The beautiful wilderness of Hyboria
In the past 3 weeks roughly I have spent a fair amount of MMO game time in Age of Conan, reacquainting myself with the game and the game world. Overall is has been a nice experience so far, althoug the game seems to be a bit end-game focused from my perspective.
One label which I would like to put on Age of Conan is kind of how I would like to sum up my view of the game world, and that is “Everyday Epic“. Spectacular landscapes and vistas and violent, dirty and tough action which the participants could sing praises about their bravery in the nearest bar. But it would more be boosts how they smashed the head of a vicious bandit or some ugly undead creature, than slaying a big dragon or something.
The characters are not necessarily heroic, they can curse, cheat and threaten each other. Characters, be it NPCs or player characters carve out their piece of glory in a rough world and make it perhaps feel more spectacular than it may be.
I kind of like that fantasy setting, more appealing than some high fantasy setting with elves strutting around. And yes, no elves is a definite plus.
That being said, it is certainly is a bit weird also that some NPCs seems to quite easily trust the player character with some of their innermost secrets even though they just have met. Must be some kind of rough charm that is applied or an aura of hero material around the character – or they consider the character so gullible it does not matter…:)
So far I have started and played four different characters – A Demonologist, Barbarian, Bear Shaman and Herald of Xotli. The first three have reached mid-20s and my Herald is now at 34, which is the highest I have ever reached in Age of Conan. Most of the time has been solo, with a few short team experiences – the latter typically when there has been some kind of boss around and it has happened to be more than one player around at the same time.
The chat channels are filled with people looking for more people to fill teams all the time, although almost all requests seems to be for high-end dungeons and farming – at least if I interpret the requests properly.
Normally I am not too keen with characters that are mostly or purely melee, but of these four that I play now three of them are mainly melee. To me, melee is something that works well in Age of Conan with the combo system and the fact that positioning can be important to get the best leverage from your fight together with where enemies out their defence efforts at any given time.
It is simply quite fun to play melee in the game, I think!
I do also enjoy that the hotbars to not get completely swamped with various skills/abilities/spells – for the typical combat the single default hotbar is enough, with a few others plus potions on a different hotbar. Perhaps it will change at higher levels, but I am pretty happy so far with this arrangement – I tend to lose interest in combat where there are too many situational abilities filling up hotbar space.
Many MMOs have plenty of various skills/abilities/spells/powers that a character can gain, yet they seldom provide a good user interface to manage all of those. The general user interface design in many games seem to keep a design from a period in time where most of the combat relied on some auto-attack, with occasionally more powerful attacks being used.
This is perhaps also close to how I feel about Age of Conan in general – not perfect, but a solid game that I do enjoy. Since I am not too keen on ending up in some gear farming & raiding routine, I wonder if this is where the gameplay will lead to eventually. But until that time I enjoy the moment to moment playtime in the game.
And by writing this I also get a reason to post a few of the screenshots from the game.