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.