I spent about an hour and a half in Hyboria last night and managed to "ding" 32 before my time was done. I was hoping for closer to 33, but I ran into a bit of a snag, one that was more self-induced than anything else.
I was trying to do a quest called "The Wounded Child" in the Wild Lands of Zelata, which involves finding and talking to a wounded blind child somewhere in the vicinity of a lot of level 32+ big ol' bears and quite a few leper bandits around the mid 30s. The problem is, she was no where to be found. After waiting for her to spawn for a while, I finally asked my guildmates and in the OOC channel if the quest was broken. And of course... it was.
I was ready to head back to more civilized areas of the game, somewhere safe to sell my items and check the Trader, when I realized just how close to 32 I was at the time. Then it dawned on me... if there really is a hefty gap in the leveling process in terms of quests it'd be a wise choice to see just how unbearable pure mob grinding is in Age of Conan.
The key to grinding in Hyboria is to make sure you're always taking on mobs your level or higher. Pretty much anything below your current level won't be worth the time. But I was around level 32+ bears and mid 30s bandits, I was golden. It turns out when you're taking on 2-3 mobs at a time that are above your level by 1-3 levels (thanks to my healing abilities), the XP comes in pretty quick order. In fact, counting the time it takes to travel for all the questing, I'd say my leveling speed was about on par with the amount of time it was taking me via mostly quests.
Yes indeed, it seems grinding is a pretty effective way to level with the Tempest of Set thanks to the ability to heal myself and take on multiple mobs adequately with my AOE spells. I imagine it would be a little rougher with a class that can't heal. But seeing as that's not me at the moment... I don't really care.
This little experiment basically said to me that I could handle "grinding" if I end up having to do so for a bit before the content Mr. Godager referenced in his recent letter gets put into the live client. I don't imagine I'll enjoy it as much as questing, but that's just my play preference. The key is that grinding in Conan is a viable way to level, unlike LotRO where experience gain was so slow when just killing mobs.
Do I want to have to grind? Not at all. But at least now I know I can tolerate it in Age of Conan. If I get to the point where I have to do it to level I still might find myself subscribing to a second game while I wait on the added quests Funcom's working on, something to scratch that need to quest in an MMOG... but at least I won't get sick to my stomach at the sudden wall I find myself facing when I run out of quests.
Yep, thanks to the brisque nature of combat in Hyboria grinding's not so bad. It's not great... but I'm fairly certain it won't send me screaming from the game if it comes down to it. Good to know, I guess. I just hope Funcom outpaces me and gets that filler content into the game sooner rather than later.