Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brittle Blade's Pet - Tree of Death

During your questing with Brittle Blade you will come across the dreaded tree of death. I won't spoil what exactly the tree of death IS, but I will hint that it plays major part in Brittle Blade's business. At rank 4 you will be allowed to acquire a pet that came from this legendary tree. While it might not have even small portion of the power that the tree of death has it still can be very useful.

The stats:
1. Upon summoning the pet grants you a buff that ticks 3 times for 240-293 stamina and mana.
2. the tree (which loooks like small tree) gives buff with stam/mana . You don't have to be near the tree nor any enemy must be present.
3. the tree gives aura (pretty large radius)  and any enemy within will lose some stam/mana (not much)
4. the pet is on 120s cool down
5. its pretty much weaker version of "second wind", more of "consume souls" from 1.5 era (consume all shards for stamina buff - I do miss that)
6. it gives that little bit of stamina when you need it
7. its an instant cast. It can be used while moving or while on mount.
8. It costs 800 MOAS and 30 gold
9. You need rank 4 with Brittle Blade in order to buy it. You don't have to stay friendly with this faction in order to keep using it.

I am using this pet quite often. The buff allows you to use Accelerated to full extent - the buff from the pet and stamina pot will feed you stamina to keep sprinting all the time the accelerated buff is active. Also this pet allows your to sprint away from any mobs that might be chasing you.

I have one great story regarding this pet. During my questing in Kara Korum I got jumped by very brave Barbarian who attacked me while I was fighting a mob. I have decided to drop accelerated and run away. He was almost catching up with me because I was staggered and could take full advantage of accelerated speed buff. Soon we were both out of stamina and the chase became a slow crawl. All of sudden I have dropped tree of death which gave me the precious stamina to get away and at the same time it drained the barbarian of whatever stamina he had left. Just for that I consider this pet a money well spent. 

To sum it up: this pet is cheap substitute for second wind and a worthy replacement for consume souls from 1.5 era. Do get it. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter event: the event that works

After less than desirable night of the lost souls II (almost as bad as Highlander 2) I was very sceptical about this even. "Event in Age of Conan?" I thought "then we are going to see some reused villas for sure". Using villas in events seemed at that point like a permanent law.If you are going to a strip bar (not that I do) there are bound to be some boobies in there (or so I have been told).
How, oh how I have been pleasantly surprised when I found out that the new even not only doesn't have villas in it, but also can actually pass as event: it has story.
The story might not be some dark schemes cooked up by resurrected mage of ancient, dreaded Acheron, but something that actually fits tribes of the North. Vanirs have crashed the party and the Aesirs need some help so they don't get their ass handed to them. First thing you will notice are the beautiful visuals: the zone is just done right.You can almost feel the chill cutting to your very bones and your breath freezing in the air. While Cimmeria might not be a perfect place for summer vacations, Aesirs have to endure much harsher, colder environment than their dark haired neightbors. Apparently the zone is located high in cold-ass mountains of the north. Perfect place for late night drinking.
You arrive at the event hosted by Aesirs when the Vair have already crushed their enemies and are listening to the lamentation of their women (which, of course, is best in life). You can decide if you want to get party together and crush back your enemies or disguise yourself as Vanir and go rogue on their asses. If you choose the stealthy solution you can do a lot of mischief around the camp from burning people alive in their tent, to getting them killed by enraged mammoth in heat (ok, I am making this up, but those things are pretty pissed) and finishing by good old fashion alcohol poisoning. In other words you can interact with a lot of objects in the even and see the horrid results (for the Vairs, you of course ,will laugh your ass off). This event has even cut scenes!!!111oneone While those might not pass as the masterpieces of modern in-game cinematic they are nice touch and at the very least show that the devs  have spent some time on this instead of going "copy/pase, villa, lol".
part of the cinematics
At the end of the event there is some "forced" social content when you "have" to get someone to drink virtual ale with you to complete the quest. I think people who actually RP in game or have friends (unlike me :X) will really enjoy the celebration itself. One thing was missing thou and its the merry, drinking music. Everyone was dancing, but no music was being played. Come on, give us some beer music :P

the story of my life: I get late to the party....
...and everyone is already throwing up

celebrations are done really well, minus the music which is not done at all


I have ended parties dressed like this..

Vanir captive. Less than entertaining
The rewards, as always, are visually pleasing and totally not trashing material (unlike pict on the stick, what the hell were you thinking Funcom?).

So to sum it up: if Funcom builds up more yearly events like this they will be on the right track.

...and no more damn villas, m'kay?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kiss my nipples goodbye: nippleless pvp lvl 8

So I have hit the big 8. Luckly Funcom managed to patch in minigame gear changes in 2.1 before I level up because otherwise it would be really sad achievment indeed (with my nipples exposed in shame).

The leveling process took place exclusively via minigames for serveral months on end. That and tons of tomes of carnage rank 3 (25% exp boost for 60m, 50s cost).

Since all the gear I want is now available to me I have no desire to push even further so I won't be sinking any more precious gold into those damn tomes.I guess new SAG mini (and its upcoming xp boosting changes) will make people's experience of leveling from 7 to 8 more pleasurable. Let's see what lvl9 will be like, but then again, why bother getting there faster? No reward.

Anyway if you are not sure what all that nipple stuff is all about check here and here. Yes, its a fetish of mine and I am using pvp lvl5 set as an excuse to talk about nipples.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

1 year review - 2010

Last year (meaning 2009) I did a scolding review of Age of Conan development (well deserved I might add), but it seems like 2010 brought a lot to the table:

Crafting - crafting is still almost meaningless because of the reasons stated here. I can honestly say its by far the worst crafting I have ever seen in a mmo. Huge room for improvement. Like HUMONGOUS. I had to bump up the previous rating of epic fail to solid 3 because crafting has such a big impact on guild progression in renown levels and rankings. So if you have your bank stuffed with mats you can now pump out items for an hour or two to help the guild and be done with it until your bank refills. Clearly not enough, but still small step forward.
Rating: 3/10

Itemization - The expansion brought great sets for every class and those can be achieved by doing both solo and group pve. The sets are beautiful, with great stats and distinctive looks. I am taking 1 point away because there is no way for solo players to get hard mode tokens and this denies them access to weapons and accessories in expansion. Hell, I am taking away 2 points because it pisses me off so much. Overall big leap forward and superb job.
Rating: 8/10

PVP minigames - a lot of great changes. New minigame, random vs random, pvp xp for capturing flags and winning. Coward's shame is also upgraded and its working. I am enjoying this content very much and its well rounded up part of aoc. I am taking away 1 point for no premade vs premade option, 1 point for no way to deal with afkers (aka leechers) and 1 point for allowing flag carrier onto the spawn point where your opponents can recapture it forever. That's a bit rough, but since its such an excellent part of aoc, I expect nothing but the best from minis.
Rating: 7/10

PVP XP and progression- I am not going to talk about pvp xp from Bori because "epic fail" rating would have stayed. If you don't do Bori then the game still offers variety of pvp xp gain improvements. You can get pvp xp for minigame quests, by capturing flags, killing opponents, trading tokens for pvp xp and even buying tomes of carnage that give great boosts to pvp xp gained. Great job with the addition of minigame quests and tomes. The recent changes to minigame gear also made it within the reach of almost any pvper.
Rating: 10/10

Class balance - the game feels MORE balanced. As and assassin I obviously cannot be objective, but it seems like no class is topping the charts regardless of player's skill. FC did sin, guard and ranger revamps and more are coming.I am taking away 1 point for how Bori gear affects players performance (tip: WAAAAAY too much) and 2 points for damn combo skipping. Solid improvement, but still a lot to do.
Rating: 4/10

Criminal/murderer system - not a single improvement. A dead feature.

Open world PVP - We got Bori! Seems like FC must just drop the ball at some point in whole year. This is Bori in a nut shell, but your can easly find a lot of multipage threads on official forums. There are players with 200 kills and 100 deaths and pvp lvl 10 gear. Nuff said. I am bumping the rating up from "legendary fail" to "epic fail" because FC tried to make things better with pyre system (that's good, more like that please!) and the Game Director had the balls to, while staying within his professional boundaries and minding the company best interests, admit failure of Bori content. I can respect that.
Rating: 1/10 EPIC FAIL

Sieges - Still very unstable (aka they crash) and the performance is laggy at best. Furthermore some classes still dominate the sieges while others feel out of place for such a heavy duty action. This part of game needs a lot of work so I am giving it savage beating in rating.
Rating: 1/10 EPIC FAIL

Guild diplomacy tools - There are none. There is no support for guilds and server politics in AOC. Come on! Alliance system! Where is that?

Guild city - I deem this the most improved part of Age of Conan in 2010. The guild renown, added buildings and NPC gave the cities new life.Furthermore FC rebalanced renown levels on RP related stuff so smaller RP guilds could have access to the RP stuff. I am taking 1 point away because cities in general (apart from some decoration and building placements) still look the same for every guild so: more guild cities customization and personalization please!
Rating: 9/10

RP support - FC added items, clothes, drinks, guild social events, tavern rooms for rent. Huge, huge improvements. The name infractions are dealt with and seems like RP community is finally noticed and acknowledged by FC. I am taking 1 point away because the promised "social tab" for displaying items for looks over items being worn for stats is still not there.
Rating: 9/10

80lvl content for non Raiders - The expansion brought tons and tons of stuff for solo and small group players. Great, long lasting content (even if a little grindy) with superb story line. I am taking away 1 point for MoA grind (its very hard at the beginning) and 1 point for Chosain province zone (it sticks out like a sore thumb, there is nothing unique about it). FC is already talking about new solo instances, but that's for 2011 review.
Rating: 8/10

Updates - This one is a hard call. On one hand FC did 2.1 patch in batches (Craig M. be praised!) and the expansion is good, but they did drop the ball on several exploit fixes (you need to act fast!). Some exploits like combo skipping still remain after 2 years.
Rating: 4/10

Client improvements - the game still crashes on zoning, minigames etc. C'mon, after 2 years this is unacceptable! And DX10 is still in beta.. I am giving it 3 just because they did fix the Grasslands problems in expansion, but that's being generous.
Rating: 3/10

I know that there is a lot more to review, but these are the parts of the game that matter to me. What do you think? Drop me a line in the comments and have a great new year!