Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures Updated Impressions - Drunken Brawling, Spell Weaving, and More

We've got the latest details on this impressive online action role-playing game based on Robert E. Howard's famous Conan novels.

by

The universe of Robert E. Howard's popular Conan the Barbarian (played most memorably by Arnold Schwarzenegger) promises to come to life next year when Funcom and Eidos launch Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, an impressive and action-packed massively multiplayer role-playing game. In Age of Conan, you won't be able to play as Conan himself, but you will be able to create your own unique character and adventure as a soldier, priest, mage, or rogue. We had a chance to catch up with game director Gaute Godager, who showed us some of the latest progress on the game.

Age of Conan won't let you play as the titular barbarian, but you may be able to meet him as you adventure in this vast world.

Age of Conan is currently undergoing a closed beta test, so a limited number of outside testers have been playing the game and offering feedback. Based on that input, a notable change has been made to how soon you'll be able to start playing with other players. Age of Conan is different from a lot of massively multiplayer online role-playing games in that you can play it as a single-player game, and then once your character hits level 20 experience, you can start playing it as an online game with others. This lets you create a powerful character on your own terms before you venture into the online fray. However, if you're starting the game over again with a new character, you might want to get into the multiplayer action faster so you won't be restricted to level 20 if you want to jump into the online play sooner.

Godager gave us a quick tour of various aspects of the game, from the early stage when you create a character to some of the later stages. You'll start the game as a galley slave on a sailing vessel. If you create a male character, you'll be one of the poor saps who has to row all day long, while female characters are consigned to some of the quarters. But don't worry; you won't be a slave for long. After you finish creating your character, you'll escape and find yourself washed ashore with nothing but a broken oar as your weapon; from there, you'll be able to determine your own destiny.

Fast-forwarding a bit, Godager showed us the beautiful port city of Tortage, which serves as the main hub of your adventures for the first 20 levels. Tortage really shows off Age of Conan's impressive visuals; it is a city of towering buildings, built on a cliff that overlooks a harbor below. If you have the appropriate climbing skills, you'll be able to climb the many various buildings, which opens up all sorts of storytelling possibilities. For instance, thieves will be able to sneak into various dwellings to do their thing.

There's an impressive amount of visual detail throughout the game.

Tortage is also a city filled with taverns, which will be perfect for the new drunken brawling player-versus-player combat system. Drunken brawling is one of the three types of PVP that will be in the game, and it's designed to be the most fun and social. This isn't about killing the other player but rather getting into a raucous bar fight. Basically, your character can get drunk on various beverages, and each one might confer a different fighting ability. Mead will transform you into a bruiser in battle, while wine might be good if you want to be more of a swashbuckler. Instead of weapons, you'll use everyday objects, such as bar stools. And thanks to a ladder ranking system, you can build up a reputation as a good drunken brawler. The two other PVP modes will be minigames, such as capture the flag, and the massive PVP mode, which lets you engage in siege combat to defend or attack a city.

Next up was combat. Godager transported his character (now dressed in fancy armor and armed with a gleaming sword) to a distant valley to battle a bunch of barbarians. The combat system in Age of Conan is more like one found in an action game than a typical massively multiplayer role-playing game. There is no autocombat, where you simply click on a target and watch as your character attacks until the target is dead. Instead, like in an action game, you have to control your character's strikes. You can execute combination moves, so instead of a simple jab, you can try a mighty swing to behead your opponent.

To get around the valley faster, Godager summoned a horse mount. Horses are one of the three mounts in the game, along with camels and woolly mammoths. Godager then showed us the spell-weaving magic system in the game. The idea behind spell weaving is that you can take two different spells and combine them, which will enhance their effect so that the result is more than the sum of its parts. However, if you cast evil spells, you'll accrue spell corruption points. This means that if you're killed, you might get pulled down into hell where you have to fight a demon.

Siege battles are one form of player-versus-player warfare.

According to Godager, Funcom has spent about three years in development on the game, and the good news is that all the pieces are finally falling into place. Because Age of Conan is a showcase game for Windows Vista, Microsoft's new operating system, it will also ship with support for DirectX 10. We're told that the DirectX 10 version will offer enhanced graphics in the form of longer view distances, more particle effects, more polygons, and more-detailed shadows. An Xbox 360 version of the game was also announced this week and details on that are still mostly to come, but it sounds like the game can be played entirely using the Xbox 360 controller. And you won't need a keyboard in order to communicate with others because you can rely on the voice support that's built into Xbox Live. And while the date for the Xbox 360 version is still to be determined, we can expect the PC version to launch sometime in the spring of 2007.

Discussion

35 comments
Regroth
Regroth

Damn... I hoped it will be sold like GW or something... :( I shall have to wait for GW II then. And since im currently low on budget >.>

Zahnlos
Zahnlos

Yes, it will have a monthly fee. It will be competitive with other MMO's. I checked it out on the official website.

The-Psycho
The-Psycho

Is this game gona have a monthly fee? ive heard varrying reports on this and i want some confirmation

Scott762x51
Scott762x51

Unlike most other games i have read about that haven't been released yet, this one sounds better the more I hear about the details.

thestrateger
thestrateger

it has a very good graphics and sounds but not so good, but i must can't wait to see his rank(when gamespot give to the game rank/ if gamespot will give to the game a rank...)

rich181
rich181

The screenshots look great, but you shouldn't have to wear a miniskirt if you're a badass male warrior ;-)

vmfstorm1
vmfstorm1

i think in a press release from e3 the developer said he was some sort of king or ruler

3wedge3
3wedge3

What part does Conan actully play in the game? Is he just a legendary Hero? Can you meet or interact with him?

natebayne
natebayne

This game looks incredible. I almost want to pick it up when it comes out of i can break the wow addiction again. But with BC coming out im not sure i can lol. I dont think we'll see wow dethroned for a long time.

BounceDK
BounceDK

Hops it's less laggy than Anarchy Online. That game is unplayable most of the time.

HellsKing
HellsKing

Gasolineonfire...whats the point of a shooter to have autocombat? Reminds me of those lame Metroid Prime games for gamecube...I just hope you were joking... Anyways...HORAY, CONAN! That would be cool if you could play as Mako, the wizard or Thulsa Doom! ...f'n A...Conan rocks!

gasolineonfire
gasolineonfire

[QUOTE]"There is no autocombat, where you simply click on a target and watch as your character attacks until the target is dead. Instead, like in an action game, you have to control your character's strikes." Thank god I really cant stand those EQ and wow fighting systems. Sounds like someone is finally doing something right![/QUOTE] I wish quake and unreal tournament had autocombat.

masterjjx
masterjjx

Hope this game lives up to the hype.

hexqc
hexqc

I can't wait for this game to come out!

deth420
deth420

"There is no autocombat, where you simply click on a target and watch as your character attacks until the target is dead. Instead, like in an action game, you have to control your character's strikes." Thank god I really cant stand those EQ and wow fighting systems. Sounds like someone is finally doing something right!

crazy_joe_5
crazy_joe_5

Sounds good! Can't wait to see the gameplay!

89past
89past

this sounds like a game that could be amazing:)

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

Wooly Mammoth mounts. That sounds pretty sick.

Romanticide
Romanticide

This might actually limit the 360 version to just 360, unless they implement a way for the PC version to have that VoIP capabilities, which frankly I'm not sure it can be done. ...please say you ARE kidding.That's almost as dumb as this kid who said that the face mapping on R6 Vegas couldnt be done on PC, even though itwas done many many years ago on the original Unreal Tournament. Of course VoIP is possible on PC, ever heard of Skype? Ventrilo? Teamspeak?! It's been around a very long time.

Uprightguy
Uprightguy

I am just waiting for some sort of pricing to be announced. Looks like a great game. As for the combat I think this sort of combat would be preferred over click and watch. Hoping for an immersion like Dungeon Lords but with Multiplayer.

mkreku
mkreku

I just want Funcom to finish the Longest Journey trilogy. The ending in Dreamfall really bugged me. I need more! To hell with this game, to hell with all MMO's.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

This game better be good if it wants to beat WoW. By the way, will we see DirectX 10 support in WoW? Probably not...

lobobizarro
lobobizarro

"(...)but it sounds like the game can be played entirely using the Xbox 360 controller. And you won't need a keyboard in order to communicate with others because you can rely on the voice support that's built into Xbox Live." This might actually limit the 360 version to just 360, unless they implement a way for the PC version to have that VoIP capabilities, which frankly I'm not sure it can be done. I just wish M$ would just hurry up and make a Keyboard/Mouse and be done with this, giving you the option to play with either, but will also let you play with PC users. But alas, no info on the 360 version is available concerning PC to 360, so, we just have to wait and see. Im looking forward to this game though, and if it's limited to 360, then so be it.

STARS_Splinter
STARS_Splinter

Age of Conan might end up being a niche game, aye... but it looks like it'll be a hell of a fun game to play.

stanislavski86
stanislavski86

OMG! Graphics get better and better each and every day. I have been following the game around a year now and comparison between a 2005 Alpha shot and now the closed beta shots are even incomparible! FC is doing a great job. And for the casual gamers out there, worry not because the devs promise to make sure that we have fun in this game. Don't let the PvP focus deceive you, there will be servers with different rulesets. Normal servers will have both PvP and PvE areas as separated thus if you don't want to PvP, you can always spend time in PvE areas. Besides that though there is a high possibility of total open PvP server at launch. If not at launch, eventually.

Lazy_Marine
Lazy_Marine

i agree with lord_cack, the combat system, while it maybe a good change from the traditional autocomabt system, will be the main reason this game might not score big among the casual gamers. Personally i am looking forward to this game as i have faith in Funcom as one of the best developers out there.

mack10
mack10

I hope this game is gonna be awesome, because I haven't played a good MMO since FFXI and WoW and I play neither one now (so this was about a year or so ago since I've played both). This game sounds interesting and I'll be buying it for the 360 for sure when its released; hopefully simultaneously with the Window's version of the game.

lord_cack
lord_cack

I think this game falls into a niche market. Even more so than most MMO's because it focus's a lot on PvP and the Single Player experience. Which is what has me interested. Along with the multiple facets of character development. I hope however it doesn't end up like Guild Wars. Great game but not what I was hoping for. But, the combat system is what really makes Age of Conan a hard sell. Believe it or not most MMO players I know LIKE the fact that they hit one button and keep attacking. This game will simply to be to complex to hit a certain group of people. I think that is one thing you can look at and see that ALL the popular MMO's, with the notable exception of City of Heroes/Villians, do and that is they all have auto combat systems.

uberjannie
uberjannie

been hyped about this game for some time now. I hope itll be a real wow killer. Tired of the cartoonish wow graphics.

poyupop
poyupop

I've been following this game for years; it's looking like they are going to deliver on their promise as so far. While I am not a hardcore RP'r, I don't really know if I want my Hyborean immersion ruinded by some overly chatty child. I can only hope that the consoles will have their own servers. Furthermore, the console players won't have a chance against PC users in PVP. Community based UI mods and macro's will pretty much eat the console users alive. By Mitra, the wait is almost over.

VanGriffin
VanGriffin

Xbox? Bah. PC & PS3 all the way. Game looks awesome though.

Cobretti1818
Cobretti1818

I wouldn't mind sneaking into the female slave quaters. Sounds GREAT!!