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Age of Conan: Beta Preview... Preview

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

On this first day of un-embargoed goodness for Funcom's Age of Conan, Managing Editor Jon Wood shares his initial impressions of the very early stages of the game.

About a week ago, I finally got myself into the Age of Conan beta. With the embargo lifting today for us reporters, I thought I'd share my very early impressions of the game. There will be a full beta report coming in the next week or so, but even though I haven't had a chance to play a great deal, the game as already made some initial impressions on me that I can share.


As a result, this beta preview preview will talk about character creation and the newbie experience. A lot of the time we, as more hardcore players, underestimate the importance of those first few levels. In the rush that many peope have to reach endgame content, we forget that most people will live or die on their first few hours of gameplay, deciding whether their subscriptions will last more than a month or whether this game will be just another box lining their shelves.

Read the whole preview here.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

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Comments

  • LashersLashers Brooklyn Center, MNPosts: 186Member

    This is exactly how I felt after playing the pvp weekend.  I agree 100% with this brief preview review.

    The things this reviweer liked are the things I really like.  I truly can't wait to play this game!

  • JK-KanosiJK-Kanosi Seaside, CAPosts: 1,357Member

    Sounds promising so far. The only thing I am wondering about is how often do you engage in combat. If it is very often, which is unrealistic in most fantasy settings, even Conan, I imagine it would get tiresome to have to use arrows everytime you attack. However, I wouldn't know, so I look forward to your impressions after you've been killing things for a couple hours.

    MMORPG's w/ Max level characters: DAoC, SWG, & WoW

    Currently Playing: WAR
    Preferred Playstyle: Roleplay/adventurous, in a sandbox game.

  • ArawonArawon Oz, ALPosts: 1,108Member

    Thanks JON...post again SOON.

  • openedge1openedge1 My City, ALPosts: 2,582Member

    Originally posted by JK-Kanosi


    Sounds promising so far. The only thing I am wondering about is how often do you engage in combat. If it is very often, which is unrealistic in most fantasy settings, even Conan, I imagine it would get tiresome to have to use arrows everytime you attack. However, I wouldn't know, so I look forward to your impressions after you've been killing things for a couple hours.

    My Xbox 360 controller is going to LOVE this game...

    Hooray

  • ValentinaValentina Los Angeles, CAPosts: 1,675Member Uncommon

    I agree with you, as well. I really can't wait for it to come out :D

  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 7,906Member Uncommon

    Sounds cool. Voiceover and story are two most important features for me as well. I sorely miss voice-over in many MMOs, all this tiresome and non-immersive quest text boxes... bah. Its one of the things I liked in EQ2. And story is also going to be a major need for all new MMOs, less and less ppl are willing to have masses of Fedex quests and soulless world, so its good to see AoC has apparently rich story.

    Btw, what I would like to know, there are 3 races, but do they after the start begin in different areas of the world? Or can ppl of all three races play together in the same guild/group in the world?

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • LitchfieldLitchfield south boston, VAPosts: 53Member

    Fire your proof reader.

  • soulwyndsoulwynd Petropolis, Rio de JaneiroPosts: 47Member

    Originally posted by openedge1


     
    Originally posted by JK-Kanosi


    Sounds promising so far. The only thing I am wondering about is how often do you engage in combat. If it is very often, which is unrealistic in most fantasy settings, even Conan, I imagine it would get tiresome to have to use arrows everytime you attack. However, I wouldn't know, so I look forward to your impressions after you've been killing things for a couple hours.

     

    My Xbox 360 controller is going to LOVE this game...

    Hooray

    My G15 is going to love it even more. Hopefully it wont come with some crazy protection that kills the keyboard's macro manager.

    Actually, I hope it wont come with any sneaky self-installing protection that hides as a service. Always makes me want to kill someone.

  • StraddenStradden Managing Editor Halifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

    Originally posted by Litchfield


    Fire your proof reader.
    Yeah, that's insanely un-helpful.

    If you noticed something, I encourage you to share so that we can fix it. Mistakes do happen, and I'm all about correcting them.

    Cheers,
    Jon Wood
    Managing Editor
    MMORPG.com

  • trippermtripperm Chino Hills, CAPosts: 4Member

     

    Originally posted by Stradden


     
    Originally posted by Litchfield


    Fire your proof reader.
    Yeah, that's insanely un-helpful.

     

    If you noticed something, I encourage you to share so that we can fix it. Mistakes do happen, and I'm all about correcting them.

     O.K.. I'll be a little more helpful than the original poster. Here are three errors in the text I found:

     

    "the game AS already made some initial impressions on me that I can share." 

    This should be 'has' not 'as'.

    "(and make no mistake, there AREA  lot of them out there who are still waiting for this game)".

    This should be 'are a' not 'area'.

    "While this might sound LIKEA  little thing to some, and it may sound like an annoying

    feature to some others, I personally found that it creates more engaging combat.".

    This should be "like a" and not "likea"

     

     

     

  • TenebrosoTenebroso Fresno, CAPosts: 262Member
    Originally posted by Stradden


     
    Originally posted by Litchfield


    Fire your proof reader.
    Yeah, that's insanely un-helpful.

     

    If you noticed something, I encourage you to share so that we can fix it. Mistakes do happen, and I'm all about correcting them.



    lawl, as we say it in brazil = Tomalirrola Litchfield...lawl....

  • xaldraxiusxaldraxius Hastings, MIPosts: 1,249Member

    Originally posted by Stradden


     
    Originally posted by Litchfield


    Fire your proof reader.
    Yeah, that's insanely un-helpful.

     

    If you noticed something, I encourage you to share so that we can fix it. Mistakes do happen, and I'm all about correcting them.


    Ignore the peanut gallery. Your preview was very helpful and insightful. Everyone has typos from time to time, jeez. It's not like this is the New York Times or something. Some of the people who post have nothing better to so than nitpick other people.

     

    Thanks for the review. I look forward to the character creation process more than anything else and it sounds as if you are truely able to set yourself apart from the crowd in this game, which is great.

  • RuppichRuppich BerlinPosts: 29Member Uncommon

    No WoW Killer here

    *flame on*

  • noxdraconisnoxdraconis Pasadena, MDPosts: 39Member

    Sorry, but this was really bad.

    -nox

    About a week ago, I finally got myself into the Age of Conan beta. With the embargo lifting today for us reporters, I thought I'd share my very early impressions of the game. There will be a full beta report coming in the next week or so, but even though I haven't had a chance to play a great deal, the game as (should be  has) already made some initial impressions on me that I can share.

    As a result, this beta preview preview (double word) will talk about character creation and the newbie experience. A lot of the time we, as more hardcore players, underestimate the importance of those first few levels. In the rush that many peope (Spelling) have to reach endgame content, we forget that most people will live or die on their first few hours of gameplay, deciding whether their subscriptions will last more than a month or whether this game will be just another box lining their shelves.



    Still, you don't want to listen to me waxing (tense) poetic about the importance of the early game experience. Chances are that if you clicked on this article, you want to hear a little bit of something about Age of Conan.



    From the very first moment that you enter the game (after what I would consider to be a long progression of associated company screens - Funcom, Eidos, Nvidia, Games for Windows... all easily skipped with a click), you get a real feeling of what you're in for. Your first glimpse of the world of Age of Conan is, appropriately, aboard a slave ship and you're the cargo. Your view of the ship is a dimly lit hallway. The camera sits at one end. On each side of the hallways slave men sit on planks, rowing the ship, far down at the other end a slave girls stands for... I don't know... slave encouragement? The sounds of the boat are crisp and clear (I want to be hoenst (Spelling) and say that the sound team on Age of Conan has done a brilliant job in all aspects, I am a fan of the sound in AoC).



    This, my friend, is character creation. Your first choice is gender. Do you want to play a male character or a female character? If you choose the female, the camera swoops down the hallway to stop in front of the slave girl. If you choose male, the camera comes to rest in front of one of the rowers who stands up and presents himself to (style) your alterations.



    I don't know why this particular bit filled me with glee. I think that it's the interactivity of it all. Right from step one, I got a sense of how the story would be presented. For those of you who might not know, I am a story junkie. I can't get enough of it and I enjoy (style) when it is presented not as a side attraction to a game, but as an integral focus.  By using their opening in this way, from step one, you are enganged (Spelling) with and participating in the story, which starts with characters who were once slaves being washed ashore after the wreck of their boat ( run on sentence - also prefer that to which).



    Beyond that, character creation is pretty much what you would expect from an MMO. There are basic options that will allow people who don't care terribly much about the specific details of their character's appearance to breeze through with basic customization, but you also have the advanced options that open up sliders. Personally, give me the deeper selection of the sliders, but I do know people who will be eternally grateful to Funcom for the option to avoid them.



    I should also mention here for you sticklers out there that this is also where you choose your race, your class and all of those necessary character building elements. For those players who aren't familiar with the lore of Conan, (and make no mistake, there area (are a) lot of them out there who are still waiting for this game), handy little descriptions are given for the different races and classes that will make choosing just that much easier.



    Your early game experience really helps you with the feeling that you're an escaped slave who has just washed up ashore outside of the city of Tortuga (which is held currently by some really bad dudes). Armed with only a broken oar, you set about moving toward the city. Right away, you are thrown into comabt (Spelling) and believe me when I say that oar (missing article a) can be a bit of a kick-ass weapon.



    Long time MMO players are going to find something fishy the first time that they jump into combat, but it isn't something that's terribly difficult to overcome. The Age of Conan UI is, in some ways, fairly typical of MMO UIs. For now, let's just talk about the action bar at the bottom of the screen. Normally, first level characters have an empty action bar save for one or two first level powers that fit into the "1" and sometimes "2" boxes. In AoC, the first three boxes are filled with arrows. These arrows, rather than being your classic special attacks, are actually directional attack commands. When you press up (2), your character jabs forward, when you press left (1), he attacks the enemy's left side. This, to start with, I found just a notch or two cooler than the standard MMO fare. I felt like I had some real control over what my character was doing and his approach to doing it. Maybe it's just me, but I found something very satisfying about wanting to hit a guy on his left side and actually seeing my character do it.



    As you advance in level (which at the beginning happens quite quickly), you gain access to combo attacks that are more like standard MMO attacks, but in order to use them, you must choose the ability and then use the appropriate swing (left, right or middle) to complete the attack.



    While this might sound likea  (need a space) little thing to some, and it may sound like an annoying feature to some others, I personally found that it creates more engaging combat. Suddenly, I'm carefully choosing which attacks I want to use and I have to do a little bit of keyboard dancing to activate the combo and perform the appropriate swing. I find that I can't just mindlessly spam 1,2,3 - 1,2,3 like I usually do until the other guy falls down. I will be very interested to see how this plays out at higher levels.



    Before I cut this beta preview... preview short, I wanted to talk about an element of Age of Conan that I have absolutely loved up until this point. Voice-overed dialogue (Sentence Fragment).



    I know that there are going to be some folks out there who will think I'm crazy. I know it isn't something that everyone enjoys, but for my part, I think it's something we don't see often enough in MMOs. Then again, I'm a story fiend and voiceovers really do help with an engaging interactive story.



    NPCs in AoC (at least those that I have come across up to this point) have fully developed voiceovers. It's not even just a small portion of the text. It's complete NPC dialogue. Now, while I do say that I like voiceovers, the thought of them often makes me cringe. It isn't enough, in my opinion, to just have voiceovers. I've heard too many really poorly acted voiceovers (the XBox 360 Conan game is a great example) to get too excited about them. Often, it's like the actors were just handed a script and told to read without knowing anything about the game, the characters or the situation. With Age of Conan, I felt like the actors and by extension whomever was directing the actors, took the time to know and understand the context of the dialogue that they were delivering.

     

    That brings this beta preview to a close. As I continue to play, I will continue to post about it and give you my impressions.

  • forty4plus2forty4plus2 Fallon, NVPosts: 69Member

     

    Originally posted by noxdraconis


    Sorry, but this was really bad.
    -nox


     

    Omg, who gives a sh*t!? so what if there are typos and f'ing sentence fragments! anyways good review i feel the same way from the weekend beta. Looking forward to hearing about some of the 'surprises' they have in store for you guys on the beta.

  • YaishaYaisha Mt. Pleasant, SCPosts: 117Member

    Originally posted by noxdraconis


    Sorry, but this was really bad.


    As a result, this beta preview preview (double word) will talk about

    He said preview twice because this is a preview of his beta preview.  Get it?

  • esarphieesarphie West Linn, ORPosts: 73Member
    Originally posted by Ruppich


    No WoW Killer here
    *flame on*



    No flame, but since Age of Conan has a Mature rating, and will not be knowingly allowing minors to play, it can't be the fabled "WoW Killer."  Take all the adults out of WoW and... um... would you notice?

  • DragonOakDragonOak nashville, LAPosts: 322Member

    I get the feeling that calling in the grammer police is just one more tactic to bash the game. 

    I for one appreciated the review, and realize that you was trying to post something as fast as you could.  Thanks for the work.

  • URMAKERURMAKER slidell, LAPosts: 632Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by JackFetch

    Originally posted by Ruppich


    No WoW Killer here
    *flame on*



    No flame, but since Age of Conan has a Mature rating, and will not be knowingly allowing minors to play, it can't be the fabled "WoW Killer."  Take all the adults out of WoW and... um... would you notice?

    if you knew how much chat is all about nipples you'd forget all about a mature community.

    image

  • BuzWeaverBuzWeaver Peachtree City, GAPosts: 973Member

    The information was interesting and concise. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it.


    The Old Timers Guild
    Laid back, not so serious, no drama.
    All about the fun!

    www.oldtimersguild.com
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it. - Jef Mallett

  • BuzWeaverBuzWeaver Peachtree City, GAPosts: 973Member


    Originally posted by Litchfield
    Fire your proof reader.

    Heh, maybe they were just excited?


    The Old Timers Guild
    Laid back, not so serious, no drama.
    All about the fun!

    www.oldtimersguild.com
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it. - Jef Mallett

  • JupstoJupsto englandPosts: 2,087Member

     

    Originally posted by Stradden


     
    Originally posted by Litchfield


    Fire your proof reader.
    Yeah, that's insanely un-helpful.

     

    If you noticed something, I encourage you to share so that we can fix it. Mistakes do happen, and I'm all about correcting them.

     

    "(I want to be hoenst and say that the sound team on Age of Conan has done a brilliant job in all aspects, I am a fan of the sound in AoC)."

    there ya go

     

    edit: nox beat me to it. I personally dont care about spelling/grammar since I dont bother with it, and if if you guys did it would never be totally correct in my english eyes.

    My blog: image

  • StraddenStradden Managing Editor Halifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

    okie dokie, all fixed up.

    In all honesty I wrote this up this morning quickly so that I could get it out there as soon as possible. I appreciate the feedback. Generally speaking, if you find issues, it's best to contact me at stradden@mmorpg.com. I check that account like an addict.

    Thanks agian!

    Cheers,
    Jon Wood
    Managing Editor
    MMORPG.com

  • AlienovrlordAlienovrlord San Antonio, TXPosts: 1,525Member

    Good summary of the beginning experience.

    I would be one of those players who was annoyed with the 'Hit the ability button then do the right moves to actually make the ability work'  but I imagine that's all a matter of taste.   There are no doubt some who like the new mechanic, the question is how many will like it and will they still like it after 80 levels?   We'll have to wait until release to see.

    I do agree the voice-overs were very well done.   Funcom did a good job finding voice actors for them.   I really liked the first boss you encounter - that slimey, patronizing, unctuous voice they gave him was *perfect* for an REH villain!  The next preview should also comment on the game environment which was well done from an artistic stand point too. 

  • BrynnBrynn Albuquerque, NMPosts: 345Member

    For the players who think they can macro their combat styles, or set the combat on auto, think again. You will be actively involved and your choices will make the difference between surviving and death. You won't see this as much in the earliest levels, but definitely as you level up it will become more and more important. When you do your class specific quests, starting at level 5, you will really see the reality of this.

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