Well, started Age of Conan last night, and it feels really strange. It is a bit buggy still, and the graphics take so much processing power that I have to use the low quality setting, making it make feel less clean and sharp than WoW. The interface is strange, too, with a lot more emphasis on active combat and constant combat choices. In WoW, you can just let your character go once it’s engaged in battle; not so here. If you don’t keep hitting the buttons, you stop fighting. Interesting, but also not quite my tastes in terms of these sorts of games.
I started a fighter-type last night, but it was far too up close and personal on the fighting for me. I created a new character this morning, Belladona, a Demonologist. Eventually I get to use a minion/pet with this character, and she’s does a lot of long-distance damage, which has been much easier for me to use. I think I’ll stick with her.
The male gaze is fantasy tropes gone wild in this game. Enormous breasts that jiggle and lots of skin. Very much more focused on that than in WoW, which is a bit irritating, I have to say. While it is fun to play a sex goddess, when everyone is a sex goddess, it becomes a bit annoying. Basically, more of the same in terms of gender images in this one. That might be an interesting comparison, as a matter of fact.
M. was going to play last night, but didn’t. He texted me at 12:15, but I was tired by then, so we have yet to meet in AoC. It’s fine for the moment, because this part of the game is very much designed to be single-player. As a matter of fact, a whole stream of quests are completely separate from group presence, and you actually can not see other players or work with them on those. You can switch back and forth between that mode and the PvP mode by changing night (solo) to day (multi). The latter makes you subject to ganking (being killed by other players), and in this game anyone can gank you, no sides. It is, in that sense, much more oriented toward PvP fighting than WoW. In the latter, you have to basically be in specific areas or doing specific things to fight other players.
The chat is marginally more interesting in AoC, since, as Jon said, folks are trying to figure things out rather than simply pragmatically get through the next level. It does seem a bit more interesting in terms of the group play for the moment, although like WoW, as many levels behind M. and his companions (whoever they may be…) as I am, I still can not quest with them or really play with them at all at this point. I imagine that when I move up some of those level differences will be less problematic, but for the moment I certainly need the practice in working the controls and interface.
Overall, the game is so detailed that it gets to be too much. As Ted pointed out long ago, sometimes less is more with game resolution and graphics. With so much detail, you almost ignore the detail to a greater extent. I’m not sure how I feel about the game yet. It’s certainly pretty, but not yet as striking as WoW has been, nor as much as the cut scenes of AoC. Like many video game cut scenes, they are several steps above the game-play graphics.
In this game, though, there distinctions between inside and outside in a different way than in WoW. Among other things, AoC has load-screens for entering certain buildings, like the inn you return to for the night-time quests. Delineating that space does make it feel different in some ways – the rules are slightly different, perhaps. We’ll see.
I am eager to check out player-generated towns and structures. I have no idea how they’ll manage that, especially in terms of game-space. Will folks compete for real-estate as in TSO? Can only groups create structures? How do characters get this ability? And do you have to build in real-time to some extent, or is it instant as in The Sims?
My guess is there aren’t any such towns created yet, but in a month or two I’m sure those hard core folks will already have maxed out the levels and similar activities.
Interestingly, I don’t feel guilty at all leaving the WoW folks behind. J and D. have basically gone off on their own already, leaving me to solo everything in any case, so really, I’m not leaving any kind of group dynamic at all. P. hasn’t been playing, and M. is playing AoC, so I was kind of left out in the cold, as it were. Better to be exploring this game, really, than wandering around getting (more) bored with WoW.
Nevertheless, WoW is a great game. Smooth from years of tweaking, beautiful, and, once you get it, easy to play mechanically. AoC is still most definitely buggy, with little oddities and quirks that make game-play periodically frustrating or confusing. The interface, therefore, becomes too apparent and takes too much attention in that way. Of course, that is also in part because it’s new to me, and I imagine that once I’ve played for a while those things will smooth out a bit.
I do find myself missing WoW, though. It’s a pleasant and comfortable experience, as compared to this new one.