DX10, dungeons in next Conan update

No rest for the wicked Funcom.

Having got new player-versus-player systems, a crafting overhaul and mid-level zone Ymir's Pass out of the door in the space of a month, Age of Conan's hard-working game director Craig Morrison has set out what players can expect to see next from the troubled Funcom MMO.

According to his latest letter to the community, the next update will feature the long-awaited DirectX 10 version of the game and two new maximum-level dungeons.

The two dungeons will both be located in the Thunder River zone. The Slaughter House Cellar is designed for a single player, while Xibaluku is a "large team instanced dungeon", apparently several hours long with multiple boss encounters.

Morrison didn't mention a release date for the update, but he implies it will arrive on test servers very soon, and the outlook seems good for release before the end of the year.

The next update after that will bring the Tarantia Commons city zone "early in the new year". This mid- to late-70s zone will see players take sides in factional riots in the slums of the Hyborian captial. It had originally been planned to appear before the dungeons, but has been held back for further tuning.

More important than new content to many Conan players is a planned change to the game's itemisation and the way its stats work, intended to make loot more interesting and valuable. Morrison was more cautious here, promising testing soon and release "some time in the new year", alongside a comprehensive overhaul of the game's classes.

"There is a lot to consider in these changes and it will require extensive testing, both internally and externally," he explained. "We want to make sure that it is a positive development for the game, and finds the right balance between the power of items and statistics while still maintaining the pace and compelling nature of our combat system."

Age of Conan launched to great fanfare and brisk sales in May this year, but has had a difficult first six months as players criticised it for unfinished content and systems.

Funcom faces an uphill struggle to win back subscribers, but Morrison's aggressive schedule of substantial updates will certainly help.

Yes we can, Craig. Yes we can.

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