Following up my earlier post on AoC, here are my further impressions on other aspects of the game. I am going to talk a bit about the UI, Quests and PvP.
The UI in AoC is….adequate. At best. For a game with such a complex combat system, the UI is certainly lacking. I believe this might be a sacrifice to the possible X-Box AoC port and they developed it with the port in mind. There is a serious lack of customization options available. You can not resize any of the UI and you are unable to move the targeting windows around. In addition, the UI takes up a large chunk of screen real-estate. I enjoy a minimalist UI design in my MMOs. Keep the size and function of the UI as invisible as possible.
In WoW most of my bars were completely invisible and my screen only displayed the mini-map, the targeting windows and the group windows. This is not possible in AoC. Luckily, there are a number of UI mods out there and I am experimenting with them at the moment. I hope to find one I like soon but I really hope Funcom improves the UI in the upcoming expansion.
Questing in AoC is just like every other MMO out there, though the stories might be a bit more interesting. Much of that is because of the world. Hyboria has always been an interesting intellectual property and it certainly strengthens the quest lines in AoC. The cut scenes are fairly cool but, again, they are something I do not need. There is a bit of traveling involved which, coupled with the amount of instancing, can get a bit annoying. Still, I am having a lot of fun overall and I enjoy the quests.
Now for the all-important PvP. I rolled on the Cimmerian server, which is a PvP server. In AoC that means that, other than the cities, you can be attacked almost anywhere, by anyone. There are no factions, so you really have to be on your toes. You can consider no one friendly and you have to watch your back constantly.
My first experience in PvP was not out in the world but in the mini-games, AoC’s version of Battlegrounds. They are very enjoyable and not unlike WoW at all. The only problem I had with them is how infrequently they popped at my level. I think a lot of this, at low level at least, is because the queuing interface is so difficult to find. It is tucked away in a screen that you would never know was there, unless you went looking for it. I would imagine a few new players miss it entirely, which really could cut down on the number of pops at low level.
The first mini-game I entered was a standard “capture-the-flag” affair. I, of course, entered the game and found myself in a PuG against a pre-made. Aaaah, memories of WoW! We were summarily annihilated and I had very little chance to do anything at all.
The other three games I played were in a mini-game called Totem Torrent. This is a bit different than any BG in WoW. Basically, the two teams have to just kill each other. At each end of the playfield there are totems, which can be destroyed. If your teams Totem is destroyed, your team can no longer respawn after death. Which means it is only a matter of time before you lose. Alternately, you can simply concentrate on killing the other team until the timer runs out and the team with the most kills wins.
Again, upon entering, I found myself in a PuG against a pre-made. This time was different, however. We beat them. Three straight times in fact! We decided to simply defend our totem and not attack theirs at all. They tried multiple times to attack the totem and we pushed them back every time. They changed tactics and tried to lure us away from the totem but we stayed disciplined and did not allow it. In the end, every game was a massacre.
We were also lucky in that we had three healers. Myself, another Bear Shaman and a Priest of Mitra were able to keep our team healed pretty well. It took some getting used to as far as healing is concerned. I am so used to targeted healing but all the Bear Shaman’s heals are AoE or cone effect. Indeed, I believe all heals in the game are like that, so you never have to target the player you want to heal. Because of this, positioning is very important and took some getting used to.
So far my strategy with the Bear Shaman is to stay at the periphery of the fight and rush in after battle is engaged. Keep my HoTs up and help finish people off. What I heard about the Bear Shaman is true; they are slow builders. You really feel inadequate at low levels, before your heals get stronger but, at level 20, he is starting to come into his own.
Of course my first PvP experience was marred by what I call “new-player” lock up. You know, when something new happens and you suddenly forget what every key does and what order to push them in? Yeah, that was me. It happens most often in PvP, until you finally figure it out. I stood there and watched myself die, all the while muttering:
Oh shit, what do I do? What do I press first? Damn….I’m dead.
After that first experience, I slowly started to figure it out. And I had fun. A lot of fun. The games went quickly and my machine handled them like a champ, with nary a hiccup. I am so proud of my little PC!
Other than the mini-games, my only other PvP experience was a coupla higher level ganking me, though there was one really interesting and fun encounter.
I was about to zone into the sewers for a quest and I saw a Bear Shaman that was two levels higher than me standing at the door. I parked myself at the door (outside the instance is non-PvP) and went to get a drink. When I came back he was gone. I figured he had went inside so I zoned in and prepared myself to get jumped.
Upon zoning in, I heard the sounds of battle and found myself watching the level 21 BS laying the smack down on a couple of level 12 players. Being the awesome person that I am, I could not allow that! So, with a mighty battle roar, I launched myself into the fray.
With only a few hits, and the help of the two level twelves, I had the Bear Shaman down to a sliver of life. Of course, he decided at that moment that discretion is the better part of valor and made for the zone exit. Ah-ha! I was ready for this and this time did not lock up. I used my Ferocious Smack. This ability does a bit of damage but, more importantly, knocks the target down. The Bear Shaman promptly landed on his ass and I finished him with my Shrewd Blow. Even better, it ended up a fatality and I knocked his head off his shoulders!
The two level twelves thanked me and I zoned out to the save zone to take a quick break. When I returned I saw that the level twelves had just zoned out and were both at less than half health. Of course, the Bear Shaman had jumped them again after I left. They invited me to group and we went Bear Shaman hunting.
We zoned back in, only to find the Bear Shaman gone. Heading down a ramp and into a bigger room we ran into the Bear Shaman. He initially only saw my group mates and he charged in, only to find himself on the receiving end of my massive Warhammer. He tried to get up the ramp and escape but I blocked him off (collision detection ftw!) and we ended him again.
This time he griped in the general channel about how I was ruining his fun and that I should leave him to gank the level twelves in peace. Oh, the irony….
That’s it for now. I will probably post more later but now I am heading back to Hyboria!