Age of Conan was released in May 2008 offering players a much more violent, adult world than the traditional MMO offered. Like most new release titles it was met with a mixture of anticipation and disappointment, as many players felt that the game's hype didn't live up to its rocky start. But it has been a long time since 2008, and there have since been many changes in an attempt to balance gameplay across the board. Rise of the Godslayer is Age of Conan's first expansion, giving players who've reached the end of their experience new zones to explore, quests to complete, and ways to fight.
The first notable feature to Rise of the Godslayer is how complete the game feels from the start. Having personally not played Age of Conan since its initial release I can safely say that those who left the game due to broken mechanics, or general instability, should give it a second chance. Those familiar with combat should find themselves right at home again, however those new to the game shouldn't find anything too complex. Individual attacks are managed not just through selecting abilities, but through directional buttons as well. While not a new feature to the expansion it's definitely the groundwork for the game and new players should find it engaging and different from most typical MMOs.
Most striking about Rise of the Godslayer is its environment, and the amount of detail put into the game. The land of Khitai is very diverse, and filled with some very vivid coloring and never feels out of place. While how detailed the world looks obviously depends on computer performance, anyone with a reasonably decent gaming PC should be able to appreciate the time and energy put into the world's realistic design. This of course, includes the wildlife which ranges from animals that can be individually attacked to creatures that live in packs. Some will run away when engaged, others call for help. It may seem like a small detail but these little facets of the game add to a more engaging PvE experience.
Any new territory added to an MMO must be accompanied by new factions, and this expansion is no exception. Ten have been added to the game, each with their own quests and rewards at the very end of the grind. An interesting twist lets players only select a limited amount of rewards at the end of the factions completion however, which adds a sense of 'uniqueness' to the itemization. Being forced to select only one or two items really gives decisions made a bit more weight, although should players find that they would like another item instead they are free to betray their selected faction and move onto another.Dungeons feel like they've been given an overhaul, and made a little more engaging as well. Many of the encounters are fun, and dynamic enough to challenge most players. The dungeons also feature very neat elements such as using emotes to activate particular events. One of these events includes activating a boss' hard mode, which will give a boss better loot at the cost of being more difficult to kill.
At its heart however, Age of Conan is a PvP based game and Rise of the Godslayer is no exception. Players will find that while the open world of Khitai offers some interesting terrain to fight over, the really complex (and fun) places to fight players are the cities. While most other MMOs use cities as a central hub to meet, trade, and generally relax the architecture of Khitai is far more inspiring. Major towns have been designed with a staggering amount of realism and detail, complete with alleyways, dead-ends, and rooftops to jump along. Taking advantage of knowing the world's layout will be key for any PvPer's success, but mastering inner-city combat will add another layer of depth to the game that may not of been there for some.
New to the game entire is the Alternate Advancement (AA) system, which allows players to learn moves and abilities in addition to their class' features. Players earn AA points at a steady rate from just playing the game, but can increase progress by focusing on particular things. For example, focusing on PvP or PvE both separately earn points, while a third range of points is earned by completing a mixture of the two. This gives players a bit more to look forward to aside from simply engaging in new gameplay, and is a nice twist on any expansions class/ability increase. There are definitely a lot of abilities to learn, and learning them all definitely requires a bit of time. Depending on how it's approached, the AA trees can be seen as a good or bad thing. Good for players who enjoy the feel of leveling, but have already hit the maximum level in game. Bad for anyone who wants to max out their skills as soon as possible, or is generally impatient.
Graphically everything is really determined by how good the PC running the game is, but overall Rise of the Godslayer boasts some of the best looking environments seen in an MMO yet. It's most certainly iconic to the Age of Conan world, which looks a little more primal and less flashy compared to the rest of the market. Sound wise the game does its part, giving a good mood to things when action is at a minimal but easily tuned out when things become a bit more intense.
Overall Rise of the Godslayer feels like an expansion meant to win back those who may have been disinterested in Age of Conan's initial release. How fun the game is really depends on what kind of player you are however, since the series still feels far more focused on fighting players as opposed to monsters. Older players should find themselves rewarded with the new quests, factions, and dungeons (in addition to the Alternate Advancement paths), while newer ones may find that playing the newer race of Khitai is more interesting to quest as. Either way Rise of the Godslayer is primed to bring entertainment to anyone who at least enjoys decapitating another player in an exotic landscape.