On January 18th, Funcom held a community gathering of fansites at their offices in Oslo, Norway. The agenda for the day was quite hectic, with a number of different activities planned, so we got started early with a meeting in the Funcom conference room, where we had a chance to meet with Gaute Godager, Erling Ellingson, Jørgen Tharaldsen and several other members of the team to talk about crafting and a few other new pieces of information.
Introduction to Crafting in Age of Conan
Crafting -- a topic not talked about previously -- is quite different from other games. The system is being set up as a story-driven, quest-based crafting system where advancing your skill is done through completing quests. These quests then reward you with recipes and take you through the crafting progression -- no grinding through recipes over and over is required at all.
The major trades available will be Alchemy, Gem Cutting, Armorsmith, Weaponsmith and Architect. There are also secondary trades which are essentially the gathering trades that bring in the items you'll need to craft weapons, armor, potions and other various player-made items. The gathering primarily takes place at resource nodes in special regions -- one per nation -- created specifically for tradeskillers. You'll be able to head to the camp in these areas to pick up your advancement quests for your specific trade, then head into the fields to search out nodes to gather wood, ores, gems, etc. The nodes are specially designed with particle effects to make it easier to notice them -- especially in the case of trees which can be chopped down for wood -- and also show up on the game map, allowing you to locate them quickly and efficiently. Resources will be available in other areas, though very sparsely, and some bosses can drop rare resources as well, allowing you to create special items out of them.
You can also find rare items from the resource nodes, which when used in a normal recipe, will allow you to craft an even higher quality item -- all using the same exact recipe. The only difference is that you select the recipe, then choose to craft the item from the material list that includes the rare item. One great change to crafting in Conan compared to other games is that you can craft an item anywhere in the world; there's no need to head into the city and be forced to find a forge or an anvil to make your sword -- if you have the materials on you, you can make it.
Enhancing Crafted Items
Crafted items can be enhanced above and beyond the version you get when creating them by way of special gem sockets, which items can have anywhere from one to four of. Placing a gem in the socket -- either acquired from a Gem Cutter, or found as a drop from creatures -- will provide additional bonuses for the item. Some examples given were enhancing combos, spells, feats, or giving an edge against a specific creature type through increasing your damage done to them. All of these bonuses have special PvP versions as well -- as do other bonuses in the game -- allowing Funcom to create items tailored to PvP gameplay.
These gems cannot be removed once inserted into an item, though Gaute Godager did say that it may be possible in the future for rarer or higher quality gems to be removed, but it will probably only be in very special cases -- if at all.
Two classes condensed, cutting the class count to 12
This bit of information will no doubt be unwelcome news to some fans, but Funcom feels it's in the best interest of the game to condense two classes into others so that they can ensure every class is going to be fun to play. So which classes are gone? Well, if you've seen recent beta leaks, you'll recognize that the Lich and Scion of Set have both been missing from Beta, and this is why: Funcom felt the two classes simply weren't unique enough in their own right to make them fun, so they've chosen to merge most of their abilities into other classes, bolstering them in the process -- making them more enjoyable to play.
The Stormcaller is being merged with the Scion of Set, which will now be called the Tempest of Set. Many of the Scion's abilities and feats will appear on this new class, making it a very powerful DPS-oriented healing class. Casting damage spells will sometimes give the Tempest of Set a buff that makes their next healing spell instant cast, cost no mana, or even double its potency. Evan Michaels, a game designer at Funcom, told us that their goal with the Tempest of Set is a class that starts off a fight doing damage, and ends it with their healing -- a dynamic that should be welcomed by many players dijected by healer class dynamics in other games. Finally, a healing class that can contribute both damage and healing successfully and efficiently in the same fight.
The second class being condensed is the Lich, though this time its spell and feat recipient isn't receiving a new name. The Necromancer will now gain many of the Lich's spells and feats, as well as a new ability to sacrifice their pet -- turning them into a Lich, and increasing the potency of their damage spells.
City Sieging -- it's not for the faint-of-heart
City Sieging in Age of Conan is being designed from the ground-up to be the hardcore pvp player's paradise. Guilds will no doubt struggle in conflict over the city plots in the game, as the border kindgoms will only contain 9 of them in total across the entire world of Hyboria -- making controlling one and owning a city an incredibly valuable opportunity, filled with perks and bonuses.
Once you've built your city, it can become vulnerable to attack two times a week; a calendar will display when each city is vulnerable and will tell you the dates in advance. While your city is vulnerable to attack, a guild may enter your region and lay siege to it through the creation of siege camps. These siege camps cost resources to create, and once erected allow other attacking players (or the player whom created it) to produce various siege weapons out of them: a trebuchet, a ballista, or a catapult.
Players can only control one siege weapon at a time, so you'll need to bring a lot of friends if you're looking to tackle a guild's keep. There are of course mounts which can be used as siege weapons as well; both the mammoth and the rhino lend unique tactical opportunities to the battlefield.
Once you've decided to attack a guild's city and entered their region, you will then have 90 minutes to storm the keep and kill the keep lord. You'll also have to destroy the other buildings in the city if you want to keep it as your own; simply breaking down the walls and then rushing the keep will only give you the ability to pillage some of the guild's property if you succeed.
There was quite a bit post-meeting that occurred, so check back later for information on mounts, armor graphics, end-game raiding and a whole lot more.