It is now roughly two months after Aion’s release in North America. For me, Aion wasn’t a major launch. It was a game that came out of left field after being nothing more than a name until just a couple months before launch. As such, my expectations for the game were little more than it being something new, exciting, and hopefully traditional with content capable of sustaining me until SWTOR (In other words, year+). I beta tested the game, or rather I played their marketing version, and got Aion on launch day. I posted my impressions of the very early game and want to give you my perspective on the game now after two months. I’m going to focus on the biggest issue and not focus on details like the crafting being boring or bots being everywhere and stuff like that. I’m a big picture kind of guy and why worry about the details when there are bigger problems, right? Right.
Aion has a lot of grinding. This is its greatest downfall for me and the MMOG community. People are intolerant of grinding and will stay away from a game as though it were a contagious plague if the grinding is not masked. That’s Aion’s problem: It does not mask its grinding. Whether its disguised as a questing treadmill, dungeon camping, dungeon crawling, difficult lengthy encounters that require thought and tactics, or loot pinatas ultimately doesn’t matter as long as you’re not expecting the person to simply kill dozens of mobs in quick succession knowing full well that they’ll have to invest dozens of hours to see progress. After all, that’s why we do these things — for progress.
Aion’s content in the mid-level range is horrid. I was faced with an insurmountable hurdle of grinding and investing time doing awful runs through the same dungeon for no reward other than a scrap of bread’s worth of exp. To put it plainly, leveling in this range feels like I am starving to death and that the only thing keeping me alive is that one grain of rice. Content and progression shouldn’t feel like an ascetic lifestyle.
There is simply a lack of reward where I am at in the game. I don’t have loot to look forward to, I don’t have exp, new special abilities, places to go, content to see, or anything realistic and obtainable to latch onto except for the hope of a better future after the suffering. This better future comes, from what I’m told, in “newer” content that was patched into the game. I can absolutely believe this. Why? Because the content (Training Grounds) is newer. Apparently the newer the content, the better. But why push that all to the late 30′s and 40′s? I’ll be honest, if your game isn’t fun to me right now — or I can’t see the fun coming very soon or even see how long it’ll take me to get to it — then I’m not going to play. Might sound picky, but I’m far less picky than most and you know it.
Aion suffers from late game syndrome. You can’t PvP until the late game (don’t tell me you can or I’ll tell you to go PvP at level 30 and report your success). You can’t do many of the things that represent Aion as a complete experience until the late game. What does it need to do to correct this problem? Introduce more content. It’s as simple as that. Give me more dungeons 30-35. Give me more quests. Give me more rewards. Let it take just as long if you’re really that set on keeping it a steep curve, but give me something to do to take my mind off of it.
Let me turn your attention to Aion’s future now with this video.
* Swimming added
* New underwater zones, cities, dungeons (and even more zones)
* More Quests (+ Questing revamp)
* New Classes (According to Korean forums and translations)
* New Skills for existing classes
* Revamped Combat (More action oriented)
* Improved graphics and animations (DX10)
* Dynamic weather effects
* Customizable player housing
* Animals you can tame and use as riding mounts (some mounts can carry 2 players)
* Mounted combat
* New weapons (whip & crossbow)
* Revamped Sieges
~*And More coming as the translations finish*~
Epic, right? That is content I want to play. If I could be doing the stuff in that video then I would not even be writing on my blog because I would be engrossed in a glorious battle against some dragon or flying into battle with an enormous monolithic golem against the enemies homeland in a sieg … or even decorating my house. But I can’t do those things. I’m fighting the same spriggs I’ve fought for three levels and the fastest way to progress is to fight them for another three. All that I have to look forward to when I log in is either killing mobs or waiting for an hour to find a group to a dungeon that takes 10 minutes that rewards me less than if I had killed spriggs. I can’t tell you how tired I am of “KWIII!!!!”" KWIII!!!!”
The future of Aion, if it isn’t exaggerated in the video, looks epic in every sense of the definition. But right now I have little incentive. When/if this comes, it is my opinion that it needs to start sooner in a character’s life than later. Don’t make me go through another 50 monotonous Fire Temple runs or kill any more worgs, basilisks, or spriggs to some how be worthy of flying alongside dragons and doing the stuff in that video. No matter how amazing that content is, it can never justify having to put up with crap on the way. I am a firm believer in making entire games that fun while still maintaining the natural flow of starting low and building yourself up to greatness; this is where Aion gets a failing grade in an overall above average game.
Although Star Trek Online is slated for February, Aion will still maintain itself as the only “newest” AAA title of the traditional type for many more months before the next title capable of destroying it comes along. If Aion can implement what we see in the video and make that type of gameplay and experience universal, then it has nothing to fear and will be an amazing game.