The MMORPG genre in the mid-2000s was in a very similar state to today, the big players had already arrived on the scene, and the genre was an almost universally T-rated affair; Funcom set out to change that by releasing the nudity and gore-filled adventures of Conan the Barbarian into the hands of Conan fans and hormone-driven gamers worldwide.
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures sold over 1 million copies at launch, and while it was still clearly not ready for release despite having been delayed twice, 2008 was a radically different time, and the Reddit hivemind had not yet been formed, while gamers pushed for and wanted improvements, they were not howling in rage and demanding death for the title and its developers.
Adapting to the changes in the genre, Funcom relaunched Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures in 2011 as Age of Conan Unchained, opting for a new freemium business model and riding high on the success of its recent expansion pack and upcoming adventure pack content releases, Age of Conan Unchained seemed to find a niche to flourish in, or so it would seem.
Age of Conan Unchained seemingly dried up shortly after its steam re-release, and content updates became a thing of the past as years would go by without any substantial content updates.
Funcom kept the lights on and a small community formed around the non-steam client. Still, it seemed Funcom was done with Age of Conan Unchained, especially with Conan Exiles becoming one of the best-selling titles in the company’s history.
Then it happened, the 10th anniversary would receive a content update of sorts; Funcom announced the creation of Saga servers, these limited-time servers functioned in a similar way to Diablo 3 season, and while it did little to boost the overall community numbers, it did serve to galvanize the remaining community and provide some much-needed incentive to play what was now years-old content.
The biggest surprise, however, came in 2020 with the announcement of actual new content; when Funcom announced a Horde mode was coming to the decade-old title, many were sceptical they could pull it off; after all, Age of Conan Unchained had sat mostly neglected since the Steam release in 2013.
Yet, it worked, Onslaught was fun and engaging and provided a challenging endgame for those who wanted more than 7+-year-old dungeons and PVP, and while the Age of Conan is unlikely to re-enter full development, the community have something they have lacked since 2013, hope that new content may still drop for their favourite MMORPG.
Age of Conan is showing its age; while the world design is fair and certainly large enough to hold a thousand adventures, character models show their age and, at times, can appear almost nightmarish, with broken animations and missing textures.
On its own, it’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but it is one of the larger areas in which the Age of Conan fails.
Age of Conan has decent customization for 2008; however, it pales to modern games; in addition, considering humans are the only playable race, it is offputting that certain ethnicities/cultures, such as Khitan (Asian), require the purchase of DLC.
In addition, players can choose from 12 classes; however, no single race can play all 12 classes, with most races being restricted to around eight playable classes.
Age of Conan is one of the only mmorpg to offer players a unique combat system; Age of Conan’s combat system is a mix of action and tab-targeting combat systems, which grants players access to a wide array of skills and abilities, as well as allowing the near unparalleled freedom of directional combat.
The result is a system where players have vast control over their character’s combat abilities without losing the familiarity and accessibility of a traditional mmorpg combat system.
Open-world PvP is possible on the Fury (PvP) server; while instanced PvP is available on both Crom and Fury, many in the community regard PvP on the Crom server as being “awful and full of AFK players”, while we cannot verify these claims, many in the community certainly believe them to be true.
Age of Conan is an MMORPG from another time, and players who wish to cap are looking at a 75+ hour journey even when following a levelling guide; due to a diminished player base, much of this levelling will be solo, and the endgame reward isn’t there for me.
Spending 75+ hours to reach a near-dead endgame with a few hundred players isn’t worth my time; however, your mileage may vary.
Age of Conan has plenty of solo content from the lore of multiple books, movies, comics and more than a few mediocre games; everyone knows Conan the Barbarian and being part of that world and interacting with those characters is a huge part of what makes Age of Conan so inviting to fans of the franchise.
Unfortunately, much of the narrative content is ruined by poor voice acting.
Age of Conan has an impressive array of voice actors, including Troy Baker, Sandra De Sousa, and Alex Norton; however, most minor female characters sound like they learned to act in 1970s convenience store adult movies and speak with breathless/sensual voices, some of the nerdiest dialogue in existence, making even important moments in the narrative feel more like SNL sketches.
Age of Conan was very much created to be a male fantasy mmorpg, and it shows.
It’s not just female minor characters who have missed a few acting classes; minor male characters are no better, with most characters sounding like stereotypical barbarians.
I would have preferred minor characters to have text-only dialogue, as the poor voice acting does nothing to improve immersion.
Funcom are not deluding themselves in regards to the player count, Age of Conan is not a massive title anymore, and there are only two servers available; however, by forcing all players to pick one of 2 servers, Funcom created a thriving, friendly community focusing around the respective server themes.
While the PVE (Crom) server is the larger of the 2, the PVP (Fury), server is still active, and whichever server you choose, you will find friendly guilds and players welcoming to new players.
World chat is active even at off-peak times, and the small player base has fostered a community-like atmosphere more commonly found on small private servers.
Age of Conan Unchained is free-to-play.
Players who do not wish to subscribe to Age of Conan can experience most of the content as a free-to-play or premium player (purchasing all the DLC separately); this is a great system for those who wish to experience all the content but are unable or unwilling to subscribe month after month.
Age of Conan has a cash shop, and unfortunately, it is filled to the bring with Pay2Win items such as stat boosts, self-revives, PvP insurance, and loot boxes that contain PvP currency, XP and even armour/weapon sets.
I have never seen a western MMORPG with such a blatant Pay2Win cash shop, and a Credit Card warrior will easily outpace free-to-play and even premium players if they are willing to buy enough currency/lootboxes.
To make matters even worse, many in the Age of Conan community say the drop rates for “good” items from their lootboxes are abysmally low; while this balances out the Pay2Win factor a little, it also makes lootboxes potentially more dangerous for players who have a gambling addiction and for me this is potentially a deal-breaker and reason enough to play a different mmorpg entirely.
I have said before I am not opposed to nudity in games when it makes sense for someone to be naked, people don’t bathe with their clothes on, and in some settings, such as fantasy, people would go swimming or even sleep naked, but to make nudity, especially female nudity a selling point of your title is degrading and serves only to attract the attention of neckbeards, perverts and teenage boys.
True warriors, with very few exceptions, would not run into battle naked unless necessary; even ancient cultures knew the value of armour/and or leather clothing.
Age of Conan has much to offer besides nudity and making it such a selling point was a mistake.
Like my stance on nudity, there is a time and place for reasonable gore, but requiring every encounter to be a splatterfest of blood and limbs does little but feed into the perception of Age of Conan being nothing more than a male power fantasy.
Age of Conan Unchained is a massively multiplayer online role playing game video game developed and published by Funcom, it was released on May 20, 2008 and it is Free-2-Play.
Age of Conan Unchained is available exclusively on PC.
As of January 2023, Funcom has maintained near-total radio silence regarding future content for Age of Conan Unchained.
With almost a year between community manager posts on Steam, both of which heralded the yearly anniversary event, it certainly appears that Age of Conan Unchained is not a priority for Funcom, with development resources focused on Conan Exiles and other projects, such as the much-anticipated Dune multiplayer title which was announced in 2019 and is expected to launch into early access sometime after 2023.
Last Content Update: Skull Gate Pass Onslaught (November 2020).
While the full player base of Age of Conan Unchained is unknown due to Funcom not releasing player numbers, we know that the Steam community for Age of Conan Unchained hovers at around 80 players online at peak times.
Many likely still play on the standalone client, so we are looking at a ccu of at least 250 and very likely more at peak times.
Age of Conan Unchained supports:
The Age of Conan Unchained in-game store sells:
Age of Conan Unchained is rated PEGI 18 and contains the following:
Age of Conan is a piece of MMORPG history. For those looking for a small but active community MMORPG Age of Conan is a good choice; however, there are better options on the market, and I would recommend playing Conan Exiles on an active community or roleplay server instead.