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Age of Conan: Hands-On Preview

Stephen Spiteri | 24 Jan 2008 09:59
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As promised yesterday, today I will be speaking about my actual experience with the game itself during my time in the Funcom offices on last week. Press members and fansite representatives were given two opportunities to play 'Age of Conan'. The first opportunity was part of the even program where we were lead the demonstration room to play a dungeon raid, the Sanctum of Burning Souls, located in the Wildlands of Zelata, a zone in Aquilonia. The dungeon itself is for players with level 37 to 40 characters and we were told by our guide, Jørgen Djuve (designer), the dungeon is intended for a team consisting of four to six members. The second opportunity to play came at the end of the day's formalities with two rounds of 10-minute Capture the Flag (CTF) PvP. In each instance, I played a level 39 Necromancer, and a level 39 Assassin respectively.

As we were ushered into the demonstration room, I noticed that each computer had a sticky note on them signifying which class was being played on it, so naturally, being most familiar with tank-type classes, I made my way to the Guardian computer, but only to find it already occupied by another esteemed member of the press. I did, however, manage to get my second preference (for the sake of the demonstration anyway), and that was the Necromancer. All characters were set to level 39 for the dungeon raid, and so a decent variety of spells, feats, and abilities were available to each player in getting them through this dark, hellish, and often brutal raid.

I'm not usually accustomed to playing caster classes; I prefer to be in melee and have a bit of dodging or damage resistance abilities to keep me in the fray, but I was completely confident in the abilities of my teammates despite this being the first hands-on experience for a few of them.

image The Necromancers, as most of you know already, is a pet class as well, and at that particular stage of the class's development, already has three pet types available to it. Early on in the game, the Necromancer is able to summon pet, the Mutilator, which is an odd and rather nasty-looking scorpion-type creature. At the next tier, you are able to summon two pets and given access to the next pet-type "rank", so to speak. The name of the second pet-type escapes me at the moment, but for all intensive purposes, I was at the level where I was able to summon three pets at the highest tier available to me. The Blighter is another scorpion-looking creature, but much like the Mutilator, they looked quite nasty. The pet-summoning classes are able to control their pets by assigning orders to them via small interface right next to your own health, stamina, and mana bar. You are able to set your pets to idle, defend, attack, assist, and be dismissed (not particularly in that order). Since I'm a bit of an aggressive player at heart, I set my pets to 'assist' so that they would immediately attack the target I begin attacking.

I got around to setting up my spells and drag a few abilities into my hotbar. I won't go into too much detail as to what those spells and abilities were specifically, but a few that stood out to me were: "Absorb Shield", protects the caster's team against damage by absorbing the first few points of damage from each hit; "Flame Shield", wreathes the caster in arcane fire and attackers have a chance of being hit for instant fire damage; "Firebolt", Inflicts instant fire damage on the target (a fast-casting spell); and "Glacial Storm", inflicts instant cold damage to all enemies in the area of effect. Basically, I set myself up so that I could buff myself and allies, use my pets effectively, and use a few attacking spells that would help whittle down the hitpoints of an opponent.

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