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Thread: Review: Shadows of Cimmeria, um I mean Vanaheim

  1. #1

    Default Review: Shadows of Cimmeria, um I mean Vanaheim

    Once I get a chance I'll post this on bear shaman problems with photos and links. (Mods: if you want to merge this with one of the other threads, that's fine).
    If you are a regular reader of the forums you probably have an idea of how the Age of Conan community feels about the first "new" content (quest zones) since Dragonspine in 2013.

    If you don't here's a summary: infuriated and underwhelmed. It's been a while since I've seen multiple threads get to 10+ pages. It's also weird to see almost everyone agree on anything.

    The furious portion of this was due to the implied nature that this content, while permanent, was part of the Age of Conan anniversary celebration. Instead it was pat content. 3000 Funcom points for the collectors edition and 1800 (or so) for the regular. Subscribers save 10% in these values. Many of the subscribers, including myself, are wondering why am I paying for a sub when I have to buy new content?

    Despite the warning from everyone's favorite Aquilonian assassin in his quality review, I bought this as well.

    I generally play solo since I don't always have a lot of time and generally don't want to be called a noob because I don't have the time to learn (and remember) every boss in a video game.

    A solo player, with this expansion, would have access to T4 powered accessories. And let's face it, everyone wants better gear. Between that and a bear mount (which sadly isn't good), this seems like an automatic purchase. I'm fortunate that I can drop $30 on a game from time to time without it being a hardship.

    Was it worth it? I'm not sure yet. I'm leaning towards no. The quality of the mounts was marginal at best and I'll describe the adventure below.

    The story can be summed up: Talk-kill-talk-travel, repeat. A lot.

    There's also side quests to help avoid boredom. Most involve killing or collecting things. Not sure if it's random or not but I'm picturing it to be a pain to get the last few quests for the achievement if it is random.

    The first areas are Connel's Valley. The second is blue Mountain (a new zone but a very small zone). The third area is Fort BJ? Which is also a new zone but uses much of Atzel's Fortress' exterior. The interior of the Fort is Atzel's.

    I understand that it's easier to recycle old areas and mobs. It's sad that the player base (myself included) is so happy to have anything new that we'll even make excuses for Funcom.

    The areas are a grind. It feels like SWTOR where you advance a bit, kill some mobs, rinse and repeat. It's not quite as bad as last years anniversary quest though Tortsge but more reminiscent of that than some other solo instances.

    In addition to the grind what stands out is the relatively poor production quality and glitches. Besides the mobs fighting while bowing and sitting one of the more annoying glitches is some Ymirsh and boss mobs use a knock back ability called Massive Sweep. Occasionally this resets the mob.

    Another fun glitch was that I logged out between steps in the quest when a boss spawns. When I logged back in, I couldn't respawn the boss so I zoned out of the instance and back in. That reset the instance but not the boss. This was right before entering the fort. So I quit the quest and started over. Pro tip: kill the boss before you log out. Your spouse will hopefully understand.

    I haven't beaten the last boss fight using my Khitai/T1/T2 geared DT but get the mechanic. I think It's a boring fight with a lot of kiting around that punishes you for a single mistake (and low dps). Considering the rares you get for normal mode, and I can't imagine doing this with all level 85 mobs, I don't see this entering into my rotation for earning rares as it takes too long. I can earn 4 in 20 minutes on Isle of Iron statues. Why would I spend an hour and change for the same reward?

    Pros (why I should spend my money):
    1. "New" content
    2. New faction and rewards to earn including vanity gear (most of which is similar to gear you can grind off low level mobs but I'm trying to be positive here)
    3. Effigies that drop are worth either 2500 reputation or 20 silver. Side quests are a great way to earn coin!
    4. More mounts, achievements, treasure chests, and targets of interest for completionists
    5. You hate gingers/Vanir
    6. Another scaling area to level/quest (after level 20)
    7. You get to enjoy the Cimmeria soundtrack again.

    Cons (why I should save my money):
    1. It's very Low quality content
    2. It's a grind.
    3. Principle for paying $30 bucks for a once every 20 hour slog through areas you can already slog through.
    4. You RP as Vanir and won't have a great story explaining why you just mowed down your peeps.
    5. Mounts can't jump. And look pretty bad.

    Things to improve: if Funcom wants to retain its player base, they should make some tweaks to this scenario and use it as learnings for future ones.

    Some things I would suggest:
    1. Fix the glitches and bad environments. You're selling content, it almost needs to exceed the quality that people already have.
    2. Reduce the grind. There's been some suggestions for faction grind, including having the Vanir count as faction mobs.
    3. Have a third difficulty level. Between 80 and 85. Maybe 83 level mobs (with a scaled reward) would be a nice middle ground for fun for the players who are likely to play this over and over again.
    4. Add new music with these scenarios. Even a single track would be a nice addition. These songs could be sold in iTunes and the like generating more profit.
    5. Reduce the price to $5-$10 with maybe another $5-7 for the collectors edition. People who've already paid should have FC points returned to them (you'd still get to keep their money!). $30 should get a decent expansion like Turan, not a single quest line that only takes an hour because of the 300 mobs between you and victory.

    I'm an Age of Conan fan and apologist but the way this was handled has really damaged FC's credibility with me as a customer. But as I'm now the proud owner of this content, I'll give it a couple rounds and see how it goes.
    Kalur - 80 Bear Shaman, Brunstol - 80 Dark Templar, Tallas - 80 Assassin, Gilben - 80 Conquerer, Pangert - 80 Barbarian, Xoltal - 80 Necromancer, Matzui - 80 Herald of Xolti, and a bunch of lower level alts.
    Wiccana -> Set -> Crom

  2. #2


    Hm, a separate thread for more "serious" feedback might be a good idea. I'll repost my review here:

    Having done some runs with the new content they sold us... time for a review (without aspiring for it to give a complete list of good or bad points).

    The good:
    - Solo/small group content. That department hasn't got a lot of love in the last few years. Fills a blank spot between solo HM dungeons and 6-person-HM-dungeons.
    - Cimmeria. Ymrish, Vanir, Mammoth riders are, imho, the finer examples of AoC design.
    - Outdoor content (most of it). Not as dark as e. g. Isle of Iron Statues.
    - Something new to spent HM tokens on.
    - Reward "idols" can be sold for gold. Nice thought to make the content useful for those who are not interested in faction gain.
    - The dungeon and its encounters rely more on character control than on scripts or running really really fast. Bosses can be cc'd. Bosses use abilities similar to characters. No time runs.

    I'm pretty amazed by the addition in one respect: The thing they aimed at is almost custom tailored to what I like. I, personally, have suggested to a.) introduce Atzel's Fortress as solo content, b.) create content for small groups with difficulty scaling according to the group size, c.) something new to spend HM tokens on. So, in a way, it is exactly what I, as a person, asked for. And despite that I'm almost horrified of what they did to it - because of the horrible job somebody did there. Sorry, dear creator of this content, if you read that, to say that about what you did there, but frankly, it's just not a good product.

    The bad:
    - Extremely tedious. Kill mobs. Kill mobs. Kill mobs. Yay, kill more mobs. A quest to kill 125 Vanir. 125. 1-2-5. Do you seriously expect us to do that? And not once, but repeatedly!?
    - Time & frustration vs. reward ratio seems to be off. I took about 120 min for a run, lowered to about 80 min when skipping some of the more tedious quests. The amount of time needed will probably decrease somewhat with increasing experience. But still, the distance the character needs to travel hints at it taking quite some time even with avoiding al unnecessary fights and not doing any side quests. I'd say a relastic time scale for many players will be about 45 min. 6 HM tokens are nice and all, but Isle gives 4-6 HM tokens in 10 to 15 minutes, and those are a lot more fun. Killing mobs for 45 min, interrupted only by running a mile back to the quest giver, is not really what will appeal to many players.
    - Time required per run is too high in absolute terms. At least I run HM solo dungeons when I want to have some quick action, not when I want to spent half an evening. The Atzel part by itself would be more of the bite size fitting to what I'd call casual / quick action.
    - Getting faction rank 4 seems to take a lot of runs. Got 20k to 35k faction on my second run, weirdly varying a lot from character to character. Doing, best case, 25-30 runs of that length just for a ring is just not okay.
    - Ymrish mobs (including bosses) have a bugged and extremely annoying knockback. It knocks the player character back for a huge distance - huge enough for the mob to reset right after using its ability, each and every time. This is just stupid. Also, the knockback apparently doesn't give an immunity, which allows the mobs to completely crowd control a player character.
    - Some mobs are much more difficult despite having the same level, e. g. level 85 (non-minion) dogs to Ymrish casters. The Ymrish are more like mini bosses in toughness than to other "normal" level 85 mobs.
    - The difficulty of the final boss varies a lot from class to class. Needed about 10 tries and, frankly, cheating on my barbarian (full Kithai DPS gear, 2x Ibisblade, AA near completion), but succeeded on the first try with a much less well equipped Necromancer.
    - Several annoying bugs. HM didn't start properly with some characters, requiring to log out for 30 min and let the instance reset. Some characters didn't get quests others got, one didn't get the final reputation reward (the crown).
    - Only one copy of most quest items, requiring to run around even more in small groups. Annoying in groups - remember the Pyramid of the Ancients back when only one player could pick up quest items... fastest clicker wins the item, leading to frustration among the group.
    - Dungeon has several things somewhere between "weird design decision" and "abusable". Some of them are really, really obvious.
    - Killing mobs doesn't give faction gain. This is inconsistent with Kithai, and would have made the endless mob grinding needed to complete the dungeon less frustrating.
    - Several areas = several loading screens. Annoyingly long distances to travel.
    - Side quests appear to quite different in difficulty / time required.
    - The rewards are of very, very different usefulness for each class.
    -- HoX and BS get super-amazing rings.
    -- Soldiers get an improvement above the Kithai/AoK protection rings - 22 +hate isn't much, but okay, it's something. Annoying that soldiers cannot buy the strength DPS rings.
    -- Priest/ToS get a ring that is a direct improvement above T4. Makes one wonder about the item budget compared esp. to DPS rings.
    -- DPS rings (Magic / Dex / Str) are pretty much equal to T4, with some being a few points worse, and others a few points better. Again, one wonders why itemization for DPS classes tends to be sub-par. Okay, we know why - Cirith Gorgor, e. g., obviously tested the last content published with a Conq, and much of the game heavily hints at soldiers being some kind of favorite of the design team. It's understable, but annoying. A raid built only of rogues and soldiers doesn't really work, but the design decisions taken in the last years strongly favor those classes. This adds one more thing why recruiting a mage is a feat of wonder nowadays.

    The ugly:
    I've made a collage with some of the visual bugs and... "design decisions" I encountered. These aren't, by far, the only ones, but are meant to give an impression of the attention that was given to detail. I. e., not a lot. The sloppiness is just amazing.

    2/5. Some nice ideas, but execution is too sloppy to be acceptable for a commercial product. Content created by gaming communities (e. g. Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Shadowrun Returns, Neverwinter Nights I) is, on average, more creative and more carefully designed. Demanding money for that is, with all due respect to the developers and a company in a financially less than satisfying situation, a bold (or desperate?) move. When compared to DLCs for other commercial games, it's just sad. Demanding money at all for content that small and that poorly designed is an outrage, but demanding about 15,00 € ist just greedy.

    If that is the level of quality one can from Funcom nowadays... then please, I repeat again, allow players to create content for you. I don't know how user friendly / effective the editor / design tool used for AoC is, but heck, if content like Vanaheim is acceptable to you, the community will most likely turn out something acceptable as well.

    And if, dear Funcom management, Funcom is in such a dire situation that it needs to more or less cheat players out of their money, than just ask for money. Begging is honest at least. Sell a "Funcom supporter" ingame/forum title or whatever. But spare us the community rage you cause by publishing unpolished sh.. like this.

    To those who didn't buy it so far:

    Last edited by Khaletohep; 24th May 2015 at 21:33.
    Make Hyboria raid again!

    Khaletoheps AoC-Youtube-Channel:

    Guides zu Klassen & allen HM-Solo-Inis:

  3. #3


    And here was Slith's review:

    Quote Originally Posted by Slith View Post
    Here is my in-deepth review for those who are thinking about buying the content pack (if you want to see screenshots go to

    Sitting down to write this post I feel overwhelmed. Sadly not by positive experience I have had with the new adventure pack (can you legally call it that?), but the amount of ******** just keeps stacking up and seems like I am the man with a shovel.
    I am writing this post for 3 reasons: I want YOU, the reader to make an informed decision when buying adventure pack, I want Funcom to understand that his is unacceptable and above all I'm mad as hell and i'm not going to take it anymore.

    Before I dive deep into content itself I want to scold the company for making a catastrophe in terms of communicating with it's player base.

    Monthly development update reads:

    "Age of Conan celebrates its seventh anniversary later this month, and our team wants to make it a memorable one! We are introducing brand new Membership deals and will hold an anniversary celebration with great bonuses along with all new content"

    "This year's celebratory content is going to be epic, so don't miss out on it! This new story line will be available to characters at level 20, scaling up to level 80. Our plan is for this new content to be a good source of XP for characters that are currently leveling. The max level characters will also benefit from the range of gear which will complement existing gear from other areas of the game.

    We've got something for everyone during the anniversary! Happy Birthday Hyboria, here's to another year of thrilling adventures!"

    source: Monthly Development Update – May 2015

    As you can see NOT A WORD on how the company is going to charge both premium subscribers and F2P crowd 1575 FP for regular content pack access and 2700 FP for collectors edition.

    This was supposed to be an anniversary update! Now I might not be a senior community manager (or even a big fan of cookies), but I am a big believer in a common sense and a god damned courtesy and above all I am certain those still apply in a MMO space.

    So a reality check: read the following and ask yourselves "is this even slightly acceptable in the real life"?

    "happy anniversary baby! Now pay me 20$ if you want me to take your out for a dinner".

    Don't answer that, its rhetorical. We all know that that after that what would happen next would be something straight out of "Hell Hath No Fury Like A WOMAN SCORNED" (don't ask me how I know that reference).

    So 22 pages thread poped up and people got furious (and apparently fast too!).

    This resulted in small post from Funcom representative:

    "Naturally, we've been reading up on the feedback you've all provided us. Let me say that The Shadow of Vanaheim content pack was in no way intended to infuriate our player base. We want you to enjoy playing Age of Conan, to have fun!

    Our intention was to release new store items that would be obtained in a more engaging way: through new content. Instead of purchasing a new item and it then be delivered to you without any real fanfare, you'd go out and experience a new adventure tied to it while still adding to your growing collection of vanity armors or mounts. I admit that the timing of the Anniversary might have reinforced assumptions, but that was not our intention. We'd like to move forward with releases such as these, providing newer, more inventive ways of customizing your experience. We felt that debuting the first of these during Age of Conan's anniversary was a way to celebrate the game's longevity.

    Your frustration is not lost on us though, and we sincerely apologize for any confusion or disappointment this release has caused. Please continue to provide feedback regarding Age of Conan, we are listening and will review each concern brought to us. Just visit to share your feedback.

    Thanks for your understanding, folks".

    Source: The Shadow of Vanaheim

    This kind of miscommunication is something that Kickstarter based small indie game developer might commit, but its not to be expected from company that boast it's MMO presence dating back to 2001. You sirs learned nothing!

    And this is just history repeating itself as some of you might remember the first anniversary and the following reads just like recent post:

    "The announcement of this happening might have lead many players to expect a bit more than it actually was intended to deliver. The main idea was to provide a place where players can gather to celebrate and maybe use their firework items in bigger masses and get great screenshots for the competition described in the last newsletter than it is usually possible.

    So the 'festivities' in front of Conan's castle are there to give players a point where they can meet, buy food and drink and celebrate.

    We apologize if some expected more and are now disappointed. "

    You might have just as well copy/paste that message and just do some basic editing. Here I will do it for you:

    "The announcement of this happening might have lead many players to expect a bit more than it actually was intended to deliver. The main idea was to provide adventure pack that players can buy a to celebrate.

    So the 'anniversary event' is there to give players a content that they can buy and celebrate.

    We apologize if some expected more and are now disappointed. "

    But enough of that, that is NOT the main issue (its just a lack of professional integrity on Funcom's part), lets go over why the adventure pack is just not worth buying:

    Business model
    The last time Funcom wanted us to pay for a new content was Savage Coast of Turan update. I wasn't happy about paying for it, but it was a quality content and it was substantial. The content pack had new visuals and assets (armors, music, textures etc.), good story, dungeon, 2 solo dungeons, proper zone and new raid (but I can't really comment on it). And to think that I felt ripped off by THAT. I would pay for it again if it meant holding Funcom to those standards. You want to know how big is the new adventure pack? It is smaller than Dead Mans Hand. That is right: content that costs almost half the amount the Turan (for collectors edition) is shorter than it's ONE solo dungeon and contains no new assets.

    What are you charging me for then? I am a subscriber, you get my money every month.
    In all honesty the quality of the content pack (or lack of it) doesn't justify even selling the pack to the F2P player base. Its a money grab. Selling someone a product that it is worth its money is a transaction, this is just making a sale with a few vague information about the product and then grabbing customers money and running away hoping that before he learns what a horror he bought you will be far enough and still have his money.

    Zones and assets
    The new adventure pack is pretty much old zones (Conall Valley, Atzel's Approach and Fortress) mashed together with some mobs sprinkled all over it. Every were you look you will recognize the already existing assets with maybe a small tweaks (which are few). The whole experience of moving between the zones feels like "adventure on rails" because you either can't go anywhere where the devs don't want you (Conalls Valley) or the zone is so small that there's just no were else to go but to stick to the main path. Its just same old same old.

    The main story is very short and it can be prolonged only by endless killing of pretty tough mobs that stand in your way of just burning through the quest. Oh you are a rogue class? Then you can stealth your way around and beat the whole thing in 30 minutes or so. The main quest is pretty much "kill this, kill that" and the side quests are the usuall "pick up axes and shields" or "pick up horse **** and throw into well" (I am not kidding). No new mechanics, no need for clever tactics or thinking in general.Re-runing the content was tedious and boring. Its nothing like Apostate in Kara Korum or Isle of Iron Statues in Ardashir: those are gems and I never got stick of them even after all those years.

    For some time I have complained about the quality of writing and this is all time low. I don't think I will spoil a lot (because there is not much story in general) if I will tell you that the whole story is about the mighty Thegn Heimdall being upset because Conan killed his dad. Boom! The ol' "revenge for killing a parent" cliche! And this is the whole story: kill everyone, get to Heimdall and kill him too. Even more disheartening are the dialogues: for a while now dialogues are written in a way that show our character is both aware that he is an invincible half-god walking the Hyboria and also a psychotic murder machine. Pretty much every dialogue ends with something like "Ok, I will **** them up", "they are as good as dead", "I am on it to kill the people you told me to". Its cocky and disturbing. Also whoever wrote this tried to drop as many "big words" as they could into dialogue.
    An Aesir warrior that does nothing but killing says "to reciprocate" *face palm*.

    I will let the screenshots do the talking. I could have provided more (like NPC stuck in the geometry), but this should give you the taste of how well the content pack is put together.

    Last and not least here are the rewards

    The bear mount, highlight of this adventure pack, is very low quality. Pretty much a mob that someone slapped a saddle on and told it "you are a mount now".

    There are 3 NPC that sell stuff: one is for social items (cloaks, helms etc.), one has bear mounts and one has some items (those are class specific).

    The content is repeatable and on 20 h cooldown. For just finishing the main story you will get 2 tokens and finishing the HM (which is not easy) will grant you 5.

    The proverbial "carrot" in this content is a very powerful ring and HM tokens which might interest players that don't have T4 accessories on their characters or still need more tokens.
    I and I think a lot veterans need neither the ring nor the HM tokens (which we have nothing to spend on anyway).

    So to sum it up:

    If this adventure pack came as a "free" update to the subscribers I would deem it "OK-ish". There is nothing great about it, it has a lot of flaws, but at least its there. Its like eating in a fast food joint: yeah its bad, but at least its fast and after all its still is kinda-food.

    Paying for this ON TOP of hefty subscription price? OH HELL NO.
    Make Hyboria raid again!

    Khaletoheps AoC-Youtube-Channel:

    Guides zu Klassen & allen HM-Solo-Inis:

  4. #4


    After posting mine I saw your review. Great post. Good idea to try and put the reviews together.

    I think we're in the same boat for liking the concept, being excited for something new, and a little underwhelmed in the execution.
    Kalur - 80 Bear Shaman, Brunstol - 80 Dark Templar, Tallas - 80 Assassin, Gilben - 80 Conquerer, Pangert - 80 Barbarian, Xoltal - 80 Necromancer, Matzui - 80 Herald of Xolti, and a bunch of lower level alts.
    Wiccana -> Set -> Crom

  5. #5


    I actually had to laugh when I read your review - it seems we spend time on the same thing at the same time with the same results.
    Make Hyboria raid again!

    Khaletoheps AoC-Youtube-Channel:

    Guides zu Klassen & allen HM-Solo-Inis:

  6. #6


    Lol. Great minds and all...
    Kalur - 80 Bear Shaman, Brunstol - 80 Dark Templar, Tallas - 80 Assassin, Gilben - 80 Conquerer, Pangert - 80 Barbarian, Xoltal - 80 Necromancer, Matzui - 80 Herald of Xolti, and a bunch of lower level alts.
    Wiccana -> Set -> Crom

  7. #7


    They should just give people the 1600 fc points back and a personalized apology letter in everyone's claims.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by gcustoms View Post
    They should just give people the 1600 fc points back and a personalized apology letter in everyone's claims.
    I'm thinking an NPC in each hub, like the guild crier, apologizing in game would be nice.

    Maybe that will happen after that I receive that used tin foil I ordered from someone on the forums.
    Kalur - 80 Bear Shaman, Brunstol - 80 Dark Templar, Tallas - 80 Assassin, Gilben - 80 Conquerer, Pangert - 80 Barbarian, Xoltal - 80 Necromancer, Matzui - 80 Herald of Xolti, and a bunch of lower level alts.
    Wiccana -> Set -> Crom

  9. #9


    People are still buying it up ...

    FUNCOM wins. Again.


  10. #10


    Stunts like this may earn some money in the short run, similar to robbing somebody at an ATM machine. In the long run, however, it'll cost them dearly. Pissing of the few people that still actually do something for the game, such as Slith with his blog, is horrible for marketing. And showing to the customer base that a company apparently lost its will or ability to turn out good products is bad enough for a retail company, but devastating to a subscription based service. Combine that with the "cursed"-amulet-affair, and you've got yourself a problem.
    Make Hyboria raid again!

    Khaletoheps AoC-Youtube-Channel:

    Guides zu Klassen & allen HM-Solo-Inis:

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