E3: Eidos Shows Off Age of Conan
07.11.07 - 6:14 PM

At their E3 booth, Eidos was showing off an early version of their upcoming MMORPG, Age of Conan: Hyborean Adventures. Developed by FunCom and slated for release at the end of October, Age of Conan is slated to be one of the most action-oriented MMORPGs ever. FunCom has cut their teeth on the MMO market before, with their successful science fiction title Anarchy Online, but it looks like they're going above the call of duty for Age of Conan.

While World of Warcraft has set the bar for just about everything in the current massively multiplayer market, Blizzard doesn’t hold a monopoly on new features. Age of Conan's most redeeming feature is the fact that every player will be involved in combat, no one left on the sidelines. Every class can do some sort of melee attack, and it's not the pitiful auto-attack that WoW paladins are used to. In fact, there's no auto attack for anyone – each attack is designated by the player. Targets are obtained by pointing a character at an enemy, and the game’s targeting system will select the target for an attack. Players' attacks won't always hit the same place with the same frequency, as combos can be strung together by using different types of attacks. It's not as if the same combo will keep working over and over, either. Each enemy will learn the enemy's combat style and adapt, as well as having different weaknesses that can be exploited.

Players worried about being stuck as the healer are in for a surprise, as most of Age of Conan's heal spells work over time, allowing them to tick away as the healer does other things in the thick of battle. Positioning matters for everyone in any of the fourteen classes, so while most of the classes are hybrid, it's not as if a necromancer should be standing in the thick of a melee battle.

The game's world follows Robert E. Howard’s view of Hyborea, with an embellished realism. Game buildings will not look perfect; there will be uneven stairways and other such imperfections. Other buildings may have snow surrounding them that make it look as if they've weathered quite a few storms. Character models look good, and there's quite a bit of gore when a character gets killed.

Since the world of Conan isn't a happy place, PvP is a large part of the world. While there are battleground-style PvP objectives in Minigame PvP, most of Conan’s PvP is oriented around Border Kingdoms and Drunken Brawling. Border Kingdoms is the name of Age of Conan's massive PvP system, allowing players to capture territory and build battle keeps, defending territory from enemies. However, there are no set factions like the Horde and Alliance in Conan, a player's faction is determined by his guild and friends. Drunken Brawling, on the other hand, discards most hallmarks of RPGs. There are no regular statistics or gear in this brawl. All of a player’s stats are based on what they’ve drunk and how drunk they are. A player who’s had a bunch of tequila will fight different than a player who’s been imbibing mead. It's a unique idea, and it’s an interesting way to balance PvP duels.

There are a few things that Conan is sneaking in that aren’t expected, either. On top of the 14 regular classes, there are five prestige classes which allow players to specialize in increasing group size or other similar things. There will be some sort of support for the G15 keyboard from Logitech, though the team didn't go into great detail about what it would be. Age of Conan: Hyborean Adventures is slated for release on October 30th, and will more than likely be rated M for Mature.


John McCarroll