Back to Conan
A bit over a week ago I decided to take Age of Conan for a spin, this time as a “free” player. There were some good points and bad points, in the end my free period lasted pretty much one week. However, I am still playing Age of Conan.
The decision to try out Age of Conan again was pretty much on a whim. Given that I like what they are doing with The Secret World I simply thought maybe there are some things to like about Age of Conan as well nowadays. I played Age of Conan at launch for a bit and then also a second time, I think maybe 2-3 years ago – I do not remember to be honest. A few things may have happened in that time.
When I logged on to my Funcom Anarchy/Conan account I also noticed I had a few Funcom points there, probably left from my latest excursion into Anarchy Online. So there was a bit of cash in case I needed to buy something.
Back when I played Age of Conan I never got particularly far – 3 characters around level 30-32 and another one who was in Tortage, pretty much. Logging back into the game I noticed that two of them had numbers appended to their names. Presumably this was from an earlier server merge. However, I did not find an option to change the names of these characters – besides the option to pay 1200 Funcom points for the privilege… No thanks!
I am not running around with a character with a numbered name and I will not pay for a rename unless I am absolutely sure I want to continue playing that character – which is not the case. So Instead I decided to the available unlocked character slots for a new character.
Being kind of in the spirit of The Secret World still, I picked Demonologist for class. There was an option to play as a Khitan which was new to me. Then I remember that this must be from the Rise of The Godslayer expension for the game. Never bought that, so the Khitai option was not available. The expansion was available from the shop for pretty much the same amount as I had in Funcom points, so I decided to pick up the expansion.
This may not have been the wisest move. As it turns out, for a low level free player there is not much to gain from buying the expansion, except being able to create a character from Khitai. For the other parts you either already have access to it, or have to be a premium player (i.e. subscriber) to get access to features from it.
Playing through Tortage jogged some memories, but I also realised I had forgotten much as well. It was not until I had left Tortage that I realized that I had feat points that I could put into talent trees, for example…
One of the Tortage Night-time missions had a bug (a key NPC did not spawn) and I got stuck – re-tried the mission a few times, with the same result. It took quite a while for me to (re-)discover that you could skip a mission if you wanted. After skipping through that the rest of them worked smooth.
Tortage was pretty much as I remembered it, both good and bad points. This probably has not changed much.
Free player annoyances
The single most annoying part with playing as a “free” player is the lack of inventory space. Without any bags one has 12 slots available (24 as a premium player) and that was far too small. Inventory filled up in no-time and I had not enough money to buy a bag from a vendor to alleviate the pain a bit.
I started to look at the in-game shop, but the bag prices there were quite steep in my opinion, at least as a player to is in the position to just try the game out for a bit. I am not quite sure if a bag would be available for just one character or for all characters – if you are an altoholic the bag prices might be more ok – if they are available for all characters. But it was not clear to me what it was.
In general I felt that a lot of the items in the item store cost quite a bit of money. As a “free” player I would think both once and twice before buying anything really – it was a bit too high I think to just try out most of if and see what you got. Probably works out better for experienced players who knows more what they want to pick.
Another annoyance was the gold seller spams in the chat channels. While this is not an exclusive annoyance to “free” players it was still an annoyance nonetheless. It gets less annoying by adding the spammers to the ignore list, but that is not enough to avoid them completely.
The good stuff
Despite the lack of inventory space and some bugs/issues, I quite enjoyed playing the Demonologist, although the demon pet was not much of use except to provide a bit of buffing. But combat was pretty fun, although I realized later that the combo combat mechanics that I remembered from my previous playtime is not something the Demonologist uses.
And the music – that is just stellar. I love the music. It is the kind of music that could raise a kill ten rats mission to a semi-epic battle against mutant rodent monsters. Which perhaps will be needed.
After Tortage my Demonologist went to Gateway To Khitai to continue the 20+ experience. While I am not particularly keen on the quest hub approach to doing missions, this is quite common in many MMOs that I do not usually play and Age of Conan is no exception. Pick a bunch of missions and off you go. At least here the missions were thematically the same, all about assisting the people of a caravan that had been hit by local bandits.
A good thing here was that there was not a lot of running back and forth in missions, which I remember a few of in Tortage as well as some post-Tortage areas from my earlier AoC days. But here it seemed better designed and a few levels were gained quickly. So far I like the zone.
I wanted to try out the combo combat again, so I also decided to create another character – this time a Barbarian. Neither Barbarian nor the Demonologist were classes I had played before so it was fun to try out something I knew I had not played before.
This was also the first time I played any of the Rogue classes in Age of Conan, which means that I got a partially new story line to follow in Tortage as well – this was also good. Playing the Barbarian is quite fun and it feels dirty and sweaty, sort of. Which is precisely what it should feel like.
The somewhat raw tone in the dialogue also helps emphasize that this is brutal time and area that this is happening in. No pie-eating contests, farmers too lazy to pick up some crop etc. And no elves. The last one is quite a big plus in my book.
The end of the free period
After about a week as a free player I gave in and subscribed to the game. What helped making that decision was that there was a special offer as part of the 4th anniversary celebrations that gave some extra items in addition to a reduced subscription fee – including a big bag for all characters.
I signed up for the 3 month offering. The price was not too bad, I got some extra stuff and 3 month period to try a few alts and some of the premium features – should be enough to decide what to play with if I do not extend the subscription. More character slots for alts, as well as revisiting some old characters. So by the end of the summer we will see what happens then.
By that time I hopefully understand a bit more also of all the abbreviations people use in the chat channels when they are (I guess at least…) looking for teams for something…