Mail Bag: Anarchy Online?

A reader named Ramon wrote in:

I was wondering if you have any opinion on Anarchy Online? I don’t see you mentioning it, but your articles are always very well balanced so it would be great to hear your opinion if you’ve played AO for any extent of time.

I recently made a free (froob) account after having had a character at launch for a month, and it looks like a totally different game today. Is it worth re-reviewing?

They’re also making a new graphics engine (DX9-capable) and that’s supposed to lure new players into AO. Wonder if it works.

I have no actual experience with Anarchy Online.  To me AO is just the default example of “how not to launch an MMO,” and “the game Funcom screwed up before Age of Conan.”  And while those are actually opinions, they are not very helpful ones.

The game itself is still live 7 years after launch, which must mean somebody is playing it and that it is making money.

Does anybody have some insight into Anarchy Online and what sort of game it is today?

I know that Van Hemlock poked his nose back into the game about 18 months back, but other than that, I do not know of any blogs or other dedicated coverage of the game.

Who is the Anarchy Online expert around here?

7 thoughts on “Mail Bag: Anarchy Online?

  1. Relmstein

    I don’t think there are many experts around for Anarchy Online. From what I understand the game’s base has fallen below 10,000 players which means that Funcom is mostly keeping it running out of charity and bragging rights for a long lasting MMO. Funcom has used some of the money from AoC to update it, but it probably won’t get much attention in the future. Still I’m sure they’ll keep the servers running as long as they can.


  2. Werit

    I will be following the release of their new graphics engine. It will be interesting to see how much of a difference it can make to an old game, in terms of luring players. I think UP tried it, but not sure.


  3. Openedge1

    The one time I was in the game, the concept felt sound. The graphics were of course ugly, and the UI was not that good…but it was years ago.

    If the AoC engine could be used to update the current mechanics, then it could be a winner.
    But, Funcom has GOT to be broke, so how can they invest in any development.



  4. sente

    Anarchy Online was my first MMO and I have been going back to Arnachy Online every now and then to play a bit. Ignoring the rocky launch, it was actually quite fun and enjoyable to play.

    Nowadays I do not stay for long when I get back. There are certainly some improvements to the UI and some mood setting in a few places are excellent even though the graphics are dated.
    I do have issues with combat animations and pace though and I think later games have spoiled me there. There can be a fair amount of time spent travelling also. But also importantly a number of areas feel a bit empty in my opinion, in particular lower levels. That may be because I compare it to the glory days, but still…

    I do plan to try it out again when they do the graphics engine update to see how big the changes will be to gameplay in practice.


  5. Kiaburra

    Wow, the AO launch. I think on opening day t wasn’t bad; I remember being impressed as it got out of beta to live. Things went well until the first major patch that just blew up the game. Servers went incredibly unstable, abilities stopped recharging, mobs were over level for zones, invisible or invulnerable, rarely all at once. Nothing worked and players protested try to crash corporate HQ with numbers.

    I think patch 12.6 lost half the subscriptions in one go. IIRC they tried to revert, but not all the changes came out. It was a major mess that killed the future of what was a nice MMO.


  6. Tobold

    I had the dubious pleasure of playing Anarchy Online on release, where it was a buggy, slow, unplayable mess. The bugs were solved, and the game became playable, but never all that good. The random quests to randomized dungeons used the same few tilesets far too often, and led to people camping the quest-giver terminals, hitting refresh until the offered reward was what they needed.

    AO had some interesting ideas on gear, with every item existing in 200 quality levels, with you wanting the one that corresponded to your skill level. But 200 weapons at 200 quality levels makes 40,000 different items, and shops had a random selection of 50 of them, changing once per hour, and forcing you to camp the weapon shop for the stuff you wanted. Also the weapons had simple linear formulas for their dps and stats, and some had been balanced for mid or high-level, which led to their low-level versions having negative dps. Funny, but annoying.

    After a few weeks I gave up, and I have no idea how much AO improved since then. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.


  7. Grrr

    Ao is my first and only mmorpg. Tried a couple of others including WoW but nah. For me Anarchy is by far the longest i spent in a game going on 3 years now. I sometimes tire of it but mostly cuz i spend to much time there… It is “intellectual” and challenging for most. Not your finger or whatever from clicking till it turns blue. Most bugs are solved and as new ones come they get solved. And to be fair, it was the first mmor and as such bound to have problems at start.. The first car, microwave or whatever was hardly perfect either. I feel Fc learned from their mistakes though and I truly hope i can enjoy the game for many many years to come. Not going to play another unless it would be a complete rip off of this one. I <3 Ao


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