Why did it take six months to make such simple, yet fundamental changes to the way the game plays? “It’s because you have 14 classes,” answers Godager, “times 80 levels, times hundreds of abilities. Going through all of them is just a massive logistics job. But the beta was always running. We were always getting feedback from the players. For us, delaying the release was not such a big deal. Quality comes first.”
We spent time traipsing about Age of Conan’s creche area - that is, the island on which you’re hand-reared through the game’s first 20 levels. The city of Tortage offers a line of quests based around teaching you exactly how to use your particular class. It’s no longer a single-player game in these early stages either.
Interestingly, by day Tortage is a multiplayer arena, but find a bed to sleep in and you’ll wake up at night, where Age of Conan becomes an entirely single-player experience. You can flip between single and multiplayer just by hopping into bed.
In single-player mode you further your ‘destiny quest’ by completing a series of quests based around your class. As a barbarian (AoC’s rogue class), we found ourselves creeping along rooftops to eavesdrop on the local misfits, and stalking certain targets to subtly ensure their safety. Whether or not this kind of quest can work outside of Tortage’s single-player mode (and therefore anywhere past level 20), is unclear, but while it lasts it’s an impressive and interesting change of pace from the typical ‘kill X of Y’ missions we’re used to.
That said, a foray into some of the later level gameplay revealed it was more in tune with World of Warcraft’s particular flavour of questing - collecting eight silk webs by killing spiders and waiting for the loot drop. Godager was keen to talk about various features we didn’t have a chance to play, such as sieges. “The reason you can’t see that is because it’s played with two 60-man guilds, at level 80.”
So does it work similarly to World of Warcraft’s Battlegrounds? “No, it doesn’t,” Godager explains, “it’s different - we have the battlegrounds as well, that’s a Capture the Flag game you’ll be playing later. The sieges take place in three large areas, static areas of the world where guilds can build their own battlekeep. The battlekeep works like a WarCraft RTS, you build walls around your stuff, you put up defensive towers and build barracks. Then the other guilds siege you by building catapults, siege towers, and ladders to climb over your walls. It’s something that guilds will do because it gives them such a huge reward in terms of buffing."