Aion Beta Weekend 2: Combat commentary

The second beta weekend for Aion is underway and I want to start off my commentary with a closer look at combat.  As promised, I’ve included a video showing fights with different types of mobs at various levels (2-10).   The class I chose to play for this weekend is the Warrior/Templar route.  Starting off at level 1 and all the way through 9 I am a basic Warrior which plays and feels like every other typical Warrior out there.  The last clip of the video shows play as a Templar.  Yes, the combat appears to be exactly the same.  The Templar is a sword and board tank that is built to absorb damage and use a shield to provide additional moves (such as stuns) and attacks (such as shield bashes).

Combat flows very well in Aion mostly because of the animations and lack of annoying delay found in too many mmos.  You’ll get a better sense of how combat flows from watching the video and paying close attention to the fights where I am fighting the tiger guy, the ghost, and the crustacean.  Notice how I am able to chain attacks together and it’s hard to tell where the abilities end and where they begin.  When I use my opener, or starter of the chain, I am able to deal damage and then be prompted with which ability I want to use next.  Both abilities are stage 2 in the chain and I have the choice of whether or not I want to absorb damage or deal additional damage to my target.  Abilities have cooldowns and this is the point in combat where it starts to slow for a tank.  In the video you’ll notice notice that I take advantage of my shield block ability to take less damage.  Moving to this defensive-like stance is smooth and does not interrupt my combat at all.  My character simply raised his shield up in front of him and began blocking more.  When my abilities were available I simple activated them and I automatically used them and left my blocking mode.

It takes time to kill things in this game.  In many games it will feel like you’re pressing one button a couple times and the mob is dead.  I found myself able to use all of my abilities, and sometimes use them multiple times, in one single encounter – and that’s a solo mob.  Even when duoing and fighting solo encounters it still felt like I was able to use multiple abilities.  Now that my Templar is level 10, I am picking up on the subtle nuances of timing and how to get the most out of my character.  Opening with my physical damage debuff (6 sec duration) and then chaining my two damage abilities is a great way to open up and deal a lot of damage.  From there I have several seconds of cooldown and I’m able to switch to my blocking which allows for shield bash to open.  With the mob stunned and my cooldowns up it’s quite efficient to minimize the damage that I take.  After that, I have a second shield stun and the mob is toast.

This is some of the better combat I’ve seen and I’m only level 10.  It’s engaging, allows for the player to think on his feet, and looks good too.  Be sure to watch the video and check back soon for my commentary on PvP accompanied by a video showing our group dominating the Pandaemonium arena.

  • Wow, This game looks so amazing – Haven’t seen the water much in any other video and this makes it look so great! The way block is really awesome as well.
    Great Job

  • To be fairly honest, it sounds a bit clunky for a sea creature :p. It doesn’t really sound like you are fighting something, it’s more like 2 robots hitting each other 1 after the other. And need moar, am very interested in this. Have been for over a year tho.

  • @Insomnium: I agree. The sword clashing sound is bad. Really too bad considering the qualify of the rest of the game’s audio.

  • Think Stranglethorn vale in a capital city. It’s a place where you can FFA pvp against your own people in a small enclosed arena. During this weekend it’s the only place to pvp.

  • The arena is just a place to practice fighting others. It’s just for fun. The pvp system in the game is like WoW/WAR. You pvp, earn abyss points, spend those abyss points on gear which makes you better at pvp. There is a system in place which is like resilience from WoW in that you take a certain percentage less damage from players.

    Abyss points are earned whenever you kill other players. This can be done in The Abyss or in the PvE areas if you take rifts (portals which appear) to them.

  • I’ve only played DAOC and WAR, but I loved how the dynamics of 3 factions in DAOC worked. Have you had a chance to check that out yet in Aion? Or strictly PvE in this beta so far?

    I’m interested in how the 3 factions affect each other in this game. If that part of it’s mechanics have been worked out well, then I think you just won over this ex-DAOC, ex-WAR, player. 😀

  • I’ll let you know after the Abyss beta test. Right now we’re restricted to PvE. From what I have gathered and been told by friends it seems like the Balaur (Npc 3rd faction) really comes into play. They’ll siege your keeps, help attackers, and participate just like a 3rd player faction would. There’s even a mechanic in place to send in big huge airship things that drop massive and difficult NPCs to wreck things.

  • I am surprised that anyone sees something unique in this game. I’ve been playing in the beta and was utterly let down by how little this game differs from all the others. It is perhaps one of the best ports of an Asian MMO but it clearly still shows its roots and I don’t consider that a good thing.

    One of the things which became obvious for me with this second beta weekend was how too similar the two sides starting areas are. I was at least hoping there would be something to make the game more replayable with alts but that was a let down too.

    Just to be clear I am not picking on Aion because I am in a few other betas at the moment and every single one of them is letting me down including some that are truly more of an “action” MMO.

    What I wouldn’t give for some true innovation in this industry.

  • @Curious George

    I think i’ve got a nice solution. Maybe lay off MMOs for a while.

    Maybe pick-up Ice Sculpting? Woodworking? Hopscotch?

  • @Curious George: If there is anything that everyone, hater and lover alike, is in agreement upon it’s that Aion doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t do anything drastic to change it up. It’s more of the same – BUT – it’s fun, immersive, and polished.

    The trend is becoming more and more obvious as time goes on: If you stray from what works then your game is a stinker. Name one that hasn’t been. The truth, sad or happy, is that games which perfect what we already know are the most successful and ultimately the most fun.

    It’s not time for innovation yet. I should have made a blog post out of this comment…. maybe I will.

  • I preordered in order to try the beta this weekend, and so far not disappointed. Initial impressions – the game is gorgeous. Now, that doesn’t make a game succeed on its own (Conan), but the gameplay so far is solid, if not particularly innovative. I’ll have to see how the wings affect things, if there’s zones where you’re required to travel vertically and not just stuff like flying up to the top of a hill, I’ll be impressed.

    Having the game interface and general controls resemble WoW is probably the best option they could take for the western market. Overall the interface feels very polished. The chain system feels fun so far and having cooldowns on the chain abils makes it so every pull isn’t the same.

    Seems like there’s some controversy over the Asmo areas.. myself, I’m glad to see it rich and vibrant in the starting zone, just with a slightly different feel. If it’d been like the WAR chaos starting zone I probably would have avoided them and gone back to the other race.

    The Asmo localization seems to be top-notch. It was at least up there with some of the best quest writing I’ve seen, and more interesting than most quests in WAR or WoW. Best moment of the night was a book drop that started a quest – the book had a fun little parable in it, that turned out to be the plot of the quest I was doing. By having read through the book, I knew what dialogue options to take to get the best reward. Fun little things that don’t usually show up – hopefully the kind of thing SW:TOR will be built on.

  • If the game didn’t look like something they would send on Nickelodeon I’d prob try it out, but I completely and utterly loathe the Manga look and feel.

  • Maybe we’re not looking at the same screenshots Proximo. Aion is a ways off from Nickelodeon and Manga. I feel that Aion was actually designed to be a Western style game released in Asia then brought to the West.

  • Gphx r pretty good Keen but if you ever played Lineage 2 you probably know when stuff gets crowded on screen it is going to lag like hell. They butchered the Unreal 2 engine or w/e with L2 so bad that even 8 years later the game still cant run well.. I am sure they have done the same for this .

  • We had easily 100 people on the screen on Friday with little to no lag at all. I can’t imagine it being too bad.

  • Keen what do you think about factions pvp? Personally, I hate it. When I played Warhammer and WoW it was basically just “oh hey theres random Horde member #23423432 lets kill him” it doesn’t bring me the excitment of seeing an enemy guild, somebody you know, somebody you see shouting in game etc and fighting them.

    SWG was decent because atleast even though they had factions, you could still talk to one another and play the game with everybody, you still got that personal connection to people even in opposing factions so it made the pvp more meaningful.

    I am afraid that Aion is going to be another zergfest faction PvP game.. but I hope not.

    Also I really really hope that even though SW:TOR will have factions, they will go the way of SWG and make it so all players can still play/talk to eachother.

  • I kinda half agree with Proximo. It’s not full-on Manga or Anime, but the influences are definitely there. Some of it I like and some of it I find unappealing.

    The previous video got me excited and this one put me back to where I was before that. The combat animation hasn’t really grabbed me: It seems very clunky. Part of that may be the quick style, sword chops that are fast, not smooth, etc.. Although that’s just from video, I know playing at the controls can have a very different feel, timing is a big part of it.

  • @Collin: I like faction pvp a lot. With all the CC and rifts I believe that players will find it more effective not to zerg. That’s what I hope at least. In DAOC the 8-man style was dominant and this has that same feel. Zerging sucks for sure.

    @Rog: Nothing clunky about PvE Rog. If that came across in the video then the feel was lost in translation. Ask anyone who has played and they’ll all agree that combat is fluid and the animations are top notch – even for quick sword swings and the cultural influences which are (duh) present in Aion.

    Not once in the game will you see the stereotypical anime stylization. Play a game like DOMO, Lineage, or even FF11 and you’ll see more “manga” than you will in Aion.