I spent about a month playing Age of Conan. I was seduced by the graphics, by the faction play, and because it wasn’t WoW. And after playing WoW for a year and a half, I was ready for a change of pace. World of Burnout? A little… So I took the plunge and even joined a PVP-RP server, something I’d never done in WoW. The experience is definitely different. PvP was free for all, you can gank anyone. And Funcom found the solution to rogue hate by letting all classes learn to stealth. So now a hunter or mage can stealth into position and gank you without warning. So now everyone hates stealth, not rogues. I’ve not decided if this is really an improvement or not.
The interface lacks the polish of WoW. Warcraft has the advantage of having years to adjust things and make everything easier to find and use. This can be said for most aspects of game play, really. Age of Conan has some good ideas. Not all are implimented smoothly, but that will be fixed over time. The graphics are amazing. Realistic and detailed, with the system requirements to match. The world and characters look great. And yes, there is limited nudity. Forget the Mature tag on the game, there are plenty of 13 year olds playing this. There is a shortage of distinctive clothing and armor but I’m sure that will be adjusted over time as well. Instead of food and water, you simply rest to regain health and mana. And except for mages, who hasn’t wanted to be able to go without stacks of food and water in WoW? I assume that’s why there are mana biscuits and Naaru rations that can give you both health and mana.
Vendors work pretty much the same as in WoW. Travel works pretty much the same. You run when you have to. Ride as soon as you can. And can visit a ship master to take a ship to certain locations. The game has collision detection. What that means is you can run into players or NPCs instead of walking through them. A great idea in theory. Until you can’t get to a vendor because there are too many people around him. The cut down on congestion they instance cities. So even if you and a friend are in the same city at the same location, you may not be able to see each other because you are in difference instances of the city. Yeah… I understand why they did this, but it still is annoying. I’m not sure collision detection is really worth it. It’s more realistic, yes. But not as fun.
The biggest deal in the game was the combat system. Which was a huge letdown for me. I heard it was innovative (it is, kind of). I heard (repeatedly) how much better it was than WoW, where everything was too easy. So for melee classes here’s the real breakdown on attacking. At lower levels you hit one button and your character does the selected attack. Keybindings work the same as in Wow, which is nice. As you level up, attacks grow more complex and you have to start hitting sequences of buttons. So instead of hitting the up arrow. You hit the up arrow then the right arrow. A gaming friend compared it to fighting games for Xbox and Sony where you hit a series of buttons for special attacks. Except even with a fast internet connection and brand new graphics card that could give me 60fps, the delay in pulling off combo moves was noticable. If I hit the buttons but the server didn’t register it in the right order, the move didn’t work. I’ve never had this problem in WoW. Hitting one button to make an ability work is simple, true. It’s easy, definitely. The challenge in using WoW attacks is not hitting a correct series of buttons for each attack, it’s knowing what the attacks do and how best to use them and when. I much prefer the WoW system. If I want to do a down/right-down/right to do a hadoken, I’ll play Streetfighter.
Age of Conan is a very cool game that fits the theme. It’s brutal (free for all PvP servers means you can get ganked at any moment, anywhere, by anyone). It’s gritty and realistic. Which means less colors and less distinctive styles. There is blood and ‘mature’ themes. If that’s what you are looking for in a game and want a change of pace from Wow, Age of Conan is a good choice. Personally, I prefer WoW. It’s FUN. It’s colorful and cartoony. And the lack of button sequence mashing means you can focus more on tactics.