SUMMARY OF POSITIVES
The guild system shows a lot of potential. As noted, the guild cities may turn out to be a lot of fun.
The world felt brutal and vicious as any Conan themed world should. The beheadings and limb gibbing are excellent. Despite many of the game’s failings, there were a number of times where a well timed beheading brought a huge smile to my face.
The first 20 levels of the game are done very well. You can speak to an NPC at an Inn and go into a solo mode (the in-game fiction is that you are then playing at night time). During this solo mode, the whole world is a private instance in which you can progress through a series of story heavy quests. Some of these are actually quite good and fun as well. It is a shame that this system ends at level 20 and is never seen again.
The voice acting is very good in Age of Conan. For the first 20 levels, every NPC is fully voiced which really brings the world to life. It is very jarring, however, that once you leave the newbie area the NPCs no longer have any voice acting. Only the main quest (which you participate in for only about an hour every 10-20 levels) has voice acting from that point forward.
SUMAMRY OF NEGATIVES
Terrible system performance.
Bland graphics and poor art design.
Much hyped combo system is a negative, not a positive.
Healing and support are completely ignored as viable class roles.
Bugs and unfinished features abound.
Numerous standard MMORPG features are outright missing. There is no autofollow, for example.
Crafting system is a giant step backwards. It would be better to not have crafting at all than to have a system like this.
In a weird effort to curb gold farming, elite mobs that are grey-con to you (much lower level) become incredibly powerful. It is very annoying when a quest mob you need goes from green to grey (because you level up) and becomes nigh invincible. Grey con elites are actually tougher than higher level green con ones. This is one of the strangest bad design decisions I have ever experienced.
Funcom hyped Age of Conan with outrageous comments like "If World of Warcraft is hamburger, Age of Conan is steak." They said various gaming magazines should be honored to write articles about Age of Conan, and not vice versa. Perhaps it is that kind of arrogance that made the failures of this game inevitable. The game plays like its developers have never experienced other MMORPGs to any extent, and many of the errors are so glaring one has to imagine they ignored the feedback of play testers.
Age of Conan is not the worst MMORPG I have ever played, it is just a very bad one. I would expect a lot more from a modern MMORPG developed by a company that actually has MMORPG experience. In the end, this game fails to deliver on its promises, its heavily hyped features are a bust, and it runs terribly on almost any computer from minimum to recommended specs.
FINAL SCORE OUT OF 100: 37
This article is part 4 of a 4 part review. Please continue reading: