The Very Old Age of Conan: Part 1

There was a time when I was set on playing Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. In 2008, I was excited for an MMORPG that was unbound by embracing its visceral combat, unbound by the promise of relentless PvP, and unbound by articles of clothing to maintain any modesty.

Yet Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning came out the same year and with its blitz of marketing, it caught me and I became a cheerleader for another team. I forgot about Conan and embraced WAR. I would go on to play Warhammer Online on and off until its early demise (and then again with its rebirth, but that is for another time).

I never stopped hearing positive things about the initial experience of Age of Conan, that it is well voiced and well put together but also drops off hard in quality after its introduction. I accepted this and decided I would right a wrong, I would finally enter Hyboria!

So It Began

In loading the official website I was surprised to see that the most recent news post was from September of 2019, announcing a free weekend. I guess the free weekend was a last hurrah that did not pan out.

At the top of the page were several “PLAY FOR FREE” buttons that were part of an image slideshow that went by far too fast for my liking. I caught a button and it was here, this new players very first step into entering the world of Conan, that there was a dead image link as the first thing you see. Things were to only become more dire.

I clicked “Download Client” and found myself at another dead link. Crom. I googled for the Discord for the game and was led by some gracious hosts to make an account first and only then downloading was possible. After downloading the game, the window informed me that there was now a new cheaper subscription price. To me, it seemed a nice gesture but also likely spoke to the abandoned nature off the game.

Launching the game for the first time, I got an error. Something had gone wrong with my database, whatever that meant, I clicked no to trying to run a verification procedure. An “Assertion Failed” box popped up and informed me that it did not like my “pTask” or my “pUserData.” The trials of a warrior had already begun. I submitted this time and ran the verification procedure. Minutes later all 25.0GB were verified and the play button greeted me. I clicked it, alas salvation. Only no, nothing happened. Would Conan be so easily deterred? No. I opened the client again, and again assertion had failed. I again verified 25.0GB of files. Once verified, I saw my solution. The launcher gives you the start button, lighting it up green, but still has one last step to finish before declaring “now up-to-date!” I had made it, or so I thought. Another error. Not this time, I thought. I clicked “Attempt to Continue.” Updating… and… success!

So It Really Began

Aboard a ship being tossed about a rough sea, I was greeted with my first choice of male or female. Choosing male spins the camera to see a row of enslaved men digging their oars into the waves, while choosing female sends the camera sliding to the back of the ship where you are alone and surrounded by pillows. I opted for the comfort of the pillowed room, preferring now to row. I also knew this would be essential in my quest for comprehensiveness, in order to witness all that the game had to offer.

I chose a Cimmerian because the game told me this is the one of the four cultures that Conan hails from. I felt this would give me a leg up in our inevitable meeting. As for class, and following the same logic, I chose barbarian. I’m going to make Crom so proud. At first there was a very basic customization of looks and then an “advanced” button which let you sort of adjust everything but I was content with what was given to me so on I moved to my PvP server with the Unconquered difficulty.

Fulfilling RPG tradition, the slave ship was destroyed by the storm and I found myself being washed ashore on a beach. Greeted by Kalanthes, I was instructed to kill my captor, Saddur the slaver, before he could reach a town and ruin my shot at freedom. I liked this story introduction, I found it compelling and it created a sense of urgency. Gameplay wise, I had already seen Kalanthes glitch and repeat his crouching animation twice. Nonetheless, I was compelled to continue.

Before going any further, adventure had to take a backseat. I opened my inventory and found my “Red Gown” and “Red Bottom” and I speedran nudity. My female body lay bare before me only briefly before I clothed myself once more, because I am a lady.

I knew that Age of Conan had nudity and that this nudity was limited to females, as males would be unable to hang freely until 2017, when the different-but-same Conan Exiles released. While I am proud to say I have never used one of the many nude mods in all my years of Fallout and Skyrim, I felt here that if the developers felt it necessary then maybe it was. Alternatively you could take away that not even sex appeal could sell this game.

I pressed on, finding three ruffians who did not care to share the beach, and slowly tried to pull one at a time. I was surprised how quickly that failed and how they all had leapt on me as a group and for a moment I thought I would die. I did not die though, because I did what I assumed any Cimmerian would do and I started swinging my broken oar wildly. In no time I understood that swinging at their unprotected sides yielded more damage and I quickly put each of their faces in the sand. This was it, my first “aha” moment. Swinging my broken oar felt fantastic! I looted the ruffians and wouldn’t you know it, pants and a top that were more than just underwear. By Crom, I am a lady.

On that positive note, I decided to pause. My battles with the launcher had left me wounded and tired. Hyboria will see me again soon though, count on that.

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