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Keen’s AoC PvP Weekend Impressions

As of 12:00pm PST the NDA for the Age of Conan Gamespot PvP weekend is official lowered. As I hinted at yesterday I was accepted to participate in this event and have gone to great lengths gathering information that will helpful to both myself and you my faithful readers. I think the best place to begin here is with a quick review. I want to give you my initial thoughts on everything from graphics to the basic gameplay before I go into details on each of the classes. This is going to be a long writeup but if you’re even remotely interested in Age of Conan I strongly urge you to take a few minutes and read the parts that interest you.

Reference: Part 2 now available!

Note: This information is gathered and these impressions were formed after the NDA dropped at Noon PST.

I have included screenshots and video (if they’re not in the post at the time of your reading please check back soon) along with this written commentary. This is a very rough draft and the class information will read more like my notes (because they are nothing more than notes that I scribbled down while playing). As usual this is beta and these things are *hopefully* subject to change.

Graphics and Performance

[singlepic=32,200,125,,left]The graphics are definitely high end and in my opinion the best “realistic” graphics currently available in a mmorpg. As for their performance it’s sadly what I expected. The game is a big fat resource hog and my PC is having trouble providing me with a decent looking and playable experience to my personal requirements. Your mileage may vary but here are my specs which should give you an idea of where your performance will be:

Operating System: Windows XP Professional (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 2
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU 6400 @ 2.13GHz (2 CPUs)
Memory: 2048MB RAM
Card name: NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GT 512mb
Display Mode: 1680 x 1050 (32 bit) (60Hz) *NOTE: Lowering to 1440×900 had better results. See Part 2.

The game has three options for default settings: Low/Med/High and a lot of customizable options for scaling. I am able to run it on Med with tweaks to AAx2, AFx4, shadows completely off, draw distance <1000, and textures on medium and bloom OFF. On average I am able to pull 25-40fps (and yes, it fluctuates regularly giving it the illusion of hitching or being skippy) when I’m not in PvP. When I get into PvP my FPS drops under 20 and drops below 5 in huge fights with spell effects. It’s completely unacceptable performance for pseudo-twich pvp and I hope that the problem will be rectified before release.

Animations are top notch. I love how the game feels and flows. Some classes look a little stiff but overall it’s not that big a deal. I’m impressed with level of detail put into movement. Funcom put a lot of work into the details of the game and it shows.

Crashing is a serious issue for me. I have crashed to desktop four times today alone and once I received a message that my display driver has stopped working and my PC must be restarted. I was taking to a black screen with a blinking _ and was forced to hard reset. I find that most crashes come during PvP.

Overall the game is beautiful and if they can resolve the lag in PvP it will be playable for me. I’m in tech-shock right now though thinking about how my rig is having this much trouble.

Character Creation: I decided to include this under graphics and performance (Don’t ask me why because I[singlepic=30,200,125,,right] don’t know!) The character creation process in AoC is better than most mmorpgs. It feels like Oblivion’s level of customization. You get to choose your race, gender, and basic appearance. From there you have advanced options with way more choices than necessary – but it’s neat! In theory everyone should look very different under their armor. There are however several bugs with the creation process including changes not being saved, hair styles and textures appearing incorrectly, and other assorted bugs that need to be ironed out before release.

Basics of Combat

I’m going to break this up into 2 parts.

Melee Combat: As advertised the game takes a very different approach to melee combat. I have dubbed it “pseudo-twitch” because it’s a mix of traditional mmorpg combat and combat that requires consistent micromanagement. Using keys 1-3 you can swing your weapons left, overhead/straight, and right. Characters and NPC mobs will adjust their shields in and before combat to compensate how much damage they are able to receive in melee comabt from a specific direction (you’ll find this plays a HUGE part in combat because if you’re attacking someone where they are shielding they’re not going to lose much health). Swinging your weapon feels like it’s as fast as you can press the button with most weapons. In addition to the directional attacks there are combos which require you to press the combo button then press the directions that come up on the screen, and as a result a combo is executed. The combos bring with them bonuses in all forms. They are the bread and butter of melee combat and are necessary for you to deal any significant damage. I have also found a few classes have normal skills which I will touch upon later in the class specifics.

Spell Combat: At the time of writing this I have been unable to find the spellweaving feature. I do not believe it’s in the game. So far everything a spellcaster does feels exactly like a traditional mmorpg spell caster. I’m slightly bummed about that but this could change in the future. Each of the spellcasters, in addition to their spells, can swing a weapon like a melee character but none of them have combos.

Gameplay

Since the PvP weekend offers the level 1-6 newbie island experience I’m going to touch upon PvE then go into my analysis of Conan’s PvP gameplay.

PvE: It is magnificent! I was truly shocked to find the PvE to be such a pleasure. Combat in PvE feels effortless and every battle flows almost seamlessly. I have played through this 1-6 experience over five times and each time it feels the same. There are boss mobs scattered periodically throughout the island that offer a small challenge and even the basic npc mobs feel dynamic with their shielding and abilities. I can’t speak for the rest of the game but if I were to be completely honest I have to say that this PvE feels extremely polished and on its own capable of luring me into playing Conan.

The newbie experience itself is also well done. The bosses drop interesting loot that has been different every single time I’ve run through the island. The tooltips that they offer are very helpful and informed me of everything I needed to know. The island itself is very linear but that’s to be expected from a tutorial type experience. There is one main quest line that introduces you to your character and his role in life and the interactions you have in the story and world are very well done. A+ overall on PvE.

PvP: Here we go. Unfortunately I am not satisfied with the PvP that has been presented in this weekend event at all. There are two modes of play that I want to talk about very quickly:

[singlepic=33,200,125,,right]CTF: Standard CTF except the map or location or whatever is horrible. It’s very boring and it feels so slow and lack luster. I actually feel World of Warcraft has a way better CTF game in Warsong Gulch. Sorry Funcom, it’s the truth.

Team Death Match: It’s really called “Annihilate the enemy team” but it’s essentially Team Deathmatch with a twist. Each side has their own base in a very small map. There are 2 side bases that can be captured to stop the enemy from spawning. Kill the enemy and their resurrection totem/pillar and you win. It lacks thought. I really don’t find it fun.

Combine how thoughtless the two modes are and how really lackluster they feel with the fact that you LOSE “pvp experience” when you die and you have a ton of incentive to stay the hell way from these “mini-games”. And did I mention the teams are completely random? And just to salt the wound a little here It needs to be mentioned that every single time you die you get a loading screen – yes, you read that correctly, every single time you die in the CTF/TDM mini-games you have a load screen.

Overall PvP gameplay feels clunky and the very opposite of PvE. Where PvE felt polished, PvP feels strenuous. It doesn’t flow. People jump around or run out of range and combos are ruined or useless. When variables like lag and system performance come into play it makes for one completely frustrating and confusing time. Admittedly we’re being thrown in at level 20 with characters we barely know how to play… but the general feeling is rooted deep in the game’s design.

I don’t want to come across like an arse or seem too critical, especially in beta, but I want you guys to know what I truly feel — and I truly feel like this mini-game and clunky PvP is not going to cut it. However, there are still the Border Kingdoms which will have a DAOC frontiers feel to them. Those have to be Conan’s saving grace or else it’s over for the PvP gameplay.

Balance: Possibly Conan’s biggest hurdle right now is the balance in their game. I have no idea how far this reaches (the classes all feel similar at levels 1-6 in PvE) but right now in PvP the classes are completely unbalanced. Rangers and stealthers are 1 shotting people. Some classes feel like they couldn’t cut into a stick of warm butter. Casters are a mixed bag with some dealing little to no damage and others (like Tempest of Set) completely annihilating anything that moves. The game is one month from release. I’m getting nervous.

This post is getting really long so if you’re interested in reading more about each of the classes and my final thoughts on the game (including a link to my Age of Conan screenshot gallery and videos) then read more.

Classes

AoC has some very interesting classes. I think this is why they are having trouble balancing them all. Some of them are very different and unfamiliar in the traditional mmorpgs. Each class has two trees for their class specific feats and a general feats section. This allows for some customization but I’m questioning some of the feat trees because some sound a lot better than others. This is far too deep of a discussion to have in this post but keep it in mind.

Okay, I have tried every class now and want to briefly describe how they feel in combat, maybe relate them to another game’s class, and add other random commentary.

Assassin – This class feels like the standard dagger wielding assassin class. It stealths and has huge burst damage. Most of the damage will come from combos. There have been complaints in the global chat that Assassins are 1 shotting players. I have yet to confirm this but I can confirm they are high dps but squishy. Their stances allow them to combine poison with their attacks. More of a single target dpser.[singlepic=27,200,125,,right]

Barbarian – It’s a rogue class believe it or not. The Barbarian is that “meat grinder” dps class that swings weapons fast and furious packing a huge punch. Going into rages and being an overall killing machine then you’ll like this class. I found his ability to absorb damage was slightly above the assassin. His combos are intense and the aoe damage is there. I like his dual wielding more than using a 2hander.

[singlepic=31,200,125,,left]Ranger – Absolutely the flavor of the month and overpowered beyond comprehension. I have been one-shotting people with this class and completely annihilating tanks without breaking a sweat. Sit back, shoot arrows, and destroy anyone and everyone. It’s broken and rumor has it Funcom has already said they are getting bludgeoned to death with the nerf stick. That said, it’s rather fun. I find the archer style in this pseudo-twitch style to be quite engaging. If it’s balanced and still retains the punch it deals then this could be the best ranged “archer” class ever in a mmorpg. But please Funcom, fix it.

Guardian – Standard tank. Guardians can use polearms and sword/shield and receive combos for both. My guardian had a lot of combos that debuffed the enemy making them deal less damage or have a more difficult time of dealing damage. A lot of disabling the enemy. Lots of taunts. Very durable and a perfect class for the guy who likes to run in and smack things without the fear of immediate death. Spend your feats right and the guardian is almost unkillable with one of his abilities – I expect it to be nerfed.

Conqueror – It feels like a WoW PvP spec’d Warrior. Like oldschool Fury or something. Conq’s do intense damage and have higher survivability than rogues. They are the dmg dealing Soldier(tank) class. I felt my conq did more damage with a 2hander than he did dual wielding, but there are combos for both. Conqs also have stances and even group buffs that increase damage. A well balanced class right now.

[singlepic=28,200,125,,right]Dark Templar – Feels like a Shadow Knight mixed with a Paladin. DT’s have auras that either help their group or hurt their enemy but giving the DT and his group self-heal procs, dmg procs, etc. DT’s have life leech spells and other Shadow Knight’ish abilities. I used a sword/shield combo and felt very beefy. I glanced at their skill trees and saw that they can spec for more of a spell focus or a melee focus. I like it!

Bear Shaman – He’s a buffer/healer who can swing a 2handed hammer. What more is there to say? I died in two hits but I blame the rangers. I like his buffs and the heals had enormous range — I believe they were even aoe heals. He can spec to make his buffs better which could really be amazing at higher levels. I would be afraid to go against a team with a shaman if I didn’t have one in my group.

Priest of Mitra – It felt like a holy spec’d WoW priest. It could deal damage but it was laughable. Heals were awesome and I was actually very aware of the enemy PoM’s because their team never died *shakes fist*. I’m going to test this more today and see if I can figure out what I’m doing wrong with their damage.

Tempest of Set – It’s currently overpowered. It feels like a Druid class with the most offensive nukes imaginable. They currently have this lightning spell that melts faces. They are supposed to be the offensive magic healers but Funcom went overboard. Great class though and I expect it to be by far the most fun of the healers.

Demonologist – It summons a demon pet. It nukes for decent damage. It’s sorta kinda like a mage in EQ or a Conjuror in EQ2 except the nukes are slightly better than the pet. Demonlogists would actually nuke the hardest of all classes if the ToS wasn’t overpowered. I want to test this class out more because I really feel like the pvp I did with mine was with a completely noob team. If I were able to sit back more and not get beat on I could dish out the pain.

Necromancer – I’m not really sure what I think. I tried out my Necro in a CTF environment and he wasn’t able to scratch melee characters. His nukes are downright pathetic but his DoT’s did eventually hurt… they just took forever and were completely ignorable if the enemy had a healer. The pet’s (you can have 3 out of [singlepic=29,200,125,,right]mixed variety) were dealing decent damage but really they felt like a DoT. Put them on a caster and the caster is dead. Go against a tank and it’s a crapshoot if you’re going to live. Another class that I will be testing more.

Herald of Xotli – I think this is my favorite or second favorite class right now. Essentially the HoX is a battlemage. They wear cloth armor, swing big 2handed weapons, transform into demons, and have some nukes. The combos on this class were really doing a lot of damage. I think this is because at level 20 the fire resistance on most classes is really low. Looking at their feats the HoX can eventually call forth volcanos and huge demons into battle. It’s a traditional mage that can take advantage of Conan’s twitchy gameplay… What’s not to love?

Final Thoughts

I am admittedly a very harsh critic when it comes to first impressions of MMORPGs. When I look past the performance issues, the insane lack of balance, and the mundane mini-game PvP I see the potential for an amazing game. More importantly I see a game that I would definitely subscribe to and play. If the quarks can be worked out and the performance optimized then this will be a real winner.

SOON TO COME – More Videos and more Screenshots. If you’re seeing this message then I have not added all the videos or links to the screenshot gallery. Check back soon!

This post is a work in progress and I plan to update it several times over the next day or two. More blog posts will follow if the information is worthy of a new post.

HoX and Barbarian PvP + Commentary:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtsJvGB5LVM[/youtube]

Ranger PvP + commentary:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAdUoCdcT3w[/youtube]

Demonologist & Necromacner PvP + Commentary:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wUIsgVWu6A[/youtube]

Dark Templar PvP + Commentary (Active Blocking and Fatalities seen.. and yes I said commentarying..)

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=tbtMvZlkmuM[/youtube]

Priest of Mitra + Commentary in a CTF match (I turn the tide of the battle in my team’s favor)

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=GW8GrgaCY58[/youtube]

Bear Shaman + Commentary

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV3AhVo_NAA[/youtube]

Post-Nerf Ranger + Commentary:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCavI0TxT1E[/youtube]

Guardian + Commentary:

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=MW1bndcGlyA[/youtube]

Tempest of Set + Commentary (amazing damage)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDeSh88MBMM[/youtube]

Conqueror + Commentary (I show how the conqueror is a blending of Guardian and Barbarian gameplay)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MAdNqXVYMw[/youtube]

Assassin + Commentary (forgive the audio quality.Β  I had teamspeak up and that messed with it pretty bad)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7603Gqkz5c[/youtube]
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Keen
Keen - April 19, 2008

Ranger video coming soon. Also more screenshots.

tolakram - April 19, 2008

Too bad the requirements are so high. I know I won’t be upgrading hardware just to play this game. If WAR requires me to upgrade then I might, but not just for AoC.

Fuury - April 19, 2008

Good write up Keen. I got a back door entrance into the PVP beta and hopefully I can try it later tonight or tomorrow AM.

I heard the PoM is the toughest class to master and figure out so that could be your damage issue. I am hoping to make that my main class at release.

Great job….and it looks like the VNBoards took that post down.

Bull - April 19, 2008

Thanks for the info. About the lag, IMO your settings are too high for your video card. Thats why your getting 20 FPS and 5 in large battles. Your going to have to turn down some AA and AF if you want to play with playable frames.

KevinC - April 19, 2008

Great report so far Keen! I was hoping to get a key but it didn’t happen, so I’m glad to see you’re putting up screenshots and videos.

Right now I’m probably most concerned about system specs and how well it will run the game. But otherwise it looks pretty cool.

Arawon - April 19, 2008

I got a key late friday,but the Gamespot downloader was broken or so slow it would take a solid week to pull the game down( I have high speed DSL ).So I could not get in.I will try to get in the next beta.If you asked me today…after reading numerous comments about todays experience…I would not buy the game for day I play.My thinking could change…but frankly I am not ready to beta test the game for months until it gets better..which is what I fear.(yes ..I am a victum of numerous mmog into debacles…like VG…Horizons…..AC2…..Anarchy etc etc.

AOC - General Information - Page 47 - Fires of Heaven Guild Message Board - April 19, 2008

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UFTimmy - April 19, 2008

My system can handle it but I’m rather enjoying my foray back into WoW at the moment. Maybe I’ll pick it up after it’s had a couple of months to shake out.

can - April 19, 2008

great review, i am also playing this week but the system requirements are a killer, no way a game should require so much ram/cpu with so little to give back

Darthus - April 19, 2008

Get the latest beta Nvidia drivers, they make a big difference in performance. PS, your overview of the Annihilation mode (deathmatch) is incorrect in quite a few places. Killing the enemy’s totem stops them from respawning, you don’t just win. Only the neutral areas in the middle of the map can be “captured”, and just supply respawn points if your totem is still alive. I’ve actually found this mode to be more strategic and fun than the CTF mode. I think most “reviews” at this point of the PvP can’t be taken seriously, one because it’s beta and two because most people don’t understand what’s going on entirely.

Aaron - April 19, 2008

I have to say about your performance, your video card really is getting old and your CPU is not very good, and playing at that higher resolution is killing you. If you switched to 1280×1024 I’m sure youd see a big increase.

Thizz - April 19, 2008

Thanks a bunch for taking the time out and doing this πŸ™‚

will be droppin by periodically for updates.

Keen
Keen - April 19, 2008

@Darthus: Yes, You are correct. I need to go back and edit that a bit. Thanks for the tip of the beta drivers. I’m using the latest stable build but I’ll check into those betas. Have a link?

@Aaron: The CPU isn’t really a problem in AoC. It more than meets the minimum and I’ve really done some research into processors and all of the core 2 duos should be fine. You’re right though that the graphics card is getting older. (My gosh.. just over a year and a half is old these days…)

But still it has to be said that my computer can run ANY other mmorpg out there with blazing fast performance. Heck, even Vanguard gave me 40+fps at the highest settings 90% of the time. I’m running CoD4 at 75FPS, TF2 at 90+fps, and never once have I had a problem with my system. *shrug*

-Pagan- - April 19, 2008

Grats Keen. Blog is a hit and getting some attention from other forums. Good job!

Matt - April 19, 2008

Yo Great Job! Love the videos! Can We Get some Dt and Bear Shaman up?

Keen
Keen - April 19, 2008

DT should be up within an hour or at the very most 2 hours. The Bear Shaman video will be up tonight as well. πŸ™‚ Thanks guys for your kind words.

Keen
Keen - April 19, 2008

Bleh servers are down for maintenance. Expect those videos to be up tonight but slightly delayed.

nookie989 - April 19, 2008

Great job on the review Keen. Those vids really add alot to the review.

ABC - April 19, 2008

Rangers were 1-shotting people due to a technical bug.

Last I heard, Spellweaving was being put in for Release.

And you should note that you can change your personal shields but it doesnt seem to do much.

Vileedge - April 19, 2008

I’ve got a Quad and a 8800GTS, I don’t get lag. The lag you are experiencing is video based, turn down your settings and it won’t be a problem. The game is pretty high quality and your setup is getting a little old.

Fuury - April 19, 2008

Well Keen your insite on casters was quite refreshing πŸ™‚ How did you fair with any healer assiting you? From your videos I dont think I saw any.

Good stuff though…keep it coming

Keen
Keen - April 19, 2008

When I had a healer I was unstoppable. The only time I had a healer was when I played a Dark Templar. I had one healing me and I also had my healing proc aura on. The DT damage was low but the survivability turned that little damage into a lot over a period of time.

Allan - April 19, 2008

Your PC specs are sub-par, namely your CPU; thus you were experiencing quite a bit of laj/jerkiness in combat.

I run the client on the following:

Windows XP Pro (SP2)
AMD Athlon 64 3400+ (2.4GHz rated at 3.4GHz)
2560MB RAM
nVidia 7950GT 512MB

I can run things on high settings with a few things tweaked. Combat is smooth and FPS very rarely drops below 25FPS.

Tirzah - April 19, 2008

These are very informative. Thanks a ton for taking the time to share! <3

Would love to see Defender class πŸ˜‰

Keen
Keen - April 19, 2008

I’m trying to turn my resolution down but for some reason I only have these options…

1024×768, 1152×864, 1280×960, 1280×1024, 1680×1050

I’m on a widescreen LCD monitor but I don’t have any options for 1440 or anything. Really bizarre… Anyone know why I don’t have any options between 1280×1024 and my monitor’s native resolution of 1680? I can’t even change my desktop resolution to anything but those.

Thizz - April 19, 2008

I have a curious question, and it has to do with me running it. Those of you playing will probably be able to give me some sort of feedback, because i’ve heard mixed reactions regarding this–

anywho, here goes:

OS: vista 32
Vid: geforce 8500gt
CPU: 2.2ghz quad
mem: 3GB ddr2 RAM

Do you think i’d be fine with fps on med-high settings, with vertical sync enabled and shaders tweaked?

sueil - April 19, 2008

Love your writeup / videos. Didn’t get into the pvp beta so been clawing at any news that comes out. The narrated videos are a godsend.

KT - April 19, 2008

Love the commentary and comments. I appreciate the critical nature of the reviews and actually found myself laughing quite often at some of your remarks. Keep them coming if you can!

Anyway, I was a little dismayed that the Herald of Xotli wouldn’t be a good solo/pvp class when I heard that the demon form was such a short term buff, but maybe I was wrong based on your review. I was considering the barbarian instead, but now I’m torn again. Oh well, guess I have a few weeks to decide what to do!

Keen
Keen - April 19, 2008

Bit of an update for you guys. The Dark Templar pvp video is uploading to youtube and should be posted here on the blog within 30 min. I’m going to record a Bear Shaman/PoM combo video next. After that I’m revisiting the Ranger to see how badly they were nerfed.

@Thizz: You’ll be fine but shadows might give you trouble. I didn’t even see a V-Sync option.

@Sueil & Kt: Thanks! I’m glad you find them useful/entertaining/informative/etc.

Thizz - April 19, 2008

@Keen

I read that the v-sync option is available by holding control the hitting tilde at the login screen.

stark - April 19, 2008

Nice review, you’ve got me interested in the game. I wrote it off a year ago when the only news was “come play… we got an ‘M’ rating and boobies”, which always worries me when the dev’s are more interested in telling people they got to render boobies, than talk about game mechanics.

Shack - April 19, 2008

Nice information and well done. Keep up the nice work.

About the resolution thing…. Firstly what size is your widescreen monitor? (i think 21-22″ native is 1680 but 19 or 20 is 1440) I suspect you do not have the latest or proper driver installed for your video card. Install the latest one and you will probably see the 1440 res option. Also you may gain other than (60hz) option once lowered.(enable windows to show you all the hz available) Up that if you can to like 75. This will help with flickering or fuzziness you may have when you lower the res from 1680.

You will definitely get better fps with the lower resolution but of course sacrifice a bit of clarity and screen space.

Poulk - April 19, 2008

Hello. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed the writeup. First time I’ve been to your site (got linked from YouTube), and it seems to have some really great content. I’m looking forward to Age of Conan and have been unable to get into the beta, so these class reviews were great for me!

Again, thanks!

toolowdown - April 19, 2008

ya drop your res down that 7950 getting bit old now cheers

Keen
Keen - April 19, 2008

Okay Bear Shaman and PoM videos are up. Time to pass out! Tomorrow I will be posting part 2 of my impressions where I revisit a few things and talk briefly about other things that I forgot to mention altogether (like the UI and stuff). I also want to record some PvE for you guys if you’re interested.

Higgs - April 19, 2008

@Keen

Greate review ! very informative and i like how you tested each and every class. It sure gonna help me decide what ill make before i even get to install it.

About the performance,

Sadly your video card wasnt made to handle 22″ displays. The latest reviews now include 22″ opt resolutions (1680Γ—1050) since its the new 1280. Anyhow, you can either lower it or shop for at least a 8800GT. The newer cards really shine at 1680Γ—1050, specially a 9800GTX.

You CAN select other resolutions in windows and the game may actually list the ones from windows.

I would try and add some custom resolutions.

Go to the Nvidia Control Panel,

In the left tree, you should have a Display node.
go in Manage custom resolutions. You can add a custom 1440×900. But it fails on my 22″ for some reason.. im sure i did it once at the office.

anyhow, try it and see. Maybe once you add this resolution to the custom list it will show up listed inside the game.

Kytan - April 19, 2008

Hey Keen.

Thanks for the Awesome review! Very much looking forward to AoC.

Just a quick question about Bear Shamans – do they have to use two-handed weapons for combos? Or are they able to use one handed and a shield?

Thanks in advance!

tOmbclOne - April 19, 2008

Thanks for all the info and the Bear Shaman vid mate… Good work

Higgs - April 19, 2008

Ok i think i found why you dont have any resolutions available between 1280Γ—1024 and 1680Γ—1050. Heres my little guide :

How to add 1440×900 and 1152×864 on a 22″ with a Nvidia card

must do it in the proper order

go to Nvidia Control Panel
under Display node, go into Change flat panel scaling page
If im correct yours should currently be set at Use my displays built-in scaling.
Change that to Use NVIDIA scaling.
go to the Change Resolution page, the resolutions 1440×900 and 1152×864 should now be available.
Select one.
Now it should work but the scaling isnt right.
back to the Change flat panel scaling page
now reselect Use my displays built-in scaling.
Apply and voila !

im currently at 1152×864 on my 22″

Help this helps you.

eats. - April 20, 2008

nice work and great clips keen!
but seing this inbalance makes me cry a bit.
can you record an assassin pvp movie, please?

Sarah - April 20, 2008

Sometimes I see people forgetting that this game is still in beta, the balance issues with the classes and the performance issues can be attributed to that. Keep in mind, WoW was the same way when first released.

And by the way.. Let’s see a ToS video!!!!
πŸ˜€

Java - April 20, 2008

Very nice, Keen! Thanks for so much PvP-Info & keep up the good work you’re doing here!

Cheers,
Java

Mallika - April 20, 2008

Thanks so much for all that. I’m eagerly awaiting your next post! πŸ™‚

Lillien - April 20, 2008

Yep really nice stuff. I did wonder whether playing a caster would miss out on the new combat methods.

I didn’t get into the beta so I’m hoping for a few more videos if you have the time. You’re doing a really good job so far! πŸ™‚

Kurayami - April 20, 2008

Yooo keen what’s up? πŸ™‚

Can you add a video for ToS?

Thank you.

tom - April 20, 2008

Thanks a lot ! Good work !

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

You are all very welcome!

Today I plan to record an Assassin, Tempest of Set, and another Ranger video. If there are other requests I will see to them after the other three vids are made. In addition to those vids I’m (right now) writing my part 2 post that should be up shortly.

As for my performance problems, I am a complete noob when it comes to resolutions and video cards and such. I got 1440 working (thanks all!) and gained about 10 frames. The games looks slightly blurry and less “sharp” but the performance is way better. More on this to come in today’s Part 2.

Meno - April 20, 2008

i would love to see a guardian video, all the ones out there at the moment make it seem like a very bad class, im curious as to whether this is because the players lack skill[which im quite sure about] or whether its the class, i want you to make the vid because ur a good critic and from watching ur vids, seem like a good player who understands game mechanics πŸ™‚ looking forward to a conq vid too

Vort - April 20, 2008

@Kytan

Bear shamen only use two handed weapons as far as I can see and all their combos state they are for two handed blunt weapons.

@Meno

I think guardians well be a great class once people learn how to play them. They absorb a ton of damage and have skills that can knock back, taunt, and reduce target damage. Since there is collision I’m sure they can protect others in PvP better once player learn how to utilize it. But don’t expect to do a lot of damage.

@Keen
When you review the UI don’t forget to mention the ‘combat rose’. I think it has a lot of potential but I’ll wait till after your review to comment.

Estac - April 20, 2008

Hi Keen! Great movies, got a question πŸ™‚
Are HoX week when they’re not in the ‘demonform’? Is it ‘possible’ to kill another class without using it?

Nicta - April 20, 2008

Thanks for your blog, i agree with the most of your comments, keep it up.

greetings from germany

KT - April 20, 2008

Yes, a decent video of the Conqueror or Guardian would be nice as well. The Guardian’s I’ve seen so far seem to barely scratch anyone even with a polearm.

I’m interested in playing a melee dps type class, and I’m currently looking at the Barbarian, Conqueror, or Herald. Based on your experience, what are the differences between these classes? Is there another choice I should be looking at?

The Barbarian seemed to tons of damage in your video. Are they more of an AoE assasin with less 1v1 damage and slightly more health?

Is the Herald useful when his demon form is on cooldown, or is he just a weak cloth mage with a sword?

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

@Estac: HoX are weaker in their normal form for sure but can still kill quite well if you play it smart. Cloth armor means you’re not going to want to stand toe to toe with a Barbarian. The HoX deal great damage because they enchant their weapons with fire damage. This damage is augmented in demon form but not entirely dependent upon it.

@KT: HoX is useful even out of demon form. Barbarian deals more damage (Aoe and singel target) but can take less than the Conqueror. The Herald of xotli deals more than the Conqueror but definitely takes a lot more damage. I think the HoX has the potential to out damage the barb and the conq but only later on (looking at their feat tree potential).

Estac - April 20, 2008

@Keen
So, you think HoX is a class that people will be needing/want to have in their PvE-groups asweel as PvP? And, is it impossible to kill, for example a barbarian without using the demonform?

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

@Estac: Without demon form it would be tough. The barbarian puts out so much damage and the HoX has cloth armor. Keep in mind though that the demonform lasts longer as you upgrade it and put feats into it. This will allow the HoX to use demonform much more often. As for their desire in PvE I really can’t comment one way or another on that. I’ve only experienced levels 1-6 PvE and lvl 20 PvP. From looking at their feats it appears that they will be high damage dealers when able to focus on dealing damage (without the risk of taking damage).

pixie styx - April 20, 2008

maybe edit comment about lag and indicate better at lower res so people know that it is playable at low res / high graphic setting in pvp without to much lag.

otherwise great reporting there Keen

Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog » Blog Archive » Age of Conan PvP Weekend Impressions Part 2 - April 20, 2008

[…] Reference: AoC Video Page // Part 1 PvP Weekend Impressions […]

Meno - April 20, 2008

does the conquerer have high dps or is it somewhere in between a barb and a bear shaman for example?

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

Conq DPS is way more than a Bear Shaman but only slightly less than a barbarian.

tolakram - April 20, 2008

I neglected to say thanks in my early post about requirements. This is one of the best ‘reviews’ I’ve ever seen, great job. I feel like I played it. πŸ™‚

Meno - April 20, 2008

@ Keen thats pretty much made my choice, i was tossing up barb and conq, cos i love high damage, but dont like low armor. thanks dude πŸ™‚

Koros - April 20, 2008

Excellent write ups and movies. Thanks for the valuable information.

Gona - April 20, 2008

Im a bit confused as whether there is world pvp or if it is only confined to these “mini games”.Please forgive me if i missed the answer to this somewhere.

NickF - April 20, 2008

Keen,

Thanks for the videos and the reviews. I believe if you want to compare the FPS you need to see how your system does with bioshock and Crysis.

Anyways – You seemed to say you felt the bear shaman was a little underpowered, is that still true? AOE stun seems useful, it didn’t seem to last long though.

Grendel - April 20, 2008

Very nice commentary. You have answered quite a few questions about the classes that I wanted to know about.

conq looks like the dude for me! Cheerss

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

@gona: There is open world pvp in the Battle Kingdoms and on the FFA pvp servers it’s almost everywhere. (Based on what we know from Funcom’s info)

@NickF: Bear Shaman is slightly underpowered when compared to his counterparts. The ToS does more damage and the PoM heals for more. That leaves the bear shaman with needing more survivability… but the PoM’s healing gives him that. They could use some minor help.

KT - April 20, 2008

What do the Barbarian feats look like compared to the conq? Are they similar down the line? Does the Barbarian have anything to enhance is surviability despite the low armor? Also, does he get a bonus for attacking out of stealth as a “rogue” type. Thanks Keen, anxiously refreshing for the new videos over here!

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

I’ll check out the barbarian feats this afternoon.

Post Nerf Ranger video is up.

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

Guardian video is up.

praisechorus - April 20, 2008

desperately waiting for a conqereror vid. anyway very good blog , site and insights into the game, keep up the good work!

Turbo - April 20, 2008

Just wanted to say thanks for posting these vids, very informative.

Much appreciated.

Vort - April 20, 2008

For the first person shooter mode for the ranger I heard that its suppose to do more damage. I’ll have to test it and see.

Did you notice anything Keen?

Here is a screen of that FPS mode for the ranger if you didn’t quite catch it in the movie.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2054/2429250576_b630f2f88d_b.jpg

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

I did not notice any difference in 1st person vs. 3rd person damage.

The Owl Approved AoC Thread - Nihilum - MMORPG Gaming Guild and Community - April 20, 2008

[…] Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog Blog Archive Keen’s AoC PvP Weekend Impressions tons of videos from some pvp weekend for the interested and some commentary and review of the game. […]

Jigs - April 20, 2008

These videos are great, thanks for giving us all an early insight to how all the classes play out, I’m still deciding what to be. Maybe barbarian or an assassin.

Allan - April 20, 2008

When you’re playing the Ranger, try using some combos, you moron; they do more damage than regular attacks… same goes with every class.

KrazyK - April 20, 2008

Love all the info Thanks for putting it up for those of us unable to take part.

Would like too see more on Barb w/2h and HoX. Please.

KrazyK - April 20, 2008

Maybe more on Conq since the video was short due to your shitty team πŸ™‚

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

@Allan: It seems that in editing much of the combo usage was left out. The commentary and my thoughts on the class still stand though. Rangers don’t seem to be on par with the Assassin or Barbarian anymore. I also noticed that the combos were having a great deal of time landing on the target. Overall I did far more damage when avoiding the use of combos altogether. That is why much of the time I am using default attacks.

@Krazyk: Unfortunately I recorded my last video tonight and ended with the Assassin. I don’t have a video of the barb 2h or more of the HoX but I can tell you anything you want to know. Barbs are awesome with 2handers especially out of stealth. HoX are all around awesome and have consistant damage. The Conqs are just… very middle of the road classes. Their damage is consistent and their combos deal decent damage.

James - April 20, 2008

Allan i dont see why you’re calling him a moron when he takes his time up to show people who struggled to get onto beta etc. what the game is like.. the offensive comments are not really needed are they?

Keen
Keen - April 20, 2008

Assassin video is up. Forgive the audio quality (teamspeak messed with it).

Johnny - April 20, 2008

In response to your guardian video. Guardians rely on their knockback followed up by your most powerful combo. Heres how I roll. Using Sword/Shield and specced bleeding counterstrike. Sprint in, drop counterstrike and your regular bleeding ability, followed by shield sweep and then your best powercombo (forgot what it was) and any non-soldier is dead. That thats roughly about 200 stam from your 600 stam pool.

J-Dizzle - April 20, 2008

Excellent videos, thank you so much for taking the time to give us a glimpse.

Stryfe - April 20, 2008

Great videos Keen! I think most of the folks here really appreciate your work and Allan needs to realize that you didn’t know each class intimately like you would if you had leveled them up from the start and jumping from class to class can only be confusing at best.

I am wondering though, you mention that the ToS was overpowered compared to the other casters. Are the other casters underpowered? It seems the ToS dies very quickly to melee classes and they would need hard hitting spells to have even the slightest chance at survival. Same should go for Demonologist and Necromancer, who really should be nuking for more than the ToS, with the ToS being the main AoE nuker and back-up healer.

Chrome - April 21, 2008

Why post reviews if your computer can’t even handle it. It really deminishes the quality you give.

Also, you have like 1-2 combos on your bar, and no other skills, so you definitely didn’t even TRY to play the class right. I made a Barbarian for alittle while and all my bars were full with skills and abilities.

You’re just terrible dude.

Review from the PvP weekend - FreddysHouse - April 21, 2008

[…] got to try out the PvP weekend… many people recommend this one as it’s balanced and informative. Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog Blog Archive Keen’s AoC PvP Weekend Impressions __________________ Lurking […]

Bauglir - April 21, 2008

Um, in one of the clips you say most of the melee class appear to have a charge ability. Does this include the Bear Sham and HoX? (I am guessing not for the bear sham as I read they struggle against ranged attackers).

Gr8 work guys πŸ™‚

The Owl Approved AoC Thread - Page 2 - Nihilum - MMORPG Gaming Guild and Community - April 21, 2008

[…] Posted by Darmor Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog Blog Archive Keen’s AoC PvP Weekend Impressions tons of videos from some pvp weekend for the interested and some commentary and review of the […]

Stropp’s World » Blog Archive » Age of Conan PvP Weekend - April 21, 2008

[…] times about his experiences, and has recorded a few movies too. Here are the links to Keen’s AoC PvP Weekend Impressions Part One and Part Two, as well as his Final […]

Kevin Bane » Age of Conan MMORPG Beta Today? - April 21, 2008

[…] Edit – Looks like the NDA dropped on 04/19/08.Β  Check out this great review of the game with videos at Keen and Graev’s blog. […]

Grimfall - April 21, 2008

Youtube has taken the nerf stick to your videos. Hate to see all that time go down the drain, but I guess you can put them back up when ‘open’ beta starts.

Keen
Keen - April 21, 2008

@Grimfall: Hmm, I still see all the videos up on youtube Grimfall. Perhaps it was a server downtime for Youtube or a maintenance?

@Bauglir: To clarify it’s the Soldier classes that have charge. I know the HoX has a flame step ability that is similar but I’m not sure about the Bear Sham.

@Chrome: My computer can handle the game if I turn my settings down. That does however cross the line of my own preferences on quality. And the observation of combos is a good one. I had them macros on my g15 keyboard. I was using more than visible on that bar.

@Stryfe: Either the ToS is overpowered or the Demon/Necro are underpowered. I would like to think it’s the Demon/Necro being underpowered at level 20 or altogether. I think casters in general need a boost because melee ran rampant this weekend.

@Johnny: Thanks for the tip! I’ll try that out here in the last few hours of the pvp weekend. I specialized my guardian to take tons of damage and I find that he can survive against assassins quite well. That is, I guess, Funcom’s goal for the guardian — outlast.

Meno - April 21, 2008

i think the fact that the cloth wearing classes feel underpowered is mainly because of the lvl, its level 20 out of 80 ffs, and melee classes in general always have beta itemisation at low levels so they appear to be better. this will all change at 80 i hope

Snafzg - April 21, 2008

I think Keen’s intention was to try and show a little bit of flavour of each of the classes rather than intimate details. In that, he definitely succeeds! In order to get out the videos in a timely fashion, he didn’t really get much time to prep and learn the class before calling “ACTION!” If I’m not mistaken, several of these demos are on his first run with the class in PvP.

Also, for system specs, the video recording software is dropping his framerate by 10-20 at least, so cut him some slack please. Were he not graciously recording his experience for everyone else to enjoy, I’m sure the gameplay would have been much more accelerated.

Jarred - April 21, 2008

Can you see if the glitch about being able to go through any two walls that meet is completely true?

Keen
Keen - April 21, 2008

It’s true. I’ve accidentally fallen through floors and gone through walls.

Jarred - April 21, 2008

here is the link of the video I saw it from:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=n34Bz5tz70U

Jarred - April 21, 2008

thanks for the reply. Do you know if this is an old client or that the community is aware and this will be fixed for release? any thoughts?

Keen
Keen - April 21, 2008

I have been told that this is an older client. Closed beta and Funcom’s internal are probably on the newer client. “Cheetah 1” and “Cheetah 2” or something like that.

I would hope that Funcom is aware of these issues.

NDA Lifted. Mini review anyone? - The Older Gamers Forums - April 21, 2008

[…] Here are a couple of reviews of the PvP weekend; http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/heerobya…Weekend-Review Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog » Blog Archive » Keen’s AoC PvP Weekend Impressions […]

thallian - April 21, 2008

nice clips, I like how the assassin moves at normal speed when stealthed.. eeevil πŸ™‚ I also enjoyed your mini pod-cast. Did I manage post number 101? grats guys you got a lot of comments here, heh.

Gunzz - April 21, 2008

Damn that glitch sure needs to get addressed. If it don’t ima use the hell outta it.

Provato Age of Conan, finalmente. - Page 4 - Videogiochi Forum su Multiplayer.it - April 22, 2008

[…] fa hostato da Gamespot, ci sono impressioni, screens e un bel pς di video (Tubati purtroppo): Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog » Blog Archive » Keen’s AoC PvP Weekend Impressions Nicholas D. Wolfwood – The Traveling […]

Elysium - April 22, 2008

Good take on the Priest of Mitra, so much negative feedback on that class. A little more damage and it’ll do great. I’m new to this website but I’ll be back, excellent commentary too.

Grimlorn - April 22, 2008

Thanks for all the videos and the commentary. It was an interesting insight into the world of beta testing that is otherwise closed to us who didnΒ΄t get in.
By the way, you didnΒ΄t play DAoC on the Percival server many years ago, did you? Seem to remember someone with the MeanKeenLurikeen name on the VN forums there all theses years ago.

Keen
Keen - April 22, 2008

Yep, I’m MeanKeenLurikeen on the VN boards and I played on Percival. πŸ˜€

Grimlorn - April 22, 2008

Wow, talk about a blast from the past. I was a dwarven thane called Grimlorn Bouldershoulder in the Hrafnin Flygur guild at release. I have probably swung my gimped thanes hammer at you on occasion then. And I probably missed and got my ass handed to me after throwing a few pitiful lightning spells at you πŸ˜€

Perhaps IΒ΄ll get the chance to redeem myself in AoC? πŸ˜‰

Keen
Keen - April 22, 2008

I was actually Gobold the Shaman and Droz the Savage on Percival. I was in Fist of the North. Waaaay back in the day heh. “Keen” was a later character that I had on another server.

Grimlorn - April 22, 2008

Oh, a fellow mid? I remember Fist of the North clearly. In the early days it was the guild that we in Hrafnin looked up to the most.

Hats off to you then!

KrazyK - April 22, 2008

Darkzz/Leander/Netta Morgan la fae infil/merc/theurg

Lord Warden - April 22, 2008

I played on Percival as a Elven Champion ( talk about a gimped class at least beck when i played it was )I was GL of The Bloodguard. Nice to see fellow percival players! Good times good times!

BTW I really like the communtary Keen! thanks again!

Bauglir - April 23, 2008

Hey Keen, I just read on IGN that “To move across the battlefield more quickly, the bear shaman also has a charge ability. ”

http://au.pc.ign.com/articles/868/868568p2.html

so it looks like they do have a charge after all, I was worried about getting owned by rangers, which may still happen lol. πŸ™‚

Just wanted to post incase anyone else was still wondering.

Gr8 thread and vids btw.

ben - April 24, 2008

So this is just Guild Wars yeah? The classes, skills, casting style and everything is just Guild Wars right?

Age of Conan, or Warhammer? « /random - April 24, 2008

[…] of Age of Conan information, plus Bildo’s input, and watching Keen’s PvP weekend videos, suddenly put AoC on my […]

Rick - April 24, 2008

Wow, small world, I was Hib/Perc, a Lurikeen ranger in the Fellowship of Dihn. Small guild, but we had a lot of fun dyin’ to Mids for a couple years before we got our act together. Probably after y’all left Perc πŸ˜‰

AoC wasn’t really on my radar until WAR got pushed, but (like I was saying in the pingback above this post), now that I’ve got a few months before WAR, I think I’ll give AoC a run. It looks better than I expected.

I do hope the open world PvP is better than what you’ve described in their battlegrouds so far. DAoC was really the only PvP I’ve enjoyed since my old MUD days. If not, I’ll enjoy the PvE and see the world, and move on to WAR when that’s released.

Great write-up Keen, and thanks for all the vids.

M4 - April 25, 2008

On the Dark Templar Pvp Video , Keen you tryed to
active-block and found it usless around 1.36 into the video and I notice that your stam was very low or zero. It’s my understanding that active-blocking uses stam, and it would be usless to use with no stam at all.

Keen
Keen - April 25, 2008

@M4: Yep. Admittedly I was a complete noob at the time of trying active blocking. Once I went back and played my DT again with stamina and tried active blocking I had a great time!

But Dad, I’ve seen decapitation before! « /random - April 27, 2008

[…] each time they hit each other. She wanted to know how much, and I told her about watching the videos that Keen posted from the PvP beta weekend, and how it looked like a wave crashing on the beach […]

alcaras - April 29, 2008

First, thanks for posting these videos.

Second, in the Bear Shaman video you say this, Keen:
“Ideally when you play a healing class, you really don’t want to just sit back and heal, because that’s boring and nobody likes to do that.”

Do people agree with that?

I play a healer to heal — I like sitting back and healing and not dealing damage and supporting my teammates. If I’m playing a healer class, I don’t want to go and try to deal damage — I want to heal! Why should I do subpar damage when I can do top of the line healing?

I don’t understand why people say that staying in the back and healing is “boring and nobody likes to do that.” It isn’t boring for everyone and some people do like to do that. This is one of my major issues with Warhammer, in that they keep harping how even the healers are going to deal damage and how they’ll have no pure healing classes. That makes me sad face — I enjoy playing pure healing classes.

What do folks think of standing back and healing? Is it passe? Getting phased out in the new MMOs? Or is it something that perhaps the designers of AoC and WAR should reconsider?

Keen
Keen - April 29, 2008

I have played healers in raids, pvp, group pve, and every iteration of mmorpgs out there. I know that I am personally tired of just sitting back and healing. I want to participate deeper in the gameplay. Enough people must agree with me because Warhammer Online’s healers are all going to have to participate in actively dealing damage in order to heal (through melee for some and spells for others).

I think that it had its place and at one time it was fun. But having it be the same in every game… to have a priest class in every game that sits back and heals has moved beyond passe and into the realm of cliche. I hope that the new formula for healers is here to stay.

alcaras - April 29, 2008

What about those of us who _like_ the old formula?

Why not have those who don’t like simply not play healers? Why roll a healing class if you don’t want to heal?

Keen
Keen - April 29, 2008

Or why not provide the best of both worlds? Allow healers to specialize their feats/talents for one or the other. And actually Funcom is providing the best of ALL worlds by giving a melee healer, an offensive casting hero, and a pure healer. They aren’t exclusive. Both can exist. πŸ™‚

In response to why roll a healer if you don’t want to heal… remember it’s still all about healing. If I have to deal damage for my heals to be most effective then that is still healing.

alcaras - April 29, 2008

I respectfully disagree. I see having to ‘charge up heals’ with damage as an annoying gimmick. I don’t want to have to deal damage so that I can heal properly. Imagine the reverse: before you can deal real damage with your sword, you have to heal your allies — and then, only then, can go deal real damage, taking breaks to recharge your damage by healing your allies.

Keen
Keen - April 29, 2008

okay, so obviously it’s not for you. But do you disagree with the fact that both can exist? Would you be against a game designed to allow both forms of play?

alcaras - April 29, 2008

I don’t disagree that both can exist, and I would be for a game that allowed both forms of play.

I don’t see Warhammer as that game, however, as it seems to me (perhaps incorrectly) they don’t want any “pure healers” who sit in the back and heal, and want to force everyone to deal damage.

But on principle, yes, I’d be fine with a game that had both styles of play, both “pure” and “charge-up.”

I haven’t followed AoC enough to come to a conclusion for AoC (my custom built new-in-fall 2006 machine simply won’t be able to run AoC — I really think they’ve set system requirements waaaaay too high).

Canoris - May 4, 2008

Did the videos get booted off youtube? they arent working here and I can’t find them by searching

Keen
Keen - May 4, 2008

I privatized them because of how old they are. Much of the information has changed. Look more new information and perhaps new videos to come in more up to date blog entries. If you are still interested in seeing them send a friend request on youtube to us and we’ll add you to the list of who can view them.

http://www.youtube.com/keenandgraev

Comments are closed