Conan - Jason Momoa
Age of Conan faithful, enjoy yourselves. There's simply never been a better time to be a fan of the great barbarian and Funcom's blood-drenched MMORPG based on his Hyborian stomping grounds. The year has already seen the fantasy title adopt a free-to-play business model and push out a ton of new content, and that's really the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

With the new Conan film reboot arriving in theaters this month, Funcom is gearing up to launch a huge amount of tie-in content. Dubbed The Savage Coast of Turan, the upcoming adventure pack adds a large outdoor playfield and over 50 new quests to the gameworld, not to mention two solo instances, a team instance, a new raid, and plenty of new gear.

Join us after the cut as we present Funcom's internally produced look at the inspiration behind all the new content, and stay tuned to Massively this weekend for some exclusive Savage Coast news as well as an Anvil of Crom interview with game director Craig Morrison.

The Savage Coast of Turan: Inspirations

The Savage Coast of Turan is a new adventure pack for Age of Conan that will find players exploring the city of Ardashir and its surroundings as they embark on an epic adventure full of political intrigue, backstabbing, ancient evils, scheming priests, pirates, generals and other disreputable types that call the Turanian coasts of the Vilayet sea their home.

So what goes into creating an adventure pack like this? What are the inspirations, and what does the development team look at when it's creating another of the regions of Hyboria?

Adventure packs

So why go for a smaller adventure pack format rather than a larger expansion? "It was mainly driven by the fact that we would like to create smaller updates more often," producer Per Storløkken explains. "A full expansion on the scale of Rise of the Godslayer can take over a year to create and often means you don't get to focus on live content as much. Taking this approach has a few advantages. Firstly, players get more content more often, and I think everyone appreciates that. Secondly, in the longer term, it will allow us to visit more corners of Hyboria.

Age of Conan - Turan"One of the strengths of the license is that it is a very diverse world, and I would rather we get to visit a wider variety of location in the future, rather than having a larger set of content in just one area. I love what we managed to achieve with Khitai; it did feel like a coherent land, but as Howard's original stories are very episodic, we wanted to move toward that kind of an approach, so over time, we get to visit more of those locations."

Movie tie-in

The pack is also heavily influenced by the upcoming Conan the Barbarian motion picture from Lionsgate and Paradox, starring Jason Momoa as the great barbarian. The new adventure pack allows us to revisit characters from the movie and catch up with them some 20 years on. Players will fight alongside Artus as he fights to keep his brotherhood together, and they'll help the master Thief Ela-Shan establish a new thieves guild in the majestic city of Ardashir.

Funcom will also be introducing a series of great new social armors inspired directly from the art design of the new movie. This takes advantage of the great new vanity armor feature that was launched with the new Age of Conan: Unchained version. This allows players to tailor their visual appearance regardless of the armor they wish to wear to improve their statistics and build.

Inspirations

Game director Craig Morrison explains a little more about the inspirations that have gone into working on The Savage Coast of Turan. "The new content also allows us to explore and take inspiration from some of Robert E. Howard's original Conan tales. Players will get to visit the dangerous Island of Iron Statues from Iron Shadows on the Moon, and another ancient foe will make an appearance when the players uncover one of the pack's main mysteries.

"After the loose lore-based links in Rise of the Godslayer -- which was much more loosely based around the short encounter Conan had with Yag Kosha in the Tower of the Elephant -- the Savage Coast of Turan allows us to take a little more of a literal approach in translating the original Howard tales, in particular Iron Shadows of the Moon. Fans of the original Conan stories will find themselves right in the middle of a familiar tale when they venture to the island," Morrison says.

Players may even be unfortunate enough to come face to face with a similar type of foe that once very nearly killed Conan himself many moons ago.

Age of Conan - Turan armorStoryline

Now the king of Aquilonia, Conan cannot always involve himself in the plots that unravel in rival nations, even if those who once fought at his side are involved. However, that doesn't stop him from sending his loyal subjects to aid an old friend! Players will find themselves dispatched to the city of Ardashir to meet up with Conan's old ally and loyal friend Artus, who is now head of a pirate brotherhood and may have a power struggle on his hands. Exploring this new area will open up a whole new set of exciting quest lines that will see the player uncover an evil conspiracy and reveal an ancient evil.

In Funcom's tradition of mature and compelling storytelling, players will find themselves plunged into dark political plots, power games, and the machinations of would-be dictators, kings and warlords. In a city where the thieves and pirates may be the most reliable allies you have, you have to watch your back and keep your blade close!

Conan himself rarely had any tolerance for the corruption and evil that was inherent in the so-called 'civilizations' of Hyboria, and Ardahsir is almost a microcosm of everything our favorite barbarian despised about the world around him.

"It is something that we take seriously," Morrison says. "It is really one of the key elements to understanding the concept behind much of Robert E. Howard's writing. Conan was in many ways a very genuine character. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is brutally honest. He had little time for those who would scheme and plot and exploit others; his hatred of these elements of society drives a lot of the conflict in the original stories and really dictates whom Conan chooses to ally himself with. In many ways, while he is clearly an anti-hero, it is also the aspect of his character that still appeals to this day. He cuts through the crap, disregards politics, and acts as his heart dictates. That is something that is very powerful and is a very interesting way for us to explore the world of Hyboria."

Content

The adventure pack features a massive new outdoor playfield that encompasses the city of Ardashir and the surrounding coastline and contains two new solo instances, a new team instance, and new raid encounters. Funcom really wanted to address the old "something for everyone" challenge by providing one strong example of each playstyle preference for content. Thus the team tried to create these substantial additions for each category.

The area around the city of Ardashir is massive and forms the main outdoor area for content in the adventure pack. Level-wise, it is aimed at players in the level 50 range. Funcom already offers existing players a free level 50 second character already, and this will be available again so that veterans can dive right into the story content as well. This was an area that the team really wanted to add to content to, and the Savage Coast pack will supplement the existing progression areas nicely, adding another choice for players that improves the variety of content available. Offering over 50 quests, this area will provide many hours of great content and hopefully become a favorite destination for those progressing through their dangerous careers in the brutal lands of Hyboria.

There will be a dynamic solo instance in the shape of Dead Man's Hand -- it adjusts to the level of the players, so anyone level 50-80 can enjoy it. There's also a level 80 team instance that sees players taking on the might of the Turanian military in Fort Ardashir, a level 80 solo instance in the aforementioned Isle of Iron Statues, and lastly a brand-new raid area with three different boss encounters behind the impressive visage of the Temple of Erlik.

This article was originally published on Massively.