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Age of Conan

Age of Conan is a dark fantasy MMORPG set in the world of Conan the Barbarian. The game features twelve classes, eighty levels, open-world PvP, and siege warfare. A unique active combat system makes fighting both skill-demanding and bloody.

Publisher: Funcom
Playerbase: Medium
Type: MMORPG
Release Date: May 20, 2008
Pros: +Real-time combat. +Superb soundtrack. +Player cities. +Twelve diverse classes.
Cons:-Balancing issues. -Extensive tutorial island. -Large hard drive requirement.

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Overview

Age of Conan Overview

Age of Conan: Unchained is a fantasy themed MMORPG set in the dark world of Hyborpia. Utilizing a brutal real-time combat system, the game delivers a mature experience through its dark atmosphere and carnal characterizations. An extensive character creation system allows players to adjust multitudinous aspects of their avatar with sliders for nearly every physical attribute. Four cultures to choose from and twelve classes allow for a wide variety of ways to play the game with over eighty levels to experience across a huge variety of finely crafted zones. Large-scale PvP pits guilds against each other for control of player-fortified cities. Test your skills in open-world PvP and watch your shoulder as you level in contested zones.

Age of Conan Key Features:

  • Class Variety twelve classes with unique playstyles and abilities to choose from.
  • Real-Time Combat System – allows players to control direction of swings to string combo attacks.
  • Replayability – eighty levels and a huge variety of quests and zones to explore.
  • Siege Warfare – pits guilds against each other for control of player-run cities.
  • Extensive Character Creation adjust every facial feature of your avatar to create a unique model.

Age of Conan Screenshots

Age of Conan Featured Video

Full Review

Age of Conan Review

By Sean Sullivan

Hanging on my wall with sticky-tack is a Frank Frazetta painting of Conan the Barbarian, throttling a raider while swinging a sanguinary axe with stoic determination. While I have not read Robert E. Howard’s stories, I have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger seek vengeance against Thulsa Doom. Conan’s world is a melange of prehistoric savagery and dark magic as emanated by Frazetta’s paintings and John Milius’ film. At face-value, it is the perfect environment to stage an MMORPG. Age of Conan: Unchained delivers that world on a splintered trencher.

Sculpting A Warrior

Judgment always begins with character creation. Western companies have a lot to learn from Eastern development teams like Perfect World. However, Funcom has given players a solid character creation system for Age of Conan: Unchained. At first, I found myself disappointed, believing my creativity would be limited by pre-designated faces and body types. Fortunately, my failing eyes were able to spot a beauteous button labeled “Advanced,” unlocking the marvels known as feature sliders. Donning my finest pair of sculptor gloves I set out once again to create a masterpiece that would bring tears to the eyes of Ancient Athenians.

Rather than create a Victoria’s Secret replica, I decided to manufacture the manliest-handsome man possible. Although there were twelve classes to choose from, I did not struggle. Eager to tear apart enemies, I elected to follow the path of the Barbarian. Some classes are limited by the Culture you choose (with four cultures to choose from). Aquilonian can be Barbarians but Stygians cannot; instead, they can follow the path of magic. However, I am no schiester wizard. I am a barbarian warlord. I am Prairiedog (The names “Manlyman,” “Dirtydancer,” and “Tiffany” were taken, to my dismay).

I was slightly disappointed by the character creation system. Although you are given freedom with sliders, they don’t change the appearance enough to please my appetite. I’ve been spoiled by glorious Chinese MMORPG character creators such as in Swordsman. In AoC you pick from a preset face and then use the sliders to make subtle changes. Somehow the default “Chivalrous” face is the most pusillanimous warrior to choose from, staring into the distance reliving nightmares of the battlefield. They did not feel in-depth enough for me to create the vision I sought. Nevertheless, it is enough to distinguish your character, and I was pleased with that much. Compared to games like Dragon Nest, the character creator is offering a nearly unlimited level of versatility.

Naked Barbarians

Age of Conan: Unchained marketed itself as an “Adult Fantasy” MMORPG, bearing full frontal nudity in the less prude regions of the world (Europe) and showing off bosoms for the rest of us. If you’ve seen, or read, Conan The Barbarian, or gazed at a Frank Frazetta painting then you know the dark fantasy world of Barbarians is rampant with violence and sexuality. The choice to include nudity stays true to the aesthetics of the Barbarian lore, rather than being a gimmick to sell the game such as Scarlet Blade—not that it doesn't help. Scantily clad characters ought not belie the danger they pose, particularly in PvP or while exploring the world at large.

Savage Lands

After browsing Reddit while watching a cutscene of my character drowning I awoke on the island of Tortuga, a newbie training ground where players grind from levels 1-20. At first glance, the world is quite good looking, particularly for being released in 2008. Rich foliage like ferns and, what may be Hussingo, trees decorate the starter zone. Barbarian encampments seek shelter from the sweltering sun beneath their leaves until you come stumbling along. Combine aesthetics with an excellent soundtrack that’s perfect for the world and you’ve got an immersive, savage environment. The sound of birds wailing perfectly chimes with a slow drum and elegant harp to create an atmosphere of the ancient tropics.

But the world doesn’t feel open. It’s a gripe that I often have and it’s perhaps undeserved. Areas are connected by linear paths that guide you to your destination. Invisible walls in the form of rock formations prevent you from truly exploring Tortuga and the environment. Swordsman functioned in much the same way. It isn't necessarily a bad design choice and later environments due offer more in the way of open-world exploration. But I personally enjoy MMORPG’s that beg to be explored, even when there is no benefit beyond a satisfied curiosity. I don’t hold it against AoC. No game has quite captured the awe-inspiring atmosphere of mystery quite like vanilla World of Warcraft, but that may just be nostalgia talking.

No Passive Combat Here

Combat in AoC is refreshing and I applaud the developers at Funcom for introducing new elements to the formulaic industry of MMORPG’s. Rather than basic abilities, you’re given directional swings with which to attack enemies. There is no true single-targeting. Your swings will hit any enemies nearby so you must position your avatar properly or you’ll slice through air. As you attack, directional arcs will appear around the enemy. They indicate where the enemy is most formidable. So, attacking an enemy where there are three arcs means a severe reduction in damage dealt. You want to choose areas where the enemies defense is weakest—where they have no arcs. The main issue with such a system is that the Arcs can appear too faint against well-lit environments, making it to difficult to discern weak points. It’s certainly not gamebreaking and my eyes quickly adjusted.

You can trigger finishing moves that depict a brutal animation of your character mercilessly slaughtering his or her opponent. Blunt-wielding barbarians smash their opponents cranial into shards.

As you level, you earn combo skills. Activating them may prompt you to chain a series of swings to activate the skill. Starting off, you’ll only need to use one directional swing to activate the combo. My first ability “Sweep” prompts me to use “Upper Left Attack” to activate. Complying with the requests sees your character going through the animation clip to slam crocodiles into their place.

What Is This Mess?

The user interface is fairly dated, even for a game from 2008. It just doesn’t look polished or clean. The character sheet looks more appropriate to the 2007 version of Runescape. Everything is clunky and dark—difficult to operate because you’re quick-keys are icons at the top of the screen. Maybe it’s part of the aesthetic the game was aiming for. But then again, gameplay has little emphasis on UI. You’ll rarely need to look at your combos tab because skills are automatically hotkeyed. And the only UI management occurs when you need to empty your bag.

The True Test

As should be expected from nomadic warriors, AoC delivers a solid PvP system. Players can join guilds and erect, or seize, their own cities. Opposing guilds lay siege to your city with trebuchets and other siege weaponry. There are a limited number of areas where battlekeep cities can be built, leading to certain conflict for resources. Guild members can use collected resources such as iron, wood, and stone, to improve their keep and secure it from enemy players. Some servers also have world PvP, where designated areas are a free for all, adding a new worry while leveling. However, The Border Kingdoms is the main region for PvP warfare and where guild versus guild combat soaks the battlefield.

Barbaric Tutorial Island

Conan’s biggest hurdle for new players is its expansive tutorial zone. No matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone. Many players became exhausted with the endless quest chains designed to introduce players to the game. Claustrophobia set in and I felt like I would never leave the island. No matter how much I might like Starbursts, when I eat a 14oz bag i’m going to feel sick the next day. While I appreciate the newbie island—and it is one of the best introductory zones in any MMORPG—Tortuga grows tired, and it’s somewhat disappointing when Age of Conan has so many polished worlds to offer. A much larger world teases the players of Tortuga but getting there seems unobtainable.

Barbarians Don’t Want Your Money

"Until you tell them how much you have." You can purchase weapons, armor, and convenience items like travel scrolls. It doesn't make the game pay-to-win because the items are not akin to wielding Odin’s beard but they do make the game more convenient. If you’re the type of person who sits in a scooter to shop at Wall-Mart, even when you’re legs are perfectly healthy, then maybe Age of Conan’s cash shop will wet your appetite. Most of the available gear is cosmetic like the Purple Yothian War-Mare.

Final Verdict - Great

Age of Conan: Unchained captures barbarian bloodlust and infuses it into an MMORPG experience. A combat system that demands attention and skill ramps up the pace of battle, and gory animations signal a satisfying conclusion. DDR-stylized combo moves keep fights engaging while a lusciously crafted world immerses you in the experience. While it suffers from a low population and somewhat linear progression, AOC is worth playing if you like MMORPG’s or barbarian lore.

Screenshots

Age of Conan Screenshots

Videos

Age of Conan Videos

System Requirements

Age of Conan Requirements

Minimum Requirements:

Operating System: Windows Xp 32 bit
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz or Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4600+
RAM: 2 GB RAM
Video Card: GeForce 8600 GT or Radeon X800 GT
Hard Disk Space: 27 GB Free Space

Recommended Requirements:

Operating System: Windows Xp 32 bit
CPU: Core 2 Duo E8300 2.83GHz or Athlon II X2 245e
RAM: 4 GB RAM
Video Card: GeForce 8800 GTS or Radeon HD 7570
Hard Disk Space: 27 GB Free Space

Music

Age of Conan Music

Additional Info

Age of Conan Additional Information

Developer: Funcom
Publisher: Funcom, Eidos Interactive

Designer: Craig Morrison
Lead Artist: Terje Lundberg
Audio Director: Morten Sørlie

Game Engine: DreamWorld

Pre-Release Date: May 17, 2008
Release Date: May 20, 2008
Release Date (Europe): May 23, 2008
Steam Release Date: February 22, 2013

Age of Conan: Unchained was developed by Norwegian computer video game company Funcom and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows. Originally titled Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, the MMORPG was released on May 20, 2008 and required a subscription to play. The game was also planned to release on Xbox 360 but the console version was cancelled. In June 2011, the game went free-to-play but offered premium content to subscribers. A microtransaction systems was introduced in the middle of 2011. And the game was released on Steam on February 22, 2013. At the time of release Age of Conan was the first AAA MMORPG to carry an M rating from the ESRB. It depicts events one year after Robert E. Howard's Conan novel, The Hour of the Dragon. Hyborian Adventures was released on the 76th anniversary of the Conan franchise.

  • I remember Age of Conan sort of broke a lot of boundaries when it first launched with tons of gore and nudity. It was also one of the first major MMORPGs to have non targeted action combat. Tera gets a lot of the love for pushing that style of combat forward, but Age of Conan did it quite a bit before Tera. The game world is dark and the story is decent, but the game feels oddly neglected. It originally started as B2P with a sub and later went F2P, but never had huge success. Worth trying if you're hopping around trying new stuff, but unlikely you'll stick with it.