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Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game set in the universe of Conan the Barbarian, originally created by Robert E Howard; and developed by Funcom. It was originally released on 2008. As of July 2011, it has moved away from the original subscription-only model to a hybrid "Freemium" model, with a combination of free and paid content.
The world is remarkably faithful to Howard's original stories; with notable influences from both film versions (the original by John Milius starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the 2011 remake by Marcus Nispel starring Jason Momoa). Needless to say, it partakes of many of the tropes present in its source material; as well as many specific to MMORPGs. Nearly all of the background music in the game is taken from the soundtrack of the first movie.
The original release of the game met with considerable critical and public reaction, both positive and negative, for being more frankly and explicitly violent and sexual than was typical for MMORPGs up to that point. It was notable for being the first MMO to deliberately aim for a "Mature" rating; which was played up strongly in the advertising and promotion for the game. The "mature" aspect was similarly played up as part of the conversion to a "Freemium" hybrid model; with the original name for the update billed as Age of Conan: Unrated. The "Unrated" was changed to "Unchained" by release time.
One of the earliest criticisms of the game was the lack of story or character-development driven content available for mid-level players; with most quests consisting of extended grinding sessions. The game developers explained that they had not expected players to advance so quickly; and had delayed development of content beyond the beginner areas. However, from other sources, it seems equally likely that Funcom wanted to delay development until they were able to gauge the player reaction and membership numbers. Subsequent expansions have released a considerable amount of mid-level and high-level content; but the drop off in subscriber numbers after the initial release is thought to be a large part of the impetus for the move to a free/paid hybrid model.
This game provides examples of:
- Age of Titles
- Allegedly Free Game: Although a lot of the game is now free to play; less than half of the character types are available for free, and large amounts of the mid- to high-level content is available only to paid subscribers, or as a separate purchase. This includes the entire Khitai region outside the hub city; as well as Khitai character models. Certain gameplay mechanics and abilities are also limited to paid subscribers. Nevertheless, the advertising really pounds on the "Free To Play" thing.
- An Adventurer Is You: Played pretty much straight, with many classes falling into the traditional roles. However, there are also some uncommon hybrid classes as well.
- Back Tracking: There is an enormous amount of this in the game; especially at beginner levels. Some quests consist predominantly of running back and forth over long distances carrying messages between NPCs. Others consist of chains of running back and forth between the same area, because the quest NPC couldn't be bothered to tell you everything you needed to do there up front. (Some character dialog choices lampshade this frustrating bit of activity.) Particularly frustrating at early levels, before mounts are available.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Much more than was typical for MMO games when it was released.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: A lot of the content in the premium shop will provide substantial advantages to gameplay, especially at low levels. This is particularly true for the weapons and armour available to beginners.
- Chainmail Bikini: Averted, oddly, as the comic adaptations were the trope namer. Although there are items of clothing/armour that fit this trope's appearance, the effectiveness of such armour is realistically low. The more effective the armour, the more it covers. YMMV whether this is a good thing (see Fan Service).
- Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: Dying means a short debuff; but it also allows you to teleport to any previously-located respawn point, making it a useful way to travel at times.
- Fake Longevity: Especially during the initial release; before expansions with more story and character driven content were released. Mostly involving Mass Monster Slaughter Sidequests looking for Twenty Bear Asses, with a whole lot of Back Tracking.
- Crafting quests invoke this trope quite strongly. In order to advance in the gathering skills necessary for crafting, players have to spend exhorbitant amounts of time farming for extremely rare drops. Locations for the drops are highly limited in lower-level areas; or surrounded by strong, aggro monsters in higher-level areas.
- Fan Service: Characters can be played completely naked, with the exception of genitalia, which is covered by a sort of unremovable g-string brief. Fighting this way is generally not a good idea, given the importance of armour in the game.
- There is an option, in your inventory screen, to use "vanity" mode. With this active, you can cause select pieces of your armour to turn invisible, but you still get the full protection from it.
- Finishing Move: Depending on your class, this can be anything from a decapitation to dragging your opponent to hell.
- Have a Nice Death: Among other things, "The maidens question your virility."
- Hotter and Sexier: This was perhaps the first MMORPG to feature female nudity. Additionally, prostitutes can be found in several locations throughout the game world.
- Magic Is Evil: All three mage classes use some form of Black Magic.
- Money Spider: Averted through the use of Vendor Trash. The only mobs that drop anything resembling money are human or demi-human.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender Temporarily subverted: A short period after the game's launch, females did less damage in melee combat, due to slower attack animations. Otherwise, the trope is in full force; to the degree that even the more "mature" dialog choices are available regardless of character gender.
- Real Is Brown: A common complaint during the early days of the game was how dark and muddy the artwork appeared compared to other games. Some improvement has been made, but it is still a strong example of this trope.
- Revenue Enhancing Devices: A whole lot of functional and purely cosmetic stuff in the premium cash shop. See Allegedly Free Game and Bribing Your Way to Victory, above.
- Squishy Wizard: Applies to varying degrees to all Mage classes. Particularly bad with the Herald of Xotli; a hybrid melee/mage class whose magic is limited to buffs and close-combat attacks, with some damage limiting abilities, and which is limited to weak cloth armour.
- Twenty Bear Asses: A whole lot of the quests are this.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted. Most of the actual equipment drops are actually usable, depending on character class.
- Vendor Trash: Not as much as some MMOs. Mostly used to avoid Money Spiders, and the drops are reasonably realistic.
- World of Buxom: The models provided don't even allow for female player characters with a modest bust size, even using the advanced customization feature.