Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sand and Jagged Rocks ep.0 - before it goes live

Since my "dagger and a bowl or rice" series have ended I have decided to start a new one for the  Secrets of the Dragon's Spine content updates (SDS). Before I go into what we already know about SDS I would like a ponder a minute about Savage Coast of Turan: it was SUPER BAD. Months after it went live I can tell that it failed in almost all areas. Right now mine and, I dare to say, my fellow players biggest woe is painfully evident lack of content that Turan failed to provide. First of all the two solo experiences: Dead Man's Hand and Isle or Iron Statues were an overkill. Iron Statues dungeon is a master piece and most clever use of the lore I have seen so far, hands down the best thing that came with Turan. Dead Man's Hand, on the other hand (see what I did here?) is just weird and unnecessary. The weirdness comes from the size of DMH because it is largest solo experience so far. BUT at the same time DMH is super thin on content and can be beaten in one play session. To add insult to injury the instance is still solo even thou many RPers asked for it to be opened to two people or so. With it's pretty decent design I see now reason why this place is only for soloers.I deem the DMH the worst addition in Turan pack. Second thing that got under my skin is the Fort dungeon. Same as it was with recent House of Crom blunder the Fort is just so poorly itemized that it takes 2-4 re-runs to get what you want and never come back. Yes I know there are blue items there and yes I know some use it for vanity. The problem is that at the same time people can run Khitai HMs and still get epic gear and tokens the easy way. Why would anyone go for harder stuff? Fort is still very challenging, more so than any Khitiai HM except Pillars (maybe).  I have to give honorable mention to Turan's Boss Area because devs managed to create very hard boss encounters for mediocre gain resulting in absolutely zero interest from the players. What were you thinking?
The nail in the Turan's coffin was lvl 50 zone. If I had to point to a SINGLE mistake that costed Funom dearly I would have say: making Turan outdoor area for lvl 50. If there is one thing I can say about quests it's that there is an abundance of them. I am currently in the process of playing with my Comgall the barbarian because I want to experience the pre 80lvl content I have so eagerly pushed through in 2008.  I cannot really understand why there was a need for another pre lvl 80 area. The only thing I can think of is Funcom wanting to draw in players with free lvl 50 character offer and lvl50 zone that is tied to the Conan the Barbarian movie. Seen the movie and loved it? Now jump into Savage Coast of Turan and help Conan's friends to do stuff. Too bad the movie sucked. Guess FC bet on the wrong horse there. As a direct result of that decision many veteran players (me included) are stuck in the limbo of no content: Khitai is loooooooooooong beaten and played to death and the Turan doesn't provide entertainment for lvl80 + people.  Last thing is T3,5 raiding. I have no say on raiding since I have done so little of it (completed T3 and 2 bosses in T4) but Temple of Erlik seemed to be a very weird concept when T4 was unfinished. Bah, no matter.
Now we are ready to go to the Keshan and to face new challenges. As you know recently Game Director did some SDS reveal and talked about the features of the add on.

First of all there will be no new means of progressing your character. The secret addition is NOT what I have predicted (leveling up weapons) but rather set bonuses to the new armors. I remember that back in 2008 set bonuses were a hot topic and the devs said that not putting them in AOC was a conscious design decision so people don't feel forced to always get the full set. With the vanity armor system in place I can see why FC would like to bring back the set bonuses. The idea is OK but I wouldn't say it's a means of progressing the character. However the crafting system will allow players to level up the professions and  I think THAT will scratch the progression itch that I have (I am lacking 5 perks to be maxed out on AAs).

The SDS will have a big out door area just like in Turan. Since the add on is advertised as "aimed at lvl 80+ people" I think it will be on par with Paikang zone when it comes to difficulty. I wouldn't mind it being even harder. The area won't have Khitai style faction game play, but it might have faction mechanics as a means of progression through story and a limitation of access to items. Turan had it with it's hidden Hand of Glory faction. 

I am not big fan what I have already seen in terms of armor design. The tribal influences on already Stygian-a-like armors are not really my thing just like Turan didn't bring anything I liked even remotely. In terms of power the items will be on par with T 3.5 raids and set bonuses might even bring it closer to T4. Sadly it means that PvP armors will get more and more out dated when it comes to stats budget so we will see more PVE armor in PVP. Or will we? The crafting revamp WILL bring components that will only drop from players so we will be able to craft pvp dedicated items. Perhaps the crafting will help the bridge the gap between  more and more powerful PVE items and PVP armors that are stuck in 1.6 reality. 

Sadly PVP (apart from pvp related crafting) will be the last addition in the SDS series and it will be only 1 new minigame map (either 6v6 or 12v12). It very much so feels like too little, too late, but at the same time I have to admit that I rather like the system changes we had this year. When it comes to system that have large impact on PVP we will see Siege revamp and Stealth revamp at some point in 2013. I won't beat the dead horse here, it's pretty bad and the future looks grim for the seasoned pvpers.

The Future
The new dev letter hints at Funcom planing to continue to revamp old content and introducing new modes for old dungeons. This is smart. I really hate when good stuff is left in the dust just because it is no longer relevant. SDS has a great potential to finally get people out of Khitai and straight into new stuff. I, for one, am optimistic about AOC's future, but defeniatly nothing I have seen about SDS got me far.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

PvP Tier 3 armor vs PvP Tier 2 armor

In the last few months I have completed my pvp t2 (aka minigame armor) and dinged pvp lvl 10. For the lack of anything better to do I have decided to get my t3 armor. No, honestly I went for that armor because simply I adore it's design. There, I have said it: t3 looks better than t2. I am writing this post to show you that at the end of the day it pretty much boils down to your preferred pvp look rather than stats because difference in those is marginal AT BEST.

The looks
 Assassin armor is pretty damn unique in post 1.6 reality because those are pretty easy to distinguish. While ranger/barb got their copy/paste job assassin's armor differs in lack of face cover in t2 and overall tone. T2 armor is dyed in stylish black and because of that it can be mixed and matched with other pieces of gear for vanity. However lack of face cover makes the hood pretty weird looking, especially on male character. The T3, because of it's golden-ish color, is very ornate and the mask makes the whole package very menacing. The T3 also is completed with matching cloak that gives it that finishing touch. I like it and I cannot lie!

The stats
For the purpose of stats comparison I have striped my character of accessories (cloak, rings etc.) and weapons. What you can see below are "naked" stats given by T2 and T3 respectively.

 In "PVE" tab (aka universal stats) the only difference is 0,3% critical chance and 1% critical bonus damage.

 In PVV tab there is 0,2% difference in evade chance, 1,4% hit bonus chance (almost meaningless stats) and 0,2% armor. Combat Damage increase is 5 ...out of 130.

The verdict
Obviously don't get both of them like I did :X I would say go for the one you really like design wise because stats difference is marginal at best. I got my T3 armor via combination of Bori farming (around 3.000 tokens) and drops from kills in minigames. In fact I wouldn't had to do any Bori at all if I hadn't spent  my conquest tokens on prowness. Even a laid back approach to minigames can land you around 250 conquest tokens per week and before you will be pvp lvl 10 you will have more than enough to buy full armor. 

Last thing that I have to mention is that ever since I got T3 armor I am focused in minigames a lot more. Somehow (and I am guilty of that too) assassin in T3 is perceived as a much larger threat than the one donning the black suit of armor.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This Week In Hyboria #5

Welcome to another week(ish)ly Hyborian news! This time we have a whole bunch of stuff to go over. I have decided that, even thou the title of the post says "this week", this news updates will be posted only when I have gathered enough of goodies for your hungry eyes.

Tricks in the Lost Temple
Fsen of Fury fame posted an interesting video regarding some of the trick jumps in the Lost Temple. While this stuff has been around for a long time he gives a great step-by-step description on how it is done. Must see for any PVPer.


 Dragon's Spine: more interviews
The next add-on for Age of Conan will be called Dragon's Spine and it will be released in series of updates. Funcom's Craig Morrison did some interviews about Secrets of Dragon's Spine (I will be calling it SDS from now on) hinting that the first batch of SDS content might hit live serves as soon as in OCTOBER (check of 3:00 minute of the interview). Game Director even hints on his blog that we will get some kind of previews next week (check the comments),.


Compensation for laggy servers
Funcom decided to take it on the chin and offer players some goodies to make up for terrible lags that we were experiencing in last few weeks. 

Option 1
Imperial Bronzesteel Slaughter Steed.
Teaches you how to summon an Imperial Bronzesteel Slaughter Steed. Requires Exotic Creature Handling to use.
400 Funcom Points to spend in our in-game Item Shop.

Option 2
800 Funcom Points to spend in our in-game Item Shop.

Option 3
7 Days of Premium Game Time.

here is the kitteh that you can claim
 Here is how you can claim your rewards:
1/ log onto your account managment page
2/ click "special offers"
3/ click the compensation offers
4/ pick one option
5/ if you have picked mount you can now claim it via "/claim" command, it is account wide.

It is not my mount of choice, but I am glad that Funcom decided to do "the right thing (tm)" and give something back to the player base.


Big plans for the forums
Funcom has decided to finally merge the EU and US forums into one. I do find that very strange since we have been told for years of end that it cannot be done. Beats me. It is a very welcomed move because forums are getting more and more empty. I don't think that it is because of community dissolving, but rather because we are lacking things to discus. I know that I log onto boards few times a day and a don't really have anything to write about anymore. Bring on the SDS! The merger will defiantly help the AOC population to get in touch and it is very welcomed.


Age Of Conan - The Epic Adventure
HENRYX once again decided to wow us with his video capturing and editing skills and published via youtube "The Epic Adventure" vid featuring many raids and dungeons.

More goodies on the TL!
The devs were are in the crunch mode and are pouring the content onto the TL servers. You can find there full revamp notes for the Bear Shaman and Conqueror. Furthermore we will get our hands on new unchained version of Amphitheatre of Karutonia. The new Amphitheatre is a max level dungeon with 83 lvl elite mobs. There are new mechanics to the bosses and new loot to be collected. It is one of the most enjoyable dungeons in Age of Conan so I am very pleased about it being picked for the max level revamp. I just hope that Funcom will get the loot part right this time because lack of it was one of the main reasons for Into The Breach unchained's failure.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

[Guide] Beating Dead Man's Hand

After the release of Savage Coast of Turan it quickly became evident that Dead man's hand doesn't scale to veteran players in terms of difficulty and rewards. Funcom since revamped the Dead Man's and now you can enter it in normal or hard (unchained) mode. If you are looking for a quick way to make tokens, get mastery and even make some coin then this place is for you. In fact hard version of Dead Man's Hand is currently the fastest solo content that grants token rewards. In this guide I want to show you the quickest way to beat this dungeon and reap the rewards. It can be done in 10 minutes or so.
You start at the boat. Before you mount up get your kappa out and switch to red buff (critical damage rating) which is best suited for avatar based assassins builds.
Ride to the right corner of the village.
Keep to the right until you see an opening with a torch next to in (there is also a snake there)
Keep riding through the pass until you run into two pirates
I recomend killing the pirates rather than avoiding them.
When the fight is over jump down, hide and stick to the wall
Either kill the few pirates that are there (I prefer to do that) or just keep stealthing next to wall
Keep stealthing..

Wait for a pirate on patrol and take him out. The rest won't be moving.
Approach the boss very carefully. If you agrro the mobs in the nearby camp you might be in big troubles as there are 2 archers there (they are hitting like a truck!) and the melee mobs can stun you.
Short chat with the boss and get ready to fight him.
Just spank the boss until he starts running. Keep landing the combos on him while on the run. The more you damage him early on the easier the fight will be. Use From The Darkness and Accelerated to quickly close in on the boss.
The last stage of the fight is also simple tank and spank
When the fight is over the boss will just turn green
Don't forget to loot the nearby chest
Mount up and run back to the village. Ignore all the mobs that will be in your way
Back to the pass. At this point you should have shaken off any aggro.
Back to the village
Back to the boat where you have started
Sprint along the beach until you reach the entrance to the forest
Don't stop and ignore any mobs
Keep runing straight ahead
Keep running
When you reach this point you should have shaken off any aggro you had
Kill 3 crocs
Walk into the pirate's base
Deal with the pirates inside.
 Look out for a nasty stun.
Kill the fat warden.
Talk to the boss to start the fight
This is simple tank and spank.
When the boss will be at 25% she will stun you and almost kill you. The boss will flee and the fight will be over.
Loot the chest
Mount up and go back the way you came to the camp
Keep sprinting along the same patch
Go back to the village.
In the village keep to the left side until you reach the main bulding which is the tavern
Clean up the mobs there (boobies!)
Talk to the boss to start the fight
This is tank and spank fight (yet again)
Loot the chest nearby
Go inside and walk up the stairs killing the mobs that are there
Loot the secret chest that is on the balcony
Mount up
Keep to the right until you reach an opening
Keep sprinting until you see the ship
Enter the ship
There are 3 bosses in this instance and their apperance is random.Accalia is the hardest one. Drostan and the Vesp are pretty much tank and spank (no need to use the intended mechanics). When fighting Drostan save your avatar for when he will summon his rats, then activate avatar and use Death Whirlwind. You will leech absurd amounts of health this way.

Run away from the boss when she is using "abhor the weak"
When she got damaged enough she will run to the center to buff up. Use the balistas to stun her.
Spank her when she is stuned or unbuffed.

Here is your loot: 3 tokens and epic mastery pot. The pet drop can be sold on Trader for good coin.