time though, they have not nailed down exactly how these new points will be accrued and applied, if it will be a common pool that players can adjust to control the ratio of xp gained into leveling or into feat points.
The land of Khitai is vast. There are a total of five play field regions and each region boasts 10 main factions and two hidden factions. Each of the major factions will have sets of armor players can earn, and no, they do not all get along. Players will have to make a choice, although these choices are not irreversible and betrayal quests will be available. The expansion also introduces two new mounts: Tigers and Wolves. These mounts will have be earned and are the long term goals of the expansion. The quests promise to be epic in nature. For example, to obtain the tiger mount, players first have to discover where the Tamarind Tigers are located, gain enough faction with them to begin the quest, then to complete the quest, they have to wrest a cub bare handed from it's mother, learn to care for it; feed it, train it, and in time, teach it to kill. Finally, players will have to decide whether to make it a mount, or to keep it as a combat pet. That decision cannot be undone.
To obtain a wolf mount, players will have to do a similar quest that is just as involved, and both the Tiger and Wolf mount can be attained, as the factions are not in the same area. The faction system, Craig tells us, is very much tied into the story telling. The first faction a player comes across will be the nomads who have a nice set of armor all waiting to be won by players. Will players make nice with them and then move on? There are some betrayal quests that will be available, but players will expect that there will be some uncomfortable times. When they have turned irrevocably from one faction but have not yet been accepted by another.
"Don't just waltz into town if you've been killing scouts and guards out in the field," warned Craig. "The garrison won't like it, nor will the citizens."
Craig provided more examples of factions that players will choose to align with or not. "The Priest faction hates your king," he said. "To them he is the God slayer. Will you turn your back on Conan?" Further, there is a faction who has the valid heir to the throne of Khitai. Unfortunately, they are not very nice people. In fact, they are a downright mean and nasty lot. Will you support them?
We were shown the armor of the main factions, which are obtainable by players. The silhouettes are distinctive and recognizable and these are the factions that players can decide to align with. Since they don't all play well together, the silhouettes help players identify the NPC factions they want to avoid.