Aion Beta Weekend 2: Pandaemonium

The capital cities in this game just rock.  They’re gorgeous, huge, useful, and oh yeah they’re gorgeous.  I was blown away by Sanctum (Elyos) and I thought that nothing could match it, but Pandaemonium definitely does.  Sanctum was full of that magical feeling… felt like Disney Land actually… anyway, it was glorious.  Pandaemonium has a feeling that I would best describe as ‘grand’, and I’ll toss in a few words like ‘scope’ and ‘magnificent’. The cities are alive and they feel lived in by the shop keepers and the npcs. The number of players running around the streets added to the ‘world’ feeling. The ambiance being created here is top notch and I haven’t felt the desire to sit in a tavern and socialize like this since SWG.

Words do not do it justice, so I’ll just leave it to the video.  What I do want to talk a bit on though is crafting.  In the video you’ll see the crafting stations which all have that… again with the Disney… magical feel to them.  The loom is going on its own, potions in the air are mixing, the cooking station is going, and the forge is active.  I wouldn’t say that the crafting areas in the game are leaps and bounds beyond anything we’ve seen (because they’re not), but they’re nifty.  I spent about thirty minutes raising my armor crafting through work orders and smelting the iron that I gathered.    Everyone should craft in this game – everyone.

Yeah, I’m really taken with the city and the graphics and environment of Aion. It is absolutely deserved.

Before you watch the video, here are a few screenshots that show off the beauty of Aion:


  • Ill wait to experience it myself before passing a final judgement, but your video doesnt show anything “alive” about the capital city. Besides NPC merchants that have a precise reason to be in some buildings, the rest of the town is pretty empty, lifeless. Alright, theres the Duck lady.

    I only played on the Chinese open beta and for now im getting that WAR feeling where every little camp is made up of a template of NPCs, one to mend, one to sell/buy, one to bind … it really doesnt feel alive.

    This game has a lot of qualities, but i worry about the world itself.

    That and the fact that most males characters on Elyos side would fit perfectly in a Twilight movie sequel.

    I personally dont mind that the game doesnt innovate much, but at least im hoping the world is more than what i witnessed yet.

  • Fair enough. It’ll be the same old NPC’s standing around. I’m not talkin Project Natal alive here or anything but the city feels populated with NPCs and players. There’s a purpose to be in the city and it’s going to be one of those MMOs where players spend time in the city. Warhammer’s Inevitable city doesn’t have that alive feeling, but most of Altdorf does. WoW’s capital cities had the player population to make them feel like cities but not much beyond that.

    Aion seals the deal with the graphics and the atmosphere.

  • Seems just as barren or automated with npc’s as wow or any other mmo, not seeing what’s so “alive” here.

  • im not sure why but seeing this clip of the game reminds me of knight online…i really dont know why because this game ofcourse looks 100times better and is probably also way more fun to play.

  • I dont know why everyone is getting there panties in a bunch about this game, it just seems like an asian version of wow to me. Sure the graphics are awesome ill give it that.

    But everything else is the same ole same ole. I tried the chinese version with the english patch, and just couldnt get into it.

  • I did feel the cities were alive when I was in Sanctum yesterday, at least in the main part. When I began exploring around the outside edges, there were some spots that were a little bare, but overall the NPC population reminded me of how Silvermoon is done in WOW, but with some of the dialogue you get from EQ2. I think with more players it will feel about right, but not that overcrowded feeling you get sometimes with Dalaran in WOW. The graphics are great, gameplay is about par for course for any good MMO. I haven’t been blown away by anything yet, even the flying (which is on a timer). The cutscenes are a nice addition to the major quest lines, well done but no voiceovers. I’m sure it will do fine in the US, just not sure if I’m ready to fork out the bucks on another MMO, when I’ve got time invested in several already (most of which I’m not even playing). But overall its a nice game.

  • I haven’t been able to play myself yet but I have been a fan of this game for a while (over a year). I hate to point out but they are still changing some things to appeal to the North American crowd and the voiceovers for the cutscenes are coming. If you think about it every MMO out there uses the same basic equation, quests+Kill(grind). The only thing that truely differentiates any MMO is the way these qualities are presented to the player, ie graphics, abilities, voiceovers, ambiance, quest progression, etc…Myself, I rate a game on how well it makes me not feel the grind. So I guess what i’m trying to say is even if it is the same basic concepts as WoW, which is a good game imo to be holding players attentions as long as it has, it looks much nicer and seems to be following a tried and true gaming model..nothing wrong with that..For now its my prefered style of play. A game doesn’t have to be 180 degrees different to be great, on the contrary most games that go the 180 degrees different route usually fail..just the facts..

  • Tough crowd you ran into here Keen heh… The cities are pretty awesome. Not sure what people expect but it is well laid out, lots of room, great atmosphere, sound and graphics. It just needs more people to fill it up to give it more alive feeling which I am sure will happen when the game is live and full.

    The only thing i can think of that may hurt the major city is people can setup their vendors anywhere. I saw many people setting up shop in that tiny city hub in the lvl 10+ area because there was so much traffic. Again this could be only cause of beta and the cap…

  • What’s with that horrible run animation? It looks like he’s running up a river against a strong current.

  • @Merckx

    That’s how they run in a lot of anime cartoons. It’s one of those little Asian quirks that people just have to accept. =/

  • The most important thing in any heavy grinding game is the end-game. I want to know that I will eventually be rewarded with some fun gameplay.

    From what I have read so far, it’s similar to WAR’s open RvR which involves capturing cities. If it’s WAR without the battlefield instances, then what’s the point? I’m beginning to think I should just go back to WAR because every beta I have been in since I left Darkfall has been disappointing.

    BTW…I noticed alot of pop-up in the videos. Not very good if you are in a PvP area and a group of enemies pop-up in front of you.

  • Any websites that have a good amount of translated info around? I have so many questions but most are can’t be answered by the level locked NA/Euro beta testers.

  • @PeZzy

    The battlefield instances were one of the many things that screwed WAR’s PvP up. Thankfully, Aion doesn’t have them.

  • That pop-in was in the crafting area and I noticed it too. I have not seen it anywhere else so it’s not a factor.

  • How is the crafting? Click once and wait for progress bar like WoW or more involved?

  • I have played on the Chinese beta till lvl 13-14 on both sides, on different classes (after that no more playtime and you need to pay).

    I am quite surprised that the graphics seem “so good” for anyone who has seen AoC before. Ok, AoC was buggy as hell when it came out, it lacks content now. But let’s at least admit that it has the best art so far, and Aion is not taking that away. I was especially disappointed when creating a character: you see an amazing background, but when you start playing… only your toon is actually polished. The rest feels old-fashioned. I was also disappointed when looking at the sky (ie the “enemies”): it is just there, painted, not moving, no cool animation, nothing. They could have at least made something like WoW in Outland… here it’s just a painted background, move along, nothing to see.

    The music: I thought it sounded like playing pinball. Sure, it’s a Korean game and they love that. But for a EU/NA player, it doesn’t really help you immerse into the story to hear “bling bling” all the time.

    As for the colors: they hurt my eyes. I expected the Asmodean side to be dark, since they don’t get much sun… you start in an area which is all pink and greenish.

    Same thing here, the music does not help you immerse. To take WoW as an example, I expected something at least like the undead zone, or even some desert, but not really a luxuriant place… the music from the Blood Elves starting zone was very good also to express some kind of melancholy etc. Here again, it feels like a pinball.

    Some sound effects are also badly chosen. For instance in the first village you go to once you are able to fly (ie after the main hub, lvl 13-14), you see a bunch of kids running around. Nice way of making it lively of course. But then you hear the sound they make. It’s actually as if there were mice running in an empty corridor. Since they are running in something that is mostly not paved, that sounds totally unrealistic. Especially since there is no distance feeling either: when they pass you hear it, same volume all along.

    The capital cities? Beautiful, huge, ok, like in every other game. And like every other game, just some empty and cheap 3D since you cannot get inside most buildings (where are the stairs?). But mostly, empty. I think I saw something like 3 “commoners” in each capital, ie mobs that were not vendors/trainers. And in fact, they could just have been quest mobs. This is rather surprising considering that in the open, you have mobs that are labeled as something like “villager” and who do not give you quest or anything. Need more of those in the capitals.

    About the combat: nothing new from WoW. So either you like it either you despise it, still, nothing new. As a scout/rogue you just wait for your cooldowns to pop up while you auto-attack, etc etc

  • By the games graphics it looks like it could be an Xbox 360/PS3 game because you make it run so smoothly even with the high graphics

  • @Furn: That was the worst write-up of the game I’ve ever read. Not that it’s “wrong”, as it’s your opinion, just the way it’s written shouts dissapointment and is completely unnuanced.

    Currently playing CAion, I had quite the opposite reaction to the game.

    Personally, I did not enjoy the graphics in Age of Conan, but saying the art was “the best”, I can’t possible understand the reasoning behind that statement. Anyway:

    What struck me the most was the environments and music, it’s amazing, and probably one of the strongest aspects of the game. The choice of off-beat fantasy setting really pays off, and like I said, the music in this game is fantastic and I normally never care for it in games.

    – “Same thing here, the music does not help you immerse”, did we actually play the same game? Sounds from your description of the music that in fact, we didn’t.

    – “I was also disappointed when looking at the sky”, I agree, this could have been done a lot better, the art is great, but the painted background, not so much.

    As for the combat, I’m still not used it and the 0.5 sec lag doesn’t help either. Would really like to try it out on non-asian servers, feels like the responsiveness is not quite on par with WoW (but could be the lag), but it is really fluid. I just wish casters were not rooted a brief moment after casting spells, it still irks me a bit.

  • I have been playing this game for about a week on the Chinese free server, and did the beta weekend this week, playing Elyos on the Chinese server and Asmodian on the beta weekend. I have to say I don’t know where many of you are getting your ideas.

    First things first, since day one I have been not just surprised with how beautiful this game is, but at how smoothly it runs on a mid range machine. Even during the first few hours of the closed beta even starting, when literally hundreds of people were pounding the entry zones I never noticed any lag or much in the way of slow down, the game is technically sound already and will be at launch, which puts it ahead of the last couple of big games that have come out… WAR they STILL haven’t got their stuff figured out so theyre just adding new stuff and hoping people forget how awful and laggy their end game is, and AOC… errr I don’t even need to address that game it was a miserable failure outside of Tortage.

    I keep seeing people say this game is a grind, this game is a grind. MMOs are about grinding, in one sense or another, however; if you mean by grinding, that you have to kill an insane amount of monsters over and over again to level up, then you are dead wrong. I am nearly level 20 (30 is the cap on the free server)and I have not had to grind… period. I finish a quest, I do another quest, I do a mission, I do another quest, finish the missions, then I realize oh crap… I still have quests and missions left to do in the area and I am at the point where I am outleveling the zone. For those that actually enjoy grinding, there are repeatable kill quests for you.

    The music and graphics are top notch. As far as gameplay goes this game has borrowed liberally from pretty much every MMO out there. It has in game cut scenes to continue the story ala FFXI, the combat and interface systems feel very similar to WoW (with the exception of the combo system), it has the Work Order system that we saw for leveling crafting in Vanguard, and many others. Imo it is quite literally the greatest hits of MMOs, smoothed out and polished to the point where a Beta version of the NA game has many people I know asking where are the bugs? Why does the game work so well… we don’t get it.

    As far as the way the sky looks I am not sure how much you can expect them to render and still allow for great performance. You mention the far above sky which is how many miles above your head… I mean how great do you really expect the detail to be? Lets talk the immediate sky though, the clouds are a great feature, not to mention how the sky darkens and becomes very cloudy as the storm clouds roll in prior to a downpour releasing. You also forgot to mention the wild birds that are always seein flying through the sky and forgot to mention the giant creatures that float lazily through the sky… but yeah, you’re right these guys obviously forgot to pay attention to detail.

    I’d comment on the statements regarding the capital cities, but anyone who has actually played the game knows what they are like, and Keen nailed it. I don’t remember the last game I played where I felt the need to run around with my UI turned off because I wanted to take screen shots of everything I saw…Sanctum made me do that. Sure I am a fan of the game but sounds like many of you are judging without playing.

  • Looks like my music tastes are not quite the same as the average player… To me pinball music = bad, does not help me get in the game. Imagine watching Lord of the Rings, with pinball music instead of the great music they used? This is how I felt when playing Aion.

    As for the graphics, once again, if you have played AoC on a decent PC (ie one that can handle it, like something equipped with a 8800GTX), then there is really nothing to be impressed with Aion. Honestly WoW and its 4/5-years old engine manages to get the same kind of detail in the non-toon area… It just looks like they took LineageII, applied some new textures on the characters and enabled further customization, and there you go.

    As for the sky, I don’t ask to see other players running around on the other half of the planet when I look up. But having a couple of effects around the abyss would be nice. Like some kind of force field etc. Yes, the monsters flying around are really nice (I was always trying to target them to see what they were), yes the darkening before the rain is great. But you have something which is basically *at the center of the story* and gets no love. I think this is something that should have deserved more polishing.

    Sure the game will run fine on a 6-years old PC, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a bit better than that? Like, on a 3-years old PC (the age of the 8800GTX)? Seriously, my GTX280 was getting bored… 150 FPS with everything set to max. I don’t expect people to have to buy something like that to play. But at least don’t put polygons only on the toons/NPC’s.

    ps: you have birds in every single game nowadays… and in AoC you actually had butterflies, and herbs moving with the wind when you played on a computer that could handle that.

  • I can’t edit so I will add this here.

    This is a video someone posted about the three capitals in AoC. The music and sounds you hear are the real in-game thing. Watch it in HD. There are glitches, but I would assume this is from the fact that he is frapsing at the same time.

    Now compare it with what you see in Pandemonium… In my opinion nothing comes close to Khemi in terms of research in art design. (and I was able to visit the parts you see in the background someday due to a bug -they are not accessible-: all of them are full fledged 3D buildings. The boats have an incredible level of details. Granted, some of them are flolating above a flat ground)

  • I need to download or purchase that pinball game that you are playing… Can you send me the title and the link to DL it? I mean if the music sounds this good:

    The I can only imagine the rest of the presentation must really rock. Which of the sampled tracks sound pinbally? Just curious.

  • @Furn

    Not to put down AoC (I’ve never played it as they didn’t want to accept the trial keycode when I tried to activate it) but the problem with AoC’s graphics (which the video you linked shows very clearly) is how poorly the textures work with each other. There are texture seams everywhere, they just used the exact same textures repeated on all the walls, ground and columns. The trees are sets of mostly identical models. Also, the brightness and highlighting don’t mesh at all. The lighting is harsh, to put it mildly and not lifelike. It reminds me of those old golfing games when they started using real life pictures pasted together without any regard to lighting. I know from other videos of AoC that it actually does have some much better graphics, water effects for instance, and later on in that video some of the areas look much better, but still it doesn’t do a thing for me, looks very “computer game graphics” to me. But people have different tastes, which is good.

    Aion looks like a real, living world. Everything is varied enough that you don’t notice (at least I didn’t) things being repeated much. It has atmospheric effects that are extremely nice and honestly is much better than I expected it to be. Yes, everything blends nicely. They’ve used color palettes that complement each other. It is an alien world (a world ripped apart, that is actual floating chunks of land), so it shouldn’t look like medieval Europe. Each area has its own feel to it with background noises unique enough I knew where I was just from that alone, once I’d been there a time or two. I just hope the rest of the game holds up that well. I did notice in places where they should have used much higher resolution textures, mostly along the edges of an area.

    Monsters weren’t just a re-hash of D&D / Tolkien lore. People call this a fantasy game, but it feels more like a mixture of fantasy and science fiction to me. It is a low tech alien world, not “yet another fantasy Earth”.

    Not being able to actually fly everywhere is also a poor choice. Yes, gliding is useful and fun. There are actual air currents; I got very good at using them to extend how far I could go, even gliding around higher level areas where I’d have been insta-killed by the high level monsters if I had gotten too close to them, very neat! Still, I’ve got wings, let me use them everywhere please!

    I’ve never heard a pin-ball game that sounded like Aion! Guess you were listening to some other game than I was? Like Gravymonkey says, where can I buy this pinball game? (God, I miss playing real pinball machines…. haven’t seen one around here in ages, let alone a good one!)

    I’ll agree the Aion cities seem somewhat empty, but then it was a closed beta with not all that many people actually in the city, everyone was out playing (killing stuff I needed to kill, darn it). During the end of CB1 Sanctum was often TOO crowded with actual players running all over the place, getting in my way. I’d rather see actual players than random NPCs that are only there to take up space.

    Still, if Aion isn’t your cup of tea that is okay. Play what you enjoy. My opinion of Aion is almost exactly opposite yours, I wasn’t expecting much and was very pleasantly surprised. And most of all, I just had fun!