The age of Conan approacheth! I’ve been trying not to post too much about Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, ‘Hyborian’ being based upon the Ancient Greek word ‘hyperborean’, which we all know is made up from the word hyper meaning “I am very”, and borean meaning “Bored”. So a fine setting for an MMO then!
Both Zoso and I are trying to ignore AoC as its release creeps up on us. I say ‘creeps up on us’, but of course it has arrived with all the subtlety of a rabid fox in a tuxedo filled with fire ants, making his grand entrance at the March Hare’s summer ball by bursting out of the giant cake and attempting to sing Happy Birthday Mr President while stamping on his tail which has caught fire from all the candles.
And like the barbarian of the title, the Funcom marketing department has launched itself into the midst of its sworn enemy – we consumers – and whipped, bludgeoned and smote them with the vorpal sword of AoC, although not fuelled by an unquenchable rage in this case, but instead by a soul wrenching outpour of unadulterated venomous hype.
We try to pretend here at kiasa that the game is not going to affect us; it’s an honest and stalwartly British attempt to not be bothered by something that is clearly doing its very best to push us right to the extreme limit of being really rather annoyed indeed, in a manner more often applied to that great British past time of queuing. It is a little known fact that the average British person is actually born with a secondary nervous system that allows them to sense queue dynamics in real time; such a system allows them to not only calculate exactly which queue will be the fastest to move forward (and then fail utterly to take that queue due to some unknown inherited sense of Edwardian etiquette), but also fully equips them to deal with a lack of queue etiquette by others. We, the great British queuers (that’s queuers), watch very carefully as the queue dodger makes their way up the outside of the line, ducking under the clearly marked barriers that delineate the correct formation. We observe them reach that point, usually just in front of us, where they have to decide whether to push in or make their way to the back of the queue again while feigning an interest in the geometry of the local architecture. We wait patiently as our secondary nervous system detects the minute variations in their body temperature and heart rate. We pay no direct attention to them, and give off on air of not being bothered at all “it’s just one place in the queue, we’re in no tearing hurry”. And then our quarry makes their move, and side steps into the small gap we’ve left for them, and the trap is set: our space has been invaded, our rights have been trampled upon, and if they had bothered to bring a flag it would have practically been a declaration of war. With our inherent advantage of generations upon generations of Darwinian queuevolution behind us, we wait with a quiet and studied confidence. Biding our time. Until the moment… is just… right. And then we rear-up to our full height, our leonine presence commanding all to observe us in awe. And then we let out a really, really loud *tut*.
The grand old masters of many queuing session may even roll their eyes skywards, just to really show them.
Where was I? Oh yes, bear shaman! Because bears… like queuing. Yes.
I’ve decided from the small snippets of information that have managed to pierce my hype shield that I like the look of the bear shaman best out of all the classes in AoC, they seem to tick all the boxes on my character suitability survey. Primarily these boxes consist of: the ability to heal and or support other classes; the ability to get into melee a bit and not have to stand at the back looking like you’re trying to sneak out to go to the toilet; and the ability to assume the form of, or have some connection to, a sodding great ursus arctos horribilis or the like. These are the same reasons why I will probably try a Warrior Priest in Warhyper: Age of Rodomontade. I intend for the lack of bearness about the Warrior Priest to be made up for by an overabundance of bareness instead. So if you want to find me in WAR, look for the naked Warrior Priest bludgeoning the enemy with his ‘weapon of the gods’.
I’ve certainly not looked at any forums or wikis or twenty five page magazine spreads about how much damage the assassin does, or how cool the Herald of Xotli looks when they’ve turned into a sodding great demon, because with my well documented altitus it would be an utter disaster.
Hmm, Stygian Herald of Xotli eh?
No! No no no. Bear shaman. That’s what I’m going to play.
Assuming nobody else is.
Aye, and there’s the rub. You see I, like many others I’m sure, like to be somewhat unique within my close party of like-minded grind monkeys. I understand that there will be a thousand or more clones of my character all identical barring a slight change in the style of facial hair, and perhaps an unsightly birth mark which is in a place that will never see the light of day in a family MMO or otherwise. This is the way of all MMOs to date, other than City of Heroes, where I can create a sentient atomic pea, controller of the very earth itself, who was grafted on to the body of a recently decapitated therapist, and who is called Terra Pea. I’m fairly sure that that guy is unique. Special. Like me. In the straight-jacket sense.
However, within my small circle of friends, those whom I will be playing with on a regular basis, I like to play a class that nobody else is. Which is quite tricky when – and Zoso may back me up on this if he’s feeling generous – I seem to have an extraordinary ability to pick the class that someone else has decided that they want to play too. I remember my fantastic start to World of Warcraft. I was playing a dwarf paladin, and that was that. I’d planned his talents, worked out his look, calculated optimal dungeon runs for best gear distribution. I was set. When I turned up on day one of the WoW release, another in our party had decided to play a paladin. Of all the classes we had to pick from, and there were only five of us, we’d got two people already playing the same class, thus fighting for the same loot, and the same role in the group. We even had the same embarrassing birthmark damn it! So I rolled a priest. But the priest wasn’t really what I wanted to play, I convinced myself that it was at the time, but really it was just me trying to justify my stupid desire to be playing a different class to the others, to add a new dynamic to our group, and not just be the guy ‘playing the other paladin’.
Long story shor… uh… quite long, actually, I eventually got my paladin to level 70 in WoW. After my druid though, who I settled on mainly, if for no other reason, because with a little effort I could be a reasonable rogue or tank or nuker or healer, and therefore fill a role that wasn’t already filled by somebody else. It worked rather well, for me at least, and sated my altitus enough that I didn’t roll a new character for quite some time, and it’s the main reason why I love true hybrid characters so much; I don’t need to be the best player that ever lived, or have the most powerful character, if I can do a little to help in an area of play that otherwise wouldn’t be covered by others, then consider me deeply satisfied.