Age of Conan beta guide: The mages


We've given you some hands-on impressions from our time with Age of Conan's mages from the Gamespot PvP weekend, but over the past few days we've had a chance to play these classes in the beta proper. Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen (and very trying) performance issues that were out of our control, our finely crafted plans of digging deep into these classes were viciously assassinated like a Necromancer in Age of Conan's PvP.

That didn't stop us from prying further information on the Herald of Xotli, Demonologist and Necromancer classes. So if you'd like the expanded low-down on these magic-manipulating mages, read on!

Herald of Xotli

The more you play a Herald of Xotli the more you realize how much in common the class has with fighters instead of magic casters. While this may be a Mage Archetype, the HoX is definitely more of a fighter than any other magic-based class with exception to the Bear Shaman.

So you might be wondering what the big difference is between the HoX and any of the martial combat classes offered. It comes from being able to unleash your combos alongside spells, as they tend to work off of each other in a specific way. For instance, the Molten Steel Slash combo will cause your target to take more damage from fire magic, which means you'll want to unleash some nasty Hellfire Breath afterwards.

Of course, the big trump card that Herald of Xotli players have is their demonic transformations, which turn them into killing machines for several seconds. Anyone can hit a button to take on demonic form, but to become an efficient Herald of Xotli, players have to know when to activate the transformation spell. Originally, we were using the transformation during battle, this led to a couple deaths. There's a cast time associated with using Desecrating Esence, so if you need to use it in an upcoming fight then activating it beforehand is a better choice.

  • Desecrating Essence - This is your demonic transformation spell, which is attained at level 5. It has a 1.5 second casting time, a 25 second duration and a two minute cooldown. During the course of being transformed, a player gains improved health and fire damage.
  • Hellfire Breath - The Herald of Xotli starts out with this very useful ability. While combat is always an options, this fire-based cone attack is extremely effective at dispatching enemies. An instant cast, this spell lasts for 2.5 seconds and has a 2 second recharge that makes it easy to use repeatedly. The actual duration and recast of Hellfire Breath seem like they could be tweaked before launch, though.
  • Molten Steel Slash - A Two-Handed Edged upper-right side combo, this attack has high damage with the added benefit of making your target more susceptible to fire damage.
  • Hell Strikes I - A Two-Handed Edged mid combo that's simply a powerful attack, good for chaining though.
  • Slam - Your basic knockback attack that works well as a finishing move.
  • Sweep - Standard starting combo that hits the upper-right side of an enemies shields. Every melee class starts out with this combo.

Necromancer

Do you like the smell of an undead minion on a hot, musky day? If you do, then there must be something wrong with you because zombies smell terrible, especially in 109 degree heat. Besides, Necromancers are all about ice and unholy magic in Age of Conan.

The first thing to know is that Necromancer pets do not hold aggro, which bears repeating -- so we're going to repeat ourselves. Your pets are essentially animated DoT (damage over time) spells and basically useless. As if this wasn't disappointing enough, there's no way to macro pet controls to your keyboard. Funcom wants all their players to click tiny little buttons just above the left end of your hot bar. Yeah, we're pretty sure that's not going to be a problem at all in PvP.

So you might be asking: If Necromancer's aren't really much of a pet class, then what are they? Well, the truth is that the Necromancer is the most pet-orientated class out of all classes in AoC. However, that doesn't mean your primary concern isn't lots of deadly spell slinging -- because it completely is that.

Knowing how to manipulate your pets into being slightly more effective in battle will definitely help, but expect to pretty much be a straight-up nuker with semi-useless pets if you play a Necromancer in AoC.

  • Undead Minion: Mutilater - This is your first pet summon and thus your most basic, it takes three seconds to cast. These lovely and sometimes-disgusting pets are slicers and dicers who deal bleeding damage that can build up over time.
  • Frenzy - One of your undead minions grows in size and receives improved attacks. This will allow that pet to actually pull aggro for a short while, as they normally can't cause any aggro whatsoever. Pets are unable to be healed "normally" in this state, whatever that means.
  • Vile Insight - A three-second cast time spell that buffs you for one hours, giving a plus one to Unholy Specialization at rank one.
  • Flesh to Worms - An Unholy DoT spell that takes one second to cast and does 13-18 points of damage over seven seconds at rank one.
  • Pestilential Blast - An Unholy direct damage spell that takes two and a half seconds to cast. It causes 12-20 points of damage.
Demonologist

From what we've seen so far there isn't much difference between this class and the Necromancer, aside from their spell-types and pet styles. Many would argue that the Demonologist pet is largely useless, as most -- if not all -- of what the Demonologist does is simply nuking targets with lots of lightning and fire spells.

To be honest, it feels like the pet this class summons is largely cosmetic. Beyond the fact that the Demonologist is probably the best DPS (damage per second) class in the game right now, there isn't much more to the class. We have to admit that we're feeling a bit discouraged about both the Necromancer and the Demonologist as they both feel very much alike. This is a problem that we certainly hope Funcom fixes before or soon after launch.

There is a chance that Spellweaving could change up the way that the two spell-heavy mage classes play. However, as of right now Funcom hasn't added that feature into the beta. So we'll just have to wait and see how that system plays out once released.

  • Infernal Knowledge - An hour long buff that takes three seconds to cast. It will increase Fire Specialization by 0.8 during the time it remains in effect.
  • Whispers of War - This is a buff spell that increases the attack rating of the caster and their allies, lasts one hour and takes three seconds to cast.
  • Fires of Gehenna - A direct damage spell that takes 2 seconds to cast and causes 42-70 points of fire damage.
  • Hellfire Stream - A quick-casting direct damage spell that causes 18-30 points of fire damage.
  • Waves of Flame - Fire-based cone spell that must be channeled. Currently the game doesn't give exact stats for its damage.

Can't wait to get into Hyborea? Massively has your early ticket. Check out all of our Age of Conan Beta guides starting on May 1st and continuing throughout the month!

This article was originally published on Massively.