Age of Conan Expansion Preview: Rise of the Godslayer
by Cody Hargreaves
Funcom, developers of the highly acclaimed MMORPG Age of Conan, recently surprised players with the announcement of their first expansion, Rise of the Godslayer. I say surprised, because that really how it happened. This wasn’t your average day at the Warcraft beach, whereby we heard about the expansion two years before we learned the release date, then played it a year after that; we heard about it six months ago, it was announced last week, and we’ll be playing it in roughly ten days.
Yes, the official release day for Rise of the Godslayer is May 11th, and judging by the buzz of global chat and the low roar of the Internet, there are more than a few players out there eagerly awaiting its arrival. And why shouldn’t they be? Age of Conan was awarded the ‘Most Improved MMO’ award in 2009, and it easy to see why. Let take a look at what coming up.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
First and foremost, as with all great content expansions, Rise of the Godslayer will be adding a completely new area to the game, Khitai, and with it an entirely new playable race, the Khitans. Both Khitai and its inhabitants have been designed with one word in mind: Asia. The Funcom UK team worked closely with the new Korean development house to create a truly inspiring land, and the results speak for themselves: lush green expanses adorned with Chinese flavoured architecture, Japanese themed armour and weapons, Vietnamese styled rivers and stagnant bodies of water”¦ there even a Great Wall of Khitai, and it all looks gorgeous.
More importantly though, perhaps, than the visual style, is what it hopes to offer players in the way of gameplay. To begin, it would help to mention that unlike most other MMO content expansion; Rise of the Godslayer will not be raising the level cap from its current setting at level 80. Thus, Khitai will be offered to all players above level 20. Players deciding to begin anew with the new Khitan race will be able to access all new areas as soon as they embark from Tortage, and likewise, players in the mid-range, and too, those already at level 80 will find themselves swamped with new areas, dungeons and challenges all across Khitai. But why bother? They’re already level 80; they don’t need to quest and level anymore. Or do they?
CHOOSE YOUR SIDE
Opposed to the traditional “pay some more money, grind some more levels” approach that has since become the norm, Rise of the Godslayer hopes to bring something new to the table. Players already at level 80 will have several new options available to them outside of raiding high level dungeons (though, there a lot of new content in store for players in that respect too, including dungeons filled with puzzles and challenges that hope to test their ability to think, as well as their ability in combat) —œ they’ll be given access to an entire new range of skills, equipment and weapons that can be accessed by competing quests assigned by Factions. In total, there are 10 new factions available in Rise of the Godslayer, each of them following a different story arc, and each of them designed to cater to a specific group of character classes.
As Craig Morrison, executive producer and director of Age of Conan explains it, "we expect the players to be playing through three to four storylines at a time because it is a very complex political situation in Khitai. The players have to try and feel there way through it. They have to make friends with some factions and in doing so will make enemies of others. Unlike with other MMOs, that actually blocks and opens up content to them simultaneously. So based on their choice they’ll have real consequences.” He went on to explain that each class will have 5 different choices of faction, each offering different sets of skills and uniquely designed armour beneficial to their class.
On skills, they’ll be handled a little differently too. A new skill tree will be available to all players upon release; however, the skills one can access within this tree will be determined by their faction, class, and own personal choice. Also, unlike their other skills, players will be only have access to 6 slots on their HUD in which the new skills can be placed, so choosing which skills to bring into what battle should prove to add a completely new layer of depth to an already outstanding system.
GETTING AROUND TOWN
While there are rumoured to be hundreds of smaller changes, fixes and additions in store with the release of Godslayer, the final major content addition is the inclusion of two new mounts —œ the Tamarian Tiger and Wolf of the Steppes. Unlike the other mounts in Age of Conan (and, with very few exceptions, every other MMO), the new mounts will require players to complete a quest requiring them to obtain a cub, and then train and grow their mounts themselves. Once they’ve reached a certain level, players will then be given a choice to further train their ‘pet’ in the way of combat, retaining them as a battle companion, or, throw a saddle on their back and ride into the sunset, losing their ability to attack (but not their ability to be a useful participant in battle, as mounted combat is still as good as ever).
Now, I don’t want to sound over-eager, but in my books, that one hell of an expansion.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently we had a mistake in our pricing explanation, so they were nice enough to send us over an accurate pricing detail – (Thanks Funcom!)
The expansion upgrade for existing customers is: $24.99
The new retail SKU (includes the original game) is: $29.99
Digital Collector Edition: $9.99
Tortage survival pack (inc 30 days of gametime): $24.99
Might of Crom (inc 60 days of gametime and virtual items from Tortage Survival Pack): $59.99
So, there something for everyone in Rise of the Godslayer, both in terms of purchase price, and in gameplay and content. I know I’m looking forward to it, are you? Leave your thoughts below.