E3 '07: Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures Updated Impressions - Pets, Dungeons, and Lots of Combat

We duck out of the Santa Monica sun to take an updated look at this violent massively multiplayer game.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--It's summer in Southern California, and that of course means press events for video games like Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. The massively multiplayer game will feature violent, bloody sword battles reminiscent of the motion picture 300, as well as sophisticated high-level play for online role-playing veterans.

For the first time, publisher Eidos and developer Funcom are showing Age of Conan's "pet" system, which lets certain magic-using professions in the high-fantasy game summon "pet" creatures to accompany them into battle. Apparently, characters that can summon pets will be able to accrue up to eight "pet points," which can be alloted to summoning pets of different levels of power; for instance, a high-level necromancer character can use all eight points to summon eight medium-sized scorpions as pets, or the character can summon two magic-wielding spirits that cost four points each. Different pets will have different functions; the scorpions are straightforward combat drones, for instance, that leap into the melee, while the robed spirits we saw summoned bolts of lighting to hurl at their enemies from a distance.

We had a chance to observe more high-level combat in the game, which remains as bloody and violent as ever. We watched a small party of a sword-wielding barbarian, a priest, and a necromancer leap into action against the thugs in a bandit camp, and later, launch a raid on a small Cimmerian village where Conan himself was born. While the necromancer character seemed better suited to hanging back and zapping the enemy with magic spells, both the barbarian and priest character leapt into battle, though the priest character did prepare for combat by casting protective "buff" spells, summoning ghostly serpents and female spirits to cast magical wards on the party first.

Click to enlarge!

We ended our tour with a brief visit to an extremely high-level dungeon known as "Black Ring Citadel," a level-80 dungeon (80 will be the highest character level you can attain at the game's launch) intended for the game's full "raid" contingent of up to 24 characters. The dungeon itself seemed to be an elegant temple under construction, alternating between rooms floored with red marble and pillars adorned with golden serpents, on the more developed side, and stony caves being carved out by slave crews. Apparently, the dungeon will be the base of a mad wizard who has discovered the secret of animating stone gargoyles and bending the beasts to his will, so players will be attacked by smaller stony creatures before confronting the sorcerer himself. The sorcerer, when defeated, actually tumbles out of his robes and becomes a gigantic, stony monstrosity. After this form of the wizard was ultimately destroyed, our party delved further into the dungeon to a gigantic hall in which an enormous gargoyle creature much larger than the full screen's size stood in wait for us, and summoned additional gargoyles and apprentice wizards while it swiped at our party with its huge claws. Funcom estimates that about 90% of Age of Conan players will eventually join a guild, so the studio is not only building additional non-combat activities into the game, it's also creating challenging group encounters that may involve new enemies spawning from the remains of old ones, as well as relentless attacks of enemies that come in waves, similar to some of the higher-level encounters from Funcom's Anarchy Online.

Age of Conan continues to look like a promising online game for players who are ready to take on a very different and very mature-themed challenge. The game is scheduled for launch later this year.

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56 comments
DanzigThrall
DanzigThrall

I will be getting this along with Warhammer I enjoy playing MMOs I been looking forword to those two and Zenfoldor its not based on the movies dude and also you dont know if a game will ever dethrone WoW but I guarantee you that if a MMO of Diablo came out it would be the new MMO king cause after all WoW's character lvling came from it and it would be a M rating

KRAZYKYLE837
KRAZYKYLE837

This game looks and sounds cool. IT probably has a monthly fee for online.

akazergling2
akazergling2

Mmmk, so after checking out the site, I'll definetaly try Conan...even if it does share it's name with a certain late night talk show host who I really can't stand.

akazergling2
akazergling2

Meh, I play wow and I doubt I'll give this a try. I don't mind if anyone else does though, more power to you. @fkutrn, trust me, we deal with anti-fanboys of wow constently whenever a new game is coming out, so I can understand some people taking it to them on their own turf.

gacmyver
gacmyver

zenfolder is probably among the dumbest people alive... do you not understand that you and your wow got 8million+ subscribers? go and have fun with your game and leave other games to other people mate... ive been waiting for this since last year when i heard about it, i like gore and mature themes. never read conan books and thought conan movie was fun rather than cool :P but this game seems like a good mmo and i will give it a try like many others... hope it succeds cause then it means that i will have a good time years to come with it (as opposed to having to watch out for another mmo)!

fkutrn
fkutrn

lol I love seeing all the WOW fans anytime there is a new mmo come out and bash it like a dog protecting his porch. With that said I think this is going to be a good game, the combat system seems to module that of Tabula Rasa which though different really sucks. So I pray that this is not the case. I have been waiting awhile for this mmo to come out but I like that they are listening to the people in the beta and fixing the bugs and errors. Cause lets face it like or hate WOW, it has a strong fan base and the game needs to be perfect and interesting to at least have a chance. I have been doing some reading on it and it will have a SWG system of player built cities (which looks amazing!) and good character customization with each race having a good story to work from. Also I enjoy the idea of the single player mode that you start the game with. I hope it isn't like GW where it's all instances and hack and slash but from what I have seen and read this game will deliver the same enjoyable expierence you would expect from a good quality mmo. Plus you can't argue with some gore and I like how it steers away from the Lord of the rings, D&D fantasy elves and dwarfs game play. p.s. before any WOW fans rip into this just know I have 4 lvl 70s and let me tell you the game has some cool moments but boring over all! I have played the warcraft series since orcs and humans, WOW could have done better. Just look at it like this 6 million players 15 bucks a month. WOW makes around 80 to 90 mil a month, for that money it could be a heck of alot better Blizzard really should have kept it as the fun RTS-RPG it was! I enjoy playing my EQ2 toons more, there is a ton of stuff to do in that game.

DivineChampion
DivineChampion

I'm slightly confused why a necromancer would summon scorpions unless they're like fleshstiched and decaying zombie scorpions. I get the feeling that the whole summoning scorpions theme was inspired by the "Make Love, Not Warcraft" episode of SP. Anyways i really cant wait for this game to come out. Im really bored of WoW and there is no way in hell im coming back to GW. The AoC:HA looks fantastic and I've been waiting for a damn long time for a GORY MMo: Little blood splatters are not sufficient for my hunger. Dismembering limbs and decapitating your opponents in a berserk stance of unimaginable blind fury and seeing people's intestines and guts splatter and tearing out their heart before their disbelieving eyes is something i REALLY WANT! So far, all ive seen are just decapitations but i hope as soon as the game comes out, you can take dead cats and make necklaces out of them.....just like wear a dead cat around your neck....I mean c'mon! This game needs to be more SAVAGE! LIKE KORGOTH!

zunit88
zunit88

Naaaah!!!! AM sticking with Warhammer Age of Reakoning

ranbla
ranbla

Lol @ Zenfoldor. WoW is a good game, but it isn't the be all end all of MMORPGs. There's PLENTY of room for improvement and you better believe that someone is going to make something that will make WoW numbers look puny. Whether or not AoC is the one, it's kinda of hard to say since it's not finished. The reason WoW is so popular is because it's easy-mode. A monkey could play WoW and get to level cap. However, at that point, you're done unless you're in a raiding guild and then you get to raid the same handful of instances over and over and over. WoW is really a very shallow MMO. It's not bad, just shallow, and that is apparently what most people want as the large subscription base will attest to. But it isn't "the best" and never was.

mithon81
mithon81

I scoff at your pittyfull remarks Zenfoldor. Granted, WoW is a great game, but that's no reason to slaughter every other game, former, existing and future. To me AoC looks great, they're trying to do something new (mature + new combat system), and I for one am willing to give them a chance. I dare say it has potential. It all comes down to how fun the new system turns out, how immersive the world is, how good the quests are, and how good the social structures within the game are. Though.. I do wish we would soon get a game that isn't based on hit-points/health or equivalent. If somebody stabs you with a sword, you're in trouble. I wish somebody would soon make an rpg where combat is more about positioning allowing you to score a hit, and once a hit is scored, a huge penalty should be applied to the wounded part, untill healed at least.. I'm not holding my breath though.

Zenfoldor
Zenfoldor

Oh I can't wait until....bah, I can't do it. There is no way this game will even come close to the quality of World of Warcraft. I'm sure a lot of the WoW haters out there will buy this as a plausable alternative. I'm sure many fans of the movies, and books will buy this for sheer fanboyistic bliss, and I'm sure that it will have tons of cool lore and gameplay features. Unfortunately I'm also certain that if 1/100th of the people who play World of Warcraft play this game, is will have suceeded in its moderate goals, which are to create a underdeveloped mmo based on the popularity of a couple of Arnold films from the 80's, which imo, were at least entertaining to watch for more than a couple of hours. I doubt anyone will say so for this game. Dethrone World of Warcraft? No game could ever do that, no matter how good it is, there are too many hardcore subscribers. No MMO could even give it a run for its money, until the popularity of WoW itself dies down and allows it. Could it not be an absolute and utter failure like every other MMO that has reared its ugly head since WoW was touted for release? Its chances are slim to none, given that most serious gamers will look it over, as a crappy game looking to cash in on the popularity of the Govenator. You can't even look like a game trying to rip off a movie, or you'll lose half your audience. Poor marketing decision, made requisite by poorly thought out premise. Good luck to this game, however. Do yourself a favor. If your have never given World of Warcraft a chance, buy it now. Don't hate it because you feel you've been left out. Every Xpak, everyone's status is basically reset. You buy the game today, and you'll be at the same spot as everyone else when Wrath of the Lich King comes out, the next expansion pack. Anyone who doesn't at least admit to the FAR superior quality of the game compared to any other MMO is biased for some other reason, and is probably a disgruntled Guild Wars fan, and almost assuredly has never played a character in world of warcraft past level 20.

Crist93
Crist93

I think I'm going to enjoy this game. It's different in both gameplay and feeling for an mmorpg and it's in the world of Conan the barbarian!

SENTRY56
SENTRY56

BY CROM WE SHALL FIGHT!!!!

wolvie1313
wolvie1313

Sorry steveo, AOC will (by the grace of the Gods) have nothing to do with either of the VERY stupid movies. Both movies were a disgrace to Robert E Howard. This game seems to be giving Howard the respect his character deserves. I have never looked foward to a game more.

DeadZone21
DeadZone21

In my personal opinion Age Of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (so far) looks excellent for many reasons. First off I would like to say that the amount of gore in this game is exactly what I needed. I was getting tired of playing MMORPG's that had little to no blood/gore/violence. In this beautifully titled game, I may actually get a surge of accomplishment after killing someone, another words, what true gamer wouldn't want to have an order of limbs and blood fly in front of their screen!? My blade will get a touch of realism from this blood covered title. I am a true fantasy MMO fan, (FFXI, WoW) and these games lacked this greatly, (not all the way, and at least a little blood right?) among other things. But I'm not here to point fingers at other MMO's, so I shall continue. Another aspect of AoC: HA that brings attention to my eyes, is the Combat System. This system is quite innovative, and MIGHT actually challenge a players wit, speed, and skill in order to slay his opponent. This Combat System will give another feeling of true accomplishment after slaying my foe (hopefully). Sure its enjoyable smashing opponents in other MMORPG's for awhile, but was it just me or did at times give no true quarrel? It felt bland and outdated after months of the same old "micromanaging". The graphics simply seem to be eye candy-not only do the graphics look nicely done, it also has a fantastic style bringing out the true nature of this title (so far). hopefully this will be true once this beast is released. I also (from what I have seen) like the brutal look of most of the Monsters as well. They truly look like grueling beasts waiting for the slaughter! Agreed? Overall, Age Of Conan: Hyborian Adventures seems to be running in the right direction in my opinion. But there is one thing I am afraid of, the equipment. I know there isn't much variation in equipment showing because its not a finished title, but I get this feeling that there will be a very small amount of (for lack of the better word) "cool" looking gear. I wouldn't mind looking like a barbarian, but as long as I know I can actually look "cool" at some point in the in this working title....I can't be walking around looking "lame" at a high level can I?! I guess only time will tell. If you want to talk further about this working title, give me a message... By the way, I loved the movies and Novels. DeadZone -A True Gamer- :)

bigaus
bigaus

"Yea come out on 360, not likely go buy or build a computer kid." I will prefer it on PC as well, but before you open your mouth and make yourself look like a dumb@$$ "Doc", how bout you get your facts straight. AoC was confirmed for release on the 360 months ago. They haven't confirmed there will be open pvp servers, so unless you dumb enough on a level 5 to enter a pvp zone, you won't be getting killed by level 50's. Again, do some reading/research before b!tching. Sounds like you get owned alot.

Docthebutcher
Docthebutcher

Yea come out on 360, not likely go buy or build a computer kid. And my concern is will they be active getting rid of farmers and the kids who run bot trains? I know companies like NCSOFT actually support their farmers and wont do anything about L2walker since their farmers use it. And whats the punishment if a say whatever a level 50 keeps killing a level 5? I know the kids get off on this no challenge type fights, but i seen so many quit games cause they couldnt get leveled up. These types of kills only point stuff the geeks scores and they think they have actually achicved some greateness, least till their mom yells at them to stop jekring off at their screen in a mmorpg. Doc

dashawnthl
dashawnthl

CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS TO COME OUT ON 360, U GOT MY PRE-ORDER VOTE HERE =)

savage1903
savage1903

damn why time move so slow when u need something, cant wait to pre order it!

Dylanius
Dylanius

Why would I summon a SCORPION .... as a NECROMANCER?? Come on! ZOMBIES!

wdmalik
wdmalik

Great Man, anxiously waiting .... next months are gonna be good :D

amareen18
amareen18

man i will buy this game for sure:)

VfighterX
VfighterX

@ DarkenedFury What?! What mmo has people having their limbs hacked off?!

Byzantinian
Byzantinian

DarkenedFury: Please show me one other MMO that's currently released that has the level of gore AoC has (i.e. hacking off of limbs, decapitations). According to you there's several so that shouldn't be hard for you right?...

poyupop
poyupop

Don't worry candle, Hyboria is filled chock-full of Jackanapes in the books that deserve a good taste of steel. I think even the idiot l33tsters will serve as fine fodder.

choonyos
choonyos

crazymoose99 -- What theCandle said was that even on RP servers they are the same as non, but they have the "ooc" tag in front of it. Unfortunately, these games do tend to suffer from the power that is a modem. We've had the joke for 10+ years that "my modem can kick your modems as*"... the anonymous people tend to be the worst. It's unfortunate that this medium brings out the worst in people, but it's just a fact. GB is correct, you just need to ignore the idiocy, and focus on your gameplay. I have no problems playing these games for the most part following that philosophy.

Darkenedfury
Darkenedfury

This game does look like an awesome MMORPG, but promising a battle system that will see fights similar to the film 300....somehow i dont see that happening, maybe the odd blood splatter and perhaps the enemy will lose a limb when it dies, but that happens on a fair few MMOS. I do see myself buying this game but unfortunately as it seems to have been built up so much i cant help but feel that im going to be disappointed.

steveo7195
steveo7195

just curious if this game has anything to do with the Conan movies which the first one was pretty good, or is this a completely different story?

Aniqiewan
Aniqiewan

I think Conan is brilliant, but mmorpgs are not. is this another subscription game?

GB1787
GB1787

Candle your totally right... but you dont have to read the chat and there will probably be an option to minimize the chat window. We'll probably also have lame named characters... just goes with the territory.. all you can do is try to limit your interaction with the morons and play your part by adding to the atmosphere. I play dungeons and dragons online, and I dont even bother to respond to players unless I like their character/name etc, ie.. you can tell just about everything you need to know about someoen from their characters's name appearence etc.

crazymoose99
crazymoose99

Are you serious theCandle? Do you live in Hyboria? what are you trying to say? You don't want people to play because theyll make stupid chuck norris jokes in the chat screen? Just join a damn RP server if your so worried. I dont even understand your concern because it makes no sense. Most online games are exactly like this, no one wants to play to help the 'atmosphere' of the world. People play video games to have fun. It looks fun so I'm going to play it. If you dont like people ruining the atmosphere you can also play the game, just on a RP server.

theCandle
theCandle

I can't help but look at this game in awe seeing every part of the world created in great detail. It seems like a huge goldmine for a immersive experience to me which leads to the major worry i have for this game. My main concern is that after the developers literally make the world of Hyboria you fill it with a majority of players that won't fit as part of the immersion. It's like creating a movie set that is a corner of the world in Hyboria then you fill it with people that have no shortage of fun with their Chuck Norris jokes and no ideas of their own about how they would act if they were transported into a world like this. Role play servers can be a drag and you end up with similar stuff in the chat window except for the /OOC tag placed in front. It's just not easy to play the part of a person in a world you've never been to. In the case of full blown worlds that have been recreated like Conan the Barbarian you have actors that are going to play their parts and roles as they fit in that world and help to make it what it's supposed to be. So my thoughts are that you have a world created in the finest detail and then people that are unfamiliar with that world and living in their own real world separate from Hyboria so how are these people going to in any convincing way help to create the atmosphere that is Conan's world of Hyboria?

Jerian
Jerian

This is the Reason I am upgrading my PC, Conan will Rule Over All!

dsleev
dsleev

vega-- Robert E. Howard wrote the Conan books in the '30's and about King Kull in the late '20's-- well before Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit were written. He and HP Lovecraft were the originators of the "high-fantasy" genre as it is today. Elves and Dwarves were derived from ancient religion and folklore and then heaped on top of what those earlier pioneers had started. Despite being devoid of elves, you might really like the Conan books, particularly Dark Horse's run of Conan taken directly from the pages of Howard's original stories.

fissure000
fissure000

Shows a lot of promise, hope they don't mess it up =P

icytower
icytower

Never been a fan of Conan or MMORPG, I think my choice on the game are obvious.

Syzgygy
Syzgygy

I don't get any sound either on this one.

vega666
vega666

Why keep on calling age of conan a high fantasy game? It's NOT. High fantasy means elves, dwarves, orks and fairies in all their stereotypical glory. There will be NO elves, dwarves, orks OR fairies in this game -at all-.

dohdohmanduh
dohdohmanduh

No there are two games. There is this one which is Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, a MMORPG that is going to be out for PC first and Xbox360 latter. Then there is Conan which is a single player action game for PS3 and Xbox360 which is made by THQ and is slatted to come out some time in 2008. Please look it up if you think that i am wrong

v1kinG_
v1kinG_

No, there is one conan game. Coming out for the PC this year and Xbox in 2008.

Ade_Newman
Ade_Newman

Is it just me or does the video have no sound? Ade.

poyupop
poyupop

The genre is called sword and sorcery; thus wizards, warriors ad. nauseum. However, what you won't find is a bunch of fancy lad elves mincing about the forest asking you to purify their wells (toilets?) like high-fantasy MMO's. Anyway, if you don't like wizards and warriors..fantasy MMO's straight up arent' for you. Give Tabula Rasa a try.

DouglasBuffone
DouglasBuffone

The game looks very good so far, lets hope they don't mess it up

Cowyg
Cowyg

I think they have done an excellent job of breaking the WoW structure. I can't wait for this game! defiantly goin to be Herald of Xotli :D

Alibubble
Alibubble

Well jazilla I think you are asking for too much pointless stuff. A game can call its magic characters whatever they want, but they are still wizards or mages or whatever. Thats what they are. You can call em clerics or magi but that doesn't change who they are. A warrior is a warrior. Its just a name, a word. And anyways, Funcom has done its best to create new kinds of classes apart from the norm. There are priests but they are not all the same. They are very different from eachother. Would you rather have a game that didn't have pets, or dungeons, or monsters? Is that even possible?

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

looks exciting..can't wait for the stage demo tomorow