The Road to Most Improved: August - December
In August 2009, the veil was finally removed from the Expansion mystery. "Rise of the Godslayer" will be released by the end of the first half of 2010. In December 2009, I released a two-part article on the expansion, so I shall not repeat all that material here. This news seemed to capture all of the attention surrounding Age of Conan, and we, as a whole, seemed to miss what was being said about the Updates and other patches to the current system that were being released throughout the year. It seemed like the majority of the questions introduced by interviews and articles throughout the second half of the year seemed to be trying to uncover more information about the next year's content.
The Night of Lost Souls content was introduced in late October 2009. This Halloween-inspired event sent the player across Hyboria on errands for a Spirit near the Library of Old Tarantia to seek down and destroy three Lost Souls. In the end, the Helm of Dark Vigilance (a social armor), the Unholy Backscratcher (a social weapon), and a demonic Soul Devourer mini-pet were the player's rewards. This content will remain available until Update 6 is released. The last hunt across Stygia to the Oasis of Zaara was particular challenging, as the Oasis is a group zone that adjusts its difficulty to the level of the first person in your group to open it.
On October 23rd, Funcom reduced the renewal rates for extended subscriptions by 20% (3 months), 30% (6 months), and 45% (12 months), respectively, in comparison to the single-month plan. Again, foes of the game marked this as another desperate act by Funcom. Lowering the rates allowed players who were riding the fence with their subscriptions to have a better incentive to stay for the long-term. This offer was later combined with other renewal rewards to really sweeten the pot: Beta Access to "The Secret World" (3 months), an epic helm (6 months), and a free copy of the "Rise of the Godslayer" expansion (12 months). As of October 27th, for those active players that recruit their friends to join Age of Conan's community, three epic Rings of Hastening Winds with broad abilities are offered: Bronze (one friend, level 20), Silver (three friends, level 50), and Gold (six friends, level 80). For each friend that purchases one month of gametime, the player that recruited him gets one month of gametime. If a friend starts a three month or longer subscription, the player gets two months of Veteran Points. From the beginning of November, for all veteran players, Funcom released an in-game Potion that doubled experience for 24 hours; a new potion could be claimed after the previous potion was used.
For each of the two Veteran welcome back offers, Veterans could get two additional weeks of free playtime for checking out the new improvements; one was offered in July and another was offered in November. In December, the free trial model was temporarily changed from two weeks of trial time to unlimited access to the Tortage zone and levels 1-20 forever, as long as a character was created on that account prior to Jan 1, 2010; this offer was distributed first on FilePlanet and then directly off of the Age of Conan website.
The Iron Tower Dungeon in Tarantia Commons was introduced after Update 5 on October 27th for players of level 78-80. It is a very dangerous group dungeon and culminates the storyline of the Wharf Rats, Crows, and Daughters. The Iron Tower, though once a long-forgotten fortress, has been converted by King Conan's operatives into a prison for the worst and most violent offenders: murderers, thieves and rapists. There are four bosses, five mini-bosses, and five rare bosses that may be discovered. These last five are extremely dangerous and will test any player. What is the secret hidden in the topmost levels of the Tower and why has a Priest of Mitra sequestered himself there with his followers? The most sought after rewards of this dungeon are the Plumed Helm of Divinity, the Grizzly Mask, the Helm of Idra, the Club of Larsha, and Oraste's Robe.