Age of Conan impressions.

I quit City of Heroes. I got Age of Conan.

My computer is between the minimum and the recommended requirements for AoC, which are steep. And, okay, here’s the deal:

It took me almost four hours to get the game running.

Install. Patch. Wouldn’t run.

Install the latest vid drivers. Wouldn’t run.

Try to get on the forums to ask questions. Can’t get on the forums.

Finally found a support page with instructions on how to disable the shadow renderer/model — or something like that. Requires notepad editing a config file.

Finally, game runs, sort of. Stutters on the audio, tremendously long loads.

So I get to play. Framerate in the 20s — most of the time.

Levels 1-5 are tutorial. Levels 5-10 are single player, if you choose. After that, you can do whatever. I took a Guardian up to 23. Several others into the teens.

Very derivative play. Looks good, interesting landscapes, but whatever. After you see it all with your first newbie character, you get to see it again and again and again with each new character you create. Sickening. And long loads each and every time. Sickening twice.

Typical quests. Typical loots. Typical pvp ganking of the low level chars by the higher level chars. Typical chat on the ooc channel.

Why am I playing this? Is there anything new here?

There might be, but I don’t think I’ll ever see it. Once I got into the 20s and out of (thank god) Tortage, I was faced with a repeat of Tortage with lots of nice scenery and lots of long loads and lots of running around and being frozen in place by all the bleeding magical effects of my pvp opponents which caused me to freeze and do nothing for the three minutes it took me to die and be resurrected.

Verdict: The pvp interests me — thats why I got the game — but I can’t play or compete or do much of anything but the pve due to (I guess) marginal hardware and an inability to prune the graphics down through in-game options/commands. And since the non-pvp portion of the game is derivative times eight — except, again, for the graphics and landscapes and such, which are nice, but really who cares? — I’d seriously rather look at the original theme art. Would take less time and money. And, yes really, it would be more fun.

Based on this AoC experience (not that unusual actually), computer game design, computer game players, and the computer game industry are downwardly trending. The only innovations I ever see are in the graphics, which are, admittedly, getting cooler. But the same ole players are so jaded and so secure in their knowledge of mmos and how they work that their only real play mode is where and how to get the loot: cause the fastest to the loot and the levels is the fastest to get to kill the newbies and cause, you see, that’s how it works. And the computer game industry is still apparently aiming games at those narrowly fashioned, souped-up hardwarish, 40-hour a week play boys that buy the multiple accounts for their guild groupies and sustain those bloated and endless fifteen-dollar-a-month games that give each and everybody involved pats on the butt as a substitute for fun.

MMOs are rapidly become the actualization of the self-help book. You too can be a winner: just whip out the credit card.

So here’s my question: Do I really want to invest 400 hours in a game that might be fun after that maybe possibly might be — but sure the heck isn’t any fun now?

And here’s my answer: It’s just not any fun, man. Sorry. I’m taking Age of Conan back to Babbage’s and saying look, it took me forty hours or so to find out this game sucks, but I am now relatively sure it does. So gimme my money back.

We will see how that goes.