The Age of Conan team also wants to create a system for genuine melee combat, not just point-and-click as in World of Warcraft. Instead of simply selecting a target and hitting “attack,” you’re going to have to select the direction and combination of your blows. Using the keys surrounding WASD, you crack skulls, make sweeping blows, and conjure up combinations that are vaguely reminiscent of traditional side-scrolling fighting games. For now it’s a strangely clumsy system that might just work. For one-on-one combat it definitely delivers something interesting and new, but for the melee-mobs we were plunging into it all seemed a little chaotic. If Stone and his team can get this bit of Conan right then they’ll have created something genuinely new in the MMORPG world. It’s an exciting possibility.
Age of Conan is probably the darkest fantasy MMO we’ve seen so far, and that blood and grit could go a long way to making it a mature and interesting instance of the genre.
We fear that Funcom has a lot to do if they’re going to make this game approachable enough to challenge the big boys of the MMO world, but that might not matter. If Age of Conan can capture the imaginations (and wallets) of just a few thousand, then it might just be enough.