Introducing Ahira

The first day of Aion was pretty chaotic for me.  As detailed in the prior post, I got in immediately but my friend got stuck in the queue, so we got a late start.  We were only able to get an hour or so of gameplay before I had to log off and attend to some real life matters, so I wasn’t even able to ascend.

Got back on later in the evening and was able to get through the early area and Ascend into Daeva-hood.  Thus was Ahira, Ranger Extraordinaire born.

The Preorder Helm looks fairly ridiculous on a dwarf....

The Preorder Helm looks fairly ridiculous on a dwarf....

I am really enjoying the Ranger so far, they are extremely difficult to level in the early game but very rewarding and engaging.  Kiting is a necessary skill and the inability to kite will result in countless deaths.  To make matters even more difficult, many areas are so packed with mobs that kiting is fraught with danger, as it is very easy to aggro additional mobs.  You have to be very cognizant of your surroundings at all times and plan out each and every combat.

Luckily, I was able to get into a Legion group fairly early this evening.  We were doing the quests immediately after the Altgard Fortress in the first forest area.  We started the night with myself, a Templar, a Cleric and an Assassin before adding a second Templar later in the evening and it was one of the best grouping experiences I have had in a long, long time in an MMO.

We were able to progress through a large chunk of quests all the way up to the Elite Black Claw area with no problems.  We entered the Black Claw area under-leveled, as we were only level 14 and all the mobs were red to us.  Even with that we were able to complete a couple of quests there and down quite a few mobs, though we had to be extremely careful with our pulls.  More than two and we were in a lot of trouble.

Speaking of which, it was so nice to play an MMO that has group content outside of an instance.  WoW used to have a number of areas like this but they have since been nerfed into solo-able content.  I love solo content but I would really like to see some group content in the mix as well.  Aion provides that and it’s refreshing.

At the moment, I am level 14 and moving quickly toward 15.  Not as high as I wanted but I am having fun.  Quite a bit in fact.  Tomorrow our group from this evening is getting back together for some more questing and I can hardly wait.

Epic Balaur Video

Found a really cool video of a Balaur attack on an Elyos fortress.  First of all, the music is spot on for the video.  I can not think of anything better for this video.  Perfect.

Secondly, there is almost a sense of dread as the Dreadgion comes nearer (see what I did there?).  It’s almost palatable and it looks so cool.

Finally, you can certainly see that the Balaur are not to be trifled with, they are mean.  They hit hard and they have numbers as well.  Plus, they have the Dreadgion up in the sky blowing stuff up.  Too cool.

I can’t wait to participate in one of these.  I am really excited to see in what cool directions NCSoft can take the Balaur.  They can certainly do some pretty novel things with the Balaur if they put in the time.

Second Night of Open Beta Observations.

Tonight I logged back into the Open Beta after work to find just as many people playing as I saw last night…maybe more.  My future chanter was around level 4 but I had a friend who had just started and had rolled on another server, so I jumped over to help him out.

He was playing a Warrior so I made a Priest and away we went.  This is the first time I have really had a dedicated friend to level with at low level and everything went smoothly.  Aion really gives you all the tools you need to run as a party efficiently.  Shared quests, location links, all the normal tools are there and they work great.  We were flying through the quests for most of the night and nearly hit Ascension before we called it for the night because of work tomorrow.

The Gameguard errors were all fixed for me today so I must give kudos for that to NCSoft.  Hopefully everyone else had their GG issues disappear.  Lag, however, hit me with a vengeance a number of times tonight.  It would come in waves and then disappear for long chunks of time.  Very strange and still seems that it has no rhyme or reason for when it comes and goes.  I have heard that its a routing issue with NCSoft and they are working with their ISP for a fix.

Other than those issues the evening went smooth and was a lot of fun.  My friend enjoyed his first foray into Atreia but is waiting until he gets his wings to make his final decision about the game.  I think he is hooked however so I expect to see him running with us in retail.

That’s it for tonight, more observations tomorrow as I hit Ascension and further!

1.5 Open Beta Patch Notes!

Patch notes for Open Beta have been posted!  You can read the full (very long notes!) here. In the meantime, here are some highlights!

  • 7 new instances.  Including Dark Poeta and a PvPvE instance, the Dreadgion.
  • Boss from Dark Poeta

    Boss from Dark Poeta

    Repose.  The Aion equivalent to WoW’s Rested XP.  Only available after level 20 but gives 20%-30% more XP from mob and player kills.

  • New Titles.
  • Increased PvPvE rewards.
  • Information on the new Slayer system.  This system is used during Rifting and basically makes players unable to grief PvE’ers constantly.
  • More information on the Greater Stigma System.
  • Damage decreased in PvP play.
  • New Class Skills for levels 46-50 and even new skills for 1-45!
  • Over 90 New Stigma Stones.
  • Tons and tons of new items and quests!
  • Left mouse button now controls the camera!!
  • Click to move is disabled by default.
  • Invert mouse option!
  • New character customization options.  New hairstyles, ability to change eye color and shoulder width.
  • The Search function for the Broker has been improved.
  • Class exclusive chat channels!
  • NPCs that can create character change have been added to the Capitol cities.  These changes include: Plastic Surgery and GENDER change!  To think, Blizzard charges real money for this!

All in all, this is a really strong patch.  I knew about most of it, but some still surprised me.  Looks like NCSoft has made a very good game even better.  Can not wait until Sunday!!

1.5 Impressions Here!! Get Your 1.5 Impressions!!!

A really nice article about Aion version 1.5 was put up Kotaku.com yesterday.  It gives us an idea of what 1.5 brings to the table and how NCSoft is handling content in the future.  Armor set bonuses, a tighter more integrated story, rested XP, tons more quests and even more character customization are all headed our way with 1.5, which coincidentally is the version Aion releases with in North America!  An excerpt:

Four of the 14 New Instances in Aion Version 1.5!

Four of the 14 New Instances in Aion Version 1.5!

The one thing Knox doesn’t want to hear about Aion version 1.5 is the dreaded “G” word. Grind, in his opinion, is something that’s monotonous and Aion goes out of its way to never be that. It’s tough, he says, because the term “grind” has been blown out of proportion in the last five years of MMO history – and that’s a lot of time for his game to fight against. But he’s confident that his team has gone through the game enough to respond to criticism like “there’s nothing to do at level xx!” and prevent mid-level lulls.

A really fantastic read and you can find the rest of it right here!!

Elyos Beta Event Video!

Sorry, I have not posted in the last couple of days, been very busy at work and with some personal stuff.  Got a short post for you tonight and will have a couple of posts tomorrow, unless something strange comes up!

Found a nice video of part of the beta event for the Elyos side.  Apparently, Balaur were dropped over the Elyos city to wreak havoc!

Rangers and the Archetype system.

I have played nearly every class in Aion to 20 or more.  I enjoy all of them for various reasons and all are fun to play while leveling up.  I find that the Priest Archetype is the easiest to level initially, the Mage archetype puts out a lot of damage and the Warrior archetype is a nice balance between damage and survivalbility.

"Yeah, I'm looking good!"

"Yeah, I'm looking good!"

The one archetype I have problems with is the Rogue archetype.  Assassins are fine. They are a bit hard to level and require frequent resting after kills but they tend to even out after 10 and become a pretty solid leveling class, all in all. They blossom, at level cap, into an awesome fighting force, one that can really do well in PvP and PvE.  In short, Assassins are great.

Rangers on the other hand are a wreck at low level.  An absolute, frustrating, bang your head against the wall train-wreck.  This is completely caused by the Archetype system in Aion.  You see, in Aion you start off picking from one of four character Archetypes; Warrior, Mage, Priest or Scout.  You level as one of those Archetypes up to level ten, at which point you Ascend and pick your final class.  For example, the Warrior Archetype produces either a Gladiator or Templar, the Mage Archetype becomes a Spiritmaster or Sorceror and the Priest Archetype develops into a Cleric or Chanter.

This is all well and good for those Archetypes.  Even though their class changes, the core of the class remains the same.  Gladiators and Templars are both melee damage dealers with good survivalbility, Sorcerors and Spiritmasters both deal magical damage from range, etc..  There are a few things you must adjust to, but the core of the way the class plays remains the same.

The Scout archetype is different.  It produces the Assassin or the Ranger.  Whats the big deal you ask?  Well one is a

I r teh broken....

I r teh broken....

melee character and the other is ranged.  Two totally different play-styles.  For the first 10 levels, your newly rolled wannabe Ranger will be forced to do nothing but melee.  The only skills he will get are all melee based.  No bow usage at all.

Then suddenly at level 10 you will become a Ranger and get your first bow skills.  The problem is, you don’t get enough, quickly enough.  You are instead forced into killing mobs by using the few bow skills that you have and then switching into melee when the mob gets close.  You are a weak melee/ranged hybrid for a significant portion of your initial leveling experience.  Not enough bow skills to matter and weak melee skills.  This makes leveling very difficult.  Way more difficult than any of the other classes in Aion, as a matter of fact.

Something needs to be done about this and Rangers brought in line with other classes in the low level game.  It is extremely frustrating to level until around level 25-30, which is when you finally accumulate enough ranged skills to make a difference.  Until then, Rangers can be a headache to play.

Thankfully, Rangers end up being an extremely powerful class.  They can dominate in PvP and PvE at level cap and anyone who goes through the leveling frustration is in for a treat.  Rangers and bow classes are normally among the most populous of classes in MMOs, I expect many to be rolled in Aion as well.  But, something tells me that we will see few at endgame.  The leveling difficulties of the rangers will make many look elsewhere for a class.