One of the things that really irks me about Aion naysayers are the folks who immediately shout out “IT’S A KOREAN GRINDFEST!” as soon as the name Aion is uttered. Apparently, and this is something I do not know firsthand, every other Korean MMO is inflicted with a tremendous grind. This may be true but it does not mean Aion is the same.
First of all, what is a grind? Is it killing mobs over and over? Doing the same instances/Raids over and over? Partaking in the same Battlegrounds or Arenas over and over? Or maybe its doing any of the above in order to increase your rep with some faceless faction?
I would say all of these can be a grind. Then again sometimes they are not. What makes the difference, you ask? Simple. It’s a grind as soon as it stops being fun. The second you enter an instance you have done 15 times and find yourself thinking “Oh no, not this again.”. As soon as that happens it is a grind, not one second before.
In “vanilla” WoW I found myself killing Nefarian in Blackwing Lair about 30 some-odd times but I never considered it a grind. It was fun, I loved it. In contrast, I found myself loathing Karazhan after about the third time. I kept doing it but it was a grind. I do not mind doing stuff over and over, as long as I have fun doing it. I do not consider fun a grind.
The same goes for any of the normal MMO activities and what is a grind one night, may not be a grind the next. I can remember killing Ogres below Halaa in WoW night after night, sometimes it was a grind and I didn’t feel like doing it. The next night for one reason or another I had fun and it was not a grind.
Secondly, grind can be hidden. In the aforementioned Ogre grind, one of the reasons it was fun some nights was because I would come across Horde to kill. This broke up the monotony of endlessly killing mobs and made the experience fun. Grind can be hidden in a myriad of ways; potential for PvP, interesting quests, even something as unexpected as a well-thought out and artistically diverse zone can hide or lessen the grind.
So how does that relate to Aion? Simply put it means that Aion can seem to be just as much or as little of a grind as WoW. Leveling is about as fast as “vanilla” WoW, there are still tons of quests and there are a number of instances to do again and again. If you enjoy them it won’t be a grind. If you don’t enjoy them, it will be.
It’s pretty much as simple as that.