Totem of Splurgin’

The new MMORPG “Age of Conan” was just released a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been playing it heavily in my quest to find my ultimate dream MMO. While this clearly isn’t that game it is pretty cool and I like the Conan mythos quite a lot anyway so for now it is pretty entertaining. More on the broader subject of AoC in future posts I’m sure.

One interesting thing about Age of Conan is that there are several exclusive items that can only be acquired by dropping down some extra cash. It isn’t as crazy as some of these newer Asian MMOs where in game items can be bought left and right with real money but it isn’t necessarily too far gone either. There are a couple of items that come with the Collector’s Edition of the game, there were a couple preorder items, and then there is this one: “The Totem of Origins” which comes with the latest issue of PC Gamer magazine.

What? People still read these things?
“What? People still read these things?”

Well, I’ve got to admit that I’ve got mixed feelings about the whole “pay for advancement/items” thing and really the whole issue of “microtransactions” in gaming period. Despite being somewhat against them in general I’m hypocritical as can be – I’m a total whore for these kinds of things. If I’m really into a game throwing out a few bucks here and a few bucks there for a rare item or ability doesn’t seem unreasonable at all to me and God knows I’m “really into” most of the MMOs I play even if only for a very short time. I guess as I’ve gotten older and my time is more at a premium I’d rather drop the cash than to spend countless hours grinding away most of the time. Combining my limited time and anti-grinding mentality with my love of collecting, and my obsession with MMO games is a recipe for fucking critical levels of impulse buying.

Anywho, I broke down and spent way too much time (and probably gas) trying to track down this latest issue of PC Gamer and finally found it last weekend. I entered my code and claimed my Totem of Origins yesterday and tried it out for the first time this morning. Pretty sweet item!

Here’s the lowdown: In AoC you have one “teleport” or “recall” type ability that, as exactly like World of Warcraft, lets you teleport to a single “bound” location (of which there is a limited, static selection across the world) once an hour. It is a pretty limited ability but it does save you a bit of time traveling on occasion and god knows you’ll be doing a lot of traveling all over the place while questing in AoC which is even more tedious than in most other newer MMORPGs due to all of the zone and instance loading screens you’ll encounter.

Skinny lewtz!
“Skinny lewtz!”

The Totem of Origins is essentially an item that casts that same ability, permanently bound to your faction’s capital city, useable once every 24 hours. This means you’ll almost never have to worry about binding to that particular city and, being on a different timer, it allows you to potentially use the two different abilities to travel between 2 places very quickly if needed. Pretty cool, especially since the 3 capital cities are regional hubs in the game and you will be traveling to/through them often. The item’s cooldown isn’t a huge bummer for me because with the hour cooldown on the other ability I typically only recall once or twice per session of which I usually only have one a day. If anything I’d actually say the biggest disadvantage of the item is having to keep it on you when inventory space is such a limited commodity in this game.

Waiting for the Happy Ending...
“Waiting for the “happy ending”…”

Is it useful? I think it might be, sure. Is it game breakingly powerful or otherwise unbalancing? Nah, definitely not. Is it worth the 6 or 7 bucks at the newsstand? That is the tricky one. On one hand, virtual item buying ethics aside, you’re paying god knows how much equivalent in game cash (the game hasn’t been out enough for those exchange rates to stabilize) for one item of limited use. On the other this is supposedly going to be a limited, fairly rare item. Once everyone who wants one snatches up these magazines the people who passed it up or came to the game later have no chance in getting it and that is what really seals the deal for me. Items are usually another way of customizing your character and having an attachment to your in-game avatar is very hard to put a price on indeed.

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