Sunday, May 18, 2008

Age of Conan first day

The early access of Age of Conan finally started. And Funcom applied the so-called "miracle patch" and managed to get the release version being better than the open beta version. Unfortunately it is still far from perfect. I can play at a good framerate of 50 fps, but only with low graphics settings, in spite of a E6600 dual core CPU, 4 GB of RAM, and a Geforce 8800 GTS 512 MB. And once in a while the game freezes up, and I need to reboot my computer to restart. Never seen a game that needs so long from reboot to actually running.

I played 9 hours and made it to level 15 with a Herald of Xotl. I only chose that class because I wanted to play a Stygian, as their level 20 area looked more interesting than the Cymerian or Aquilonian one. But it turns out that the herals is not a bad class at all. Technically he is a mage, but up to now I haven't got a single ranged spell or ability. The heralds main damage is done with a two-handed edged weapon, combos, and his Hellfire Breath spell. I put my first 5 talent points into improving that breath, so now it has a casting time of 0.3 seconds, practically an instant, and deals awesome area damage. As the combos take about as much time as the cooldown of the breath, I do a breath - combo - breath - combo dance which is quite lethal. And of course the herald has the I WIN ability, the ability to transform himself into a rather nasty demon every 2 minutes for 30 seconds, which helps a lot when you need to overcome a tricky situation. Best strategy is to transform into demon, quaff a heal-over-time potion, and then attack, and even large groups of my level are no problem. Having said that, I must say that I have never died so often in the lower levels of a game. Age of Conan is quite deadly, with sometimes huge aggro ranges and unexpected respawns.

After some experimentation it turned out that the optimum strategy for Tortage is to try to get as far as you can in the night mode (destiny mode, solo), and only play the multiplayer day mode when you need more levels for the destiny quests. If you level in multiplayer first, the destiny quests just become harder, because the level of the mobs there rise too. And of course in solo mode you don't have the problems with other people killing your mobs, which is endemic in some parts, like the White Sands Island. The destiny quest line is a lot of fun, where else can you make a volcano explode by exchanging the blood of a virgin used in a ritual to calm the volcano with the blood of a lady of negotiable virtue? Of course I missed half of the volcan eruption when my computer crashed again.

But I was happy enough to get to that quest at all, because the quest (The Awakening II) before that, finding a man called Renton and making him talk, is bugged. I killed his corrupted friends, he moves to another point, I kill the next group of corrupted friends, he moves in front of his house, and I get no third spawn of mobs to kill. And when I talk to Renton, the quest dialogue suddenly ends without any more options, you need to hit ESC to even leave the dialogue. Now normally I would have been forever stuck in there, as even after 1 hour of petitioning no GM came to help. But fortunately once you reach level 14 you are given the option to skip that part of the destiny quest and continue right with the next part, which I did.

So up to now Age of Conan is a mixture of having fun and getting frustrated often, a feeling I know from many previous bugged game launches. AoC is "playable", but don't expect a high level of technical excellence and customer service.

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