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''Age of Conan: Unchained'' (formerly known as ''Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures'') is a fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Funcom and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows in 2008.''Age of Conan'' Confirmed for Xbox 360
– December 10, 2006 – retrieved on December 12, 2006
''Age of Conan'' is the first installment in the planned ''Age of Conan'' series. ''Age of Conan'' takes place within the continent of the Hyborian kingdoms, a year after the events depicted in Robert E. Howard's Conan novel ''The Hour of the Dragon''.


Gameplay




Combat


Combat comprises striking a target from different angles, such as hacking down against the head, slashing diagonally down from the left or right, and slashing diagonally up from the left or right. These directions are designed to be strung together in combination naturally during combat. Difficult-to-perform combinations cause additional damage and faster strikes. The developer Funcom stated that their "Real Combat" system, a combat system designed to offer more real-time options than traditional ''Dungeons & Dragons''-inspired "turn-based" combat systems that are more commonly used, will be a prime attraction of ''Age of Conan: Unchained''. This "Real Combat" system is a first-person melee approach in which every enemy has three different areas that players can target. Combinations can be performed by stringing together consecutive attacks in particular directions. Feedback from players has pointed out that this system requires a certain degree of dexterity. Character statistics and item bonuses also play a role in this system, however item bonuses have less effect on a character's power than in comparable games, so that whilst equipment does play a certain role other factors also have an impact, such as the player's skill or their analysis of the scenario. The idea of "Real Combat" is to eliminate the dullness of typical MMO fighting, which often consists of an auto-attack feature. The "Real Combat" system is used in one-on-one weapon battles, as well as during spell-casting, ranged combat and mounted combat. In some situations however, players will choose to band together and unite their skills to face other bands of players or non-player armies. Players can then work together and build on each other's strengths, for example a character standing in line with a 'Conqueror' when he is running will have a greater resistance to knockback effects.Gaute's State of the Game – February
Forums.ageofconan.com. Retrieved on 11 April 2012.
Players are able to take part in large scale siege operations. Adventurers can cooperate with one another to build cities with walls, towers and catapults that can protect player-owned taverns and merchant facilities. In July 2011, a Hardcore PvP server was launched for the EU and US servers. This hardcore PvP server removes the guards from the various cities and playfields and re-opened PvP on the instances around the city of Tortage. This hardcore server brings back the basics of MMO PvP combat in that players will have a chance at dropping loot from their inventory when they are killed in player vs player combat. Players are also only able to have one character on these servers. This was a fresh-start server which doesn't allow any character transfer to it, does not allow the use of offline levels, or free level 50 characters.

Characters

Characters in ''Age of Conan'' are registered to a unique user account on a specific online server, with characters created on one server unable to be played on another. Players are able to create characters which function as their virtual avatars in the online world of Hyboria. During character creation, the player may choose from four playable races. The character is one of four archetypes (in bold) and one of three class selections for each archetype. The ''Rise of the Godslayer'' expansion brought on a new race, the ''Khitan''. Earlier only some classes were free to play but on December 13, 2012 all classes were made available in the free model.

Setting

''Age of Conan'' is set in a low fantasy pseudo-historical ancient world called the Hyborian Age, created by Robert E. Howard. The warlord Conan has seized the throne of Aquilonia, but ancient evils seek to overthrow him. The lead artist Terje Lundberg said that the look and feel of ''Hyboria'' was based on the interpretation of the stories written by Howard: :"When you read Howard's work you're immediately drawn into a gritty world of dark and ancient forces, and mighty and decadent civilizations. You feel the great weight of the ages and sense the very history in the crumbling mortar and the ruins. Therefore we've been mindful from the outset to create a world which is true to Howard's writing. There is majesty in Hyboria but it's of a monolithic, brutal and primitive kind – it certainly isn't "high fairie" where everything appears as though it was built only yesterday and is devoid of context." Lundberg said the game at launch will contain three countries, Cimmeria, a northern country with snow and highlands, Aquilonia, which contains "green hills, lush riverbeds, and the marvelous city of Tarantia", and Stygia, which consists mostly of deserts and "some beautiful cities" — as well as the island of Tortage which "has a diverse geography ranging from jungle to harbors".


Development


Between March 2005 and January 2006, Funcom periodically revealed concept art and screenshots from ''Age of Conan''. The art director for the ''Conan'' project have been Didrik Tollefsen, previously known for ''The Longest Journey'' and ''Anarchy Online – Shadowlands'', which won the Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction award in 2003. In January 2006, Funcom unveiled the community portal for ''Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures''. By this time, much of the pre-launch community had gathered around the forums and IRC chat of the official ''Age of Conan'' website. There were informal events such as IRC chats with the developers and, in summer 2006, community contests. In April 2006, Funcom created a forum for guild recruitment entitled the Guild Hall for its pre-launch community, allowing forum members began organizing their player guilds. In January 2007, several important updates were announced regarding the expected launch window for the game. Funcom also announced the original twenty-three classes had been merged down to fourteen classes to avoid the lack of diversity between them.right |Tortage City, the backwater capital of the Barrachan Isles, as seen in ''Age of Conan'' On February 7, 2008, Funcom and Eidos announced that over 500,000 people had signed up for the Beta Testing of ''Age of Conan''. Five principal individuals worked on the music and audio for ''Age of Conan''. The audio director was Morten Sørlie, who created the soundtrack for ''Anarchy Online – Shadowlands''. Simon Poole (lead sound designer on ''Dreamfall – The Longest Journey'') took over as audio director in May 2007, and saw the project through to completion. The sound designers are Tord D. Nikolaisen and Fredrik Martol. Composer Knut Avenstroup Haugen wrote the musical score for the game. To create a musical score for the Hyborian universe, Haugen turned to many different sources: For the music of the different ethnic groups, Haugen studied traditional music from relevant parts of the world. For the overall sound of the Hyborian Age, Haugen studied ancient and medieval music as well as the romantic orchestra repertoire and film scores, while avoiding conventions that connect too closely to specific historical periods. The female vocalist heard in the score is Norwegian singer Helene Bøksle. The lyrics of the music is in the Old Norwegian language and comes from the Völuspá, the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda. Norwegian punk rock artists Turbonegro contributed three bonus songs to the soundtrack CD, one of which was written specifically for the album. Over 40 actors voiced the cast of characters. The recording was done at Side UK in London, Side LA in California, and at Funcom in Norway. The dance moves were made using motion capture on the dancer Hallgrim Hansegård, who is a backing dancer for the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009: "Fairytale" by Alexander Rybak.


Release


Funcom delayed ''Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures'' on January 21, 2008 and again on March 24, 2008. The delays were widely reported by online game magazines such as IGN. Once released, the game sold over 500,000 copies worldwide by June 1, 2008. Six days later one million copies had been shipped in total. Since release, Funcom has made improvements to performance and changes and additions to the game which were not ready in time for launch, as well as in response to feedback from players. Additions have included new adventuring zones, and revamps of existing dungeons. On May 19, 2008, GameZone.com presented a series of original fictional stories by Michael Lafferty, stemming from the massively multiplayer online world of ''Age of Conan – Hyborian Adventures''. The stories were written with the permission and cooperation of Funcom. The tales explore the world, the characters and the lore involved in ''Hyboria''. In September 2008, Gaute Godager, the producer and game director resigned from his role in ''Age of Conan'' and from Funcom, a company he had been involved in for over 16 years. In his press release, he revealed that he was not happy with elements in the game's development since release. He was succeeded by Craig Morrison, previously game director of ''Anarchy Online'', and community manager for various Funcom community forums. On June 30, 2011, Funcom began marketing the game with the new title, ''Age of Conan: Unchained'' (as opposed to ''Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures''), and altered the subscription model to a hybrid one. A hybrid model incorporates free-to-play (no monthly fee is charged) and premium plans. Premium players may choose from 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month recurring payment, while free-to-play players have limited access to characters, features, and areas. Some of the limitations can be removed with the use of the new "Item Shop" (available only in the game), where items can be bought with the help of Funcom Points. Funcom Points can be earned either by subscribing or by buying them with real cash. On February 22, 2013, ''Age of Conan'' was released on Steam. In his monthly letter for August 2013, Joel Byos revealed a new major PvP event titled ''The Great Hyborian Race''. A new server called the Blood and Glory ruleset server which will be started specifically for this event. The players will have to create a new character on this server in order to participate in this event. The objective is to reach level 80 in all classes by joining a guild or by going it alone. Those first to reach the level will be awarded special prizes. Those who reach a certain threshold of PvP experience within a given timeframe will be given bonus rewards. For the duration of the event, participants will be unable to use offline levels and restrictions will be placed on XP potions. Players have to earn experience through PvE and PvP fights. The developers are aiming to start the event after the server merge which was delayed due to office move by Funcom.


Expansions




''Rise of the Godslayer''

The first expansion titled ''Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer'' was released on May 11, 2010 and can be bought for Funcom Points from the item shop by all players. It provides new areas for medium-level characters in the form of a home zone for the new playable race, the Khitans; and four additional regions for high-level characters. The new content also includes new companions that can be trained for use as combat pets, or as mounts. A faction system was introduced in order to add variety and re-playability to the new zones. Through new quests, group instances, and raids, players are able to gather tokens to buy new armour sets. An additional incentive is the ''Alternative Advancement'' system; a new tree of character feats or perks that are acquired by means of a dedicated point system. It also expanded the raiding in the game to add Tier 4.

Adventure Packs

On August 31, 2011, Funcom released "The Savage Coast of Turan" adventure pack, which can be bought for Funcom Points from the item shop by all players. The pack includes a new playfield known as "Coast of Ardashir", two new solo instances, a group instance, a new 24-man raid instance called "Temple of Erlik" and a new combat pet. The new content was aimed to launch along with the 2011 film ''Conan the Barbarian'', so that players had the chance to see some of the characters, armor, and weapons from the film. On September 3, 2012 Funcom announced that it is planning a new adventure pack called "Secrets of Dragon's Spine" which will be released in a series of updates. The pack introduces a new zone called Dragon's Spine, a row of small peaks in the southern wastes of Stygia. It will feature new quests, dungeons, challenges, a new mount type, a new raid instance and a new PvP area. The first update was released on live servers on January 10, 2013. On August 13, 2013 a new dungeon which also contains a city of the Serpent Men was added in the Dragon's Spine. A Serpent Man boss called Oldblood along with a new area was added on 6 March 2014.

2011 Norway attacks

The perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, used music from the ''Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures'' soundtrack in a video he uploaded to video sharing sites, including YouTube, at the same time that he published his manifesto. Breivik wrote that Bøksle's voice is the perfect sound to listen to when one commits acts of martyrdom. During his trial he also testified that he uses this music, particularly the song "Ere the World Crumbles" when he meditates, as he did in preparation for his terrorist acts on 22 July 2011. Bøksle said in a press release in the week following the attacks that she distanced herself from Breivik's use of the music. The music's composer, Knut Avenstroup Haugen, has done the same.

Reception

The game received "generally favorable reviews" according to Metacritic. Seth Schiesel, writing for ''The New York Times'', opined that the development of the game would have benefited from a few extra months of production. Knut Avenstroup Haugen won the IFMCA award for Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media for his score. The game had sold 1.4 million copies in 2011 when it switched to free-to-play model.

See also

*List of games based on ''Conan the Barbarian''

References



External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Age Of Conan: Unchained Category:Lua (programming language)-scripted video games Category:Massively multiplayer online role-playing games Category:2008 video games Category:Active massively multiplayer online games Category:Cancelled Xbox 360 games Category:Fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing games Category:Free-to-play video games Category:Funcom games Category:Games for Windows certified games Category:Persistent worlds Category:Video games based on Conan the Barbarian Category:Video games developed in Norway Category:Video games with expansion packs Category:Windows games Category:Windows-only games Category:Eidos Interactive games Category:Multiplayer online games