Age of Conan:The harsh Reality

After playing the game now for about 3 weeks its time to get critical about AoC. Up to this point ive been quite tolerant about the game and when i say tolerant i really do mean that. Nobody expects an MMORPG to have no bugs at launch its part of the game genre and patches fix these issues over time. World of Warcraft had problems at launch from what ive heard but its had so many patches and improvements over the years thats its a well polished newbie friendly game with a solid good customer support base notice i didnt say excellent because it isnt but its better than funcoms attempt at the moment.

Funcoms Hype:
Funcom enjoy telling how many sales and users AoC has now it seems Funcom only care about hyping the crap out of it when they know that they released a unfinished disapointing game to the public.

Most players know this and we know the game was released in this state in order to beat the “Warhammer online MMORPG” coming out soon and to build enough subscribers to compete with Blizzards new WoW expansion WOTLK. Some say it was for “Financial Reasons” due to SCI’s and Eidos’s Finicial problems who knows.

Anyone whos played other MMORPGS can see through this and knows how poor a state AoC is in at the moment. The customer service is abysmal. I heard stories of people waiting 24 hours to get a reply from a GM not to mention the fact that you have to update your “Petition” every 4 hours in order to keep it alive.

Performance: Poor and were not even at Dx10 yet
At times its almost like your “fighting” your PC to play this game. The reason i say this is that ive spent a good amount of time changing my videos settings during the game. In a few on the instances that you can solo the ones in the “Noble District” in “old Tarantia” you actually have to turn the games shader model settings down to “2.0 or 2.x” due to a huge drop in the games framerate, its so bad it makes the game unplayable with framerates varying from 3-10fps. This is an issue ive seen on the forums from other people and hopefully will be fixed in a later patch.

From the poor performance the game gives considering the hardware my PC has is very frustrating. I bought an Nvidia 8800 GTS 640mb back in September 2007 so i could play this game if i decided to buy it but it was mainly for Crysis. Looking back i should have waited but thats the gamble that is PC gaming.

I was very dissapointed in the performance of AoC on my PC, ive tried it on Vista32,Vista64 and XP 32 SP3 and theres not much difference between them however Vista 64 seems to a bit better and is better for my PC since i have a 64 bit Processor and 4gigs of ram which 32bit operating systems cant support. I run the game with almost all settings on high and of course my Graphics card cant seem to handle that with framerates dropping from 40-15fps in built up areas. Even when you turn off and reduce most of the settings most of them seem to make to no impact on the games performance. The only settings i found that helped were;

Turning off shadows (gives about a 6 fps increase)
Turning off AA (gives 2-3)
Turning off Bloom (1-2 increase not sure)

My PC Specs:
Amd Athlon 6000×2
4 gig ram
Geforce 8800 GTS 640mb

DX 10 Enhanched-Not yet folks:
The back of the box says and i quote “Direct X 10 Enchanced” and as of launch Dx10 was dropped until a future patch which looking at the state of the games performance is a good thing. If Funcom cant get the game to run stable with Direct X9 what hope have they of doing Direct-X 10 any justice.

The game gives the options of 3 “Shader Models” which basically make the game look better/reduce performance. Shader Model 3.0 is DirectX 9’s default and make the game look its best with more lighting and shiny stuff, the other 2 are DirectX 8 and while they make the game run well they also make it looks really “dated” like a game you would seem from 2-3 years ago. Were told DirectX 10 is coming but i cant imagine its going to be any better than the current state of the game’s performance of course who knows.

Gamespots Age of Conan Hardware Performance Guide.

The very first thing i heard about this game when it lauched was “Theres a lot of Bugs”, it didnt put me off and still hasnt. There are bugs in this game which is no surprise however most of them ive been told and read either were working or have been broken since the “BETA”. I tried to get access to the “BETA” of the game before its launch but didnt get in.

To be honest i dont know what Funcom did in the “Beta” as from what i read they failed to fix many things before launch. The most annoying ones are the “Quest Bugs” where you cant either do the quest or finsih it because its not working. Now this really is something that annoys me, you do the quest hand it in and nothing happens and think to yourself “What the Frack?”. Then you ask in the chat channel is “XYZ Quest Bugged?” to of course the answer is always “yes it is at the moment.” Now im not 100% sure but i think in World of Warcraft they “Hot-Fix” these issues i.e the fix them without patches or downtime. This hasnt been done in AoC yet which is kinda dissapointing but i guess its too early for that yet.

End-Game, boredom and Quests Drying up:
Ive read that quests from level 55 upwards are scarce and a fair of “grinding” is involved. I decided from the start of this game that there was no way i was going to do that and i wont. Funcom who make the game as you know “Are aware” of this and are making new content for a future patch. Im only one level away this and im starting to get well fed up really in the current zone im in “the Egliphian mountains” the quests are running out plus after managing to save up enough gold for a mount,  im kinda getting a bit sick of it plus the zone looks very dull at least the first 2 areas of it.

Travel in game:
At the start the travel didnt bother me it seemed part and parcel of the game but when you need to go from “Fields of the Dead” to “Conarch Village” or “old Tarantia” to put some items up for sale it becomes utterly frustating. It doest help that while of one the best zones in the game “Conarch Valley” is beautiful its also huge and i mean huge your talking a good 20-30 min walk on foot if you decide to do it that way. The quickest way to travel in game now is to kill yourself and ressurect at the nearest resurection point near your destination. Ive had to do this a few times and i wasnt in a guild and i had no mount so i couldnt go to the “Guild Village” or ride through it on my mount.

Age of Conan has something missing:

Its a Multiplayer RPG right?
At times i have to ask myself this question as the game still fells like singleplayer RPG (eg. Elder Scrolls IV:Oblivion) with a chat system added in. One of the best things i found in World of WArcraft when i started out was that grouping up with other players was encouraged from the low levels.

My first run of the “Dead Mines” in WoW was such a great fun adventure that it got me right into loving the game. Grouping up with complete strangers in order to achieve and objective is such a fun and rewarding experience and AoC doesnt seem to have that at the early levels anyway. You get to do some of the “Elite Quests” in “Conarch Valley” at around level 30 and the mobs hit so hard that it really is an achivement to do those quests.

There is a lot of things missing from the game at the moment but theres one real important thing that any game needs and thats “soul” and what i mean by that is an immersive world that “flows” with characters and quests that give you a sence of achievement and make you want to log back in in fact make you never want to log off. I can only stand to play the game for a few hours at the moment for some reason i not sure why i think its just that so many things annoy me from the performance of the game to quest bugs thats its kinda hard to endure it after a certain amount of time. Even with todays patch i cant be bothered to log in and see what they have fixed. This is missing from the game, when i started WoW i felt it of course wow had 1-2 years of patches by the time i got to play it.

Customer Support and Community Feedback: Complete Failure
The forums contain hardly any replies from anyone at Funcom about issues that people post about and sure there busy doing other things it would be nice to know that at least they are aware of “xyz issue” and are working on it. Plus the in-game “Petition” system is complete rubbish. Theres no user-friendly form here just a command you type;
/petition “problem here”

Thats pathetic to be honest and shows how unfinished this game was at launch. It feels like they have hidden it from users so as they get inundated with support requests.

I havnt even talked about classes in the above criticism and theres plenty more to moan about there believe me.  All in all AoC feels empty, the loading from zone to zone ruins the immersive feeling that games like WoW have. Performance of the game is terrable and needs some serious work to get any kind of stable performance working. The Forums have people having every issue under the sun with the game.

A lot of players are sick of “World of Warcraft” including myself we want a “WoW Beater” a game that can compete with Blizzards game. AoC seems like it could be a least a good competion for Blizzard but thats in months to come and certainly not at the moment.

the Future of AoC:
The game has a lot of potential and will probaly pull itself together in the end but i think it will be far too late for most people. The game needs so much polish/work on nearly every aspect of the game that it will take 3-6 months for the game to be where it should have been at launch which is sad. People that came from other MMO’s are leaving no word on any numbers here but i read and see the tales on the forums.