I caught the itch.

You know the one I’m talking about. That little tingle at the back your neck that says you have to find out more about something. The twinge of longing to take the plunge and try something firsthand. Yeah, I got it, for Aion.

Since I worked all weekend, I missed my chance at the beta but after reading all of the reports I couldn’t help myself and went out and picked up a beta pass from the local Gamestop. As of right now, I’m eagerly waiting for the next beta period. It’s the day before my wedding, so I’ll have the apartment to myself in the evening to give it a good go.

It has a lot of neat things about it, like an NPC faction, flight, and a beautiful lush world. What really convinced me to give it a shot though was that it’s already an established game. And a very successful one at that. From what I’ve read, there’s nearly 100 servers live in the Eastern hemisphere. Nearly a hundred. That’s impressive.

There are a couple of reservations I have, however, and fairly big ones at that. On it’s surface, it looks like a WoW clone. I’m not talking about the UI, although it’s also similar (who cares?), I’m referring towards the gameplay. I’ve watched through a bunch of videos on Youtube and nearly all of them give off a definite WoW vibe. Honestly though, I can deal with that. WoW is successful for a reason.

My biggest worry is that reports of lackluster PvE are about everywhere. Check out AionSource. They have a lot of reviews and great posts up and it’s almost a universal thing. In almost all of those threads, people are popping up and saying that the quest types (kill, collect, etc) are MMO staples and that people are being too critical. Plus, it’s a PvP game.

You know what? I’ve heard that line before when WAR was being hyped up. PvP’ers that claim PvE isn’t important to their game are, frankly, narrow minded drones. PvE is what makes any MMO that requires you to do it to progress. Even a game like WAR that allows you to level completely through RvR suffers immensely from the lack of quality PvE. A game must have more than one primary activity, even if that activity is dynamic, because people will not always be PvPing. I’d argue that an MMORPG that doesn’t give you a wide range of choices isn’t much of an MMO.

But, I’m going on a diatribe here. For all the good Aion has going for it, my early WAR excitement has left me more hesitant to really get excited. I don’t like the idea that the hardest challenge you’ll face in any dungeon (they’re all tank and spank, word has it) is how to absorb a bosses hits. It’s lazy design.

Still, I’m reserving any judgments until I can play it myself. The fact is, PvE quests are relatively standard but the little things (clever bits of scripting, story, animations, locations) can totally change the experience and, as of yet, I’ve heard nothing about that. Just that quests are rote and dungeons are T/S. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic but, like many, I’m looking forward to tearing into something new. If there’s so much overseas success, there must be something to love about it.