Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Shadows of Cimmeria, Er, I mean Vanaheim

 This is a delayed posting copying what I wrote on the forums.

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The new fort or someone who used Atzel's interior designer
If you are a regular reader of the forums you probably have an idea of how the Age of Conan community feels about the first "new" content (quest zones) since Dragonspine in 2013.

If you don't here's a summary: infuriated and underwhelmed.  It's been a while since I've seen multiple threads get to 15+ pages.  It's also weird to see almost everyone agree on anything. 

The furious portion of this was due to the implied nature that this content, while permanent, was part of the Age of Conan anniversary celebration. Instead it was pat content. 3000 Funcom points for the collectors edition and 1800 (or so) for the regular.  Subscribers save 10% in these values. Many of the subscribers, including myself, are wondering why am I paying for a sub when I have to buy new content?

Despite the warning from everyone's favorite Aquilonian assassin in his quality review, I bought this as well. 

I generally play solo since I don't always have a lot of time and generally don't want to be called a noob because I don't have the time to learn (and remember) every boss in a video game.

A solo player, with this expansion, would have access to T4 powered accessories. And let's face it, everyone wants better gear. Between that and a bear mount (which sadly isn't good), this seems like an automatic purchase. I'm fortunate that I can drop $30 on a game from time to time without it being a hardship. 

Was it worth it?  I'm not sure yet. I'm leaning towards no. The quality of the mounts was marginal at best and I'll describe the adventure below. 

The story can be summed up: Talk-kill-talk-travel, repeat. A lot. 

There's also side quests to help avoid boredom. Most involve killing or collecting things.  Not sure if it's random or not but I'm picturing it to be a pain to get the last few quests for the achievement if it is random. 

The first areas are Connel's Valley. The second is blue Mountain (a new but very small zone). The third area is Fort Storisbjorn? Which is also a new zone but uses much of Atzel's Fortress' exterior. The interior of the Fort is Atzel's.

I understand that it's easier to recycle old areas and mobs. It's sad that the player base (myself included) is so happy to have anything new that we'll even make excuses for Funcom.

The areas are a grind. It feels like SWTOR where you advance a bit, kill some mobs, rinse and repeat. It's not quite as bad as last year's anniversary quest though Tortage but more reminiscent of that than some other solo instances. 

In addition to the grind what stands out is the relatively poor production quality and glitches. Besides the mobs fighting while bowing and sitting one of the more annoying glitches is some Ymirsh and boss mobs use a knock back ability called Massive Sweep.  Occasionally this resets the mob.

Another fun glitch was that I logged out between steps in the quest when a boss spawns. When I logged back in, I couldn't respawn the boss so I zoned out of the instance and back in. That reset the instance but not the boss. This was right before entering the fort. So I quit the quest and started over. Pro tip: kill the boss before you log out. Your spouse will hopefully understand. 
Some holiday mistletoe?

I haven't beaten the last boss fight using my Khitai/T1/T2 geared DT but get the mechanic.  I think It's a boring fight with a lot of kiting around that punishes you for a single mistake (and low dps).  Considering the rares you get for normal mode, and I can't imagine doing this with all level 85 mobs, I don't see this entering into my rotation for earning rares as it takes too long. I can earn 4 in 20 minutes on Isle of Iron statues. Why would I spend an hour and change for half the reward?

Pros (why I should spend my money):
1. "New" content
2. New faction and rewards to earn including vanity gear (most of which is similar to gear you can grind off low level mobs but I'm trying to be positive here)
3. Effigies that drop are worth either 2500  reputation or 20 silver. Side quests are a great way to earn coin!  (I believe the reputation gain was bumped up after a lot of complaining but I haven't checked).
4. More mounts, achievements, treasure chests, and targets of interest for completionists
5. You hate gingers/Vanir
6. Another scaling area to level/quest (after level 20)
7. You get to enjoy the Cimmeria soundtrack again.

Cons (why I should save my money):
1. It's very Low quality content
2. It's a grind.
3. Principle for paying $30 bucks for a once every 20 hour slog through areas you can already slog through. 
4. You RP as Vanir and won't have a great story explaining why you just mowed down your peeps. 
5. Mounts look pretty bad and lack a fast dismount option

Things to improve: if Funcom wants to retain its player base, they should make some tweaks to this scenario and use it as learnings for future ones.

Some things I would suggest:
1. Fix the glitches and bad environments. You're selling content, it almost needs to exceed the quality that people already have. 
2. Reduce the grind. There's been some suggestions for faction grind, including having the Vanir count as faction mobs. 
3. Have a third difficulty level. Between 80 and 85. Maybe 83 level mobs (with a scaled reward) would be a nice middle ground for fun for the players who are likely to play this over and over again. 
4. Add new music with these scenarios. Even a single track would be a nice addition.  These songs could be sold in iTunes and the like generating more profit. 
5. Reduce the price to $5-$10 with maybe another $5-7 for the collectors edition. People who've already paid should have FC points returned to them (you'd still get to keep their money!). $30 should get a decent expansion like Turan, not a single quest line that only takes an hour because of the 300 mobs between you and victory.

I'm an Age of Conan fan and apologist but the way this was handled has really damaged FC's credibility with me as a customer. But as I'm now the proud owner of this content, I'll give it a couple rounds and see how it goes. 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Achievements I'd Like to Eventually See

Update 4.5 brought Age of Conan into 2009 with Achievements.  The Blonde Myth of Aquilonia has a nice write up of the implementation and why it's good for AoC. I agree on both of his main points that this is good for veterans (and new players) while also acknowledging that this won't propel Age of Conan into the WoW-sphere in terms of  game population.

This post is to list ideas for future Achievements that I think would be good to implement.  As I've had about 6 hours on the new system so far, some of these may already be in the game but hidden from view or something I missed as I had my barbarian binge drinking in Tortage like a college student on spring break.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Solo Farming Rares

Someone on the forums had said farming solo instances like Refuge of the Apostate, Isle of the Iron Statues, Forgotten City (Unchained), and Dead Man's Hand (Unchained) for rares was full retard.  I respectfully disagree.  Doing Nightmare Bubbles would be full retard.  Solo farming for rares is just partial retard and everybody knows you never go full retard.  And having done it to get the Children of Yag shield, the Hyrkanian Chest and necklace (on different toons), it is also very tedious.

When I wrote the guide to Dead Man's Hand's main quest line, I ran the instance 18 times to get an idea of how much gold, Esteem Tokens, etc. would be gained.  Dead Man's Hand, while fun, is the most time consuming of these solo instances but each one, if completing the quests in them, takes around 25-40 minutes (although I know people can do them faster if just going for the rares).

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Keyboard Commands of Age of Conan

Like all MMO or RPG games, Age of Conan has some a lot key commands.  This post will list some of the main ones that many new players don't know but often ask about in Global.

In general, if you go to Settings -> Controls, you can see most of these as well as change them to whatever you'd like.

This post will probably be updated over time as features are added/removed or people mention different commands that are generally useful to players but not included.

Monday, September 8, 2014

So You Want To Be a Guild Leader?

There's much more to being a guild leader than been the head of a bunch of merry men (and women).  Even if you've been a guild leader in other games, you may be better off learning a little bit about AoC before starting up a new guild or taking over an older guild.  This guide (on the native blog site) has a lot of links back to the forums, resource sites, and other blogs, hopefully providing a useful resource for new guild leaders.

Here's some things to think about as you ponder starting a guild.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Secrets" of Tortage

Most people have gone through Tortage a few times.  Including characters I've deleted, I'm guessing I have run around the Barachan Isle more than twenty times (including a few times to make notes for guides and such).  Despite its familiarity, it's still one of my favorite places in the game.  Partly due to characters you interact with and partially because the area was so detailed and full of interesting quests.

This post is going to focus on a few special quests.  Special because it requires the completion of another quest before it becomes available, its reward is a blue item, or both.  There's also a few Night bosses sprinkled about White Sands Island, the Volcano, and the Underhalls.