Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnAge of Conan Editorial: On Second Thought…Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
What we were told in Oslo back in January, was that feedback from internal beta testing reflected that the Scion of Set was the least popular priest class, or at least wasn't that interesting to play. The Scion of Set, as a result, was merged with the then known Druid of the Storm (or "Stormcaller" as it later became known) to become the Tempest of Set. This so far has proven to be a critical move as it now makes one priest class per race type. The Tempest of Set will only be playable by Stygian characters, Bear Shamans by Cimmerians, and the Priest of Mitra by Aquilonians. Since the races in 'Age of Conan' are not factions (that is unless you are role-playing things that way), there is little concern or worry about teams feeling as though they have to have a certain priest class on their time. From what I've seen, each priest class will play very differently from each other (the Bear Shaman is more effective when in melee combat, for example), so it really depends on the play-style of the team or if you're simply looking for a certain type of class for a certain situation.
"I use the word "merge" here instead of "cut", as we have not really cut what those classes could do. We have rather taken the best of what they had, to make our other classes even more unique. At the end of the day we chose 'unique, varied, fun, solid.'"
The Lich, as the other class to be merged, amalgamated with the Necromancer. I always thought that the Lich sounded way too similar to the Herald of Xotli anyway, and so the "undead" theme could easily be maintained by taking the good from the Lich and giving it to the Necromancer. Will this mean that the Necromancer will gain the Lich's ability to transmogrify into an undead behemoth? Who knows? But I think Funcom's aim with this merge, as mentioned above, was to first make the Herald of Xotli truly unique as a mage class, and vary the playability between the Necromancer and Demonologist classes (both being pet-summoning classes).
"When it comes to our classes it has been more important for us to look at the whole instead of each single piece."
So as it stands, 'Age of Conan' will offer players the chance to play 12 different classes from four different archetypes, each very unique to each other and without any of that blurring of the lines that you might find with class distributions in other MMORPGs. Each class in 'Age of Conan' will offer players, even within the same archetype, a different gaming experience, and with each class's different feat lines, even players of the same class will play differently to each other.
The "Prestige Classes" were another drawing card for me when first looking into 'Age of Conan', but from what it sounds, or at least from what Gaute said in his report, even the Prestige Classes were creating funnels in terms of character development and player versatility.
"...the prestige classes were doing the opposite of what we wanted them to do when they got into the mix. It didn't give more variety or more solid character progression, it rather cornered the player. We wanted character progression to be about choice, and not about running down a small corridor to a given end."
With Prestige Classes effectively scrapped, where does that leave the player in pursuing a particular craft or ancillary skill? Just by going from what Gaute said in the report, it now sounds like players will be able to choose the crafting or ancillary skills that they want and that they feel will benefit themselves as a player, and as a member in a guild contributing to a player-made city and by establishing a genuine player-run in-game economy. Gaute conceded that the Prestige Classes was another one of those [very few] "it sounded good at the time" ideas. So much like the formations cut, this change was about giving the control to the player and not being trapped in a box, so to speak. If I'm guessing correctly, then sure, there will be those players that will want to learn every single trade, craft, and ancillary skill, a bit like those annoying kids at school who just want to give everything a go, and end up being good at them all, the buggers. Anyway, so if you're a player that's most comfortable with learning only one trade, craft, or ancillary skill, then that's fine too, because you've got the power to decide so, and if you should be in a guild that needs a certain type of crafter, then you've got the freedom to fill that need rather than trying to recruit someone with that certain prestige skill or having to roll a new character for that sole purpose; flexibility and adaptability.