Between my stints of World of Warcraft, I had endeavored to explore two MMOs as they were released, both promising unique and innovative features. The first of the two was Age of Conan. Originally titled Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, the game launched in May 2008. It was developed and published by Funcom, and required the purchase of the game and a monthly subscription. Based on the Age of Conan lore, the game looked to make full use of its source material and produce something graphically violent yet sexually arousing.
Something actually unique (besides the games lack of censorship) the game featured was directional combat. While in combat with enemies, you could aim your attacks either to one side, or to their head. Your targets defense could change to favor one area, and it would be up to you to adjust your attacks accordingly for optimal damage. Combined with the gore content, you could selectively decapitate enemies or chop their limbs off. This was called their “Real-Combat” system.
Another major feature of the game was player cities and sieges. Players had the ability to create their own cities, and then they could be sieged by other players or NPC factions.
I pre-ordered the collectors edition of Age of Conan and was very excited about its release. At launch, I created a guild and went into it with several of my real life friends from our World of Warcraft guild. Very enthusiastic about a “fresh” MMO experience, we quickly devoured the content and reached level 30. It was here that we came to a harsh realization- The game wasn’t finished. The higher level game content simply hadn’t been implemented yet. We came across barren, open fields. We weren’t the only players upset about this, and Age of Conan’s “successful” lunch of more than 700,000 users quickly plummeted to around 200,000. While we had enjoyed the story progression, the unique combat, the gorgeous graphics, and the ‘mature’ tone of the game, a lack of high level and end game content was not something we could forgive. We joined that mass exodus of nearly 500,000 players and never turned back.
In June 2011, Age of Conan became free-to-play and became known as Age of Conan: Unchained. It had had an expansion, Rise of the God Slayer released prior to this, but adopted the free-to-play model despite this. I hope to revisit it in a segment of A Day in the Life of an MMO and see how the world has evolved. (I heard they removed nudity… bummer).