Age Of Conan is the latest MMO that’s trying to take World of Warcraft’s crown, but Conan brings some interesting differences from the all-dominating WoW.
There are 12 classes to choose from. It’s your usual MMO mix; Warriors, Mages or Rogues, and within these main classes are sub classes completing the 12. I choose to play as a mighty warrior. You start your life in AoC washed up on a beach from a shipwreck. This beach is a single player-only area, so you won’t see loads of other people all starting their characters.
You then have to complete a mini quest of escorting a maiden to the nearest town. Completing this quest will teach you the basics of the game including the combat, which is great. The combat unlike most other MMO’s is real time, so you can dodge and attack from different directions etc. You have 3 directions for melee combat, left, right and forward. Indicators appear around enemies to indicate where you should attack for maximum damage and you also have indicators appear around your player to indicate dodge directions. Along with the basic melee moves you have all your abilities that you can learn through levelling up. If you time some abilities right you can perform finishing moves like cutting off a guy’s head with a sweeping swing or hacking away at your opponent.
In the town of Tortage you'll start the "actual" game, seeing other players running about, talking to those players and questing with those players. You'll find plenty of quests around the town to get you started on your way, all of the quests are ‘fetch’ quests or ‘kill 20 scorpions’ type quests, and they wear a bit thin quite quickly. While questing around the town you'll collect all sorts of items from killing enemies and as rewards. A lot of the armour looks the same and depending on your class too many of the items aren't equippable - I also got obtained a lot of level 50 items at the start of the game - why?
Once you've levelled enough you can venture out of the starting area to the higher level zones. When you leave the starting area the full voiceovers for characters are no more, and you’re left with just text speech. Areas are varied but keep in tone with the lore. The world is huge, with tons of dungeons. The world is well populated with enemies and bosses, like all MMORPGs should be, and you'll see and kill a lot of stuff before you reach level 80. One of the features of the game is its 18 rating, like I mentioned earlier, heads can get lopped off and blood can splatter the screen. Oh and it has nudity. WooooOooo.
Visually Age of Conan is definitely the best looking MMO that I've played, you'll need a pretty decent PC for all the high settings though, and the much talked about Direct X 10 effects aren't even in the game yet. Characters are highly detailed and environments look great, and even look decent on lower settings. The music and the sound effects are good, and the voiceovers are decent while they last.
Overall, despite questing though the game for many hours I never felt the spark that I had while playing WoW, which is still without doubt the benchmark for MMORPGs. The combat system is great as are the visuals. The world is impressive and I can see a lot of people losing themeselves in the jungles, ruins and mountains of Hyboria.