FunCom was on-hand at DragonCon to give a preview of Age of Conan to the people there. In addition, I had a chance to speak to Ole Herbjornsen, the lead developer for the game, for a few minutes after the presentation.
My E3 preview of the game covered a lot of the basics, especially in the single player game. They showed more of the game play this time, and it looks pretty good. It’s obviously still being worked on, but it seems to be coming together.
One of the things they’ve pointed out is the fact that the game is going to be very centered around guilds. Any guild that wants an instanced PvE city will be able to get one; in addition, there will be battle keeps in the outlands which will be very restricted in terms of numbers on each server. That’ll keep competition for them heavy. All servers will have some PvP on them, at least, and there may be some roleplay servers – that hasn’t been decided yet. (Though there will not be live events.)
The archery system is one thing it seems a lot of people like. Unlike many other MMORPGs, it’s actually in a first person mode when you go to shoot a bow. You can pick the effects you want to do with them, too – such as just straight damage, or debuffs.
One of the important things for FunCom is that they want to keep the “look” and “feel” of the Conan books, comics, and movies in the game. For example, one of the examples they used is that there are no mage robes – but mages look really mean. Another fun example was the description of two armies preparing to fight, with their mages on their respective hills launching spells. Both mages concentrate – then both explode and die.
(They haven’t decided on death penalties yet, but one thing they have said definitively is that there will be no corpse runs.)
One of the advantages of starting off single player (remember, the first 20 levels of the 80 levels you can get are off-line solo levels) is that the player will be able to have a much more interactive experience with the NPCs while learning the game, as well as four branching story types depending on the player’s archetype. There will be 20 PvP levels available, with PvP talents and abilities that are ONLY usable in PvP. Those are in addition to your PvE levels, though you’ll probably want to level to a certain point in PvE before trying to get your PvP levels.
You’ll also have tradeskill levels, with maybe 5-6 schools of crafting and perhaps 7-8 tiers of crafting.
Still, PvP will be a very big focus on the game. Rubber banding will be used to keep people in formation while doing formation combat, and mounted combat depends on your speed to see how much damage you’re doing. There may be a bounty system built into the game, but blood money will be in the game.
When I asked Ole what single feature he thought I should mention to people to see if they’re interested in the game, he described to me the drunken brawling system.
You see, when you’re still leveling up, if you want to try out PvP without risking anything, you can get into a bar brawl. You don’t use your swords or arrows – though you may be able to use beer mugs. It’s all “non-lethal” damage, and gives people a fun introduction to PvP.
This sounds all too familiar...