2006: Day 3 – An Age in a Day

I could write about the panels I wasted my morning on. Well, wasted isn’t really the right word… the swordfighting display was cool, as were the various writing panels, but the free form discussion of game modding was kinda lame. I mean, how many different ways can someone ask, “But what if it doesn’t work?” and the guests respond with a new form of “Then you fix it.” I showed some friends the undead siege art. But I’m not going to spend much time on that, because frankly, I want to live in the Age of Conan.

Funcom is here and they have a booth for their upcoming game, but today they did a full blown demo using the current beta client and servers (they actually used their live data thanks to the Hilton providing the internet access). All my worries for this game have been pushed aside, and if Vanguard still wants my business they better show me something cooler than this.

The first thing we are shown is the character creation. Have you played City of Heroes? Their costumes are cool, but the body and face creator in AoC is freakin’ amazing. You can give yourself scars or a broken nose, you can be all sorts of skinny or fat, its just awesome.

Then we see combat. Auto-attack doesn’t exist. For range attack with a bow, you draw the bow, then it smoothly transitions into an aiming system, pick your target and fire. We only saw bow, but I’d guess it works the same with everything ranged, perhaps spells. We didn’t see spells. But we saw close melee combat. Your character has six sides… front, left front, right front, left rear, right rear, rear. If you swing through a side and someone is in it, you can hit them. So yes, you can do a wide arc swing and hit multiple targets. Hitting someone is a series of key presses which determine the kind of swing and the location of the strike… almost like one of those console fighting games, but without the mad slamming of keys to make super-ultra-mega-death-combos. There are combos though, as you learn more fighting moves you can use them. But the absolute best part of combat is that you actually interact with each other. When you swing at them, you swing at them, not just in the same swinging motion you always make. You slash at legs and torsos and heads. And finishing moves can actually involve grabbing the opponent, running them through and then letting the body slip to the ground. It makes for much more visceral experience. And there is mounted combat. You can ride past someone and slash at them as you go. You can trample people. And the horse leans when it runs, just like real horses.
Then there are the towns. Player towns. Run by guilds. And you have to defend them from NPCs who rise up to fight you. Towns are strickly PvE, but for PvP they have tower keeps, and you can siege them, with real siege gear, that you have built. You actually can build, arm, aim and fire a trebuchet with a rolling flaming shot that slams through the approaching forces or the enemy keep walls. Since guild towns are PvE, they are instanced, which means the landscape doesn’t get cluttered. Tower keeps being PvP are limited in number, contested.

Basically everything about the game looks great. So far, it is the game I will buy a new computer for.

I saw a preview of Neverwinter Nights 2 also. It was pretty good. It beats Conan only in that it has DM tools so you can make your own modules and there is no monthly fee. Conan wins at everything else.

There was, of course, much hanging out, costume watching, and drinking.


  1. Glad you’re having fun at the con. I am so jealous. Thanks for blogging about it, so I can at least get a little of the experience!!

    Charlie (WOSAF)

  2. Meh, I was going to play AoC instead of Vanguard, but then I learned it was split up into over 30 zones with all kinds of instancing besides. There’s no way I’m deserting VSOH for any game with zone lines =/

    On the other hand, the combat looked great (especially ranged and mounted combat), and the animation is gorgeous €“ I love the way the horses run and gawd those spinning sword forms are incredible. But overall it seems like Funcom is trying to make a single-player hybrid that just isn’t very appealing to me.

  3. Well, so far all I’ve heard out of Vanguard are promises, but nothing delivered. Its like Brad is doing EverQuest all over again: A huge wish list, most of which isn’t going to be ready when his publisher (SoE again) forces him to release.

    As for AoC as a single player hybrid… they have 4 class archtypes, and each one has a distinct storyline for the single player game, once you’ve played an archtype through the single player one time you can skip it for any character of the same archtype later.

    I’m interested to see Funcom release a new title because AO was such a huge disaster to begin with but they recovered it well, and the game is pretty decent now. Age of Conan looks to be ready for a much better launch than AO.

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