We expected one other factor to be holding us back. After the beta test proved to be an unstable, resource-hungry, slow and jerky mess that required constant patching and server downtime, we feared the worst for the bloodthirsty upstart. Age of Conan would simply not be ready to be thrust upon hundreds of thousands of demanding gamers this week, we thought. We were wrong.
In actual fact, the Norwegian developer and game operator has pulled off one of the smoothest MMO launches in history. We've been playing the retail version of the game since last weekend, and it has been largely bug-free and effortlessly playable, running reliably and at a fair lick of speed. The transition from limited early access to full-blown launch in the US earlier this week went well, and there's no reason not to expect the same in Europe today.
Only persistent problems with players getting stuck in one mid-level zone, Lacheish Plains, have blotted its copybook. It's still hardly accessible - you'll need an ocean of hard-drive space, the latest drivers and Windows updates, some patience with patch downloads, and preferably a ton of RAM and a beefy graphics card, if you want to play Age of Conan. Once you're in, though, you'll get what you paid for. In purely technical terms, we've no hesitation in recommending you play it from day one.
That, of course, is only one of many sides to this story.