Age of Conan PvP Weekend Impressions Part 2

This is Part 2 of my Age of Conan Gamespot PvP Weekend impressions. In this part I want to talk about a few specifics that I left out of yesterday’s post and also revisit a few details that I was either too vague about or that I didn’t explore well enough. I also want to go into detail about the game’s performance because several questions were raised about whether or not it’s the game or my system.

Reference: AoC Video Page // Part 1 PvP Weekend Impressions

Time to jump right in!

User Interface

The interface in Age of Conan is very, very simple. The default UI has a single hotbar built into the UI with keys 1-3 automatically designated as left, forward/overhead, and right attacks (These can be changed). In addition to this single hotbar there are 6 additional slots that I have yet to discover a true purpose. For now I have just used them to place skills that I do not actively use (such as auras, hotkeys for turning off combat, etc). Continueing with the theme of simplicity, the UI has your health on the left and your enemies on the right of the main UI at the bottom center of the screen. Directly above your vitals you will see the actions that you or your enemy are performing while you are performing them.

The top of the screen consists of three options on the top left that allow you to look for a group, queue for mini-games pvp, access a help manual, and other social functions. In the top center there are 5 small tabs that act as quick reference buttons for your inventory, persona sheet (standard), quest journal (standard mmo style) ,etc, but I find them completely useless because as a veteran player in the mmorpg genre I’m used to pressing i, p, b, n, etc to open these windows. And lastly for the top there is a mini-map that offers the standard mini-map functions. On the topic of maps I want to mention that the maps in AoC are fantastic. I really like how they appear to be satellite maps of the area and can be zoomed in, moved around, and manipulated more than a normal map.

It’s streamlined and efficient. When you press i to open your inventory it appears to slide in from the sides and when you close it it retracts. To open the spellbook/combo list you press B and this acts much the same. N brings up your feats which are skill trees (more on this to come). There are options to turn on more hotbars and there are customizations that will meet the needs of the average user. I expect Funcom will eventually allow for custom UI’s.

Combat Rose – *more to come on this later*

The UI may appear simple but it gets the job done. Isn’t that all we can ask for in a UI?

Balance Issues and comparisons

Specific Classes that need a more in depth analysis:

Ranger – Funcom’s first Nerf! And wow were they ever nerfed. I guess calling it a nerf isn’t fair since they say it was a “bug” in itemization, but it’s definitely got them hurting. On my Ranger (you’ll see this in the ranger post-nerf video) I was dealing 1/4 the damage that I used to deal to tanks and 1/3 the damage to cloth. My crits are no longer in the hundreds of damage. The highest crit I landed was for 126 damage… when I used to crit for 700+ that’s a big change. Unfortunately for Rangers I feel they may have been overly nerfed. I feel like a caster now because by myself I can’t kill anyone — well, I did snipe this one necromancer but that was luck. Compared to the Barbarian and Assassin my damage is negligible as a ranger. It should still sting when I shoot people, not tickle! For more commentary see my Post-nerf ranger video.

Tempest of Set – What an AMAZING class. This class is really the template of what all healers and other classes should feel like. It has great heals, extremely powerful nukes, and decent buffs. In many ways the ToS plays like an offensive Druid from EQ days. Snares, nature magic, heal over times, etc. I think they need a nerf to their spell damage slightly or the other classes need a boost. As it stands now this class out nukes the casters from what I’ve seen. See the crazy damage in action in the Tempest of Set Video.

Guardian – I was asked to look into the Guardian closer to determine if their DPS was lacking. Upon a closer look and further testing of other classes I have decided that the guardian is definitely the lowest damage dealing class out there. He’s also the class that can take the most damage though. I think the biggest problem facing this class is that in PvP there really is no need for a class that can take the damage because there is no taunting. The guardian has a few debuffs from their combos but even specialized with a polearm I was unable to kill anyone alone. See the Guardian in action.

Archetypes in general: My closer look at their balance and role.

Soldiers (Guardian, Dark Templar, Conqueror): These classes feel very sturdy. The Guardian deals very little damage but manages to survive well when specialized in defense. The Dark Templar is the middle road acting almost like a Shadow Knight or very offensive Paladin with auras and helpful buffs. The Conqueror is less sturdy but provides a drastic increase in damage. Overall the Soldier archetype is solid and these characters all perform well in lvl 20 PvP. All of them have offensive and defensive stances and all could be expected to tank in PvE because they all have taunts.

Rogues (Barbarian, Ranger, Assassin): These classes deal the most damage by far. The Barbarian focuses on AoE, the Ranger on ranged single target dps, and the Assassin on single target close range. All three deal significantly more damage than any other class. Of the three the Barbarian is the most sturdy but the Ranger has the best survivability. The Assassin is an all or nothing character because if caught in a bad spot near the enemy you’re as good as dead. I think all are decent choices.

Mages (Demonologist, Necromancer, Herald of Xotli): This is a mixed bag of performance and playstyle. The Demonologist has great stuns and focuses more on offensive nukes but his damage is pathetic compared to the rogues. The Necromancer is about DoT’s and pets but the pets are horrible and the DoT’s take too long to be effective since they can be out healed with one heal spell. The Herald of Xotli is in a league if his own here. HoX are melee caster-like Battlemages that swing 2handed weapons, transform into demons, and actually deal good damage. By far the HoX is the best here and the other two need help.

Priests (Priest of Mitra, Bear Shaman, Tempest of Set): Conveniently broken up into a pure healer, a melee healer, and a nuker healer. PoM’s (as you see in my video) are very powerful healers that definitely turn the tide of battle in their team’s favor with AoE hot’s and conal heals. Bear Shaman swing big two-handed weapons and have melee combos and some of the best if not the best buffs in the game. Tempests of Set are currently overpowered in my opinion with their lightning spells outdamaging the mage classes (quite sad actually). All of these are solid choices.

PvP: Looking closer at the problems of the mini-games

Yesterday I talked about how I felt the two mini-games lacked depth or thought. I want to talk about why I feel that way and point out what specifically causes me to dislike them.

CTF: The maps look boring and overly complex. In a CTF game you’re already pushing the simplicity of gameplay. Why complicate things by creating a maze? The average player won’t have a static team to play with so they will be stuck queuing up with random players. This means that organization is already out the window. Making the maps overly complex just hinders any chance of easily working with your team. CTF mode feels like it’s lacking that extra special something. Maybe it’s polish or maybe it’s just boring CTF.

Annihilate the Enemy Team: I refer to this as Team Deathmatch. I’m not at all impressed with how quickly these matches play out. The average match takes 2 minutes and with some of the squishier classes it feels like half that time is spent at a loading screen waiting to respawn. The gameplay itself, while some consider it strategic, doesn’t help the flow of a TDM game. Teams start off and immediately go for the enemy base to destroy their statue. If this happens then you have one life to live and then it’s over. Also, players can choose to hide in their base and wait out the timer because they are unaccessible by the enemy team (to avoid spawn camping). This causes EVERYONE to wait for more than 10 minutes if this player won’t just let himself be killed. Very frustrating.

Overall I think both modes can be fixed. Make CTF maps a bit less complex. Remove loading screens on death. Make the TDM mode less about the destruction of a res stone and more about fighting the enemy team for territory – perhaps like Arathi Basin (King of the Hill of sorts).

Performance Issues

Here is where I received most feedback from yesterday’s writeup. I am not able to run the game at its best settings nor am I able to run the game to my own personal level of quality. I realize that this is in-part because my video card (7950gt) is getting older since it’s 1y 6months old. It needs to be said however that my card and computer are capable of running -every- other game on the market and to my own personal standards. Age of Conan is the first game to challenge my computer. Is that bad? No, it’s certainly not. But it must be said because I am trying to benchmark AoC’s performance as a new game. The -average- user is not going to have an 8800 or a 9600. The average user isn’t going to have “no problems”.

With all that said I did lower my resolution to 1440×900 (down from 1680×1050) and I saw an increase of 10+ frames. There are however still issues in performance that are directly the game’s fault and I want to address them now:

  • Spell effects and particle effects cause a drastic decrease in performance.
  • Large numbers of players in a small area decrease performance. This will be an issue in city sieges.
  • PvE does not lag anywhere near as badly as PvP. Perhaps it’s something in the code.
  • There are still graphics glitches with textures loading slowly or delayed.
  • The game crashes regularly and almost every time I exit the game.


Yep, this is beta folks. But these issues exist 1 month from release and I can only hope that they will be fixed.

Final thoughts after more testing

I still stand by what I said yesterday. The PvE gameplay is better than this “mini-game” PvP. I think the balance issues are more than a little tweaking here or there and I definitely want to see more out of the performance in AoC. But these things CAN change. The potential for an amazing game is still there in my eyes and as of right now I still plan to subscribe to the game.

I appreciate the positive feedback and constructive criticism from everyone! I’m passionate about the games that I play and I hope that as a result you, my readers, can benefit from it.

More videos to come later today!

  • I really appreciate the work you have been doing keeping us up to date. I have questions on the conqueror class and the soldier type classes. I been hearing that they are very vunerable to snares and CC. That any caster can take them done fairly quickly without them even breaking out of the stun. Is this truth that 1v1 they will be hard to fight casters?

    I also hear that the bear shaman is fairly weak when it comes to melee. I heard in an interview that Bear shaman should do somewhere between a solider and rogue class. But according to many people the Bear shaman hardly does any damage in PVP and are only useful in groups.

    Thank you for your insight and keep up the great work you guys have doing.

  • Yes, stuns and CC are slightly ridiculous but I can’t really say that they should be taken away. It’s pretty much ALL the Demonologist has to survive. Without his stun he would be dead in seconds. It gets frustrating though in a big fight when you’re disabled the entire time. πŸ™ Balance is needed there. Perhaps lower the duration slightly.

    Bear Shaman melee is weak compared to every other melee classes. But for a healer it’s not bad. Yes, definitely a group class.

  • Thank you for your quick reply! I appreciate the insight. I plan on trying conq. when Age of Conan Comes out. Hopefully balance issues will be worked out however only a month left! But then again this is only lvl 20 PvP.

    BTW I dont know what I would do without your website! Thanks for your time

  • Hey Keen! Awesome previews youΒ΄ve been doing! They have got to be the best AoC videos iΒ΄ve seen so far… and trust me – iΒ΄ve seen a few! Just one quick question: Are you planning to make a video about the Gaurdian class?

    Best regards
    Trusty

  • Guardian Class video is done. It will be posted in about 45-1hr. πŸ™‚

    Post-Nerf Ranger video is uploading to youtube right now. Should be up in 15 minutes or so.

  • The commentary with video REALLY helps show how the game plays. I’d like to see you guys do this with other games because it’s great.

  • I would like to thank you guys, because of your job.

    You do it great and I daily come find infos and video on your website and translate it (in french) for my teammates.

    At the moment, we are pretty nervous regard to the balance and how Funcom do their nerf on classes.

    We keep in mind, that is PvP at lvl 20 and far from how it should be at lvl 80 with optimised stuff.

    I hope also that the PvP will not resume to thir kind of instancied map. We do appreciate roam totaly free, that’s why we have chosen a PvP server.

    Thx a lot.

  • ” I think the biggest problem facing this class is that in PvP there really is no need for a class that can take the damage because there is no taunting. The guardian has a few debuffs from their combos but even specialized with a polearm I was unable to kill anyone alone.”

    That’s at level 20.. at level 50+ Guardians are BEASTS, capable of taking out bear shamans, ToS you name it. Things change drastically at higher levels.

  • The reason why the performance might be lacking, might be because cheetah 2 isn’t included in the beta. Or so I’ve heard. Very nice job on the reviewing during pvp beta weekend!

  • Only thing that bugs me a bit is not being able to lock the hotbar. Not hard to get used to it after awhile, but would be spiffy to have at some point since I’m kind of 50/50 on the Bindings/Clicking.

    But still having a lot of fun in the PvP weekend, asides the fact i’m running on a 6600GT πŸ˜›

    Great blog though ^_^

  • So, after a weekend of play, has your original opinion on the classes changes since yesterday’s breakdown? Is the Herald still one of your favorites? What other classes did you enjoy the most? Thanks!

  • Ok, posting here since I sent to your contact area by mistake. How about showing us some of the “cool down” times and whatnot? HoX transformation and anything else with “cool down.” Thanks, and keep up the great work.

  • My favorites are definitely the Assassin, HoX, Barbarian, and Dark Templar. I think maybe the Assassin is in the lead. I’ve just finished recording my Assassin CTF video and that’s probably going to do it for the videos. I may or may not record a PvE video.

  • One thing i noticed with Archery that you never Used the Over sholder or first person View to fire your arrows… If i remember correctly they said you get a damage incress when firing arrows with aiming in those two. You get better mobility in when you do it the Cone or “normal mmo” way

  • Awesome, thanks for the response Keen. I believe Barbarian or HoX is going to be my first character, edging out the Conqueror. My buddy wants to play a Necro, so we’ll see how those work together. All I can say is I’m happy (from what I’ve heard) that I will be allowed to have 8 active characters on my account.

    Elspath, I believe in the post-nerf video he does use the first person view when the crosshairs are displayed in the center. No increase in damage was noted.

  • According to a ten tone hammer interview they hinted at the FPS mode getting a damage or a range increase but never stated it specifically.

    Take a look:
    http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/21688

    I tried it earlier and I didn’t notice any damage at all while in FPS mode. In other words I didn’t see any damage numbers coming off of my target at distance or at point blank range.

  • True i just watched it again but he died preaty fast and was archering a tank… Still makes me woder tasting dps on a tank class isent the best way to test…

    on a side note i hear theres allot of complants. has anyone though that these are level 20 chars who are supose to be leveling up. Really who cares about pvp at level 20 unless your just insane… its like pouting a bunch of level 10 wow chars in a BG and disideding whos better or over powered….

    I dont think anything can be gathered on what class works better then others tell you reach level 60 – 80. Thats when pvp really begins

  • I think you’ll find that you are being just a tad harsh on the graphics. To expect to be running at max quality with a 7950 is pushing it to say the least. Im thinking of AoC along the lines of Oblivion which I also suspect you are no where near max gfx on or Crysis for that matter.

    Realistically with prices of the lower end 8800’s plumetting most people should be looking at one by now anyway. Thankfully im a lucky sod with 8800GTX Sli and 4gb RAM so im not going to be worried about turning things down πŸ™‚

    Otherwise great review and info, nice to finally get a proper feel for what AoC is going to be like.

  • I’m not expecting max graphics. Not at all. I’m just expecting a certain level of quality. πŸ™‚ I CAN run Oblivion on the highest possible settings at 1680×1050 and get 60frames.

  • I run it at 2560×1600 with 2xaa and options at least at 50% across the board and get 35-65 fps with a single 8800gtx –

    Also I am hoping the battleground stuff will not be very popular on the RP/PVP servers as I am looking for a FFA-world PVP environment – miss the old days of UO –

  • The post nerf video of the ranger really isn’t a good gauge of how much the Ranger was nerfed. You were playing against a really good group. The group you were playing against in this video is my Guild. The Guardians. http://www.guardianhq.com I am the dual wielding Barbarian, Airic, who was killing him. You are mistaken on some of the classes we had, those weren’t tanks you were shooting a 2H Barbarian. Our group consisted of 2 Barbarians, A Guardian, A Ranger (on the rock), and a Necro, not sure what our 6th member was at this time, maybe another Barbarian or maybe a Bear Shaman.

    Our Ranger on the rock wasn’t taken any damage from you because he was out of range as well. And I think you died instantly towards the end because our ranger and 2 barbarians all hit you with a crit at the same time πŸ˜‰

  • ” I think the biggest problem facing this class is that in PvP there really is no need for a class that can take the damage because there is no taunting. The guardian has a few debuffs from their combos but even specialized with a polearm I was unable to kill anyone alone.”

    I don’t understand. I played demonologist, necromancer, assassin, barbarian, conqueror and guardian during pvp weekend. The most kills per average battle were had with my guardian. I killed many opponents alone.
    Overall, the most fun I had was with the guardian and conqueror. The survivability rules.

    I really agree with you about the demonologist and necromancer classes damage. Their damage was pathetic and I felt the pets were practically useless. I was quite disappointed in their performance. I had planned perhaps on a demonologist main, but now, my main will be either guardian or conqueror.

    Thank you very much for your most excellent reviews!

  • you still lack the information needed to form correct opnions. Unless you have a level 80 char. This pvp weekend was just a test to see if it would run well. Class balance means nothing at such low levels

  • Regardless of the lvl 20 limitation – great info and vidoes mate. Most of the reviews and leak posts ive seen arent nearly as well presented imho.

    Thanks!

  • @Elspath: You are correct in saying that I can’t form correct opinions about the classes because they aren’t level 80. But the purpose of these opinions is purely to point give a sense of how they play at level 20.

  • First off, thanks muchly for taking the time to make all these vids & respond to everyone.

    I wanted to ask about the bear shaman. The video was fairly short on combat, showing you only kill 2 players, 1 of which was a clothie, so I was wondering if you could give any further impressions on the class.

    1) How’s the DPS? Being a healer I’m not expecting a lot, but it was hard to tell how much of the damage I saw being done was you & how much was your teammates.

    2) How’s the survivability under fire? This will probably be one of my biggest concerns. I agree 100% with what you said about not wanting to have to stand in the back & heal. While I do actually enjoy healing, I’d like to be on the front line smashing face with everyone else while still being able to take some hits as I provide buffs & heals to my teammates. Will I be disappointed with the bear shaman for this goal?

  • Ive never really bothered PvPing at level 20 (low level) in PvP games, because i think it shows you an incomplete class. Im going to wait until 50+ to judge the PvP.

  • I think the ranger downgrade was just perfect. Rarely (if ever) did I see you use a combo in your ranger video (post nerf) – which is really how every class does the majority of their damage. Parallel with this is the fact the RANGERS are a ranged combat roll – they shouldn’t be on the front lines. Get between some trees, use bushes – stay away from the action and use the distance to your advantage. THAT is what being a RANGER is all about.

  • It’s throwing a lot of people off that I was using a macro keyboard when playing some of these classes. I was using combos but they would execute with 1 key press. (I should really write a blog post about this…The Power of the G15!)

    On my Alt Bar I had several combos that would execute leaving me to mash forward or side attack, etc. I could also execute my snares manually.

    But I suppose it’s just a level 20 thing for Rangers now. Perhaps they are stronger later.

  • Sorry about that Oniphire, I was busy most of yesterday and I completely missed your questions.

    Bear Shaman Combos deal decent damage. I was playing an Assassin and I thought that a Bear Shaman would be easy prey (mind you I wasn’t exploiting). When I jumped him not only did he take less damage than I thought he would but he turned around and wacked me for 1/4th my health in 1 hit. Then he knocked me down with a cool combo and continued hammering me. I got away but he was a force to be reckoned with.

    The Bear Shaman can definitely run in and take a few hits. With their heals being so quick to cast (almost instant?) it feels like they can really participate in the combat instead of being removed from it.

  • Thanks for the interesting writeup. It’s a shame to hear about mage classes not being able to kill anyone because I’m planning to play one of them. Hopefully they will get a buff up or maybe spellweaving will make up for it.

  • what about Hox? i think that will be my first. hows its damage? its survival ability?

  • HoX is a late bloomer. Wearing cloth armor can be rough early on but if you stick with it they have some powerful dps tools at their disposal in the higher levels.

  • how well do they play in pvp? I came from wow and was top notch pvper so im hoping to find a good pvp class

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