Funcom has sent me a few emails trying to tempt me into buying the new Age of Conan expansion pack, Rise of the Godslayer, which will be released tomorrow. I won’t be buying it, nor playing the game anymore, even though it looks pretty good. There are three main reasons for this which I want to set down now. AoC’s three weak points, as far as I’m concerned, are:
The combat system,
Lets start with the PvP system. I’m not talking about the mechanics of it, or the class balance, or anything like that. The thing that really confused and then annoyed me about PvP in AoC was the reasons to PvP in the first place. In short, there aren’t any. There are three human races or factions or civilizations I suppose you could call them, in AoC: Aquilonians, Stygians and the good old fashioned barbarian Cimmerians. But there isn’t any form of political background going on. Maybe one race doesn’t like the other, or one has a breakfast cereal that another takes offense to, but you wouldn’t know it as they just throw you all in together. So the first time I was in a PvP zone on an island just outside Tortage, two other players ran down the beach towards me. I stopped to say hello, and they calmly killed me and continued jogging up the beach. Now, don’t get me wrong, I haven’t got a big problem with being killed in the morning when I stop to say hello to people, it’s all part of your day in a rough and tumble fantasy MMO world. But being killed in this situation just didn’t make any sense. Why was I being killed? I had no idea. So the next time I saw other players coming along I did what any other reasonable person would do in this situation – I hid behind a bush and waited for them to go. So much for playing in an MMO, eh? Lots of player interaction here.
In WoW, you know where you stand. There is the Alliance and then there is the Horde. They are at war. If you are an elf and you see an orc then you know that some shit is going to go down and more importantly, you know why. AoC has none of this. The entire social interaction and PvP system in AoC makes no sense whatsoever. I got killed again, and then again and I still had no idea why and I still had no idea who was going to kill me next. I still have no idea now.
The combat system has lots of moves. There are some great finishing moves where you can literally remove your opponents head from their shoulders. The problem is that there are so many moves, and all their icons look the same. Same colours, just some lines or something in a different direction to diferentiate between them. So after you hit level 12 or so and your combat bar is groaning under the weight of all your abilities, combat becomes simply a matter of pushing every single button you can that isn’t on a cooldown. Trying to logically think through it and work out to use this one or that one in this situation is just too much. You can do it, don’t get me wrong, but I just couldn’t be bothered. I still killed my opponents just by hitting every button imaginable, so why bother going to the trouble of trying to learn every single combat move that you have. They all look the same, they seem to do the same thing. It was like having 20 different flavors of Swiss cheese. At the end of the day you say, oh just give me the one with the holes in it. Cause there are a lot of holes.
Lets talk about Funcom. I like to think of them as Failcom. A few months ago my best friend was out visiting me from Australia. My AoC account was still active and one day I asked him if he wanted to have a look at AoC. I hadn’t been on for a few months, so we sat for an hour downloading all the crap that I had missed out on and then I went to log in. Nope, my password or username or something was wrong. After many attempts to get it working I decided to just change my account settings. So I opened their web site and tried to log in and it worked. That’s weird, I thought. Oh well, I’ll change my password anyway. So I changed my password, logged out and logged back into their website. Yep, all good. I checked my email and they had emailed me to tell me my password had been changed. All good there as well. So I hit the AoC icon on my desktop, up popped the login screen, I entered my new details and …
A big fuck all. I tried again, I changed my password again, and then I looked at my friend and said; you know what? Fuck this. And I logged back into their website and suspended my account payment. If Failcom can’t even get the login right, what else are they managing to fuck up? The screenshots from the new expansion look amazing but I wouldn’t trust this lot to organise a piss-up in a brewery.