More of Keen’s impressions from Aion’s first Beta weekend

Now that the NDA is down I’ll talk a bit more about my specific experiences from the first beta weekend.  My entire approach this time around has been to play the game as little as possible while still being able to see as much as I can.  I do not want to burn out on Aion before it launches – something I’ve done in more MMOs than I care to remember.  That’s a tough balancing act, especially when I’m going into this beta solely because I want to see if it will be worth my time.

In this first weekend I had very simple and obtainable goals:  Level one character to the mid teens, craft a little, and quickly explore a few zones to get a feel for the world.  The class I leveled was a Spiritmaster, which is a class of the Mage archetype.  You start the game off as either a warrior, priest, scout, or mage and will remain one of these until level 10 when you complete the ascension quest.  To reach the point of ascension requires that you level up and learn a bit about your past and ultimately your destiny.  It’s really not as cheesy as it sounds, I promise.

The Elyos start in Poeta, a rather large, polished, and fleshed out tutorial.  It won’t really feel like a tutorial though.  In fact, you’ll be dropped into the game (or at least we were) with a NPC offering you quests to kill pigs.  I was a little put off at first, but the first few quests aren’t memorable at all because of the combat which sucked me right in and continued to be interesting throughout the rest of the weekend.  To reiterate, the combat in Aion has no delay like WAR (intentional or not) and definitely not a queued up feel like LotRO.

Poeta remained very elementary with the “go here and kill X of this”, however it earned a few points with me for introducing a key feature of the game: the story missions.  These story missions will essentially carry the player throughout the rest of the game and act as one major epic quest broken up into dozens of sub quests.  Even when simplistic to a fault, the story arc missions felt important which is all that I really ask for in a quest.

After Poeta, and through the storytelling of the missions, I found myself in Sanctum (Elyos Capital City).  It’s being compared to Dalaran because of the description of a magical city floating in the clouds, but WoW fans don’t want a true comparison to be drawn here because Sanctum would bury Dalaran in a heartbeat.  The city is massive, beautiful, and very functional as far as capital cities go.  You can see a very quick glimpse of it in my video below – pay attention to the background to get a sense of the scope this game is built upon.

The remainder of my beta weekend was spent questing from the Verteron Citadel (an area with a seashel and crab motiff ranging from levels 10 to 13 or so) and Tolbas Village area (a farm, field, forest, swamp and desert – yes, all in one) area that lasted until level 20.  While I was only able to get up  to level 14, I saw and did a lot in these areas.  They are as immersive as Tipa mentions in her bloggings.  Although Tipa only mentions Polish from a look and feel perspective, I do want to include the mechanics in this as well.  The parts which make up the whole – the entirety – of the game feels polished and it stands to deliver a ‘total package’ feel.

A quick bit on crafting because I know some of you are interested… Collecting things is nothing new.  You see a node and you can harvest it if you have the appropriate skill level.  You then use these collected items to make things.  Crafting itself involves being at a station.  Instead of having to go out and harvest everything and grind on what you gather to raise skills, Aion’s crafting system has work orders.  These work orders give you almost all you need (aside from purchasing glass bottles for some things, in the case of apothecary) to make and raise skill.  After completing these you gain skill points and a random crafting item.  I liked this because it allowed me to save what I gathered so that I could use it to make stuff that I would actually, well, use.  I was able to get my Apothecary somewhere into the 30’s in a very, very short time.  If it stays the way I experienced it then I’ll definitely be maxing out a profession.

Here is a quick little collection of video clips to sum up my first weekend in Aion.  You’ll see screenshots and a quick flightpath through a corner of Poeta, Sanctum, me trying flight for the first time, and exploration of three zones well into the level 20-30 range.  All of the zones visited had the same polished look about them and they felt as they should (scary, pretty, dangerous, etc).

This weekend will allow players to create Asmodians up to level 10.  I plan on taking documenting that leveling process in video and screenshots to show combat and how it looks and feels at lower levels.  If we’re allowed into Pandemonium (Asmodian capital) then you can expect a tour.  Additionally, if I can get into Pandemonium I will spend a lot of time PvPing in the arena.

As a final note, and one that sums up how I feel about Aion thus far, anyone looking for something more than what we’ve had in other MMORPGs need not apply.  Seriously.  But Aion does what we know very well.   It’s fun, immersive, and polished.

Don’t forget to read my Early Impressions where I outline interesting tidbits, the good, and the bad.

  • Good video but please put more combat into your Vid’s. You hyped the combat in your blog but did not show any film of it leaving me pissed off, as I feel that unless a game can have similar combat as WoW I will not be playing it, thats why I quit AoC, WAR, and LotR.

  • Sounds much better than I expected. If I weren’t currently in burnout on what’s now become standard gameplay for MMORPGs, I’d jump right in.

    As it is, Aion moves up a bit on my “try it” list, which if it’s as solid as you say it’ll eventually queue its way up for me. I’ll probably wait a few months after release to avoid the usual hiccups.

    I know I don’t sound pumped about it and I’m not really, but given new releases lately, the ‘excitement’ games have been letdowns.

  • @Zederok: That’s precisely why this weekend will be all combat and questing. This video was just to highlight the journey of 1-14 and what I saw. Aion feels closer to WoW’s combat than any of the games you listed.

  • Thanks for posting this. I was out of town for the first beta event, and I’ll be out of town for this one too, so I’m stoked to see the videos. 🙂

  • I noticed you had a spirit bird for wings. Is that exclusive to that class?

    Great vid and info. Thanks

  • Those wings are actually the “flight path” wings. When you buy a ticket from one location to another they put those on you and automatically fly you to your destination. It’s like WoW’s flight paths but instead of riding a mount you are the mount.

  • @Longasc

    The fact that it reduced is exactly why we’re applauding!

    Aion has minus all the pointless, grind fest PvP. Minus the shallow BGs. Minus their pitiful end-game of one instance grind after another. Aion has plenty of truly interesting blends of the positive qualities of WoW and WAR.

    Why wouldn’t we get excited about it?

    Believe it or not, other games have other qualities that make them good or bad, despite the fact that they’re of a similar genre.

    “Awww man! Starcraft is just a knock off of Command and Conquer!! Look how similar it is with all its units and buildings! Haw haw!!”

  • @Longsac

    Yeah, I applaud them. Thus far they have “reduced” the parts of WoW I don’t like, while adding some new cool stuff.

    And you know what? Thats fine by me. I never had a problem with WoW’s base game, the combat was fantastic. Taking that combat and putting it in an interesting new world, with flight, interesting PvE and great graphics, is awesome.

    I’m having a blast on the Chinese servers and this is mostly solo with absolutely no one who speaks english. I can only imagine how much fun I will have with friends. Its a great game, which captures WoW’s “feel” while adding new stuff at every turn.

    As long as the Abyss is fun and NCSoft supports the game well, I am totally in.

  • @rog

    This game will be hiccup free in about 2 weeks. The reason i say this is because its already been patched twice and has been out for months in Korea. I would say from day 1 but I don’t think ncsoft has a clue how many people will play this. Unlike other games i think there sales will be decent to start out but will gain people over time. Much like you many people are waiting to see how it goes.

    @bartlebe

    “Awww man! Starcraft is just a knock off of Command and Conquer!! Look how similar it is with all its units and buildings! Haw haw!!”

    ^^ best reply to wow clone iv seen. Personally I like to just point out that wow is a clone of everything that came before and after it. Aion is a pvpve game not a pve game with pvp thrown in as a afterthought.

  • @keen

    Not trying to pick you but that is actually a spirit bird if you look close you can see its head at the front and claws griping you. But yes that is the point to point transportanion or “flight path”.

  • Awesome thanks for doing that Keen! I was at first skeptical of this game mostly due to the perceived Asian FTP MMO’s, and some of the earlier vids of Aion had me a little under thrilled. It really looks like NC Soft is doing alot to westernize Aion from your video (although id still like to see them remove all the yee! and Yaw! during combat animations)

    The scenery and the art looks awesome, and the movement and UI look very WoW’ish which is a good thing imo.

    Ive been playing MMO’s since 1999 (asherons call) and WoW has been by far the most polished game ive played. To me Aion looks like it will deliever great animation and combat sequences, and if the End game can deliver i’ll be Finally dropping WoW after 4+ years.

    Give me a WoW style game in combat, animation, fluidity of motion and near bug free play sessions. Aion will be a success if it can deliver all that plus add in quest’ing based leveling and solo friendly gaming and it may even rival WoW.

    Thanks to this Vid Keen, ive preorderd the game and cant wait to play come this fall.

  • Work orders were one of the niftier points to Vanguard’s crafting system. Glad to see them adopted.

  • “because of the combat which sucked me right in and continued to be interesting throughout the rest of the weekend”

    Can you elaborate about that? How was the combat different/better compared to other MMOs you’ve played? (WoW, WAR, DF…)

  • @Melf Himself

    Because the game was made by Koreans and they haven’t re-recorded the voices yet.

  • This game looks pretty cool. My mouth kinda dropped a little at 1:30. Looking forward to seeing more footage.

  • @Solidstate: Combat is just as good as WoW. Better than WAR by a ton. Better than LOTRO by a lot.

    @Melf_Himself: That’s part of the game they still need to westernize.

    A lot more on combat will be available as I write about and record this weekend’s beta event.

  • Doesn’t the fact that the wings drop off after about 1 minute of flight kind of suck? Why not allow flying all the time?

    And without flight..how is it any different from the other MMORPGs’ I see a different world, some pretty graphics…but other than the 1 minute flight what does it really have?

    To me it would be cooler if the game was fully 3D and involved the ability to fly consistently.

  • Wings can be upgraded to increase flight time. Your basic level 10 wings are 1 minute of flight. It’s a mechanic that is supposed to add another layer to the game for strategy, tactics, and skill. There are potions to increase flight time, probably items and manastones, and buffs to increase (and debuffs to decrease) time.

    Without flight it is just as different from other MMORPGs as they are from each other. Look at Vanguard, EQ, WoW, LotRO, some of DAOC and WAR, FF11, etc and you’ll see different variations on a theme. Aion is just as different from these as they are from each other. However, as I’ve said, don’t expect Aion to bring a whole new way of playing MMOs. It simply does not do that. It’s a great new taste.

  • Hey Keen, I was wondering if you think this game would run well like how WoW does on average computers. Do you think it will be really laggy if you don’t have a high end gaming system?

  • This game will run very well on average systems. Be sure you understand what “average” means today though. You do not need a high-end system at all.

  • Thanks for quick reply, I currently have a moderately decent Graphics card so I hope it can run well on my rig 🙂
    Thanks again

  • Honestly, all I care to know is if the final release will have Gameguard on it or not. That would prevent alot people from playing the game.

    It causes problems with some other software, such as certain firewall etc. Prevents some special mouse and keyboard functions. Doesn’t work with Windows 7. And does absolutely nothing to prevent cheating since it is always hacked faster than they can update it.

    I don’t know where the hype about the graphics is coming from. To me it looks just like any MMO with aged graphics.

  • @ermansup

    I hate Gameguard as well. I tried Chronicles of Spellborn and ended up uninstalling it because of GameGuard.

    However, this seems to be a toned down Gameguard or something. In CoSB, GameGuard made me turn off my A/V (Kaspersky, turn off my keyboard software (Merc Keyboard), turn off my mouse software (Logitech) and I could not have any torrents running or almost anything else.
    This time all I get is a pop up from Kaspersky that something is running and thats all. Not sure what they changed but it worked!

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