Hey kids, it's time for another Massively Age of Conan
exclusive! A couple of weeks back we took a look at Dead Man's Hand, a level 50-80 solo instance that's part of the new Savage Coast of Turan
adventure pack. As you know if you've been reading Massively today, Funcom
is getting ready to launch the Savage Coast content on September 8th (or August 31st if you purchase an early access pass).
What you didn't know is the details on the level 80 solo instance that rounds out the content drop, and this extra edition of the Anvil of Crom
will give you an inside look at the Isle of the Iron Statues instance from Funcom's perspective. Join me after the cut as we see how the devs drew inspiration from an original Robert E. Howard yarn and married it to some engaging modern-day MMORPG gameplay.
The Savage Coast of Turan adventure pack is intended to offer the proverbial "something for everyone'" in terms of its additional content. The pack adds a huge outdoor area where players can find over 50 quests and explore a great new story based around the city of Ardashir. The pack also adds a wealth of new instanced content. Players will find a new level 80 solo instance, a new dynamic instance that scales to your level, a new level 80 team instance, and a new raid instance with three brand-new encounters.
Today we'll take a look at the maximum level solo instance.
The Isle of the Iron Statues
The Isle of the Iron Statues is a location taken directly from one of Robert E. Howard's original Conan tales (Shadows in the Moonlight). It presented another fantastic opportunity to try to translate one of the stories into a single player experience that really allows us to immerse the player into Howard's world -- and in this case allows players to follow in the footsteps of the great barbarian himself.
The original tale concerns Conan escaping to a remote island in the Vilayet Sea, where he encounters the Red Brotherhood, a skulking creature, and mysterious iron statues. Given that we already new that we were going to be featuring Turan in this adventure pack, the ability to use the locations in the Vilayet sea presented a perfect opportunity to explore that story.
Over 20 years have passed since Conan first faced the dangers found on this island, so all is not as it was in his younger days. The isle has long since been abandoned by any pirate forces, no doubt due to the dangers lurking in the night. The island shows only glimpses of what was once there and has largely been overrun by the jungle and its wildlife. The ancient evils have not been banished, though, and will challenge the player just as they did Conan himself.
A change of pace
If the other island playfield, Dead Man's Hand
, is a more open experience, the experience we have designed for the Isle of the Iron Statues is much tighter and paced as an adventure for the player. The gameplay has three distinct phases as the player first arrives in the jungle and realizes that he should find a way out of the dangerous territory. This is, in effect, a race of sorts, with the player striving to get through the dangerous edges of the jungle and reach the ruins further in as he is being stalked by a powerful foe that he would be wise to not let catch up with him.
Then the players will find themselves amongst the jade ruins of the ancient temples that Conan discovered many years before. The evil magics that live there are still strong, and the iron statues that give the island its name form the challenge for a great encounter that the player has to overcome to proceed.
Finally, the players will find their way to a clearing deep in the Island where the skulking creature that has been following your progress can finally be confronted. It was a similar creature that pushed Conan to the brink of death all those years ago, so the players will have to be at their best to survive this encounter.
There is also an additional slightly hidden encounter that explorers can seek out to round out the experience on this island.
The rewards for this instance are along the same lines as the Refuge of the Apostate
so that high-level players will feel rewarded regardless of their preferences for solo play. Players will also be able to fit both areas into their schedules should they wish to.
The island itself
The player arrives at this instance at night, so the only light is the brightness of the moon, which makes for some fantastically atmospheric locations. The jungle is dense and winding and will tempt players to look for shortcuts as they seek to escape that section of the jungle. Players should definitely be mindful of their path as they progress.
Slowly but surely you will start to see the signs of an ancient civilization that once called the island home, until you come to the ruins of what were once majestic jade temples of some description. Now that it's overrun by the jungle and the forces of nature, this area has a suitably spooky atmosphere... and where there is a spooky atmosphere, you know that the undead cannot be far behind!
The team has worked very hard to try to provide an experience that honors the original story, while making sure that the gameplay is interesting and enjoyable. We hope you enjoy playing through it as much as we enjoyed making it!
Jef Reahard is an Age of Conan beta and launch day veteran as well as the creator of Massively's weekly Anvil of Crom. Feel free to suggest a column topic, propose a guide, or perform a verbal fatality via firstname.lastname@example.org.