July 24, 2009
This past beta weekend has let us take a glimpse at the gameplay in this upcoming MMO up to level 25, finally giving us a bit of a taste for the PvP elements of the game as well.
With the fourth closed beta event behind us, we now have two more to look forward to; the July 31st weekend will be opening up levels 26 to 30, and a yet to be determined focus for the final closed beta on August 14th. For those of us who have been eagerly following any and every detail we can on this game, those weekends have been marked off on our calendars for some time now and we can’t wait to get what little game time we can in before the September 22 North American release date.
Let’s quickly run over the basics for this game. Aion is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) with two playable factions, the Asmodians and the Elyos. Within these two factions, there are four main playable classes: warriors, scouts, mages and priests. Each main class will choose between two subclasses when they specialize at level 10, making the true class list consist of: templars, gladiators, assassins, rangers, sorcerers, spiritmasters, clerics and chanters. There is currently a lot of information on the factions and the lore behind them, as well as the classes and their abilities elsewhere if you are interested in the finer details.
So what is it that sets this game apart from the rest? Well, my initial thoughts upon seeing it were that I couldn’t believe just how good the game actually looks. The graphics in Aion are stunning to say the least; the characters look incredible, the level of detail on gear is second to none and the environments are absolutely amazing. I haven’t seen any other MMO to this day that looks even remotely close to as good as this one. You will have to see it to truly understand and once you do it will leave you feeling slightly let down when you return to other games you may be currently playing.
The level of detail available on the character customization is also nearly mind boggling. You can start with the preset base features and pick and choose different combinations to form the character you will be playing. If you’re like me and somewhat lazy, you may be tempted to stop there; I urge you not to though and to take some time to play around with the finer details. It’s quite unbelievable how much you can change and to what degree you can really create your own character that will be unique in the Aion world.
Besides the stunning graphics and customization, what really got me about Aion as a whole was simply how fun it was to level. For the first time ever I actually found myself enjoying the questing process. Not only do the campaign quests do a great job advancing the story along, but even doing the optional side quests does not seem like a chore. I can’t recall a single quest that I really did not like during my time in the beta so far, which says a lot considering my normal feelings about questing in MMOs.
To put this into perspective, I leveled my druid in World of Warcraft from about 35 to 60 by instancing over and over again just to avoid questing. When the first expansion came out, I chose to do the same to get the druid from level 60 to 70. I would have paid any amount of in game currency in order to avoid doing a quest. I found them monotonous, boring, dull and generally an annoyance. I was all about playing for the end game content and considered the process of getting there a job I didn’t like to do. None of these statements apply to the quests so far in Aion. I’m eagerly awaiting getting back in game to level some more and figure out what quests await us.
With visual queues on the map to help you find the item or person you are looking for, an easy to use map overlay, and many other sweet, simple interface refinements, Aion makes the entire process of questing simple and painless. There is also a channel system that provides you with instances of the world server; if one quest or mob is being farmed you can simply hop channels to find an emptier instance of the area to play in. Basically, you’ll never really get stuck or bored for too long at all.
A few other quick things that I liked about Aion were:
- The flight system: Not only do the wings on the characters look incredibly cool, but the timed flight adds an element to PvP that will be interesting to see in action. Being able to cast in the air is amazingly fun even this early in the game.
- A varied PvPvE experience: Most of us cannot wait to check out PvP once we see more of the game and get a chance to get to the Abyss. So far, I’ve only encountered some random Elyos (we chose to be Asmodians) while questing who were out to have some fun killing us.
- Private stores: They add an interesting and unique twist on how you sell items. I think it’s interesting from an in game economy perspective and also quite fun.
From my short time playing Aion, I really do think this is one game you should take a look at if you haven’t already. It’s everything that other games haven’t been lately: stunning, exciting, different, but most of all it’s incredibly fun.