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Aion: First Impressions

Updated Sat, Dec 05, 2009 by Sepharious

Aion, the long awaited MMOG which was first announced back in 2006 has finally arrived in the West after a record breaking run in the East. It's done extremely well not only in sales...

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Aion, the long awaited MMOG which was first announced back in 2006 has finally arrived in the West after a record breaking run in the East. It's done extremely well not only in sales but in recent polls, averaging much higher than previous MMOG releases. Its potential for high subscription retention is due to the confidence players have in a pre-released game. We all know that if a game can retain subscribers and grow that player base, good things are in store.

Aion for me is bitter sweet, simply put. Coming into the game I was statistically like some of you, a WoW player, having played the game for years and finally throwing in the towel. The Cataclysm stuff didn't really help; its the same content with fresh make-up. I still am partial to kicking into other NCSoft games like Guild Wars; nothing beats a well developed game with no fee - but I had made up my mind regarding Aion during the Closed Beta events. Bottom line is the game is something new and innovative, and I think that sold many players.

So what's new and innovative? Well to be honest, I would say just about everything. I refrain saying everything completely, because you'll still pick up those familiar MMO controls, why would you want to lose yourself all over again at the helm when there is so much more to see and explore? They can be bound any way you like, should you choose to be one of those players. The fun comes in once you attain level 9 and ascend. People say it's 10 but you're technically a Daeva and can use your long awaited wings before. All you lack is a Ceremony and gaining level 10, which you do upon completion. Oh, and be sure to knock out any quests you have in Poeta before ascension, though you always have the option to go back and do them later on.

I've been following the game and its development for quite awhile now, and I have to say their community involvement has played a large part in their success. Anyone who remembers the GameGuard virus will vouch for this. Our international friends in the Baltic regions will make mention of their not having to play in objectionable areas, violating their moral responsibilities. Our Oceanic and roleplaying communities will recognize the unique chances they had to make a difference in which servers will be theirs. This unique decision by the company has given the community at large awesome power, and this will only prove more useful as time goes on.

In terms of game-play and mechanics, if you're looking for an MMOG without the grind you should forget the leveling system in a game like this. If you have something completely different in mind, this game is not for you. However, if you like leveling and you have an appreciation for the recognition you get later on, by all means this is for you. My only gripe is that you should not compare this game to WoW as the PvP systems are completely different, and the group structuring and over all dynamics of team play are also much different. The only thing remaining is the trinity - aka healer/tank/DPS classes. Of course there are other similarities such as having a 2 faction system and at least 1 non player faction.  

The game itself is very linear as you progress, but hopefully with the next few content patches this will become a bit looser. Crafting and gathering are, very much a time sink. If you want to be the best you'll have to earn it. It really does take some effort get there. The crafting system is expected to be expanded also which may help broaden its appeal. There is very much in the way of lore, for you lore junkies out there. I love a game with good lore, and I see the potential for much more down the road.

The PvP system returns us back to the good ole' structure system where you can see where you are, and you do lose your rank to gain equipment, instead of attaining rank just to acquire it. You can be awesome with equipement and regain your rank because you have it, or you can be good without it, either way your opponents will judge you by your rank. Being killed does degrade your rank, also.

The Abyss is a game unto itself almost. There are so many variables here, so don't turn your back too long. Someone is sure to sneak up on you the moment you do. But the Abyss is also home to the fiercest battles in the game. You'll learn to have fun here even if you say, "I don't like PvP." Because the game is just so damn fun, there's so much to do and if you don't fall in love with the PvP, you'll definitely fall in love with the view. So put that Tandy 1000 away, and give this game a try.

My overall impression of Aion is that this is a solid game. The game is created very well, and with a very talented staff which has turned this into a game that the world can enjoy. I do not see many shortfalls here with the removal of GameGuard. A positive company decision  here went a long way. I think this game will show its true colors in 6 months to a year when they start promoting expansions and such to keep us all interested.
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