An MMORPG that Looks Like a Heavy Metal Poster
Robert E. Howard would be proud of the expansive world that exists in Age of Conan: Unchained. There are plenty of NPCs, entire villages, and of course, hordes of monsters populating the wild. It is a full digital world set within the confines of Howard's Hyborean age mythos, and it works. Hey, it was a perfect setting for an early-era Arnold movie, and now it serves as a great backdrop for an MMORPG. But it has also been years since the game has launched it has seen its share of issues and setbacks. So here's our review of AoC: Unchained from our current perspective.
Still One of the Best Combat Systems
Without a doubt, there are plenty of intriguing Korean-made MMORPGs with fantasy-ish melee combat animations that are just outrageously impressive. Many of these also make use of real-time input commands. This is not a common trend among the more simplistic MMORPGs that rely on the old click it and leave it mechanic, but Age of Conan is one of the first to have used a system that requires active user-combat interaction.
The numerical keys are bound to various attacks (with more buttons to be added as the player progresses through the game), and the directional keys allow for blocking and dodging in specific directions. Tapping twice in a direction will allow you to dash away from an enemy attack -and possibly providing you with an opening to attack.
Combat encounters requires players to pay attention and fight actively -instead of just clicking on a target then waiting for your character to finish doing its auto-attacks. It feels more mindful and busy that other games, but it also makes the game more exciting and each fight sequence more satisfying as you actually feel like you defeated an enemy instead of just sitting idly by while your avatar does all the work. This is why Age of Conan is a much loved game by its players, and why it managed to secure a position among other games.
The Four Basic Classes and Other Stuff
Players can choose to be one of the following: priest, mage, rogue, or soldier. As expected, the soldier is the most well rounded in the group and is able to hold itself well against waves of enemies. Rogues rely of onspeed and dexterity and are excellent in the use of bows and arrows -this allows the player to play as various roles in a party or solo. Priests have healing magic and buffs. Lastly, mages are able to cast powerful attack spells. The game does have other classes that unlock later on -but they are most combinations of any two different classes (and some job specific abilities). These new classes include the Bear Shaman and the Herald of Xotli -which sound like perfect titles for heavy metal songs. Up to eight characters can be made in total for those players who want to try out a variety of classes.
Cash Shop Offers Tier 3 Items
One recent change to the game system is the inclusion of Tier 3 equipment in the cash shop -this means that instead of having to grind for resources and money, players can pony up some real cash in order to skip the first two equipment tiers and get something powerful from the get go. This is not necessarily the most powerful items the game has to offer (there is a Tier 4 after all), making this items accessible means that players with money to spare can quickly advance ahead of the game's grinding parts.
Naturally, this change has alienated a lot of older players -especially those who have put in a lot of hours in order to get to the third tier of items. It may look like an odd decision or a complete cop-out in order to get more money, but the reality is far more simpler, Unchained is probably the last incarnation of this game since the developers will be moving on to Exiles later on.
Setting the Foundation for Age of Conan: Exiles
Hyberion Adventures and Unchained has managed to grow a stalwart fanbase for the game. There are players who are deeply passionate about the game's features, and this is a testament to how well executed the gameplay in Age of Conan is. All that said, the game's developers, Funcom, have long been working on the next thing for the IP, and that is Age of Conan: Exiles. According to early reports, the game will be larger and more expansive, and players will be able to do so much more with their characters. Combat animations seen in previous reveal a lot of new moves and attacks, and there are even some that look context sensitive. One of our favorite new additions is the inclusion of finishing moves that look brutal and visceral.