I got the chance to explore a little bit more in Aion last night. As I was playing a few thoughts kept popping up in my mind. Since many of you were interested in my impressions, I thought I’d post them here until I write another “impressions” post. I have to say though, because I feel it’s important, I had no interest in Aion whatsoever until I tried it. I’m very surprised with how much fun I’ve had. Before this, the game I’d had the most fun questing in was WoW, hands down. For better or worse, Aion matches that experience. Here we go…

-> Without a doubt, WoW fans will call copycat on this one.

By level six on the Asmodyian side, you’ll most likely encounter a quest that has you killing restless undead whose burlap sack headwear bears an uncanny resemblence to those in WoW. Likewise, the glowy yellow bugs a reminiscient of those in Zangarmarsh. Combining that with the similar UI and the playstyle similarities, WoW fans may brush the game off. Forgot to screenshot, sorry.

-> Aion makes you feel rich… but you’re not.

By level six, I have over 2,000 kinah. Since there’s no breakdown (correct me if I’m wrong) of money into different types, you wind up with a lot of it. Where some games reward you with 50 copper for an early quest, NPCs here will reward you with 900 kinah early on. There’s a lot of money sinks though, so it evens out. Still, it leads me to wonder about the cash rewards later in the game. Little known fact: the Asmodyian faction leader is the Monopoly man.

-> No news here: grinding is there but worthwhile.

There’s been a lot of talk about how NCSoft is westernizing the game. The common understanding is that this means they’re reducing the grind. Still, I hope they leave it as a viable form of advancement. Right now, you can choose to either quest, grind, or a mix of both and all three options are worth the time you put in. I like having the option to turn off for a while and still get something done. The experience actually reminds me a lot of the Final Fantasy SRPG series, where you’d have to level up to prepare for boss fights. To me, that’s a good thing. Apart from XP, grinding will also net you vendor trash which is suprisingly lucrative. I made over 1k just from killing mobs between two quest hubs.

Grind also acts as a separating factor. WoW streamlined MMOs and in doing so they changed player’s expectations. Grinding will filter out people from getting to the endgame. While I’m not in support breaking down a game into casual vs. hardcore, I do think there’s value in making people earn max level. It gives the everyday player something to aspire to.

-> Legion (guild) banners are just cool.

Appears automatically after joining a legion

Appears automatically after joining a legion -- click to enlarge

I got myself into a legion last night and was surprised to see a new armor piece appear on my character. This is what trophies in WAR should have been.  Mythic, please take this example and use it in your game. Along with that though…

-> /Who search sucks.

No ability to search by legion tag? Poor. Demanding proper capitalization? Worse. This made it a chore to find members of the legion I was interested in because I couldn’t just search for “warmongers.” I had to go to the aionsource forums, locate members posts, search for their character names, and then move on to contacting them. And, beware people who have fun with capitals. “Cryptic” is not the same thing as “cryptic”.

-> I’m a little conflicted in how I feel about questing.

The polish in the questing experience is great. You can tell they cared about the quality of their questing experience and the mini cut-scenes (fly overs of your quest area usually) are really neat. Still, the quest text tends to be lengthy. Usually, I wouldn’t mind this since I’m among those who enjoy reading why I’m being asked to do something. Yet, since I know it will ultimately come down to kill, collect, or deliver, I find myself tempted to just skip it.

That’s about it for now. I’m really interested to dig into this game a little bit more now that I have a group of other English speakers to play with. I’ll put together another impressions post once I get my wings.