Saturday, January 4, 2014

1 year review - 2013

I am kicking off 2014 with fabulous post about what the hell have happened in 2013 in Age of Conan. Nothing much? Probably. Well we shall see in few paragraphs. Grab your favorite brand of bossonian brandy and dive me into ocean of broken promises and half-assed content.

First thing first lets take a looksie at last letter of 2012 which was heavy with the promises for 2013:

  1. new freaking minigame
  2. crafting revamp
  3. new raid
  4. new dungeons
  5. single server technology
With that feed to us by Funcom who wouldn't go for 1 year sub offer? You did? So did I. And what we did get? We got FUNCOMED. The FC studio dropped the news that it is "re-structuring" and thus we will get fuck all in terms of content. Great timing guys with the sub offers. Masterful job, really.

After the previous game director - Silirrion - stepped down Joel Bylos taken up to the task of game directoring. I don't want for this review to sound like I am giving shit to JayBe here so right off the bat I want to make clear that I think he inherited nothing else than a "shit-storm" (a sandy shit storm to be exact) and he pushed with the cock he got. Given the circumstances (which were beyond his control) I think Joel did a good job.

Keep in mind that I don't even pretend to be objective here. This is my review and so it is written from Fury's PvPer that raids T4 and has little love for all things PVE.

That said I still want to vent few things out so here we go:

Outdoor zones:
  • Dragon's Spine
I have criticized DS on this blog many many times so there is no point in going at it again. The zone itself is pretty, but it lack a substantial content (aka "depth"). One you have completed the main quest chain (which is like couple hours TOPS) there is really no reason why you would want to go back here again (for other reasons than to just get into the DS dungeons). A major major letdown, sloppy job, waste of resources and a thousands curses upon thee. 

Raids and Dungeons:

  • Sepulcher of the Wyrm
The dungeon remained broken for several months and it offers really sub par loot (unless you are a DT). The visuals are quite nice, but that is pretty much it. Did it twice, never finished it.
  • Coils of Ubah Kan
A miniature raid that takes hours to complete. Stupid amount of Bosses and needlessly complicated. This could have easily been broken into 2-3 smaller dungeons. Did it once.
  • Halls of Eternal Frost
  • Scorpion Caves
  • The Caravan Raider's Hideout
I can't really tell since I haven't done them. Fury is stuck in LFG Palace/KK/Monastery mode and the unchained dungeons are considered "too much of a hussle". I have to give a honorable mention to the loot and it's distribution since it is a major improvement over the itemization in SDS dungeons. The loot is delivered in form of quest reward which comes in a form of a personalized loot chest. I like that as it prevents loot rot. Also, to my surprise, FC dev  posted all the items on TL forums and asked for a feedback on them. Furthermore he actually implemented the suggestions (mine too)! This new approach is a welcomed one.
  • Temple of Erlik loot changes
As with unchained dungeons TOE got new loot (adjusted accordingly to players feedback). I guess this might be a good incentive for some guilds on Crom to re-visit this raid.
  • World Raid Bosses
I am a little torn on this. On one hand the bosses are like gigantic pinata that you whack until candy (loot) falls out, but on the other hand it is a content that is undeniably very popular. I will admit that I have done the bosses more than once already and the quest to kill all 12 bosses that gives legendary loot only sweetens the deal. It is far from what I would call a "good" content (for example why dragons, yetis and such? Why not nemedian general or pictich warlord as boss?), but it is a content nonetheless and one that I am actually taking advantage of.

  • Yothian War Mare
I call it the biggest blunder of 2013. Not only this mount is a sickening money grab, but it is also seriously underdeveloped (lack of animations, can't attack etc.). Luckily this monstrosity backfired on FC as it is considered pretty vulgar for anyone to buy this mount yet alone ride it around. Why not horses thou? Why Funcom hates horses? What is wrong with horses?  I can't think of 5 different horse designs on top of my head. No...lets ride gigantic lizards instead...

Community and Marketing:
  • Forums merger
I can remember a post from one of the devs in 2009-ish saying that they will NEVER merge the forums (EU + US) because of how the billing works. Lies. Forum merger was rather successful and it worked out great for the community.

  • Age of Conan’s 5th Anniversary
Solid event. Funcom then re-used this tech to create world raid bosses. This wasn't my dream anniversary (we don't get nearly enough Conan in this Conan game :X) but it lived up to the expectations.
  • By the Light of the Moon
The event was a bit cheesy (shouldn't all of those Halloween events be that?), but it was a good addition after years and years of lost souls crap. Decent story, decent rewards and a promise of more events to come in the future as JB's stance on events is to add something new every time, but also to keep the old stuff.

  • 40 AA points to level 80 characters on Membership 
  • Age of Conan is on steam
  • Account wide unlocks (social armors, bags)
Very good changes. I think that JB is pressing maybe just tad too much to give people more AA as you literally can't fart these days and not to get some prowess or mastery out of that (depends if you fart around players or mobs). Events and dungeons are loaded with AA experience and free 40 AAs are only sweetening the deal. I have nothing against this apart that I sure hope it is done with purpose aka to pave the way for new AA systems to come in the future (JB mentioned this in one of his first posts on AOC forums).

  • Server Merge & server move
A smashing success and a biggest achievement of new game director. The process of moving every EU server to US and merging all of them to create big ass Fury, Crom and Rage went very smooth and was very beneficial to the community as a whole. I can honestly say that I can't even remember when the servers moved to the US as my latency is much better now (not necessarily lower, but there are less hicks-up on the server side which happened a lot on Fury-EU). 

Ok ok, so far this looks like a super positive review? Well it might seem so, but for me it was by far worst year since 2008. Apart from doing some world bosses and 3  hours worth of quest chain in Dragon's Spine I was pretty much doing...well minigames and some raiding. That is it. There was no crafting revamp (third year in a row!), no class changes and not a single addition to the pvp. I want content that I wish to do, not a content that I do because there is nothing else.

Regardless of that I am very hopeful for AOC future as the development team showed some new approach to content creation and the communication with the player base is very good as of late. 

Here is to another 5 years AOC!

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