Gordo’s Gaming Blog

My adventures in the many worlds of gaming.

Posts Tagged ‘Hyborian Adventures

The end of my Hyborian Adventures.

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Age of ConanIt is with some sadness that I announce my time in Age of Conan has come to an end. I cancelled my subscription after finishing my free month. Some sadness I say, but in honesty, not a great deal. The game was too unfinished. While grinding was fun in AoC compared to many games, it was by no means fun enough to constitute doing it full time. And, at level 72, the grinding was tedious and mind-numbing. I was unable to do it for long periods of time, and that led to it taking literally ages to get levels, which made it even more tedious and mind-numbing. So this post, I guess, is an autopsy of my time in the game.

What was good about Age of Conan? The start. Tortage was excellent. I’ve got a day before my subscription ends, and I might just make another character to play through Tortage again. Levels 20-40 felt a bit disjointed, but still, on the whole, were pretty good. 40-50 the fun picked up again for me, but after 50, the levels of grinding sucked. That was what killed the fun for me. That and seeing the lack of endgame content at present. Very few raids, which would end up being treadmills raids I think, and PvP looking in a pretty much pre-beta stage. This game could have done with time, plain and simple. Time would have made this game a much more fun experience from launch. And I’ll give it time. Maybe I’ll come back in several months time, that is, if another game hasn’t grabbed me by then.

This game promised so much, and yet delivered so little. Maybe the speed I play the game at is the problem – Funcom clearly didn’t bargain for players like me, who level quite quickly, but still expect quests. Well, Funcom, you should bargain for players like me. Blizzard do.

What shall I do now? Well, I’m playing through a couple games I got out of my dust-filled cabinets that I plan to review for my ‘The Classics’ series, so watch out for those. I’m preparing myself for WAR this autumn! As I said, I’ve been reading the book ‘Tales of the Old World’. I’m finding it thoroughly enjoyable. Paul Barnett summed up the Warhammer Universe perfectly when he said ‘it’s fantasy with all the crap taken out’. Also, a game that’s consistently tempted me, but never forced me to take the plunge is EVE Online. It seems like a very special game, but I’m not sure if I’m the kind of person who thrives in it. Clearly some people do, and other don’t. I guess the only way to find out is to play it and concentrate on it, and see what happens, and the new expansion could increase playability for a newcomer, or so I’ve heard.

In other news, my WAR preorder is starting to worry me a bit. Play.com, who I ordered it from, seem to be very unsure what they need to do! I don’t think they realise they should be sending pre-order codes. War-europe.com says they’ve been sent, a poster of the WHA forums claims otherwise, whilst I got an email from Play.com, informing me it’ll be with me within a week. Why oh why did you choose them, GOA/EA?

Written by Gordo

June 21, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Age of Conan, Part 2

with one comment

OK, so I’ve been playing Age of Conan for 5 days now. As I’m sure you’re well aware, a lot of things can change in 5 days. However, I’m still feeling pretty positive about AoC now, even 5 days on, and after many hours more in the game.

What do I still like about it?

  1. The combat – it’s not gotten old yet, and it doesn’t look like doing so for a good while either; it’s really refreshing. What I think is the best thing about the combat is you’re always involved. You have to make the character move, make it attack, and as a result, when you kill your enemy, it feels all the more satisfying – especially if you get lucky and pull off a fatality.
  2. The sound – I didn’t really talk about the sound in my original post, but the sound is fantastic. The music fits each area perfectly, from the greek sounding background music in Aquilonia, to the chanting and tribal songs of Africa-esque Stygia. The combat sounds are great too – if you listen carefully you can even hear your enemy’s skull crack as you bring the sledgehammer down on their head. Tortage really was amazing though, with every quest and every NPC voice acted. Sadly, that is only carried on as you carry out your destiny quest – but there are rumours that more is being recorded as we speak and will come in future patches. Which would be great.
  3. The graphics – each zone is designed well, and looks beautiful. Even on my moderate PC, the areas feel alive, and look it too. I’m more of a fan of realised graphics, and therefore it suits me perfectly. Stylised fans may not like it so much, but personally I can’t see how anyone could think it ugly.

Although there are a lot of good things about Age of Conan, I’m starting to find areas which I don’t like so much:

  1. Quests. Quests in Age of Conan are highly variable – I’ve done some really good ones, some absolute beauties, requiring not much running between places, just lots of action and great storylines (an example of this – the quests in Border Range in Aquilonia – they were fantastic). I’ve also done some awful quests – quests taking me halfway across the zone to talk to an NPC, who then wants me to go back to the original quest giver. Also, it needs me to run through mobs 5 or 6 levels above me! Another problem I find with the quests in Age of Conan, is that, often, there aren’t enough quests for me to level up sufficiently. I had to grind 1/3 of a level earlier to get some quests within my level range again. This is poor design – nowadays, in pay to play MMOs, where questing is the main mechanic for levelling, I expect more quests than I need – I expect to be able to drop quests too easy for me, not have to do them for pitiful rewards just to get the next level up. On the topic of quests, each zone seems to have just 1 quest hub!? It seems like in the zones which are intended for a wide range of levels (e.g. Wild Lands of Zelata), I could be running huge distances to do a quest for me at level 36 or 37, because all quests can only be picked up or handed in at the very beginning of the zone where you join at level 20. Running disrupts immersion, and ruins the fun value of the quest.
  2. Zones. The zones in Age of Conan are meant to be small areas of a massive map. As such, you only play a fragment of the world at a time, and the zones are not connected – you need to travel through load screens to get to other areas, via fast travel NPCs. This also means that you can travel many many miles in seconds, resulting in a huge break in immersion, as you were in a sandy desert with tropical beasts, and now you’re in the mountains being attacked by wolves. Personally, I loved WoW in this regard – the whole area was one massive area where you could run from one end to the other uninterrupted if you wanted to. And the fast trave of riding a wyvern, eagle or bat was awesome, you got to see the whole zone and landscape; even if it did take several minutes to travel from one zone to another at times! As for the instancing matter – it doesn’t bother me too much, as in the larger zones, instancing only seems to be used to prevent congestion – I like that – I mean, what’s more frustrating than waiting around a quest mob spawn with 10 other people?
  3. Monotony – this comes from the requirement of many boring quests, I’m afraid. Sometimes, I find myself playing for a couple hours and getting bored – it stems from lack of immersion I guess, as I don’t feel ‘in’ the game, so my mind wanders to other things. What compounds it is the daunting task of levelling – there are so many levels to achieve, I feel as though I’m only just on the tip of the iceberg. That should be a good thing, but I’m worried that as I level up, the quest grinding will only get more boring, and the rewards will get lower.

Overall, I’m still happy in Age of Conan. I am, on the whole, enjoying the levelling process, though sometimes the lack of (good) quests can get to me. I don’t mind it, and every MMO I’ve played before has been the same; MMO developers concentrate on keeping players playing for many hours, and they do that by creating a bucketful of quests to do; sadly, this often results in monotony for the player, which in turns ruins immersion, and makes the player go away and do something else for a while.

Verdict? Age of Conan is a good game, and probably my favourite MMO of all those out at the moment. It doesn’t do anything worse than any game that’s come before, and it brings some really nice innovations to the genre. But, it’s far from perfect – the Holy Grail of MMOs it is not. It’s quite difficult to get immersed in it, but if you can cope with taking breaks occasionally between levelling, you’ll be fine. I know from my post it looks like I think there are a lot more bad things in the game than good, but in actual fact, that’s not how I feel. It simply hasn’t corrected all the errors in previous MMOs – I can live with them, and if you enjoyed a previous MMO, you probably can too.

Written by Gordo

May 28, 2008 at 6:48 pm