My goal this weekend was to get my Elyos Chanter up to the high teens in order to find a group for the elite area. I reached that goal yesterday evening and placed myself looking for group (/lfg). I’m still not sure how to view a list of people looking for group, or if it’s possible to set myself lfg for anything specific, but I guess it worked because I was contacted no more than 5 minuets after putting myself out there.
I ended up in a group that went to the Krall area to do some quests. Unfortunately I had not gone to the Krall area before or worked on my campaign quests enough to be on the really good quests, so I was more or less along for the ride. What I thought was going to be just one group ended up merging into an “alliance” which is similar to a “raid”, “wargroup”, etc. The total size of our group was 8 members and the leader of the group decided that we would go as deep as we can go. I was the backup healer (there was a Cleric) but with people being level 16-23 I found myself mostly healing the off-tank (Gladiator) and spot healing everyone else.
Grouping is a lot of fun in Aion – a lot more fun than soloing. MMO vets will feel right at home, as I did, with the group dynamics. We didn’t have any CC, but the interface feature to place symbols over NPC’s and players made it easy to see which target was first. Our tank (Templar) had a very neat ability that sent out this glowing tendril, grabbed a mob, and yanked it back to the group. The animation of this ability surprised me – it’s really quite good. Pulling mobs in to the group made avoiding adds rather easy in this outdoor dungeon-like region.
This particular outdoor region is well done. There were plenty of mobs and the respawn rate was comfortable. In channel 10 there were 3 other groups moving around besides ourselves. Competing for pulls wasn’t a big deal. Bosses spawned in various areas and had fairly quick respawn rates. Their loot was decent and the exp was supposedly very good for everyone besides myself (being level 16 killed my exp in a big group with our level range).
I really, really like the potential of grouping. It’s reminiscent of the time I spent in places like Spindelhalla and Darkness Falls with groups roaming around getting exp and loot. Grouping to level is a fantastic mechanic (optional or not) that promotes community and fun. Loot does not appear to be a driving force in this area. From what I have gathered, it appears that green items drop and can be decent enough to want them but not something you’d say “aw man I really need my greens to move on”. It’s more of a cherry on top; That nice little surprise or addition to something already tasty.
These outdoor regions seem like the perfect place to foster that same type of experience I would have back in EQ in places like Highpass or South Karana when I’d make a shout in the zone for a group and get invited to a group of people I didn’t know to spend hours gaining exp and having fun. It’s going to be my goal to get to these elite areas as soon as possible in each new zone. This will be far more fun than doing the quest-hub shuffle or the grind. Aion seems to have lots of opportunities to mix things up: Instances, PvPvE instances, Abyss, Quest hubs, solo grind, small-group grind, elite area group grinds, elite area group quests, and probably more that I don’t know about.
My first group experience in Aion, in a pug, makes me want more. I’d say that’s a good sign.