Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

The good news is that Conan’s still different enough from every other MMO to be interesting. The better news is that it’s very easy to play. Perhaps even too easy. Every enemy in the Robert E. Howard-inspired game has three points where they can be attacked: left, right and above. These are shown by semi-circles floating about them when targeted. If you hit them on the left, they’ll defend that side, maybe leaving the right exposed. Exploit this, and take advantage of your ever-increasing set of skills and the combo system, and you’ll be employing a degree of tactics not seen before in MMORPG battling. We’re a bit concerned that combat might now be too simple at the start, but we’re reassured by Funcom’s promise that it will get more involved by the time the game launches, with combos present from the very beginning.

The story gets equal standing with the combat as the focus of development. Taking the lore from the Howard books rather than any iteration of the comics or the Arnold movie, Funcom are placing the narrative firmly at the center of things. Along with two dedicated full-time writers, there’s a team of eight people solely writing quests, and another responsible for managing the lore. There’ll be 800 quests ready at launch, and surprisingly few of them appear to be time-sink “kill 30 rabbits” nonsense.

In fact, some genuinely inspired ideas are being touted, including solving murder mysteries and stealth quests requiring you to sneak over rooftops and eavesdrop on NPC conversations. The large team is there to ensure quests have meaning in the game, linking them to the story, giving you the motivation to complete tasks.

This becomes even more detailed with the Destiny Quests available to you at night time. These focus on learning more about your character’s mysterious background, and should create a far greater sense of your presence within the world, with a history going back before you created your character.