Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Alternate Characters for Age of Conan - The Bear Shaman

So yesterday, I reported that I'm fairly certain I'll be playing the Herald of Xotli on the 17th when Age of Conan's doors open to the pre-ordering public. But I've spent significant time in the beta with 3 other classes... and I'm also pretty sure that I'll be adding one of each to my stable of characters on launch day, plus another I haven't even tried yet. Here's my brief thoughts on what will be one of my alts in Age of Conan.

The Bear Shaman

This was the first class I played during my stint in beta. Our goal at TTH was to have at least levels 1-20 for all 12 classes documented by the time the press embargo lifted. This was the first one I played back in February, so my apologies if some of this info is outdated, though I'm pretty sure it's not.

Anyway, the first thing that struck me about the Bear Shaman was, "Boy, is he weak or what?" and that was with nothing to go off of as I hadn't played other classes yet. But despite this early weaksauce experience, the further I played with the class the more I found I liked him. Like the Herald of Xotli, the Bear Shaman is a casting class that doesn't hang back and heal and buff... he's right up in the thick of things whacking mobs with a two-handed mace and debuffing them with auras all the while keeping his mates alive with HoTs and burst heals.

The only real issue I had with the Bear Shaman is actually a quirk of all healing classes in the early levels. That is to say that their heals and the necessity of having them in groups is not readily apparent in the early stages of the game. I mean, they're helpful as potion substitutes (you can get healing potions easily in AoC that do a decent job of keeping you alive while solo-ing if you're a non-healing class) but really there's no need to have one in your group EARLY ON. It's not until the mid-teens or even level 20 that you can start to see where the Bear Shaman and his other healing compatriots will come in handy.

As you go further down the feat trees (think WoW's talents), the abilities of each class become much more specialized and magnified, and this is especially true for the Bear Shaman. Throw in high survivability due to buffs, and you basically have a long-lasting priest that can even hold his own in combat. I didn't get to play him in PvP, but for PvE he's definitely the type of healer I can see myself playing. Not at all unlike a Paladin or Shaman from WoW with more healing oomph.

I'll be using this guy a lot, even for an alternate I think.

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