GDC '08: Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures Updated Impressions - High-Level Questing, Mounted Combat, Sieging

We take an updated look at this upcoming online game that will let you do everything short of hearing the lamentations of their women.

by

Crush your enemies. See them driven before you.
SAN FRANCISCO--It wouldn't be the 2008 Game Developers Conference without games to show, and we took the opportunity to take an updated look at Funcom's Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. The upcoming online game takes place in the savage, brutal fantasy world created by author Robert E. Howard, and it's continued to show progress along the course of its development over the past four-and-a-half years. We had a chance to revisit the character creation process, which leads to your first adventure on the island of Tortage and will put you on a path to, as game director Gaute Godager put it, "peeling back the layers of an evil onion," since, over the course of the game, you'll encounter evil factions and monsters who seem threatening enough, but when defeated or escaped, may prove even graver threats.

We had a chance to watch a high-level dungeon crawl in motion, which included a party of characters at the maximum level of 80. The party made its way through a dank series of caverns inhabited by angry giant lizardmen that leapt to attack, but also revealed the game's tactical "armor" feature. The game uses a real-time combat system that lets you attack in as many as five directions (using a different keystroke for each), and you'll have various combination attacks that use different directional attacks in sequence. But you won't always be able to use the same attacks with success, since, depending on your enemies' facing and equipment, your foes may have extra protection on, for instance, their left or right flank. Age of Conan's combat replicates actual collision with player models--this is a fancy way of saying that your characters actually take up real space in the world and will bump into one another unless you can find your way around. So, should your enemies shift position to expose their armored side to the very end of your most devastating combination attack, you won't be able to deal the kind of damage you seek, unless you also reposition yourself. These positional concerns will come into play in both melee and ranged combat; one of the characters in the party we watched wielded a long-handled lance that was able to poke at enemies from behind the backs of frontline allies, and these same concerns will come into play once archers and spell-flinging wizards take the field.

You'll fight on foot or mounted on beasts, and will even try storming the castle. Have fun with that.

Even though the possibility of smart tactical strategy in an online game's combat system seems intriguing, perhaps the most exciting form of combat in Age of Conan will be on the backs of beasts. We saw several examples of mounted combat in action as characters took up one of three different animals: a charger horse, a war mammoth, and a war rhino reminiscent of the motion picture 300. Interestingly, though you won't be able to access all your on-foot combination attacks while riding, you will have access to other different attacks suited specifically for mounted combat. Your attacks will also be more deadly the faster you're riding--this seems like it will mostly come into play while on horseback, since horses can gallop furiously, rear back and attack with their front legs, or lean forward and send enemies flying with a powerful kick from their rear legs. Mammoths and rhinos won't allow for weapon combat (they're just too big) and will handle much more poorly than swift steeds, but they'll still be extremely powerful in battle, and can even be used to deal siege damage to enemy walls.

We also had a chance to get another look at player keeps, which can be purchased at exorbitant prices by ambitious guilds willing to gather thousands of units of various resources, such as metal, stone, and wood. Guilds can be created as in many other online games, by recruiting other players, and once a guild is established, players can choose a location for a stronghold. In our demonstration, the frozen plains of Cimmeria, Conan's homeland, was chosen. Once construction on a keep has begun, the buildings rise out of the earth, similar to the animations in popular real-time strategy games such as the Age of Empires series, though the most strongly fortified keeps will have both outer and inner walls surrounding the precious citadel, as well as automated defenses on the walls. However, the best defense for a coveted stronghold will be a determined guild of players--interestingly, the game will not model the distance for height when players attack from above, so defending archers can effectively extend their range against attackers below, while besiegers on the ground will have their ranges effectively cut shorter as their arrows must fly not only toward the walls, but also over them. The most coveted citadels will offer powerful bonuses to their controlling guilds and to each member, but there will apparently be only eight or nine such citadel locations--and these can be contested in lengthy, real-time campaigns in which the winners will be able to sack the city and claim the territory for their own. Age of Conan remains a graphically lush and ambitious-seeming game that continues to get closer to realizing its promise of brutal and competitive online gameplay on a massive scale. The game is scheduled for launch on May 20th.

Discussion

67 comments
Neo_revolution7
Neo_revolution7

im a WoW fan but AoC is really starting to grow on me and i do wana try out their chars classes and see how it stacks up to WoW

chrisrob5
chrisrob5

This is definitely a WoW contender. I hope WoW really tries to beef-up Wrath of the Lich King to compete with Age of Conan. I think this will be a REALLY good game, so if I were the owner of Blizzard, I'd be really scared right now. The mounted combat and guild cities really crush WoW in terms of fighting and PVP. I also think they have better classes in Age of Conan, such as the Herald of Xotli, and the Dark Templar (which are to of my favorites). I think if you give it a few months to get some patches and fix out the bugs, it could really hurt Blizzard and WoW.

metalhill
metalhill

This game pwns wows ass and i want to see if wow is gonna try and really enhance litch king to compete or just add more content

HellsKing
HellsKing

I hope to Crom this game will live up to it's word. Too long has it been since I've wanted to fight sword by sword with the great Conan...

gamefreakwill
gamefreakwill

The only thing that I don't like about this game is that you can't get in the full MMO world until lvl 20, kind of stupid I'd rather play with folks from the start.

kdamian
kdamian

why people are soo sure that blizzard won't lunch an update that would upgrade graphics + combat system? AoC is trying to best what is already released. Companies look what's on market and they try to adapt and make their games better and competitive. So don't get too excited yet. See the game, play the game and then you can compare. Guild Wars has better graphics and style that WoW but it is not as playable. 'Till then WoW all the way :)

Shagun_Shah
Shagun_Shah

what will be the requirements for such a game??...i doubt think that AoC will run on the average pc.

F4ll3n_1
F4ll3n_1

So basically, the archery in seige line seems to state that to kill a defending archer....you have to attack as if he were hiding on the other side of the wall? As if he weren't actually standing on it?

DeadZone21
DeadZone21

Zennious, I agree with you, but I meant just people commenting, saying negative things without comparing anything, just strict opinions saying, "it will be too laggy!" etc. The worst part is, when people post a "opinion" without even experiencing the game yet, it is completely unfair. Thats pretty much what I meant, but definitely, companies should look at one another, and realize that they could improve, or use them as a standard in their more depth worthy game. I will see you in Age of Conan my friend :D

LaraCroft15
LaraCroft15

I personally got to try it at Dragon Con last year and I must say this game looks great, it's very innovative, stylish and exciting. Funcom team is the best!

Kooken58
Kooken58

WoW is Far from my favorite game, Daoc Was, and i am hoping warhammer is. I was interested in this game until i saw how they were going to do their graphics, which wont be a fun experience on my part. Im not willing to spend hundreds of dollars updating my computer.....yet. And im not talking about lag from buggy servers at first, Im talking about people Lagging horrible in pvp because it has such a high system performance which will throw alot of people off.

Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

I agree with Zennious. One of the reasons why WoW is so popular is it took the best from the MMO scene and made it better/simplified it.

Zennious
Zennious

DeadZone21 I think you should compare games and I think the companies making games should compare themselves to each other, that's how you get better. Take some things from other games and make them your own, make them better. Competition is what makes you strive to do better man. And yes this game is going to kick ass.

DeadZone21
DeadZone21

You know whats annoying? When you go to look at another game, for example, Age of Conan, you see people comment about other games in the genre, like World of Warcraft. This is not youtube. People, can we please stop that? Its really pointless, and why check out another game if you're just going to say, "Oh, this won't compare to WoW", or, "This will put a dent in WoW, but not kill it". Who cares if it "kills" it or not!? Who cares if it compares or not? Sheesh! Its another game! WoW had its problems too, EVERY game does when it LAUNCHES! Get it through your brain. Stop with the useless comments, and start constructive thinking, live in the now! Hah That is all. Wait, on a side note, this game is going to kick ass! YEAH!

Zennious
Zennious

Kooken when WoW first started out it was laggy as hell. It was laggy because A LOT of people played it right away. The same will probably go for AoC because a lot of people are going to jump ship and try it out. If you're basing this off of other assumption, such as beta stop judging things before it's official. I for one have played WOW for 3 years, it's now gotten boring and now I'm looking forward to this. Don't fear the games that put up competition for your favorite game man, I think WoW needs a little competition.

Kooken58
Kooken58

All i can say to you people who are coming from WOW to AoC. BE PREPARED for LAG, bugs, LAG and MORE LAG. And be prepaired to spend $300 updating your computer, if you havnt already for this game. IMO i say no thanks, i played vanguard. Similar graphics, it was released to early and i quit in 2 weeks. Not saying this is going to happen, but as far as pvp goes it is GOING TO BE LAGGY, and large guilds will rule whole servers.

fierydove
fierydove

(quoting Bufossil) -The genius of WoW is that it meets the needs of a very wide range of player expectations. (end quote) That's not the genius of wow. #1 it can run on 6 year old rigs. #2 The king of time sinks, Lvl grind + Loot Grind + Gold farming + Rep Grind + Travel timesinks etc. Seriously you need another life just to play it and keep lvl with friends. All your "perks" of wow comments are supposed to be in Conan as well according to what's been hyped already. If it really pans out remains to be seen however. I do hope it works out. Maybe get popular enough many people (about 2 dozen) I know who will upgrade computers and switch to it. Wow is so...yesteryear

Jin_Kazawa
Jin_Kazawa

Oh please God, make those developers understand that grinding is not the point of the game. May we one day have something else :D As for Age of Conan... Nice looking game and same promises many gave before this game... Instant classic... Use the name and make the game... I don't think it would raise any attention if it was called : Age of Timmy: The Valley of Grind

Razrak
Razrak

I think this can dent WoW. Not Kill but seriously DENT

Signal2Noise
Signal2Noise

Quite simply I wait with bated breath to say "good-bye" to WoW. If AoC delivers the edginess, grittyness, and maturity it's claiming to possess then it was worth the wait. I just went an put a pre-order deposit down on the collector's edition for PC. NO MORE CARTOONY TOONS!

Signal2Noise
Signal2Noise

Quite simply I wait with bated breath to say "good-bye" to WoW. If AoC delivers the edginess, grittyness, and maturity it's claiming to possess then it was worth the wait. I just went an put a pre-order deposit down on the collector's edition for PC. NO MORE CARTOONY TOONS, YAY!

surdanis
surdanis

just to point out, the visuals are a slightl step higher in AoC here compared to LotR. so far, this is the best-looking mmorpg i've ever seen. and mounted combat? how can u beat that??? not to mention you can play as a lich or a guy that turns into a demon... and you can decapitate/dismember your victims in combat? brutal! no other game even dares to dip into that. did i mention there is nudity? in short, there finally a game that is worthy of us adult gamers. parents, keep your kids away from the real Conan!

waterwizard2005
waterwizard2005

I've decided what to do about this one. I have played Lord of the Rings Online and I would say that I like the visuals in that game quite a lot and I enjoy some of the PVE combat. I am looking forward to Mines of Moria but I do need to finish up about a chapter and a half to get through book 12. Anyway. If 6/10 people say 3 weeks after launch that this is better than WOW or at least on par with it, then I might buy it. I am enjoying the heck out of Titan Quest right now though and I do enjoy Lord of the Rings Online. The visuals in AoC seem good to me, but maybe not perfectly suited to who I am. I'm interested in AoC but I am not sold.

DivineChampion
DivineChampion

GG WoW! Grats AoC! Ive always wanted to do mounted combat and do epic sieges. Sadly it took way too long for Bliz to make an update to create destructible buildings (WotLK). I think its awesome how in AoC, you completely ravage cities, but in WoW, you protect Ol' Ivan's farm! This is pretty awesome how you can build cities and ACTUALLY leave a mark on the world of conan. Oh, yes and also : Gore and Boobs FTW

wsshell
wsshell

sounds awesome but laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag

FitzFarseer
FitzFarseer

You could see it as a Guild Wars meets WoW, either way there will be faults and many will hve problems supporting the requirements.

Sviskon12345
Sviskon12345

This game wont be comparable with WoW... too sad cause WoW im really getting tierd of WoW...

Kinjirossd
Kinjirossd

I just hope it releases as planned. I've sat through 2 delays and I can't keep rescheduling a week of vacation.

dashawnthl
dashawnthl

has anyone here played the beta ?? how is it ??

ajcali08
ajcali08

You start out single player and work your way to mmo pve, pvp.. but things might of changed since that was the game discription in 2006, the initial release date for AoC: HA.

geraldus
geraldus

"Kooken58 I smell a lagfest in this game, The graphics are too pretty to have largescale battles for an mmo." Kooken, i expect that too. Cause the ONLY thing that is worrying me about the success of this game is HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS. You need at least a 7950GX2 and duo/quad + 2gig ram to run on high settings, this should keep many away, but this game for me, after watching many videos and reading a lot, will be the best game of the genre.

Geist_one
Geist_one

Just the thought of building a guild stronghold and have the ability to defend your own and raid others is a great idea. This game may be a good investment. I wonder if we'll be able to communicate with other platforms? For instance, from Xbox Live to PC and so on.

Desert_Punk2007
Desert_Punk2007

by the looks of this PvP will not be a large part of this when its releasesd. Would Defending/Attacking Keeps provide a means of progression? By the looks of things its about Raiding, siege Keep PvP is just a side thing to do when not raiding or leveling up which sux. I could be wrong, I hope I am.

Kez1984
Kez1984

I sure hope there are no wow kiddy's in this game.

olobolo1000
olobolo1000

Im curious as to whether Conan will feauture as much rampant scripting as in WoW(something that ultimately led me to never wanting play WoW again). But I do get the feel that Conan will be more PVP oriented, with all the talk about guilds building fortresses and siege battles. And thats a refreshing thought :-)

Jerian
Jerian

Conan will rule over all!

killafoo
killafoo

I sure hope it's nothing like that boring Anarchy Online i couldnt find anarchy and didnt even get online much for that turd of a game....same company and their prolly recycling the junk engine they used for AO with beefed up graphics, that will fly well lol.... i hope i'm wrong but time will tell, hard to compete with the big guys

lilelk
lilelk

bufossil, the game includes parties, PVP and siege combat. There will be PVP, PVE and RPGPVP servers at launch. Also according to the game director you can solo to level 80 which is the maximum.

bufossil
bufossil

The genius of WoW is that it meets the needs of a very wide range of player expectations. People can play in parties, or can play solo all the way to the highest level. People can play PvP or RPG. Does Conan offer the same variety?

Kooken58
Kooken58

I smell a lagfest in this game, The graphics are too pretty to have largescale battles for an mmo.

Alex_09
Alex_09

Woah, you actually can form lines? Guys fighting you in front, lances stabbing at you from behind, archers shooting at you from above, and the chance of getting flanked, sounds like battles will be intense just sitting at the back of the column waiting to fight. I know the first thing I am gonna do when I get this is find out the two biggest guilds and join whichever sounds better so I can get in on the action.

Vasot
Vasot

Conan > World of Warcraft

DeadZone21
DeadZone21

I am awaiting this game with great anticipation. My hopes are for an AMAZING game, 10.0, perfect! But I will settle with a "good" as well...We will see!

sirkel28
sirkel28

I like the idea of your guy taking up real world space instead of walking through the enemy or them through you, creating a real battle line.

I_pWnzz_YoU
I_pWnzz_YoU

Chopping ppls heads off never gets old :)

merlin19783
merlin19783

Thanks Hexqc, looks like we are waiting longer than ever. Myself and my friends all played wow and had a go with Lotro and Tabula Rasa, all of which require a huge ammount of time. We are not going to get into another MMO until this comes out and instead enjoy all the awesome single player games coming out. I think the thing that appeals with this game is the universe they have built the game upon, it's gritty, cruel and beautiful. It looks like they have really brought this out in the game as the screen shots look stunning. Roll on May 20th! :)

SapenNamen
SapenNamen

I doubt this game will live up to the hype. It's not suffering as much hype as some games did but it seems to be promising far too much.

Superkid_17
Superkid_17

to IXIWhistIXI - the game only tells you what moves to do next when you select a skill you want to use, but if you dont select a skill you can press whatever buttons you want and it doesnt tell you

hexqc
hexqc

I don't know about underwater swimming ( I don't believe they've talked about it ) but it has indeed been delayed to May 20. I don't think it's gonna be delayed again seeing where the game's developement's at.

merlin19783
merlin19783

This game looks like the best MMO ever devised, trouble is it looks like it has been delayed again!! :S First it was March the 1st, then May the 1st and now at the end of this info it says May the 20th, can anyone confirm if this is right? I was also wondering if players will be able to dive under water like in wow. That was one of my fav bits of the game