Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
North American cover
Developer(s) Funcom
Publisher(s) Funcom
Eidos Interactive[1]
Designer(s) Craig Morrison
Engine DreamWorld Engine
Version 3.0 (August 31, 2011)
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows[2]
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
Genre(s) Sword and sorcery MMORPG, online RPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Media/distribution Optical disc, Download
System requirements

CPU: Intel Pentium IV/AMD Athlon 3200+ or higher
CPU Speed: 3 GHz/2.1GHz
System Ram: 2 GB
Operating System: Windows XP SP2 or Vista
Drive Type: DVD Drive 4x Speed
Free Disk Space: 31 GB
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6600 or ATI 9800
Video Card requirements:
-Video Ram: 128 MB
-Video HW Transform & Lighting:
-Vertex Shader Ver: Required – 2.0
Supported – 2.0, 2.0+, 3.0
-Pixel Shader Ver: Required – 2.0
Supported – 2.0, 2.0+, 3.0

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

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is a fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by a Norwegian computer video game developer company, Funcom, and is published by Eidos Interactive for the PC platform.[2] The game's pre-release occurred on May 17, 2008, available to those who had pre-ordered the game and registered for early access; the full release and launch of the game was May 20, 2008 in Northern America, and May 23, 2008 for Europe.[5] Although originally announced as being available for the Xbox 360, the console version has now been cancelled. Originally, in order to continuously play Hyborian Adventures, users were required to pay a monthly subscription fee. In May 2011 Funcom announced that a free-to-play (F2P) option would become available later in the year, although customers would still have the option to subscribe. The free version of the game became available in June 2011, offering limited access to game content, while subscribers received 'premium' access to all available game content.[6][7] A microtransaction system was introduced in summer 2011 to enable players to purchase in-game items via Funcom Points.[8]

Hyborian Adventures is the first installment in the planned Age of Conan series. Age of Conan itself 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.[9] Hyborian Adventures' release celebrated the 76th anniversary of the Conan franchise.



Characters in Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures 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.

Aquilonian Cimmerian Stygian Khitan
  • Assassin
  • Ranger
  • Barbarian
  • Ranger
  • Barbarian
  • Assassin
  • Ranger
  • Assassin
  • Ranger
  • Priest of Mitra
  • Bear Shaman
  • Tempest of Set
  • Bear Shaman
  • Necromancer
  • Herald of Xotli
  • Demonologist
  • Necromancer
  • Herald of Xotli
  • Demonologist
  • Guardian
  • Dark Templar
  • Conqueror
  • Guardian
  • Dark Templar
  • Conqueror
  • Guardian
  • Dark Templar


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.[10]

Funcom has said 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: Hyborian Adventures. 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.[11]

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 others' strengths, for example a character standing in line with a 'Conqueror' when he is running will have a greater resistance to knockback effects.[12]

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.

The dance moves[clarification needed] 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.[13]

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. Also, players are 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.


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...[14]

The lead artist Terje Lundberg said that the look and feel of Hyboria was based on the interpretation of the stories written by Robert E. 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."[15]

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."[15]

Music and sound

Five principal individuals worked on the music and audio for Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. The Audio Director is 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] Norwegian punk rock artists Turbonegro contributed three bonus songs to the soundtrack CD, one of which was written specifically for the album.[19]

Knut Avenstroup Haugen won the IFMCA award for Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media for his score.[20]

Over 40 actors voiced the large cast of characters.[21] The recording was done at Side UK[22] in London, Side LA in California, and at Funcom in Norway.[23]


Tortage City, the backwater capital of the Barrachan Isles, as seen in Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.

The game makes use of following technologies:

  • Cheetah. Shader-oriented proprietary render engine re-written from scratch by Funcom featuring a Phong per pixel lighting system. This engine allows for improved graphics and ambience. This is coupled with a trapezoidal shadow system, an in-house system developed by Funcom that allows all objects to cast shadows onto everything.[24]
  • Perlin noise-based cloud generating system. Five-layered procedural system that enables multiple layers of dynamic clouds; thus, visually realistic cloud behavior.[24]
  • SpeedTree. Programming package that aims to produce high-quality virtual foliage in real time.[25]
  • DreamWorld. The graphics engine has been developed by Funcom circa 2000. When Funcom began developing Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, the company reviewed its existing technology base and decided to focus on the further evolution of their proprietary DreamWorld engine as opposed to licensing a third-party engine as many online RPG companies do. As such, Funcom began to retool their engine with the overall design. Pipeline and implementation process was taken into account. In light of these changes, the DreamWorld engine has been rebuilt for Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures with new features, special effects, and optimizations.
  • DirectX 10. A major update of DirectX API. Although advertised on the gamebox, the game did not include support for DirectX 10 at the time of launch. A preview of the DirectX 10 features was given at the Games Convention in Leipzig in August 2008. As of late March 2009, a DX10 client was released for all live servers.[26]
  • Umbra. Umbra is GPU-accelerated occlusion culling software developed by Umbra Software Ltd. Umbra's aim is to speed up the rendering of large worlds with a lot of overdraw.[citation needed]


Funcom delayed Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures on January 21, 2008[27] and again on March 24, 2008.[28] The delays were widely reported by online game magazines such as IGN.[29] Once released, the game sold over 500,000 copies worldwide by June 1, 2008.[30] Six days later one million copies had been shipped in total.[31]

Between March 2005 and January 2006, Funcom periodically revealed concept art and screenshots from Age of Conan. The Art Director for the Conan project is Didrik Tollefsen, known for such classics as The Longest Journey and Anarchy Online – Shadowlands, which won the Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction award in 2003.[32]

On January 24, 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.[33]

In January 2007, several important updates were announced regarding the expected launch window for the game. Also on January 12, 2007, Funcom announced the original twenty-three classes had been merged down to fourteen classes to avoid the lack of diversity between them.[34]

On February 7, 2008, Funcom and Eidos announced that over 500,000 people had signed up for the Beta Testing of Age of Conan.[35]

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.[36]

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.[37] 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 live Game Director of Anarchy Online, and community manager for various Funcom community forums.

On August 18, 2009, Funcom launched a website showcasing the upcoming expansion, Rise of the Godslayer. Set in the mythical land of Khitai, it features a new Eastern theme.

The expansion was released on May 11, 2010 and provided new areas for low level characters in the form of a home zone for the new playable race, the Khitans; and also provided four additional regions for characters of advanced level. 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. The expansion was largely intended to add diversity to players' experiences at the end of the game. 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.

New original music was added by composer Knut Avenstroup Haugen to convey the Asiatic atmosphere of the expansion region.

Funcom added yet more content for the expansion, as well as upgrades to the DX10 version of the game.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 81%[38]
Metacritic 80/100[39]
Review scores
Publication Score
Edge 7 out of 10[40]
G4 4/5[41]
Game Informer 8/10[42]
GameSpot 8.5/10[43]
GameSpy 4/5[44]
GameZone 9.4/10[45]
Gamersnet 9.0/10.0[46]
Gamereactor 9/10[47]
DualShockers 9/10[48]

The game received "generally favorable reviews" according to Metacritic.[39] The game was "very inviting and plays well" according to VariableGHz.[49] Player reactions were overwhelmingly negative in the months following the release, as the game was plagued by a vast number of bugs, missing zones, broken encounters and total lack of end-game content. 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.

Seth Schiesel, writing for the New York Times, stated that the development of the game would have benefited from a few extra months of production.[50]

Giuseppe Nelva of wrote an updated review of the game in September 2011, praising the improved state of the game and awarding Age of Conan a 9/10, while writing: "With the arrival of the new game director Craig Morrison, and years of hard work behind the scenes, not only Funcom managed to straighten the many things that didn’t work in the game and polish it considerably, but they completely turned the tables, creating one of the most enjoyable, innovative and beautiful looking and sounding MMORPGs in the market. It’s not yet perfect, and some old flaws still occasionally resurface, but whether you are an old player that quit long ago, but is still hearing the wild call of Hyboria, or you’re looking for a new MMORPG to enjoy, Age of Conan is an extremely solid offering, that together with one of the best low-fantasy settings ever written, graphics of jaw-dropping quality and the innovative battle system, creates a game that every fan of the MMORPG genre should try."[48]

See also

Age of Conan




  1. ^ Funcom and Eidos sign publishing agreement for Age of Conan – July 24, 2006 – retrieved on July 24, 2006
  2. ^ a b Age of Conan Confirmed for Xbox 360 – December 10, 2006 – retrieved on December 12, 2006
  3. ^ Funcom sets new release date for Age of Conan – retrieved on March 28, 2008
  4. ^ Pharamond Posts a Clarification About the Release Date of Age of Conan – retrieved the 28th of April, 2008. Statement also mentioned in fanletters.
  5. ^ Funcom sets new release date for Age of Conan to be August 31, 2008. – retrieved on January 21, 2008
  6. ^ "Free and Premium content overview". Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Free To Play: Details". Age Of Conan: Unchained. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Tom, Chris (1 June 2011). "ZAM's Q&A on Age of Conan's Free-to-Play Shift". ZAM. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Age of Conan is set after The Hour of the Dragon. – September 16, 2006 – retrieved on January 25, 2007
  10. ^ "Pre-E3 2005: Age of Conan – Hyborian Adventures (Page 2 of 4)". May 10, 2005. Retrieved retrieved on July 24, 2006. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Gaute's State of the Game – February
  13. ^ Alexander Rybak – Fairytale (Norway), YouTube
  14. ^ OGaming Interview with Gaute Godager (Page 1 of 3) – January 20, 2006 – retrieved on July 25, 2006
  15. ^ a b "Interview with Terje Lundberg by MMOG Welten". Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  16. ^ Sound and music in Age of Conan. – retrieved on April 13, 2007
  17. ^ Music in Age of Conan – November 22, 2005 – retrieved on July 22, 2006
  18. ^ [1][dead link]
  19. ^ Age Of Conan: Age Of Conan Gets Scandinavian Punk Rock Soundtrack
  20. ^ IFMCA announces its 2008 winners for scoring excellence
  21. ^ Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (Video Game 2008) - IMDb
  22. ^ Side news and work Side UK
  23. ^ Age Of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
  24. ^ a b Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures Peek #3 (Page 2 of 3) – November 24, 2005 – retrieved on July 22, 2006
  25. ^ Funcom Brings SpeedTree©RT into Age of Conan – retrieved on July 22, 2006
  26. ^ Patch 1.04.5 update notes March 25, 2009 – Retrieved on March 29, 2009
  27. ^ Funcom sets new release date for Age of Conan – January 21, 2008 – retrieved on May 24, 2008
  28. ^ Funcom announce new release date for Age of Conan – August 10, 2007 – retrieved on May 24, 2008
  29. ^ Age of Conan Delays: Age of Conan Pushed Back – January 21, 2008 – retrieved on May 24, 2008
  30. ^ Jimmy Thang (2008-06-02). "Age of Conan Rules the Sales Charts". Yahoo! Games. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  31. ^ "Age of Conan reaches one million milestone". Funcom. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  32. ^ RPG Vault
  33. ^ Guild Hall - Age of Conan Forums
  34. ^ Funcom announces class merges. – January 12, 2007 – retrieved on January 25, 2007
  35. ^ 500,000 people sign up for Age of Conan Beta
  36. ^ GameZone Presents Tales of Conan-Fictional Stories
  37. ^ Retrieved 1-10-2008
  38. ^ "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures Reviews (PC)". Game Rankings. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  39. ^ a b "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (pc: 2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  40. ^ Edge. 191. Future Publishing. 2008-08. pp. 95 
  41. ^ Emily Balistrieri. "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  42. ^ Adam Biessener. "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures Review". GameInformer. Archived from the original on July 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  43. ^ Kevin VanOrd (2008-06-02). "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures". GameSpot.;review. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  44. ^ Allen Rausch (2008-05-30). "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures Review". GameSpy. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  45. ^ Michael Lafferty (2008-05-23). "Age of Conan – Hyborian Adventures Review". GameZone. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  46. ^ Brunsveld, Michiel (2008-05-20). "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures review". Gamersnet. Retrieved 2008-08-06. "Conclusie: 9.0"  (Dutch)
  47. ^ Ellingsen, Berit (2008-05-13). "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures". Gamereactor. Retrieved 2008-08-06. "Vår karakter: 9/10"  (Norwegian)
  48. ^ a b Nelva, Giuseppe (2011-09-16). "Review: Age of Conan". DualShockers. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  49. ^
  50. ^ Schiesel, Seth (2008-06-04). "At Play in a World of Savagery, but Not This One". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 

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