Following up on the comments thread from the last post, I just discovered that Age of Conan is going free-to-play this summer, so it might be worth having a look. It IS a fun game, though maybe I’ve overstated things saying it was better than WoW half a year after their respective launches.
It sounds as though the free-to-play option will allow you to experience much of the game up to level 80, which is really the best stuff anyway. After you reach the level cap, it kind of sucks, because the PvE becomes incredibly tedious, and the PvP is really just dominated by overgeared players.
Additionally, I’ve read that certain avenues of advancement that provide a clear advantage won’t be open to you in the end game. Even the game director, himself (whom I blame for the mind-numbing gear grind that got built into the game after he took over), basically says you’ll be shit out of luck if you expect to be competitive without throwing them some money eventually (source). Then again, if you’re not a hardcore player, you’ll always be disadvantaged, anyway.
But like I said, at least you can experience the game up to the level cap without too much of a disadvantage, and it can be a lot of fun–especially if going free-to-play brings an influx of other players. Hell, I’m considering rolling a new character, myself, when that happens–at least until Star Wars: The Old Republic launches.
One more thing: I think you’ll be limited to four of the 12 class offerings if you use free-to-play, and I only like one of the four. So that kind of sucks.
Edit: Another sucky thing is that some of the best dungeons in game are restricted to premium subscribers, which is pretty dumb. The more I look over this list, the more I realize they are kind of screwing you over in small ways if you use the free-to-play option.
You may never miss these things, I suppose, if you’ve never seen them, but frankly, some of the dungeons they’ve restricted were kind of instrumental in reducing leveling grind along the way, so it’s really kind of dumb not to offer them. Dungeons like the Sanctum of Burning Souls and the Pyramid of the Ancients are pretty much what you do in the late 30s if you don’t want to just go around killing random enemies.
Similarly, it’s almost insane that they’ve taken away the repeatable villa quests, which–while kind of boring–are still better than open world grinding, and many players use them to fill in the gaps between content. It’s almost a necessity to have them.
I don’t know…like a lot of decisions that Funcom make, I can see a million ways they’re doing it wrong.