Age of Conan - single-player

M-rated content. Ultra-detailed graphics. No elves, no orcs - just Robert E. Howard's carnage-strewn vision

There%26rsquo;s been no shortage of confidence from the Age of Conan camp, perhaps befitting the game%26rsquo;s namesake: the last press release we received from developer Funcom heralds the game as %26ldquo;one of the most highly anticipated MMO games in history%26rdquo; - and announces that the PC version%26rsquo;s gone gold, despite much Internet buzz among beta testers that it needs more polish than the remaining weeks to launch can possibly allow.

At a time when most MMO developers simply deal in a %26ldquo;there%26rsquo;s WoW, and then there%26rsquo;s everyone else%26rdquo; mentality, the Funcom developers are clear on the ways they see their game as competitively different. And they%26rsquo;re right - compared to World of Warcraft or any other MMO, Age of Conan%26rsquo;s Mature rating, high-end graphics, and dark, literary setting put it in a class by itself. The team takes great pride in that - very great.

The fierce commitment is admirable%26hellip; but the MMO road is littered with great ideas that simply didn%26rsquo;t resonate enough to be worthy of anyone%26rsquo;s monthly devotion - or, as with the team%26rsquo;s previous MMO, Anarchy Online, suffered from technical problems at launch that kept many away in the first place. Funcom says they%26rsquo;ve learned the lessons that AO%26rsquo;s troubles taught, and the result will be an MMO that%26rsquo;s different from what we%26rsquo;ve seen before.

We playtested Age of Conan%26rsquo;s first 20 levels, in single-player and multiplayer, to find out just how well Funcom has delivered on the promise of a rougher, readier, red-spattered MMO.

Check out the other parts of the Age of Conan Week:

Day 2 - multiplayer

Day 3 - Tortage Island guide

Day 4 - Monster Mash

Day 5 - Hyborian strongholds

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