First Impressions – Age of Conan

I decided to go ahead with the 7-day trial of Age of Conan from MMORPG.com because it came with three free items and I had no idea how long it would be available. Since the game is pretty cheap ($20) if I liked it I could pick it up, and if I didn’t, well. Nothing lost and at least I could say I’ve played it. I haven’t played long enough to make any solid opinions quite yet, but here’s what I think thus far.

First of all, even with the new video card, it took a lot of tweaking to get it looking good at all. Everything was very jagged and looked very one dimensional to start. I couldn’t figure out what it was because a lot of people I know had ranted and raved about the amazing graphics. Perhaps they meant the gore looked good – and that’s not what draws me into a game, so that won’t want to keep me playing. After fiddling around I nudged some settings and have it playing at a relatively good quality. At least it doesn’t look quite so jagged (and no, I don’t have DX10 on my PC, just my laptop). 

I enjoyed the character customization. I like the idea of being able to add scars to a character, after all for the most part these are adventurers. Why would they have flawless skin. Or hey even if they’re a crafter why not be allowed to add soot to their cheek or dust speckles or any other number of little ‘quirks’ that define a character as yours. These add to the story of the character, and they’re a huge part of how players can ‘connect’ to their character. For example, my Ellithia pictured above has bear scars all along her upper right side. How did they get there, what was she doing? So many stories I could come up with for them, from the obvious to the outrageous. I love things like this. 

Questing is – still questing. Except at least it’s (sort of) multiple choice in your responses. It’s nice to (almost) think I have a say in the answers, even if they all lead towards the exact same end goal. I think that the quest journal and markers on the map are the new ‘standard’ for questing, with directions pointing players in the right place, clearly labeled. I’m not sure if this is optional or not, but I enjoy the markers. It’s the same method I’ve seen in WAR, and LotRO. EQ2 has this to a lesser degree, you can’t see markers until you approach the proper area. 

Right now I’m a level 6 Aquilonian Priest of Mitra. I just freed a slave girl and helped her escape to the City of Tortage. Turach helped free me of my slave bonds, and I’m working on a destiny line – s0lo. I enjoy being able to have the option of doing things solo if that’s how I’m playing. It puts me in my own instanced version of the city – AT NIGHT. Sounds like I should make a coffee table book. “Tortage – At NIGHT.” Now, I realize that the opening to a game is hardly basis to decide whether or not the game is a keeper since everyone knows those are the crutial times to try to get players to instantly fall in love with your game, but by this point I’ve at least seen what I like – and what I don’t like. 

What I haven’t seen yet is why this game is any different then any other game out there – aside from the blood and gore (and breasts). I don’t know if I expect to see that by level 6 or not, maybe I’m asking too much. Keep in mind I still know relatively little about the game. I DO enjoy combat a great deal, I like the way I actually feel involved in the fight, dodging and swiviling around, pivoting and all the rest. It looks (and feels) like combat, and I do enjoy that. 

Those are my impressions over all – with so many other games out there that I’m already playing, I doubt this will make it to the line up – but I’m still having a relatively good time with it, and I’m glad I decided to try it out.

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6 Responses to First Impressions – Age of Conan

  1. Pete S says:

    I’m sure plenty of people have told you this, but the game changes a lot at level 20. I really enjoyed it up to then, but after 20 it just felt kind of “meh” to me. Now that may have changed since launch, but I’d urge you to try to get past 20 on your trial if you can, before spending money on the game.

    I actually really liked the solo/mp dichotomy of night/day in Tortage

  2. James T says:

    I found that putting the graphics on the preset “High” settings fueled better performance than the default or medium settings. Oh, and make sure you have the shader version set to the highest (I think it’s 3.x).

    I have never made it past ~21 in AoC, but I definitely think you need to make it out of Tortage and to your race’s first quest hub in the “real game” to get a good grasp on whether or not you like it.

    I’m more interested to hear your thoughts on the community. I’m guessing you weren’t playing on a PVP server? If not, then good job – you’re one step closer to a better AoC experience than I was when I first tried it. PVP servers in general are cesspool’s of immaturity and angsty teens, but in Age of Conan it’s ten-fold worse than most games it seems.

  3. stargrace says:

    Trial accounts have all channel privileges taken away so I honestly don’t know about community – I am playing on a pve server, and by default the high settings is what it set me at for my computer. I fiddled though and turned it up from there.

  4. redheadedtim says:

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts as you progress. I can give you a buddy key, though I honestly don’t know if you can “extend” a trial after it’s out with a buddy key. Also, for what it’s worth, I play on Cimmeria (RP-PVP) and while global chat isn’t Shakespeare, general game play has been fine. Although I play what may be an over powered class (barbarian), the time’s I’ve de-stealthed to harvest or just run around and been attacked, it’s always been 2 or 3 players of equal or near level. And thanks to my ridiculously handy class, I’ve come out on top everytime but once. Really gets the blood pumping and has been the first PVP I’ve engaged in since my toons in other MMO’s are low level and thus, not fit for the designated PVP zones (SWG and EQ2 are my others).

    Keep em coming, love your writing. You and Tipa are some great, regularly updated reads.

  5. Dlangar says:

    I think it’s a good question — “How is this different than the other MMO’s out there”. And the answer was, at least for me, it isn’t, all that much. Once you get the graphics set up correctly (set to high, turn off shadows, good to go), it *does* look better, imho, than quite a few offerings out there. The combat system is pretty interesting, and I encourage a melee character to take advantage of it. Also, before you leave the game, make sure you try a Herald of Xotli, at least to 15 or so. They’re a huge amount of fun, and you get a nice mix of melee and magic (and an awesome shapeshift). But it boils down to what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for something innovative and different, you won’t find it in AoC. But if you enjoy the lore of Conan at all, or are interested in seeing new places and killing new beasts, then AoC provides plenty of that.

    Also, at least at the time that I was playing (from launch for about the first three months), AoC had an excellent and growing RP community on the RP server, if you enjoy those types of communities.

    Enjoy!

    “Welcome to the Thirsty Dog, stranger!”

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