FunCom listened to players after the initial release and proactively attempted to remove all sense of linear gameplay from the expansion, consciously attempting to open up the world and allow more exploration. As a result, a player will not see any travel NPCs; there will be no wagons, caravans, boats, or guides to transport a player from one region to another. You will travel across the countrysides by foot or by mount.
This concept of separated regions was necessary in the original release, because each playfield was separated by miles and days of travel according to the maps of the Hyborian world. In Khitai though, everything is as it is represented on the map. Each border is adjacent to the next region's border. As you cross through playzones, you will experience numerous environmental effects. These effects include smoke on the battlefields, mist and fog, and an encroaching darkness as you approach significantly corrupted areas. Using a technology adapted from Anarchy Online, the dungeons will be interconnected to a degree, allowing you to repeat boss encounters quickly without repeating the preliminary path through the dungeon, once they have been successfully completed by your group. This function can usually repeated in clusters of three or four, and you can move to others very quickly and easily.
FunCom has long had strong ties to China. In the Collector's Edition of Age of Conan, we met the other half of the art design team of Age of Conan. We are well-aware of the dedicated staff of the design and development team in Oslo, Norway. Many hours of dedicated labor were also contributed by the talented individuals of the FunCom art team in Beijing, China. Coming full circle, we have drawn the Hyborian world together, and we return home to the talented artists of Beijing.
The Empire of Khitai expands upon the Hyborian world as it was laid out by Howard, including five of the largest playfield regions ever made for the game. One playfield is aimed at level 20-40 content, and the other four playfields are aimed at level 80 content. Rise of the Godslayer will not introduce new levels above the level 80 cap, and there will be no new classes. FunCom wanted to give all existing classes more content, as opposed to building the expansion with content aimed at one new class. We start out with the new playable Khitan race that will sail from Tortage to the beginning zone in Khitai. Khitan characters will have a very different destiny quest from what we have seen in the other three playable races of Age of Conan.
New content starts around level 20 and extensive new content has been added all the way to level 80 for current players of all races. The new horizontal alternate advancement system allows even level 80 avatars to learn new spells, feats, combos, new ways to interact with the world, and different special abilities, further defining your unique character. This allows more replayability as players have achievements that take time and effort to bring to fruition. For example, there are two new mounts available as quest content, the Tamarind Tiger and the Nightrunner Wolf.
In other game systems, including the original release of Age of Conan, mounts are simply a speed increase and are just purchased from vendors or acquired as Veteran rewards. Age of Conan designers wanted to make all of their mounts more meaningful, so players would want to collect all of them. The Tamarind Tiger is a stealth mount, allowing you to cross battlefields in stealth mode, and you can use it to sneak around in PvE and PvP playfields. The Tiger is an explosive mount; it has a very quick speed for a very short amount of time. For the Tamarind Tiger, you must find and join the cult that worships the tiger and advance to its highest ranks where you gain the right to learn the ritual to tame a tiger. You must then disarm yourself of weapons and armor, find and defeat a mother tiger with your bare hands, and steal a cub from her den. At that point, you must feed and train your cub to hunt, to stalk, and to kill, preparing it to accept you as its rider and companion; this is no simple effort and it will take you time to complete. These are naturally wild animals, and if you attempt to rush the training, you may lose a hand. You must then make a choice; you can find materials and create a saddle for your new mount, or you can prepare it to fight at your side as a very powerful combat pet. This choice is non-reversible. Consider carefully.
Players will be able to set their new skills into an offline training mode or focus mode, allowing their character to advance in its abilities while they are offline using a form of meditation, further study, or katas. Other new skills include learning martial arts from various masters throughout Khitai. It appears that the new feat points gained for the alternate advancement system will be pooled in such a way so as to allow the player, whether level 20 or level 80, to spend his or her new feat points as they see fit to make the avatar more unique.