Godager continues: “Also well, destroying other people’s buildings gives them the opportunity to build their own there. You get ownership of resource nodes when you build in these PvP areas, and there’s a mechanism we call the ‘opportunity window’ where you define when you can be attacked - so you don’t get woken up in the middle of the night being told your guild is being attacked. It’s epic, it’s grand, it’s over 100 players battling it out using mounts and siege weapons.”
Oh yes, mounts. Age of Conan’s planning on utilising mounts in far more interesting ways than the go-faster-look-nicer steeds of WoW, not just horses either, but camels and woolly mammoths too. “Mounted combat changes some of the core rules of what you can and can’t do,” claims Godager, “it adds new elements about movement and damage. Being on horseback strips you of combos and most spells, but as a melee character you use the speed of your horse to add damage to your weapon. So the faster you ride, the more damage you do - but you can’t turn very well, that’s how it balances. It’s less DPS, but a shock-and-awe approach.”
So we’re sacrificing practicality in the name of looking awesome? Fine by us. “We have a specific role for horseback combat in the game,” continues Godager, “it’s for camp-breaking. We’re making camps which are like walls - you need to have players ramming it with their horses and lances in order to smash it down.”
Even if this game fails, even if all of the trucks and planes carrying copies of AoC to stores across the world crash and explode, and all of the developers succumb to a deadly curse, it will still have achieved something incredible. It’s kicking away at the fundamentals of the MMORPG genre by allowing players to interact with the world in a new and far more tactile way - something some people think impossible, but more people think exciting.
Still, having only spent a day in Hyboria, it’s not possible to gauge exactly how well all of these highly ambitious features will hang together. Every time we wonder whether massive sieges will create crippling server-loads, we counter it by wondering how cool it would be to ride a woolly mammoth and attack people with its tusks. Age of Conan is a determined step forward for the genre, and one we’re hoping doesn’t falter.
Jan 24, 2008