Tenfold Hate

Posting for Posting’s Sake (Kind of)
June 4, 2008, 1:15 pm
Filed under: Age of Conan, MMORPGs

I’ve neglected posting for quite some time now. Not one to blog for blogging’s sake, there just hasn’t been much in the gaming world that’s captured my interest. The last few weeks have been beautiful in NYC, so I’ve taken advantage of the great weather before spring gives way to oppressive humidity and I get really cranky and hole up in air conditioning until September.

I’ve been tinkering with Age of Conan now and again. I’ve hesitated sharing my views on it because several weeks in, I still haven’t brought myself to bring a character to level 20 yet. For those of you who haven’t tried AoC, level 20 is the point where you bid farewell to the single player element of the game and enter the proper world once-and-for-all.

The constant instancing bugs me a little. Walk into an inn, there’s a loading screen. Hop on a boat, there’s a loading screen. Leave a zone, well, you get the point. Guild Wars had the same feel, but for some reason I never found it to be quite so jarring.

AoC‘s combat is just fine–but personally, if I drafted up a laundry list of gripes I have about the current state of the fantasy MMORPG, lack of real-time combat would be really low on my list. I think there are a lot more things that need fixing across the genre and that’s where Funcom’s vision and my own diverge a little.

The early quests seem terribly directed, which IS one of my big complaints about most current MMORPGs. To satiate me, an MMORPG needs to allow players to stray off the beaten path (both literally and figuratively). I’m not seeing that quite yet in AoC. Much like my brief stint in Dungeons and Dragons Online I feel way too confined, like I’m on a journey but I’m not behind the wheel.

The graphics are nice, the music is great, I’m excited to try PvP (I’m holding off til 20 for that one), but again–it’s just not calling me to be played. Keep in mind I seldom play single player games anymore so that’s another personal bias I’m bringing to the table. I lost my zeal for them after experiencing the “living, breathing worlds” of massive multiplayer gameplay four years ago. So, I’m reserving final judgment of AoC until I plow through the solo segment of the game and move onto the more MMO-focused end of things.

I don’t want to be dismissive of AoC because it clearly was lovingly crafted by the Funcom team. They released a clean, playable product that is a treat to look at–and there’s a lot of hack-and-slash fun to be had right off the bat. It’s not a bad game. I just haven’t determined if it’s the game for me yet.