First off, Age of Conan takes itself way too seriously. Sure, you get to chop off heads and taunt your victims while headbutting them in the face as they splash you with their blood. You also get to see boobies and cavort with whores and thieves. Yet, after a few levels of broken quests and memory leaks which crash you to desktop, the cool stuff is drastically overshadowed.
I would argue even, that the graphics try to be too good, constantly bogging down a decent system. A lot of my friends would have needed to spend mucho money upgrading their rigs to see the game at its full glory or even make it playable with frustration levels hovering around 5-8 FPS. Mind you, the world is absolutely beautiful if you’ve got the equipment to display it. With DX10 support coming soon, gamers who spend the money to upgrade to cards supporting the feature will probably be blown away.
It’s just a shame that the other 90 percent of the player base won’t ever get to see that except through screen shots.
Another thing not helping Age of Conan, is the art of the armor and weapons. Most people who play MMO’s take pride in beating a particularly hard boss for the loot. You can imagine the disappointment when you’ve reached the level cap of 80 and you still look like you shop at the Salvation Army. Frankly the NPC’s have better looking gear.
Earning money in the game is extremely hard to do as well, level 1-40. When AoC first launched, to purchase a mount at level 40, you needed a total of 3 gold. I was very well frustrated to find that despite the small and expensive bag space, no amount of selling vendor trash was going to get me a much needed horse. The zones are huge. At level 40, I had approximately 50 silver to my name.
They’ve since lowered the price of the mount to 75 silver, but I’m sure the riding book is still 2 gold. Unless they adjust the prices of vendor trash, one will need to be creative in obtaining enough gold to do anything. While the economy in the auction house was trying to settle, I took advantage of buying leather low and selling it for a profit.
I hate doing that. It’s such a waste of time.
Not to mention, once you hit 50, gold production is drastically increased, but at that point, it just sits in your bag. There is absolutely nothing to spend it on.
The good things going for Age of Conan are few, but they do exist. The combat system is beyond a doubt one of the best I’ve had the privilege to play. It’s not a one button click-fest. While most MMO’s depend on group strategy when working together, success hinges on the actions of each player, whether soloing an instance or working together in a group.
Speaking of solo instances, this is another feature that really shines in AoC. You can immerse yourself into your own little world away from guilds or parties while fighting instances specifically designed for a solo player. It fully enables the gamer to level up when the multi-player situation is too much, or not enough.
I do feel abit cheated now that I look back. AoC was released for mass consumption too early IMO and it seems that Funcom expected the player base to pay for a beta. With the impending (and now delayed) release of Warhammer, I’m sure they felt a product in any state would be a significant advantage over their newest competitor. The cool factor drew most of us in, but after escaping the first zone at level 20, there were significant problems waiting for us. In some cases, unforgivable problems that really minimized enjoyment of the game.
Lack of customer service added to the problem, and while the subscription service was easy enough to navigate, any in-game issues were for a good part ignored, due to lack of agents and GMs. If you do not have the infrastructure to handle a big player base, you shouldn’t really be in the MMO business.
I’ve since cancelled my monthly subscription and from what I’ve read, a lot of others have done the same. I was going to sit on my hands or finish playing CoD4, but instead was convinced to go back to World of Warcraft after a two year hiatus.
So far, it’s been nothing but fun.
Tomorrow, I will discuss the pros and very little cons that make up the biggest MMO in gaming history; World of Warcraft.