My Amazing Aion Weekend Brings a Whole New Perspective

Keen at level 26
Keen at level 26

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.

Abyss Mobs look neato
Abyss Mobs look neato

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.

This Desert has great atmosphere and content
This Desert has great atmosphere and content

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.

  • I think 30 is even more important – especially if you have the CE. The better wings really make a difference in the Abyss.

    The Fire Temple pre-quest is much harder than the Fire Temple IMO, so do not get worried.

    I think this is why many people are quite harsh towards Aion. You mentioned it some days ago, we hurry through the levelling process, which does not really work in Aion.

    They judge it early, and with a lot of WoW-comparisons and western ideas in mind instead of exploring what it has to offer. The PvP is outstanding and puts WAR, WoW and everything else to shame, hands down. Everytime I see people telling me how cool WAR’s PvP is makes me wonder if they are serious. OK, perhaps that one can jump into PvP early on, but in this case they should really try Guild Wars…

    Back to Aion. Besides having stunning looks and an amazingly stable client that really supports massive multiplayer battles without making you worry that your CRAY or connection might not be enough to handle it. 😉

    I quit at level 33, but I somehow regret it (reason – it became too monotonous for me, I would also prefer a more western fantasy setting). Aion really gets better the higher you level, as you do not just get more powerful, you get new abilities and new combos that really make a difference.

  • 25+ has had a negative impression on me. The Abyss (other than the instance) is pretty pointless until you are much higher of a level.

  • @Werit, I’ve had a completely different experience to you Werit, since stepping into the abyss and getting a friend in with me i’ve found hunting other players here to be great fun even at lower levels!

    Sure your not going to be able to do much solo at 25 but its easy to find others out hunting and form a band 🙂

    Solo grinding in the abyss is more of a no no until you level a little in anything but off hours, but theres still a few islands that even when camped by elyos are grindable, as they have guard outpost less that a 10second run from the mob spawns ^^

  • I can solo plenty, except the Level 40 players who are everywhere. At that level, it makes even taking a group out pointless.

  • The Abyss is like the DAOC Frontiers of old. Rewarding to hunt there, good exp, but you’re going to risk getting ganked by a group or by someone way higher level/better than you.

  • I smiled at this part: “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”.

    That’s basically been my gameplay for about the last eight years. I base my interest in the combat side of an MMO almost entirely on the “what will it drop this time?” factor, and it never fails to amuse and intrigue, even on level 1 rats and snakes. I’m very easily amused by “what’s in the box?”.

    Other than that, even with you now framing your Aion experience in a positive light, it sounds pretty dire to me.

  • Great to hear you’ve had a bit of turn with Aion. I’m now up to 28 and the last few days have been a blast. Questing in the abyss, including a few spontaneous groupings to chase down pesky Elyos, NTC runs (you’re 100% right, the exp is bordering on the silly), and loads of great questing and a bit of exploration round the desert and Taran’s Cave areas.

    The game does seem to be a bit uneven in terms of pacing. Sometimes there’s SO much to do, but there have been points getting up to 25+ where it did feel a little thin. I’ve never stopped enjoying it, other than crafting being tedious, and I usually enjoy crafting.

  • I’ve only made it to level 18 so far, but have had to remind myself a few times that there is a reason that leveling in Aion is not as quick as in WoW.

    And really, why rush? I’m sick of rushing! 🙂

    I’ve heard from friends that have hit 25 that they are having a lot of fun, especially in the Abyss. I’m glad to hear there are things to do and see that don’t require one to be at max level to enjoy them. It’s a bit refreshing, imo.

  • Aion both punishes and rewards for rushing. If you rush too fast you’ll quickly recognize the high concentration of repeated acts and simplicity of game design. If you don’t rush, you’ll never get anywhere.

  • I reached level 15 and hit a wall. I’m just burned out on the questing and can’t bring myself to do any more of these bland quests. I’d give anything for a low-level instance or two to break up the monotony and give me some momentum again.

  • Morheim is not the only 20-25 lvl zone, Keen. I am not sure if you checked out Brusthonin, but it is a 20+ zone with a ton of quests. It is a really cool zone that feels much more open than Morheim.

  • @Wickidd: Totally forgot to add that to the entry. You’re right. I went to Brustonin and did some of those quests. That went by really quickly though. I spent most of 22-25 just grinding in Morheim. It was by far the fastest way to level and I noticed killing mobs 2lvls below me helped.

  • I found 21 to be particularly rough. Level 35 now *well, in 2 bubbles* and having a blast. Still don’t like walking in Abyss solo.

    Have to keep in mind that the opposing faction doesn’t want you leveling, so hunting you down and killing you and keeping you from wanting to level in the Abyss benefits my whole faction. I don’t want my enemies having any spare Abyss points I might be able to prevent them from having 😉

  • Oh and wanted to add… Those fortress raids are brutal. They’re just grinding in the Abyss in a place that opposing faction can’t reach basically. Fun trying to figure out the best way to get the most out of the 15 minutes, but after that, just another grindfest.

    I found a mini game to play, but going to post that story heh.

  • The Fire Temple/Lava Caves share the same lack of any sort of character that made even Black Claw village interesting. Don’t get your hopes up.

  • I canceled my sub about a week or so ago. I know and understand the games gets “better” once you hit 25. All I wanted from it was a good PVP experience, but the grind with bland PVE quests was way too much for me to keep doing it for another day.

    If the quests at least were interesting, a couple dungeons available at lower levels and a PVP zone/lake for pre 25 to have something different to do, I’d have no problem getting to level cap, I think. Well, the setting does not help much either, I’d rather have a more western look to it, like a few here have mentioned.

    I started playing it with a group of 5 friends and 3 of us already gave up on it, pretty much for the reasons I mentioned above.

  • I have to really agree with 25-28, when it first hit the abyss and grinded those levels out it felt almost as fast as 22-25 even tho thiers alot more xp to be gained. ( i pretty well never quest even now at 36 i do on avg 3Quests per lvl ).

    But 35 is where its started to take its next step up as far as enjoyment goes. The elite mob grinding for the Molars for your 20% speed shoes is really good xp and alot of fun group grinding rather then solo grinding. its alot of fun and seeing as Elite grinding seems to be how 35-40 is going to go im pretty exited for the next few levels.

  • Glad you’re finally getting into it. I agree that you shouldn’t have to play a game for all those hours until you hit level 25 to really get into it. Kinda suggests to me that the game design is flawed slightly.

  • @sikk; you start to get rifts that appear once you hit the lvl20+ areas (.eg. Morheirm). These take you through to Elyos lands, or bring them through to yours (I’m writing from the perspective of an Asmodian).

    So as soon as you hit those kind of areas you can find those pesky dudes making raids into your territory. Groups and alliances form to hunt them down, and of course to cross the rift and cause trouble on their territory.

    You also get quests that require you to go through the rifts and complete them in the other half of the world. For me, it all added loads to the game once these things start happening.

  • Personally didn’t have a problem with 20-25. 20 I headed off to Morheim, did the first few quests in the snowy area and around the fortress, doing any campaigns as I hit their level requirements, picking up and handing in repeat quests wherever I found them if I was in that certain area.

    Then off to Brusthonin, probably got about a level or so there.

    After that back to Morheim, questing around the fungus, for the Elim, and the alchemist guy, and then off to the camp near the Spriggs, no flight point but there is an Obelisk. I grinded while I was questing, but never found myself needing to do any solid grinding at 20-25.

    Just hit 25 last night myself so hitting the Abyss soon no doubt, first thing I did was the quest for entrance so.. time to test it soon.

  • Its funny, I had the same feeling. I was thinking to my self “I don’t want this stupid grind” but once I got the right mentality it was no problem grinding away

  • My experience is the same as Jaedia as I’m almost at 25.I did some quests in Morheim then moved to Brusthonin and the xp flew like no other,no need to grind.I even tried to venture to the Observatory in the desert and find myself got killed by an overland Boss( the huge flying thing with a patrol)

    I had to slow down to get my Extracting level to 150 to be able to do some quests and gathering.I also melted down some Gladiators who seems to always like to challenge me(I was level 23 Cleric then.I also got my ass whooped by some Elyos who entered Asmodae through a rift.

    All in all my leveling has been fun.

  • Since my main is also chanter (lvl 32 atm), long distance goal: ranged DD/stun at 42. At 31 you will get a Word of win DP skill, its like a shot of crack, joyuous

    Temple is a bit of blah.. you got to decide if you gona try and get extendable Mace, if you do decide prepare for A LOT of runs (50 being the low end). Its not like farming FBSS but still is a lot of work and the item is a game changer, there are other extendable weapon later on though. I decided to probably skip it. Fortress dungeons you really need to be 34 or so, grp there really needs every bit of dps they can get.

    Keen you should try rifting, its pretty fun.

    Abyss is incredible design, I did probably about 80% of my leveling since 25 there. You die a lot.. but it really recaptures feeling of grinding in some old games. You are the prey.. and you got to pay attention 100% of the time. It also is the biggest motivator for leveling, once 42 comes.. pigeons are gona PAY. BTW makes sure to be stacked with consumables they help a lot to survive gankage

  • I have a level 33 Gladiator at the moment and I am really loving this game so far.

    The first time I did the Training camp with guildies we trio’d it (Glad, Temp, Chanter). It was alot of fun, although we had to skip some packs of mobs that come in 3+. The experiance there is amazing and those four levels are practically given to the playerbase.

    Keen, if you want to do something a little sneaky at level 28 go back to training camp with your xp bar almost completely fulled. Ding 29 inside the instance and kill every single mob inside on that run. You can make about 700k-800k into level 29 in well under an hour.

  • @Codersigma: Yes, when I reach a level where I can PvP effectively against others I will make a post about it. Also, since PvP is a big part of Aion’s end-game, like DAOC, you can expect me to be talking about it for some time. PvE is also important to me as well though, as it was in DAOC.

    @Sikk: Yes, there is pvp outside the Abyss. Sometimes a full group will be wandering around in my PvE areas. It would be like if a portal opened up randomly for the enemy to jump through and fight in your “safe” PvE areas.

    @smthin: Thanks for the tips! I’ll be running Fire Temple as much as possible. I don’t mind running dungeons for stuff that’s a rare drop if the dungeons are fun or interesting. I did the camping in EQ and didn’t mind it.

    @JustinD: That’s my plan! 🙂

  • Don’t get your hopes up for the Fortress instance wings… while they are a fun distraction from quests and grinding, give decent xp, and give excellent AP rewards… the actual instances are nothing to write home about. They are simplistic & short serving as a sort of rewarding daily objective.

  • I’m basically playing Aion because I have friends who play Aion, which makes the grind easier, but not any less of a problem.

    If I had to typify Aion, it would be “Safe”, with a tagline of “You can take the MMO out of Asia but you can’t take the Asia out of the MMO.”. And the grind proves that.

  • Well, I am glad you wrote this – I have 2 characters, one at 22 and one at 23 and just felt this pre-25 drag. I was hoping it would get better at 25 but wasn’t sure if it will. This gave me some extra motivation!

    I am also really distracted by rifts…up to today…I still haven’t seen one and I have all of the locations on my map marked…I want mah rifts!

  • The wing instances are basically loot pinatas, except that loot is pretty much just some gold and abyss points. This is the first mention I’ve heard of something else dropping from there.

  • I wish I had more time to invest in Aion. I’m in so many games because of work that I don’t get the chance to really sit down and play — that or I’m writing all the time and don’t get the chance to stop. (I’m lucky I’m stopped right now, but then again once I write this comment I’m going to go to bed and repeat the hardcore writing again tomorrow. XD)

    But, for a game that I want to spend more time in, the design still irks me. A design that takes you 25+ levels is just so odd. A game that forces repetitive tasks down your throat and, as you said Keen, punishes you when you move too fast and doesn’t let you enjoy it when you move too slow (like me) is… well… odd.

    I feel the same things you feel. I dunno what to make of it. I’m not sure to praise it for what it does right or kick the crap out of it for what it does wrong.

  • Aion grind is same as what you would do in WoW, just longer by a bit. In WoW I would have browser with quest descriptions open. Collect quests, go do them collect Xp. Check next set of quests, repeat repeat repeat. I actually prefer to settle in one spot and just grind to level. Quests annoy the hell out of me now.

    One thing I wish is that grp xp was increased by a bit making dungeons more efficient xp wise.

    Fortress instances get you few things:
    1. xp
    2. ap
    3. medals that you need for Abyss gear

  • Honestly I haven’t felt any slow down and I have a 24 Ranger. I would a good higher level if I didn’t level up Alchemy to 200 already. (I only play an hour or so a night)

    @We Fly Spitfires

    Just because Keen didn’t get into the game until 25 doesn’t mean others didn’t. I don’t think the game design is flawed at all. I played WoW but never really clicked with it, I loved EQ. This is like the next step to me from EQ. It feels like a natural MMO progression.

  • @smthin: The grind in Aion is much different from WoW. In WoW you do tons of quests and level up by just doing them. Rarely (and I mean RARELY now) do you have to grind mobs for long periods of time in WoW. In Aion, however, you grind tons of mobs for hours on end to make up for the lack of questing.

  • Keen, the loot in Fire Temple is rare drop just like Training Grounds. Also, the endboss has two possible forms, and regular spawn, and a slightly tougher, slightly better dropping rare spawn. The minibosses are also random spawn, they may or may not show up on any given run. The best thing about the instance is the 30 minute timer, which makes the place farmable multiple times per day. You will do whole runs where nothing drops at all alot. The exp is decent, but it’s not as great as Training Grounds. If you’re looking to use Fire Temple to level, it’d honestly be better for you to get a small group and grind elites in one of the open elite areas instead. The loot would likely be better in the long run too.

    I’m told Steel Rake at 40 is the first instance with a truely great loot table that drops consistently.

  • After spending 6 yrs on FFXI and 8 months on WOW I find aioni nice change of pace. FF was anti-solo which made leveling a group effort damn near imposs to solo(unless u wherea blm). WOW on the other was way easy. Sorta like playing monoply with 2 yr olds(0-48 solo in less then 3 weeks). Mmorpg are built for the long haul($$$$ per month).

    Atm I’m a lvl 22 rng and enjoy the quest/grind that aion has. IE: spent a day in the dukiki mines grinding and farming ore. At the end of theday 2 levels and 280k in kinah.

    People that came from WOW are Q Q cuz they can’t level from 0-70 over the weekend. If you don’t like go back to chutes and ladders aka WOW.

    Maybe my tune will change as I’m heading into the 22-25 levels we’ll see