10 years ago Age of Conan the mmo was released by Funcom. There were high expectations for this game that was rated mature and considering the game was based on the world of Conan by Robert E. Howard, you would expect blood, gore and sex, or at least nudity in this game. And true to form, the game was very faithful to the source material. However, like most mmo starts this was also true to form and there were many bugs, missing content, balance issues and more little irritating things. We all thought that the game would sort this out and improve over time…..
I played Conan for a year. Running around in this brutal world as a Tempest of Set. The world was unique and the combat was different from my all time favourite mmo ‘World of Warcraft.’ It also felt more ‘mature’, but the story just didn’t seem to grab me all that much. Surprising for a game that is based upon a world from a book. After several months I called it quits. There was nothing to do at end content that I enjoyed and I started to discover many flaws with my class. I didn’t even want to re-roll something else. I was done with it and returned to World of Warcraft.
After 5 years Funcom decided to make Age of Conan free to play and call it ‘Age of Conan: unchained.’ It even got it’s ‘Asian expansion’, something I tend to hate in mmo’s and it was not enough to get me back. I had tried it and it just wasn’t for me.
Saga of Zath
Then something strange happened. Funcom who also created another mmo ‘The Secret World’, decided to launch ‘Age of Conan: Saga of Zath.’ This popped up into my news feed and I was intrigued. Not because I had such a keen interest in Conan the Barbarian, but because of what Funcom had done to the free to play model / revamp of ‘The Secret World’. Now I have always had a soft spot for ‘The Secret World’, but with ‘The Secret World Legends’ I really got interested in the game again. I figured that if they did that with something I already liked, then perhaps this Saga of Zath change would be what got me back into ‘Age of Conan’. So I went to the website and downloaded the installer.
Now for those interested in Age of Conan, here is all you need to know regarding the game:
AoC offers 12 different classes which are divided into four categories: soldier, mage, priest and rogues. These classes are hybrids that can fill multiple roles. 12 classes is pretty decent for choice and they seem to fit the AoC world pretty good.
Creating your character is maybe not as in dept as with games like Black Desert Online or Guildwars 2, but it isn’t too bad. The player creates their character, and is then dumped into the cut scene. Your avatar is on a slavers ship (yes, you are a slave) and is being attacked. The player and the boat sink to the bottom of the ocean, when all of a sudden their body is being pulled out of the water by some strange force.
They wake up on the island of Tortage; a pirate town and here is where you start your questing here until level 20.
Like any starter area, Tortage is good to get to grips with the combat and your abilities. Quests are plentiful and levelling goes quick enough. However, as soon as you leave Tortage the story falls a bit apart.
The Saga Server
Funcom creating the Saga Server should help combat the lack of story in the later parts of the game. So what is it exactly? It is a time-limited server that will be available until the 15th of May 2018 and will give players a fresh start and chance to win unique rewards. You get rewarded for reaching level 20, 50 and 80 and these rewards could be titles, social armor and epic weapons or even an armoured spider mount. Once the sage server closes you can still transfer that character to your main server.
In Funcom’s words ‘they wanted to offer veteran players the thrill of starting fresh on a new server and new players the opportunity to start on equal footing with everyone else.’
This time around when you wash up on shore on Tortage you will actually start the Sage Quest line; prompting you to hit those milestones.
I won’t lie, I am very intrigued by this change and I do like the world of Age of Conan. So I created a Cimmerian Barbarian and smashed my way through the jungle of Tortage. The graphics are….. well, they aren’t great, then again I still play Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines and those graphics are far worse. Combat is simple enough, but I do feel that the UI is very old fashioned and even clunky. I haven’t made my way out of Tortage yet, but I am actually enjoying myself again.
The music is really great and it does feel very ‘epic’. The combat feels a bit stiff and clunky, but then again you do get a fatality at the end of your fight. This also gives you pixelated blood splatters on your screen. It’s the small touches.
One thing that Age of Conan really has going for itself, is the voice acting. When this game first launched, this was quite a new thing. You see it more now with games like Guildwars 2 and Elder Scrolls Online, but there are many other games like World of Warcraft and Wildstar where this just doesn’t happen. All you see is a little quest box pop up and you can accept it. In Age of Conan, talking to the NPC’s immerses you into the world. A huge plus in my opinion and the acting isn’t cringe worthy either.
As I mentioned before; the UI feels very clunky and old fashioned even, but nothing that would stop me from playing the game. Now the one thing that really does annoy me, is the micro transactions in this game. I am all for a company trying to make a buck, but Funcom is taking it a tiny step too far in Age of Conan. Every time you zone in and out of an area, the ‘shop’ pops up. The one thing this game does a lot is loading zones. You can see my frustration; having to click the pop up for all the offers you can buy with real money away over and over again. It just makes the game feel really cheap by seeing this pop up all the time.
Age of Conan Verdict
We shall see if this game keeps me interested once I get out of the pirate town. I do feel that if you enjoy the world of Conan the Barbarian and you aren’t a real graphic snob, this game could be worth trying out. It won’t cost you anything so if it’s not for you, no harm done.
Interested? Go check it out on the official website: Age of Conan Unchained.