Age of Conan

Age of Conan: Unchained (formerly known as Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures) is a fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Funcom and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows in 2008.[4] Age of Conan is the first installment in the planned Age of Conan series. Age of Conan takes place within the continent of the Hyborian kingdoms, a year after the events depicted in Robert E. Howard's Conan novel The Hour of the Dragon.[5]

Age of Conan
Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures cover.jpg
North American cover
Eidos Interactive[3]
Director(s)Gaute Godager
Producer(s)Gaute Godager
Designer(s)Andrew Griffin
Programmer(s)Rui Manuel Monteiro Casais
Artist(s)Didrik Tollefsen
Writer(s)Ellen Lyse Einarsen
Composer(s)Knut Avenstroup Haugen
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows[4]
Genre(s)Massively multiplayer online role-playing game



Combat comprises striking a target from different angles, such as hacking down against the head, slashing diagonally down from the left or right, and slashing diagonally up from the left or right. These directions are designed to be strung together in combination naturally during combat. Difficult-to-perform combinations cause additional damage and faster strikes.[6]

The developer Funcom stated that their "Real Combat" system, a combat system designed to offer more real-time options than traditional Dungeons & Dragons-inspired "turn-based" combat systems that are more commonly used, will be a prime attraction of Age of Conan: Unchained. This "Real Combat" system is a first-person melee approach in which every enemy has three different areas that players can target. Combinations can be performed by stringing together consecutive attacks in particular directions. Feedback from players has pointed out that this system requires a certain degree of dexterity. Character statistics and item bonuses also play a role in this system, however item bonuses have less effect on a character's power than in comparable games, so that whilst equipment does play a certain role other factors also have an impact, such as the player's skill or their analysis of the scenario. The idea of "Real Combat" is to eliminate the dullness of typical MMO fighting, which often consists of an auto-attack feature.[7]

The "Real Combat" system is used in one-on-one weapon battles, as well as during spell-casting, ranged combat and mounted combat. In some situations however, players will choose to band together and unite their skills to face other bands of players or non-player armies. Players can then work together and build on each other's strengths, for example a character standing in line with a 'Conqueror' when he is running will have a greater resistance to knockback effects.[8]

Players are able to take part in large scale siege operations. Adventurers can cooperate with one another to build cities with walls, towers and catapults that can protect player-owned taverns and merchant facilities.

In July 2011, a Hardcore PvP server was launched for the EU and US servers. This hardcore PvP server removes the guards from the various cities and playfields and re-opened PvP on the instances around the city of Tortage. This hardcore server brings back the basics of MMO PvP combat in that players will have a chance at dropping loot from their inventory when they are killed in player vs player combat. Players are also only able to have one character on these servers. This was a fresh-start server which doesn't allow any character transfer to it, does not allow the use of offline levels, or free level 50 characters.


A screenshot of the character creation and extensive customization featured in Age of Conan.

Characters in Age of Conan are registered to a unique user account on a specific online server, with characters created on one server unable to be played on another. Players are able to create characters which function as their virtual avatars in the online world of Hyboria. During character creation, the player may choose from four playable races. The character is one of four archetypes (in bold) and one of three class selections for each archetype. The Rise of the Godslayer expansion brought on a new race, the Khitan. Earlier only some classes were free to play but on December 13, 2012 all classes were made available in the free model.[9]


An Aquilonian character in Age of Conan gazing at the snowy mountains of northern Cimmeria

Age of Conan is set in a low fantasy pseudo-historical ancient world called the Hyborian Age, created by Robert E. Howard. The warlord Conan has seized the throne of Aquilonia, but ancient evils seek to overthrow him.

The Hyborian Age is like a dark, decadent, twisted and corrupt version of Euro-Asian history. Mix a bit of the Roman Empire, Mongolian culture and Babylonian mysticism with '30s-era myths of undiscovered Africa...[10]

The lead artist Terje Lundberg said that the look and feel of Hyboria was based on the interpretation of the stories written by Howard:

"When you read Howard's work you're immediately drawn into a gritty world of dark and ancient forces, and mighty and decadent civilizations. You feel the great weight of the ages and sense the very history in the crumbling mortar and the ruins. Therefore we've been mindful from the outset to create a world which is true to Howard's writing. There is majesty in Hyboria but it's of a monolithic, brutal and primitive kind – it certainly isn't "high fairie" where everything appears as though it was built only yesterday and is devoid of context."[11]

Lundberg said the game at launch will contain three countries, Cimmeria, a northern country with snow and highlands, Aquilonia, which contains "green hills, lush riverbeds, and the marvelous city of Tarantia", and Stygia, which consists mostly of deserts and "some beautiful cities" — as well as the island of Tortage which "has a diverse geography ranging from jungle to harbors".[11]


Between March 2005 and January 2006, Funcom periodically revealed concept art and screenshots from Age of Conan. The art director for the Conan project have been Didrik Tollefsen, previously known for The Longest Journey and Anarchy Online – Shadowlands, which won the Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction award in 2003.[12]

In January 2006, Funcom unveiled the community portal for Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. By this time, much of the pre-launch community had gathered around the forums and IRC chat of the official Age of Conan website. There were informal events such as IRC chats with the developers and, in summer 2006, community contests. In April 2006, Funcom created a forum for guild recruitment entitled the Guild Hall for its pre-launch community, allowing forum members began organizing their player guilds.[13]

In January 2007, several important updates were announced regarding the expected launch window for the game. Funcom also announced the original twenty-three classes had been merged down to fourteen classes to avoid the lack of diversity between them.[14]

Tortage City, the backwater capital of the Barrachan Isles, as seen in Age of Conan

On February 7, 2008, Funcom and Eidos announced that over 500,000 people had signed up for the Beta Testing of Age of Conan.[15]

Five principal individuals worked on the music and audio for Age of Conan. The audio director was Morten Sørlie, who created the soundtrack for Anarchy Online – Shadowlands. Simon Poole (lead sound designer on Dreamfall – The Longest Journey) took over as audio director in May 2007, and saw the project through to completion. The sound designers are Tord D. Nikolaisen and Fredrik Martol. Composer Knut Avenstroup Haugen wrote the musical score for the game.[16] To create a musical score for the Hyborian universe, Haugen turned to many different sources: For the music of the different ethnic groups, Haugen studied traditional music from relevant parts of the world. For the overall sound of the Hyborian Age, Haugen studied ancient and medieval music as well as the romantic orchestra repertoire and film scores, while avoiding conventions that connect too closely to specific historical periods.[17]

The female vocalist heard in the score is Norwegian singer Helene Bøksle.[18] The lyrics of the music is in the Old Norwegian language and comes from the Völuspá, the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda.[19] Norwegian punk rock artists Turbonegro contributed three bonus songs to the soundtrack CD, one of which was written specifically for the album.[20]

Over 40 actors voiced the cast of characters.[21] The recording was done at Side UK[22] in London, Side LA in California, and at Funcom in Norway.[23] The dance moves were made using motion capture on the dancer Hallgrim Hansegård, who is a backing dancer for the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009: "Fairytale" by Alexander Rybak.[24]


Promotion at the GC 2008

Funcom delayed Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures on January 21, 2008[25] and again on March 24, 2008.[26] The delays were widely reported by online game magazines such as IGN.[27] Once released, the game sold over 500,000 copies worldwide by June 1, 2008.[28] Six days later one million copies had been shipped in total.[29]

Since release, Funcom has made improvements to performance and changes and additions to the game which were not ready in time for launch, as well as in response to feedback from players. Additions have included new adventuring zones, and revamps of existing dungeons.

On May 19, 2008, presented a series of original fictional stories by Michael Lafferty, stemming from the massively multiplayer online world of Age of Conan – Hyborian Adventures. The stories were written with the permission and cooperation of Funcom. The tales explore the world, the characters and the lore involved in Hyboria.[30]

In September 2008, Gaute Godager, the producer and game director resigned from his role in Age of Conan and from Funcom, a company he had been involved in for over 16 years.[31] In his press release, he revealed that he was not happy with elements in the game's development since release. He was succeeded by Craig Morrison, previously game director of Anarchy Online, and community manager for various Funcom community forums.

On June 30, 2011, Funcom began marketing the game with the new title, Age of Conan: Unchained (as opposed to Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures), and altered the subscription model to a hybrid one. A hybrid model incorporates free-to-play (no monthly fee is charged) and premium plans. Premium players may choose from 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month recurring payment, while free-to-play players have limited access to characters, features, and areas. Some of the limitations can be removed with the use of the new "Item Shop" (available only in the game), where items can be bought with the help of Funcom Points. Funcom Points can be earned either by subscribing or by buying them with real cash.

On February 22, 2013, Age of Conan was released on Steam.[32]

In his monthly letter for August 2013, Joel Byos revealed a new major PvP event titled The Great Hyborian Race. A new server called the Blood and Glory ruleset server which will be started specifically for this event. The players will have to create a new character on this server in order to participate in this event. The objective is to reach level 80 in all classes by joining a guild or by going it alone. Those first to reach the level will be awarded special prizes. Those who reach a certain threshold of PvP experience within a given timeframe will be given bonus rewards. For the duration of the event, participants will be unable to use offline levels and restrictions will be placed on XP potions. Players have to earn experience through PvE and PvP fights. The developers are aiming to start the event after the server merge which was delayed due to office move by Funcom.[33]

Additional contentEdit

Rise of the GodslayerEdit

An expansion titled Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer was released on May 11, 2010 and can be bought for Funcom Points from the item shop by all players. It provides new areas for medium-level characters in the form of a home zone for the new playable race, the Khitans; and four additional regions for high-level characters. The new content also includes new companions that can be trained for use as combat pets, or as mounts. A faction system was introduced in order to add variety and re-playability to the new zones. Through new quests, group instances, and raids, players are able to gather tokens to buy new armour sets. An additional incentive is the Alternative Advancement system; a new tree of character feats or perks that are acquired by means of a dedicated point system. It also expanded the raiding in the game to add Tier 4.[34]

Adventure packsEdit

On August 31, 2011, Funcom released The Savage Coast of Turan adventure pack, which can be bought for Funcom Points from the item shop by all players. The pack includes a new playfield known as "Coast of Ardashir", two new solo instances, a group instance, a new 24-man raid instance called "Temple of Erlik" and a new combat pet. The new content was aimed to launch along with the 2011 film Conan the Barbarian, so that players had the chance to see some of the characters, armor, and weapons from the film.[35]

On September 3, 2012 Funcom announced that it is planning a new adventure pack called Secrets of Dragon's Spine which was released in a series of updates. The pack introduces a new zone called Dragon's Spine, a row of small peaks in the southern wastes of Stygia. It will feature new quests, dungeons, challenges, a new mount type, a new raid instance and a new PvP area.[36] The first update was released on live servers on January 10, 2013.[37] On August 13, 2013 a new dungeon which also contains a city of the Serpent Men was added in the Dragon's Spine.[38] A Serpent Man boss called Oldblood along with a new area was added on 6 March 2014.[39]

A third adventure pack titled Shadow of Vanaheim was released for the game's seventh anniversary in May 2015. The story takes place in the Blue Mountains, which border the regions of Vanaheim and Asgard.[40]


The game received "generally favorable reviews" according to Metacritic.[42] Seth Schiesel, writing for The New York Times, opined that the development of the game would have benefited from a few extra months of production.[52]

Knut Avenstroup Haugen won the IFMCA award for Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media for his score.[53]

The game had sold 1.4 million copies in 2011 when it switched to free to-play model.[54]

See alsoEdit


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  2. ^ Pharamond Posts a Clarification About the Release Date of Age of Conan – retrieved the 28th of April, 2008. Statement also mentioned in fanletters.
  3. ^ Funcom and Eidos sign publishing agreement for Age of Conan Archived January 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine – July 24, 2006 – retrieved on July 24, 2006
  4. ^ a b Age of Conan Confirmed for Xbox 360 Archived December 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine – December 10, 2006 – retrieved on December 12, 2006
  5. ^ Age of Conan is set after The Hour of the Dragon. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine – September 16, 2006 – retrieved on January 25, 2007
  6. ^ "Pre-E3 2005: Age of Conan – Hyborian Adventures (Page 2 of 4)". May 10, 2005. Archived from the original on February 2, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2006.
  7. ^ News – 'Dissatisfied' With Age Of Conan, Funcom Co-Founder Quits. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 11 April 2012.
  8. ^ Gaute's State of the Game – February. Retrieved on 11 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Age of Conan tweaks F2P offerings, all classes and classic dungeons freely available". Massively. December 13, 2012. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  10. ^ OGaming Interview with Gaute Godager (Page 1 of 3) Archived September 9, 2006, at the Wayback Machine – January 20, 2006 – retrieved on July 25, 2006
  11. ^ a b "Interview with Terje Lundberg by MMOG Welten". Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  12. ^ RPG Vault[dead link]
  13. ^ Guild Hall – Age of Conan Forums. Retrieved on 11 April 2012.
  14. ^ Funcom announces class merges. – January 12, 2007 – retrieved on January 25, 2007 Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Taldren, Alex (7 February 2008). "More Than 500,000 Gamers Join the Age of Conan Community". Archived from the original on 2009-01-23. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  16. ^ "Sound and music in Age of Conan". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  17. ^ Music in Age of Conan – November 22, 2005 – retrieved on July 22, 2006 Archived August 18, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Taldren, Alex (April 7, 2008). "Helene Bøksle: The Voice Behind Age of Conan". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  19. ^ Kristensen, Eivind (19 April 2012). "Breivik krenker både meg og musikken" [Breivik violates both me and the music]. Fædrelandsvennen (in Norwegian). Retrieved 26 April 2012.
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  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2008-10-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ Olivetti, Justin (February 22, 2013). "Age of Conan pillages Steam". Massively. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
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  39. ^ "The 5th boss in AoC's World Event Arrives". 2014-03-06.
  40. ^ Garrett Fuller (May 22, 2015). "Shadow of Vanaheim - Matthew Bennett Interview". Retrieved April 17, 2022.
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  43. ^ "Edge". 191. Future Publishing. August 2008: 95. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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  51. ^ Ellingsen, Berit (2008-05-13). "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures" (in Norwegian). Gamereactor. Retrieved 2008-08-06. Vår karakter: 9/10
  52. ^ Schiesel, Seth (2008-06-04). "At Play in a World of Savagery, but Not This One". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 February 2016. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  53. ^ IFMCA announces its 2008 winners for scoring excellence. Retrieved on 11 April 2012.
  54. ^ Batchelor, James (July 5, 2018). "1.4m sales makes Conan Exiles the biggest game in Funcom's history". GamesIndustry. Gamer Network. Retrieved March 23, 2021.

External linksEdit