age of conan + gamepad = the big experiment

I wanted another MMO to play where I can just hack and slash shit, with good graphics and combat, and forgiving enough to not need to play constantly (Darkfall, and to a lesser extent EVE). I have tried AoC in the past, but it never really clicked with me…seemed rather hotbar-ish in the combat.

Two things changed my mind, along with the game’s current level of polish: An article on gamepad support, and finding out that my melee attacks are more based on my direction of attack than “highlighting” some guy for attacking.

The second point is very important, as you attack in a sort of “combat arc” in front of your character, which is a little different based on the directional swing you choose, and will hit anyone in that arc regardless of targeting. Targeting someone lets you see their shield indicators however, so it is still very useful.

So, I went about setting up my gamepad with the following setup:


Xpadder is great software, and if you want to do this with any game that’s not natively gamepad-supported, use it. I have my setup here similar to the one outlined in this layout, and it works well for me so far. I can circle strafe, but circling/attacking simultaneously is somewhat challenging. Combos are very intuitive, very console-like, and my muscle memory is so attuned to attack patterns on this now that I actually dislike the mouse and keyboard, at least for now.

I find that I can use the mouse via analog stick decently well, well enough to loot with the gamepad instead of the actual mouse, and do quick inventory management. Of course, the mouse is much quicker to do these tasks, so I do alternate at times, or when doing non-combat related tasks such as buying/selling.

I do, however, turn Autotargeting on with the gamepad, which helps, and click-ground-to-untarget is still turned on which lets me quickly bump a mouse button if i’m not targeting correctly. I have tested the setup with autofacing the target, and while it can help in some situations, it is more often a bit bothersome as you tend to get hit by archers first. It targets the archer, and then you start getting pounded by his melee friend not a second later, having to quickly un-target so it will lock on the melee. If they kite, its even worse because it can move your combat arc away from the melee very quickly.

I leave autofacing off, as I like to just run up to things and attack, Dynasty Warriors style, with targeting as an afterthought. The excellent combat system in this game means that hack-and-slash style gameplay as you would see in an action game like Dynasty Warriors actually works, and you don’t have to have a target selected to damage them. This definitely makes gamepad play fun.

I have attempted some PvP with this setup, and it seems to be ok so far. Granted, I’m still a noob, so I will most likely need to transition back to keyboard+mouse based on the difficulty, but I wasn’t doing bad, I was able to navigate very well with the gamepad. I can see issues with circling and chasing kiters, but I’ll keep playing to see if I like gamepadding it or go for full keyboard/mouse.

Newegg is (or was) currently selling AoC for $5, so I bought a copy, and will continue to play hopefully to max level. But, like I say, I have yet to hit max level in anything, so hopefully this will stick. It seems like AoC and FE are the best choices for me right now, actually, and I probably would not have enjoyed it as much without a gamepad…it really brings that hack and slash feel home.



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