I'm playing Age of Conan now, some two years after I stalked off cursing Funcom's name.
I downloaded it again with an old friend who I've played games with since 1994 and played MMOs with since 2003. He plays DDO with me from time to time but I can't persuade him to play Eve.
The nice thing about both Eve and DDO is that they can take a back seat if something else takes my interest.
And AoC is doing just that.
Tortage is good. Not just good but quite possibly the best PVE questing in MMO gaming so far. Immersive voice-acted story with an exciting fast-paced plot heavy in duplicity.
In fact Tortage was so good it's one of the things that hurt the game early on. Psychologists speak of the contrast effect, where after experiencing something great something bland seems much more bland by contrast. Moving from Tortage to the kill ten rats (barbarians) quests that follow it invoked this in a way that rather hurt AoC.
The good news is that there's more content now with more on the way.
More importantly many of the game-breaking bugs that hurt the playing experience in 2008 have been fixed as has the crash to desktop issue that plagued many of us back then. The game can be a little laggy and is very punishing on low end machines. My 1.8 quad core processor, 4 gig Ram and Radeon 4350 handles it fine but my friend's 2 year old PC really struggles to load the game. He's going to try a new graphics card.
Although gameplay is in many ways WoW like (progression through fedex and kill ten rats quests to max level then raiding and battlegrounds) it has a very distinctive look and feel. It has stunning combat animations as periodically your character will perform fatalities where you kill your target in various graphically horrible ways that are wonderful to watch. It has a directional combo system for melee which to be honest I'm somewhat indifferent to but which my friend loves. I do accept that it's more fun than tab target, turn on autoattack, 1,2,3.
PvP is brutal. In Europe there are 4 servers and 4 server types: PvE, PvP, RPPvE and RPPvP. We did a little shopping around and settled on the RPPvP one. We don't want full carebear but the PvP one is Gank Central and killing ten million rats to get to 80 would have been tortuous. Plus the RP element can be good fun.
Even on RPPvP you pretty much have to spend your feats (talents) for PvP survival. Particularly for me as I'm playing a Priest of Mitra and my friend is playing a Conqueror. Everyone always ganks the healer.
We had a look at our old high level characters but they were a bit too complex to play comfortably now that we've forgotten most of what we knew about playing. We also have the option to make a level 50 one time.
The trial is now not time limited so I do recommend people get the trial at least. If you want to play and are in Europe we're on Aquilonia (RPPvP) and we've joined a very friendly guild which would probably let you join too.