Aion Archetype Preview - The Scout
While working on the Aion class interviews, I did some research on each of the classes so I had a lot of time to get to know them before even stepping in game. I tend to play DPS fighters in MMOGs so I was still very up in the air about whether I would go full DPS and utility with the scout or stick with my typical play style and roll up a fighter. I think I made level two with my fighter before starting my scout, and I never went back!
Players who enjoy being active in melee combat, exceptionally useful in groups, and completely viable as a solo player, will enjoy the flexibility and versatility of a scout. As with any class in any game, there are pros and cons to playing a scout, most of which I will try cover straight away.
You are playing a scout, so the first thing that'll you will notice is fights are fairly quick. Even starting out, you do a nice bit of damage. Just don't compare yourself to the early mage, because they gave me a little bit of damage envy.
You have the skills to carry a sword or a dagger, and it is your choice which you decide to equip. I'll get into the differences between these two weapons a little later on. You also get the dual wield skill as a scout, which made me all sorts of happy.
In the first 10 levels you are granted a hide skill that is very handy, a buff that boosts your evasion, and another buff that boosts your attack. The buffs saved my rear repeatedly and you will want to use them often.
Positional attacks are a mainstay of the scout and Aion has them! My favorite thing about these is that they aren't position conditional. Meaning, you can use a positional attack from the "wrong" position and still do damage, but you get a bonus if you do it correctly. After playing EverQuest II for many years, I can tell you it is nice to not see a positional error notice when attacking!
There really wasn't much I didn't like about this class but as expected, the leather wearing scout is a bit delicate. While definitely not as bad as the mage for survivability in melee combat, that health bar will get a little too low for comfort's sake quite often. I hear this gets better later on after youve chosen to specialize as a Ranger or Assassin.
You also don't get ranged attacks right off the bat. Half the appeal of playing a scout is being able to do some damage at ranged, but this is something else they have saved for the specialization levels.
New to the World
After making your character and popping into the world, you'll find yourself equipped with a few basic items and skills. You get a dagger, minimal armor, a slash skill, an avoidance buff, and a bandage skill.
You'll find that you will really rely on your bandages. I like to make the most of my gaming in the short free time I have so I'm not terribly big on combat downtime and the scout ends up with plenty of it. Since you will end fights generally on the low end of the health bar, using your bandaging skill will get you up and moving far quicker than waiting for it to tick up on its own. As you progress, you'll definitely want to make use of edibles for health regeneration and potions for those in combat "oh crap" moments.
While you are bandaging you will probably notice fighters blowing by you and taking mob after mob without even breathing in between. It's okay. You are better looking than they are, and someday I promise they will bow before your superior DPS just not today.
At level 3 you will get a positional attack that will make your heart melt the first time you use that baby. Luckily enemies at this point are non-aggro so you can easily position yourself behind the mob and whack away. You don't have the ability to stun and re-position for a flank attack so it needs to be your opening skill but you'll be very happy for the additional damage it provides.
Moving on Up!
At around level 5, things start getting mildly tougher. You may be playing against enemies that have that frustrating feature known as social aggro. While the scout can usually hold his own against a single mob, two are three enemy friends jumping in to help whatever you are killing tends to be bit much so learning the art of pulling a single mob is important! You don't have anything you can distance pull a mob with, so using the tactic of spanking the mob and stepping back to a safer area is the best way to go. This is also one of those times when you'll really want to have health potions on hand as you can generally manage to take on two mobs if you have them available.
At level 5 you will get one of your main utilities, your hide skill. While it's fun to play with at this point, it won't be until around level 6+ when you will see why you really need it! This is when you will start dealing with enemy aggro and while stealthing through a group of angry creatures is a nice skill to have, it is not its most useful application. As mentioned before, you will want to use your positional attacks to open your battle which impossible to do when the enemy can clearly see you coming and wants to beat you senseless if you get too close. Having a hide skill allows you to stealth yourself, and then sneak in behind the mob to unleash your flanking attack. Yes, it takes a little extra time to set up, but the extra care in using the positional attacks will benefit you greatly in damage and survivability.
Around this time you will gain the dual wield passive skill. Passive skills still need to be purchased from the trainer, so never forget to check back often for these very important features.
Being able to dual wield brings up all sorts of questions regarding what a scout should carry for a weapon. A scout may choose to carry a single sword or a single dagger when they first start out. Which you choose to equip in the first few levels doesn't make any real difference, but it will soon and it's a good thing to start thinking about at this level range. With dual wield you may equip two daggers, two swords, or even one of each!
Which is better? I read up on it while I was trying to decide for myself and found many different schools of thought but there were a few things that made a difference when I actually tried various weapon combos in game.
It seems that only the primary weapon slot triggers critical damage. In theory then, having a dagger that hits more frequently thus giving more chances of a crit would make sense and would overall allow for more damage. This reasoning is why I chose to carry a dagger rather than a sword through my first several levels and it does seem to ring true.
This left me with attempting to see which weapon type I needed to use for my secondary slot. I didn't see a tangible difference when equipping a sword versus a dagger of equal quality in my secondary slot. This may, of course, change in later gameplay but at least in early levels you can pretty much put whatever you'd like in your secondary slot without taking a big DPS penalty.
Another Aion feature you will want to start paying attention to are the manastones. These nifty little stones that you will likely pick up everywhere add attributes to your items. Things like accuracy, health, parry, attack, and evasion bonuses are particularly useful for the scout and you can add one or two stones to each of your major armor pieces. All you need to do is put the item in your inventory, right click on the stone and then click on the applicable item. Adding a second stone gives the possibility of destroying your item, but I havent had that happen yet.
Closing in on Level Nine
The scout continues to play along the same lines as it has in the previous levels. You'll gain some better damage skills, including one with a small stun effect and by now you will be feeling more comfortable and will be able to take more risks. You will now have a couple of chain attacks in your arsenal. Don't ignore these! Being a light armor wearing class means you have to focus on optimizing your damage output and chain attacks are a great source of damage.
At this point, I had a whole skills groove going that seemed to work well. Open with the stealth and flank attack. Cast your evasion buff and the following chain damage skill. Follow that up with the slash and its chained skill. Continue using your slash chain throughout the battle and watch your health!
As you near level 10 and continue to make your way through the dangerous world, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to keep your armor updated. You may wear leather or cloth, but obviously you will want to focus on gaining leather pieces. You can find basic armor pieces on the armor vendors but always check out the player stores because often better armor comes from mob drops. If you are the questing sort, Aion's storyline quests give some nice rewards that include armor pieces. Keeping your defense as strong as possible will greatly aid in survivability, and make your life as a scout a lot less painful.
Once you've finally reached level nine, you can complete your early adventure an ascend, thus earning your wings. It is at this time when you will start your class career as a Ranger or an Assassin. Be sure to check back here at Ten Ton Hammer for future info on those two classes (I'll be checking out both for sure) and for more Aion coverage!