I’ve been really pushing my Aion play-time the past few days. There hasn’t been a lot of time for me to really dig my heels in and enjoy the game in long bursts because of busy school schedules and RL friends. Luckily both of those things have subsided and my time in Aion is growing exponentially.
When I logged in on Thursday I was level 22’ish. I am now going to hit level 28 today (Sunday). I’d like to share with you all my experiences this weekend and shed some light on the leveling experience as well as some of the dungeons and content I explored.
Levels 22-25 aka “Hell levels”
I won’t lie to you… these really were hell levels. Exp seemed to crawl and there weren’t enough quests available to me. I was dragging my feet and resisting something I had done for years: Grind. Grinding is in my blood and I’m rather good at it, however I’ve grown rusty over the years… or so I thought. The on-rails themepark style MMO grinding is much different from the MMORPG sandbox grind. The volume of mobs and “active focus/concentration” of the on-rails themepark grinding took me a while to get used to. A switch needed to be thrown in my head to accept this form of grinding as nothing different, even though it felt different. Grinding on big monsters like Sand Giants or waiting on spawns to kill the single spawn feels much different than killing fields and enormous camps of dozens of mobs. Once I made this mindset change though it was like something clicked… I started to enjoy myself.
This idea of grinding large camps of mobs became fun. I decided to make a little game out of it and think of each kill as a pinata. Will this one drop me an epic? Will this one give me a recipe? What will I find on this one? Opening each mob’s corpse felt like I was playing the lottery. This pushed me to continue killing faster and faster and not wanting to stop. Before I knew it, I was leveled up. Then leveled up again. Then again.
I found clusters of mobs off the beaten path (nearly impossible in Aion mind you) and tried ensure that I had Vitality nodes (stuff to gather like Titanium) nearby to raise that skill which I have been mistakingly out-leveling. I went from 170k to 800k Kinah. It’s amazing how much money you make while grinding and selling what you find. It doesn’t seem like much at first but if you sell all the gray trash items (DO NOT DESTROY THEM!!!) you’ll make bank. TIP: Expand your Cube (inventory) now and it will pay for itself quickly.
Most of my exping from 22-25 came directly from Morheim. Great mobs to grind: Spiders & Wolves. Between the Morheim Ice Fort and the winding path that leads to the Fungus stuff there are tons of soft mobs — kill them ALL and don’t watch the exp bar. They’re squishy and give great loot. Gather the Titanium and Twisp. Credit for this tip goes to my guildmates.
Level 25-28: A Whole New World!
This is when the game really does change like everyone says. I immediately did my Abyss access quest and began to do the 8 or so quests available at the landing. Doing these and grinding on mobs give great exp. However, I do not find it to be as amazing as most people were saying. Sure, the mobs give Stigma stones and their exp is ~25% higher than most, but the risk of death to other players is a pita because time spent running back to your hunting spot or finding a new one neutralizes that 25% bonus.
Where level 25 shines is the Training Camp! This is an instance with an 18 hour lockout. The experience you gain in here is absolutely disgusting. I was getting 18k-23k per kill which translated to 75% of a level at 25 in one run. At 26 it was only slightly under that. I popped a Lotus Amulet (25% bonus exp) and drooled at the exp gain. Okay, so this place is great exp but is it fun? There’s nothing really amazing to look at here and the content is rather straight forward: Pull, tank, spank. However, it’s quick (~1 hour in a slow group) and the reward makes it fun. The mobs drop Balaur crafting mats as well as decent coin. There are a few mini-bosses and the main boss (they look neat) but so far in my two runs of this place absolutely no loot has dropped from the bosses. I’m told that blues can drop, but they’re rare.
Morheim also changes for the better. I was really getting tired of the drab looking spriggin area with washed out gray colors in the area after the boring snow. The Desert area of Morheim is a whole different world to me. The music sets the tone for what turns out to be a really great questing experience. At level 26 over a dozen quests open up at the Desert camp (flight point available) and they send you all over this desert place. Some of them are your typical “grind on X, Y, and Z until they drop you their intestines and shells” but some of them are straight up kill quests. I like the scenery here. There are ponds of dirty water with rotting bones and vultures, flat-land desert areas with dangerous raid bosses (mean vulture), ruins leading up the side of a cliff housing all sorts of spectral mobs, caves, and probably more that I have not seen yet.
Grinding is still prevalent at this level and I find that I end up killing stupid amounts of mobs to get the quest drop and work my way to mobs that I need (lots of wading through aggro mobs) but if I just remember to flip that switch and think of every kill as a box of cracker jacks then I’m fine.
Aion has left a really positive impression on me this weekend. I never reached the point of not liking the game, but I did become indifferent to it for a few days as I was struggling to find time to invest into the 18-23 span. I’ve learned that Aion is a game that gives back what you put into it. Some games give back 2x what you put in or don’t require you to put in much at all. That’s not the case with Aion and people need to realize that. This simply is not as casual friendly as most games that share its model (WoW, LotRO, etc).
I’ve found something to latch onto — a goal — and I’m striving for it. My goal is to reach level 30 and experience the Fire Temple and Fortress Instance-Wing content. Yeah, it’s a themepark-like “end-game” mentality oriented goal but it’s a goal nonetheless and it’s something I really needed in Aion. For anyone struggling out there to feel Aion’s soul, to feel what this game has to offer and what it’s all about, reach level 25. I know, I know, you shouldn’t have to play a game to level 25 to feel this and I’m not going to justify it at all (trust me, in hindsight I didn’t like 1-23 either) but it changes for the better.