Aion’s 3rd Beta Weekend thoughts: Class choice and whether to beta test or not

The 3rd weekend ended yesterday for Aion’s closed beta weekend testing.  Although I was really looking forward to logging in, I found myself trying not to play at all.  The next testing phase will allow players to reach level 25 and participate in the Abyss, or parts of it due to the low level, and PvP as a faction vs. the other faction.  This could be really fun, but it comes at a high price.  Leveling up to 25 is no small undertaking.  That’s half of the levels in the game, although probably not even 1/3 of the content or time to reach the cap.  I had to really weigh the costs and benefits of playing through the content.  Was it worth removing that ‘first time’ feeling?  Was it worth knowing that I would be playing through all that content all over again at release?  Was it worth confirming what I already know – that I like the game – just to have something to do?  Ultimately, no.

My debate over which class to play was compounded this weekend as I played my Sorcerer a bit more.  I got him up to level 15, mostly by grinding, and wasn’t enamored by what I saw.  The class felt like every other ‘mage’ that I have ever played in a MMO; it felt like my Eldritch, Mage, Wizard, Runemaster, etc.  Is this bad?  No, I enjoyed those classes and took a couple of them to the “end-game” – and some of them to great PvP feats.  It’s just that feeling of familiarity is unsettling knowing that there might be some classes in Aion that feel new and fresh.  The Chanter, for example, offers an interesting Healer/Buffer/Melee hybrid that sounds like a DAOC Friar.  That sounds different from what I have played in the past 4 years – should I try it?  As I played this weekend, solo grinding mobs, I did realize that this class will play differently later on and that I will fill a different role from what I’m exactly used to: Crowd Control.  Even in a raid setting, CC is used in Aion.  This could make for a very active, rather than passive, caster experience as I am in charge of ensuring the group fights only what it can take.

Since I only reached level 15 this weekend have no real desire to push myself to level a character that will be wiped and see content that I will have to play again, I may not get to beta test the Abyss.  I’m sorta banking on NCsoft being generous and allowing us to have pre-made level 25 characters for the 4th weekend, but I won’t hold my breath.  I’m going to be okay with not seeing the pvp… I think…  In the end it will be better for me.  I like the PvE, I like what I hear about PvP, and I enjoy playing the game in the here and now.  I’m going to force myself to trust those things and not give in to overdoing it in beta.

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  • You’re really missing out, I’d say if I had to pick one single beta that would be the most worth playing, it’s this one.

    I understand the burning out thing, but the vast majority of the endgame revolves around The Abyss, playing it at 25 won’t spoil it for you, since at max level it’ll be so much more, but it will give you a sneak peak as to what the endgame has to offer, and more importantly, if it triggers with you.

    You could hate The Abyss or love it, why not find out before putting down the cash/time investment in the real thing.

  • Keen, have you already entered a “Dungeon” with a party, are they instanced and do they actually exist at all?

    I feel a bit stressed, I started betatesting on Monday and just got to level 11 and 9 with Sorcerer and Warrior (going to be a Templar at 10). I am not sure if I will have the time to get 25 and then still be in the mood and have the time to participate in the Abyss PvP, but I will try hard to test it – as this is supposedly the “endgame” of Aion, what it is all about.

  • I completely agree. To push in beta as far as 25, seems like i would burn myself out anyways. 🙂 I too only got to 15 and that was a challenge enough for me. I played the chanter and loved it, but i can wait till release.

  • @Knqui: It’s not the Abyss I’m worried about burning out on, but the process of leveling up. I actually like leveling in games. It’s my favorite part in WoW and what I loved most about EQ, LOTRO, etc. I think I’ve finally pinned down why WAR bothered me so much – it lacked a journey. The journey matters, and to do it in beta is just against my better judgment.

    That’s why I’m torn. I want to find out how the Abyss feels, but at the same time I don’t want to ruin what I already know I enjoy.

    @Longasc: There are instanced dungeons, there are shared dungeons, and there are outdoor areas that feel like dungeons (elites, progression, loot, bosses, etc). Read up on the 1.5 patch notes (Here on our forums) and you’ll see a few more dungeons they’re adding.

  • Having so many beta weekends so far away from launch could be NCSofts undoing. Sure, it’s building a lot of hype of Aion but it’s also giving too much away, too soon. I imagine quite a few people will have had their share of the game before it’s even released.

    Still, I find myself in the same position as you – trying to stop myself from logging in just so I don’t spoil myself too much on the game. Still got a long wait ahead of us…

  • I have played this last beta weekend and reading up on Aion. I am mainly a small group player and was wondering are raids only for PvP out door bosses or are the high end dungeons raids to?

  • Thank you, Keen. I am mostly gathering info from Aionsource.com and forums. There is a difference to WoW, this game has already been released in Korea and China and we still know less about the game and it is definitely not so well documented in terms of mechanics and so on as WoW was from the very beginning.

    For example, I stumbled about a movement related feature of the combat system that was not mentioned elsewhere, someone at MMORPG.com mentioned it briefly. If you press backwards once, the combat system improves your defense, and your offense if you are moving forward or attacking from behind. Left/Right is important for Assassins, as it improves evasion. (translated webpage): http://translate.google.de/translate?prev=hp&hl=de&js=n&u=http://www.aionwiki.de/index.php/Kampfsystem&sl=de&tl=en&history_state0= – and it really works and makes a difference. If you see a weird arrow in the middle of the screen, at the lower end of your chars legs, this is it.

    I think you should test the hell out of Aion during the beta weekends. There is so much to test and unknown that you will not be able to do it all.

    And if you already feel you have done most of the game after the beta weekend, well, then you should not even bother to buy it. While this would be a pity, it would still be a positive result for a beta test and save you money and a disappointment.

    At the moment not even AION’s CM knows (!) what the CE “Earth/Fire/Water/Air” Rings will actually do, or if the CE wings will be account wide or if they will be mailed to the first char you create automatically and so on…!

    The funny thing was, the CM stated he will probably (!) know more about this question in some weeks (Houston, we have a communication problem?).

  • @Longasc: The combat mechanic you’re speaking of is indeed in the game and often goes unnoticed. I didn’t know what it was at all for the first test weekend and not until the second did it click after someone mentioned it on ventrilo.

    I agree with you about wanting to know all that I can early on. I’ve played a couple characters now and found some that I like and others that I do not. I’ve learned a great deal about the general feel of the game and what I can expect it to be like as I level up. I like what I see. Now the tough part is deciding, within the next 3 months, how much I want to see and how much I want to reserve for that “special feeling” one gets when a game launches.

    @Fyrion: I’ll have to let someone else address that. I know there are “raids”, but I do not know if they are dungeons or outdoors.

  • I have always enjoyed your testing and sharing opinions with who ever wants to read them.
    With regards to the burn out feeling, I too am worried but have decided that as I am beta testing the side with the back hair (no idea what either side is called), on release I plan to switch sides and find the new stuff out whilst wearing a pair of nice worn in boots (so to speak).

  • I don’t do BETA past levels 10 to 15. I’m not one for alts or re-rolling. I want to feel the content fresh out of the box after I’ve plunked down my cash.

    I prefer to use the BETA time to do each of the classes I’m considering playing to level 15 so that on release day, I already know what class I’m going to play and I’m off.

    I think I’ll stick with that and enjoy the ride for real. I’d never do instanced content in a BETA and spoil my live game fun. This has worked out for me since the last 3 games the classes I thought I’d play from my usual choices ended up not being what I liked at all. I’m usually a Wizard of some sort but in AOC I ended up Bear Shaman, WAR I loved the Warrior Priest but started the Bright Wizard first (animations were to hot not to) and ROM I’m a Battle Monk (Priest+Warrior).

    I don’t understand how people push through the content during BETA knowing they’ll be repeating it all again at release. That wouldn’t be fun to me.

  • LOL I think I have the opposite opinion of heartless_: Don’t burn yourself out. At least I wouldn’t, but that’s partly why I’ve been avoiding betas lately.

    IMHO Once you know it’s worth playing, the cost isn’t that high to get into it for at least a month or two when it’s released. Unless you’ve got something else / better to play, or like me you need a break from this sub-genre for a bit.

    Dammit you had me sold on the Sorc earlier, hah. Well it’s gonna be a bit before I get around to trying Aion anyway. I’m looking forward to your updates, especially with the Endgame after release.

  • I understand the ‘burnout’ factor … but I’m also in the current state of ‘nothing else to play’. I wish I could just leave the beta and experience things anew after launch, but that is over 2 months away and I literally am playing nothing else. The event weekends every other week is almost a perfect buffer time for me right now so it is just begging me to play it when its available.

    Since I am playing Aion almost exclusively for the Abyss and PvP, I feel compelled to at least test it out while I can. Leveling is leveling, it will never be exciting to me and will always be a hurdle… just a more boring hurdle the 2nd time through.

  • I was really dying for something to play too when these Aion weekends started. It wasn’t until this third one rolled around that I got into another beta test for a game I can’t mention and also picked up Dawn of war 2. Now I’m able to say “y’know, I don’t need to play this until launch.

  • I’ve only joined a few betas, and I didn’t have great experiences in the games after.

    Warcraft 3: Never bought it, just burnt out on it too soon.
    Connan: Never bought it, to buggy on my system and never gave it another chance.
    WAR: Bought it, but unsubbed 3-4 months later. For all the common WAR issues. But my Beta excitement was always mixed and that set a tone into release that I never really shook.
    BattleForge: Never bought it, but this one paid off. I Really wanted to like this game but in the end just didn’t enjoy it. I’m really glad I didn’t sink a ton of cash into cards. Whew!

    For me just the buggy, unpolished product along with the frustration of playing a game like that WHILE I have that “Oh Hell Yea! New Game Feeling!” is just a bad combination for me.

    I understand it’s beta, I’m just not a Beta person. But I appreciate the the folks that are!

  • I have the same feelings with betas I like being able to try the classes and preview before putting the money down but I am worried about burn out. Going to keep my play time down with Aion since I am really enjoying it but is hard with no other MMO to play currently.

  • I completely agree with your feeling of not getting burn out keen!!! i feel the same.. got beta key for all beta events still i didnt want to play this weekends and starting to get bored allready 🙂

    although next beta with abyss is dealer or breaker for the game and for many of us pvp ers 🙂 if there are premade lvl 25 chars maybe i ll try else i ll read a review somewhere haha.

    anyways a question for the ones who played a bit more than me u guys think chanter or cleric will perform better pvp wise?

  • Clerics are widely acknowledged as a powerful class. They are well rounded and capable of putting out the best healing with well rounded damage and survivability.

  • I won’t be touching it until release. PvE bores the living crap out of me, so why in God’s name would I ever subject myself to it TWICE? (Once on a throwaway beta char no less…)

  • And no replayability at least in the sub-15 range. I think Tobold mentioned this and it disappointed me too. The two faction starting areas are incredibly alike with a similar layout and quest series. I miss the days when designers took the time to individualize starting areas by race and class.

  • It would be very nice to see some sort of system where once you had leveled a particular archetype (scout, warrior, mage, priest) to 10 that you could create characters at level 10 in the same archetype and just start at the ascension quest, especially since as mentioned the replayability sub 15 really is just blah. It doesn’t make the game very alt friendly to the western world who are used to multiple starting areas in most games.

  • @Curious George: Everquest was the most fun I had with newbs in their starting areas. Starting areas were diverse and at times felt like their own game. I remember Kelethin being so different from Halas and how I could create a character in each and never once feel like it was replaying the same content.

    For me the lack of replayability extends past 15 though – especially when it’s a ‘first time’ experience. All MMORPGs eventually bring players together and progress in the same zones. Aion’s starts at level 1, WoW’s at like 15-20, etc.

    I don’t want to revisit the same content until I’m doing it on an alt, if I can help it.

    @Grayvmonkey: EQ2 had the archetype system but eventually did away with it. Playing a something to work towards playing what you really want to play only works until people get tired of it. Eventually it becomes a deterrent (already is for me, it’s why I didn’t level a Chanter).

    Even if starting areas were diverse, I don’t want to put in the effort to level a character twice. In some betas I have really wanted to level up because I didn’t know if I liked the game. Sometimes I loved the game so much I could not resist, but that usually led to burnout and enjoying the game less at launch. It’s the latter causing me to second guess playing Aion early.

    I already know I’m getting Aion. I made my mind up a few days ago. I’m in damage control mode now to preserve the wow factor.

  • In the same boat as you Keen. I don’t really have a character close enough to the cap to really want to make the effort to burn through the levels to 25.

    I’ve decided in the next beta phase, if they don’t provide premade 25s for us, I’m going to really dig into the crafting system and get a good handle on it for release.

  • Funny how it seems more common suddenly (esp w.r.t. Aion) to skip or go easy on the beta. I don’t remember this from Vanguard, or AoC, or WAR, etc…

    I don’t think it’s necessarily bad, either. There’s a lot to be said for the first time you play; you search for things, you notice nice views, you get lost. Later play throughs can be relaxing in a sort of ‘See the numbers go up and get some tasks done’ way, but it’s never quite the same.

    Any ideas on why this is? Is it because of Aion’s essentially already-released state? Are people that confident they’ll stick with it later, that they don’t want to waste their time and amazement with characters that won’t last? Or is it just an ostrich ‘Well, I know I’ll get bored eventually, why do it now’ response that we don’t want to admit? (I preordered it myself, after the latest beta weekend, but even so.) Or maybe just a growing maturity in the MMO consumer market. We realize pigging out on chocolate cake every day might not be the best thing for us, after all.

    And I wonder, what if betas for the so-called failed MMOs were smaller. Would the wonder and novelty have hooked you long enough to have made a guild, made some friends, gotten to the bits of the game that were more exciting? Basically invested you, in a way that you wouldn’t be if you were just regrinding 1-20 because that’s where you were when the beta ended.

    Just ramblings, really. It’ll be interesting to see where Aion goes after 6 months. I’m actually planning on holding off on most of my alts, if I can resist, because I predict they’ll spice/split up the beginning areas eventually.

  • Since the ingame manual is very meager so far, its nice to be able to try out all the different things & systems. I was quite surprised how much stuff is not obvious, but very helpful once you found out about it.

  • I was torn on this as well. I was in CB3 and it was my first glimpse of Aion. In the end I decided not to play too hard, so levelled a ranger to 12 and a priest to 7.

    By that point I really was wanting to put it down. I was enjoying it, but didn’t want to spoil the fun for the future!

  • […] just too much of the same old. Keen is already bored with leveling characters through the cookie-cutter content-on-rails newbie areas (mostly identical for both factions, too). Syp sees nothing in Aion he hasn’t seen done […]

  • I definitely burned myself out on WAR. I was so excited for that game and had major high hopes. Granted WAR in its CURRENT state is not nearly as good of a game as Aion is already. I have pretty much stopped playing Aion until launch though with the exception of the beta weekends, and even then I am playing opposite faction of launch.

    I would love it if they got rid of the pre 10 Archetype system. I tend to be a person that doesn’t level a lot of alts because I enjoy end game way more than leveling, but lots of people I know are already expressing frustration at the alt system. Its not like you learn anything different from the first 10 levels in the same archetype after all.

  • If you don’t feel like leveling it again and seeing and playing content again was it really fun to begin with?

  • Yeah, it is fun to begin with and I’ve already gone through 15 levels of it that I can never see as “new” at launch. If the first 15 were so great I can imagine how good the next 15 will be, and to not experience them raw and new is contrary to what I want.

  • Would be nice to wait until launch if there were something better to occupy my gaming leisure… but it’s all I’m interested in atm =/

    … so, about that mystery game beta you’re in….

  • Hi Keen,

    Been a while since we played WAR together Order side of Phoenix Throne.

    I’m planning on rolling a Chanter as my main. The versatility sounds awesome, and I love melee classes. It sounds like it will be similar to a LOTRO Captain, which was the class I most enjoyed.

    I finally got around to creating a blog, here is my first article on Aion:
    http://taugrim.com/2009/07/08/impressions-of-aion-na-closed-beta-3/

    Hopefully we’ll end up on the same server. I really enjoyed running with you and your friends.

    Cheers,
    Taugrim

  • Keen & graev, you two totally given up on Age Of Conan?

    Or ever thinking of giving it a 2nd go after all the changes made to the game since the last time you two played together.

    (They have “try the game free for 2 weeks” now for old players)

  • Hopefully it’s not too late to relay you the following message:

    If you keep playing, you’re going to burn out just like you did with every other game you’ve ever wrote about on your blog ever. Take a break, and come back to Aion in a couple of months.

  • @Will

    I saw that today browsing the Warhammer online forums. It was a quote in someones signature.

    Very true i’m afraid.

  • Interesting, thanks. Why was war good sub-T4 and became less fun thereafter? One meeellion players to the devs who figure that one out.

  • @ Thorngarn

    100-player zergs > ten 10-player groups

    That’s why Warhammer failed, their RvR didn’t require strategy or RvR lake management…. just total steamrolling.

    One of my greatest hopes for Aion is that they institute mechanics to combat the zerg strategy.

  • I myself have been a lover of the caster during my MMO time, With my Runemaster in DAoC, Mage in WoW and Sorc in WAR and from.

    However my first love will always be for the Hunter of Midgard, sadly no game has managed to live up to the simple joys of this class and have decided to go the way of WoW’s takings on what a hunter should be.

    From what i have seen and heard, Aion’s Ranger will sadly be no different from that of the WoW hunter.

    I wasted alot of time and energy waiting for the Hunter in WoW and the Squig Herder in WAR to come good in terms of the archery specs but to no avail.

    So it looks like a caster for me unless you have any other information on why the Ranger might be worth a try….?

    or indeed a class that might tempt me away from these ranged types altoghther…..

  • You can get a CD key from this site for $7.99. You can pre-order the game from almost anywhere and it will come with the code as well.