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It’s
hard to believe that Aion launched four years ago
this month. In celebration of this historic event, NCSoft is running a
number
of special events ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aion/news/ncsoft-reveals-aion-anniversary-plans-and-new-screenshots">get
the scoop on all of them right here).
While they’re busy celebrating, I
thought it would be entertaining to take a quick look back at the early
days
leading up to the launch of Aion.

 

Aion
was a special title at the time of its impending
release. It was a game that was already a smash hit in South Korea and
had been
for some time. It may not have been the first previously released
Eastern MMO to be ported to North America, but it was the first I can remember that
made a conscious
decision to localize it for Western audiences and dedicated a lot of
resources
to that end. The results of these efforts were noticeable but sadly
fell short
in some regards. As I noted all those years ago, the female casters
still
sounded like dying porn stars.

 

Even
so, the hype around Aion’s release was impressive to
say the least. You couldn’t go anywhere on the web without
seeing some “smuggled”
footage of the South Korean version and you certainly
couldn’t talk about any
other game without someone making a comment about how they were
“just waiting
for Aion to come out.”

 

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Every
new game in this genre gets a lot of hype before
release (everyone wants to see what shiny new toy they’re
going to get next),
but Aion had a lot of legitimate aspects going for it before launch. As
I
mentioned earlier, it was an extremely successful title in South Korea
for
starters. It was also a PVP-lovers game and those were still hard to
come by.
Sure, there were plenty of games with PvP, but a large portion of
Aion’s
endgame content was dedicated to it and at the time, there
weren’t a lot of
titles like that to choose from. And none of them had Aion’s
feather in the
cap, so to say.

 

One
of the most anticipated aspects of Aion was being
able to fly. Once characters hit level 9, they went on a quest to
become an
immortal called a Daeva and gained their wings. Finally, combat was
going to involve
three dimensions instead of only two! Unfortunately, everything was not
as it
appeared early on.

 

For
months, it had appeared as though you could fly
anywhere and for any length of time. The truth was far less
entertaining. You
could initially only fly for 30 seconds at a time. Even when you got an
upgrade, that still only allowed for 60 seconds. style="">  This
became a huge point of contention during
beta and early launch. Needless to say, folks were less than happy with
this
discovery.

 

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In
fact, the early days after launch looked grim for the
title. Aion was extremely grind heavy and the promised aerial combat
that was
previously heralded as a genre-changer quickly looked to become little
more
than a cheap gimmick. Fortunately for all parties involved, enough fans
stayed
loyal to the game to allow the development team to continue making
changes and
improving the game. It may sound like an easy task, but it was anything
but.
Keep in mind that NCSoft has shut down more major MMOG titles after
launch than
any other company to date – Auto Assault, Tabula Rasa, and
City of Heroes.

 

While
the road may have been rocky at times, the team
persevered and deserves to be congratulated on their success.
Here’s to another
4 years of happy gaming for them and their fans. Congratulations!

 

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

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