PVP in Age of Conan • Page 3

Crush your enemies (sometimes).  

Siege the moment

If World PVP doesn't grab you, or if you're on a PVE server (where the consequence system hasn't really been a relevant change), there are other arenas in which to melt faces and slice limbs. First and foremost, there are a selection of PVP mini-games. As these are arguably the best and fastest way to earn your PVP experience and ranks (especially since Funcom decided to apply harsh diminishing returns to experience gained from killing the same people over and over again in world PVP), you'll probably be seeing the handful of arenas on offer a lot.

There are two game types available - Capture the Skull (the skull is actually a flag, so why they didn't just call it Capture the Flag is entirely beyond me) and the catchily-named Annihilate Opposing Team, in which you need to destroy a totem in the enemy base in order to stop them from resurrecting after death. Each team has six players on it, and the whole thing takes place in a fairly small arena area with multiple pathways between the bases.

If this sounds familiar, then yes - this is essentially a simplified version of the battlegrounds which anyone who's played games like WOW or Warhammer Online will have experienced. The arenas themselves are nicely designed, and Conan's fast, action-focused gameplay does work extremely well with this type of play. However, variety is sadly lacking, and anyone hoping to reach PVP Rank 5 had better have an extremely high boredom threshold.

The second type of PVP is really only for level 80 players, and constitutes what ought to be the most impressive aspect of Conan's endgame - player battlekeeps and sieges. The idea is that in the Border Kingdoms, there are a limited number of suitable sites for battlekeeps. Capture one for your guild, and you can build a keep and city - filling it with buildings that deliver significant bonuses, like the ability to craft the highest-level items.

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Yes, that is the Wheel of Pain. So is grinding mini-games for PVP ranks.

The quid pro quo is that you have to specify times at which your battlekeep is vulnerable to attack. During those times, enemies can pitch their tents outside the city and begin a siege of the walls - using a variety of rather nicely-designed mechanisms, like siege weapons to break through walls, and mercenaries recruited from across Hyboria to boost their forces. The mercenary system in particular is a great idea, in theory offering players who aren't part of a big guild a chance to taste this kind of action.

In practice, this only works some of the time. At launch, sieges were buggy to the point of being almost unplayable. Today, they're still imperfect, but definitely much closer to the original vision. There are still problems, especially with people's game clients crashing and silly issues such as players being able to hop through solid walls, or cities being vulnerable at random times, but this is slowly maturing into the centrepiece Age of Conan needs.

World PVP, Mini-Games and Sieges are the holy trinity of Age of Conan's PVP efforts, and alongside raiding, form the bulk of the endgame as well. As we approach the half-year point, Conan's PVP systems remain far from perfect, and some features (like Drunken Brawling, a just-for-fun PVP mode which would allow players of all levels to compete with one another on equal standing) haven't made it in as yet. Nevertheless, Funcom has big plans. The Kingship update, for instance, is expected to introduce Legendary Battlekeeps outside each major city, forcing guilds to ally with one another to control these huge structures and build "wonders of the world" within them.

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Nothing to do with PVP, sorry. But it's pretty.

Yet many of the improvements required are more basic - more variety in the mini-games, a rethink of some World PVP consequences, and a further round of bug fixes on Sieges would all do wonders for the game. The basics, however, are all there. Crushing your enemies and driving them before you is superb fun in Age of Conan. With a little more work, PVP could easily be what redeems Age of Conan in gamers' eyes.

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About the author

Rob Fahey

Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.

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