Here are a few Aion impressions from others!

To show that I am not alone in my praise for Aion, I thought I would throw up a few impressions from other bloggers.

The first is from Sanaya.  She is currently writing for MMORPG.com, but she was Mythic’s Community Manager for quite awhile and if you played DAoC you are probably familiar with her.

She mirrors my thoughts pretty dead on.  This quote, in particular, is encouraging:

I haven’t wanted to play an MMO until dawn in years, but I almost did that night.

Her impressions can be found here!

Next up, I have Keen, from Keen and Graev fame, who has seemed to enjoy Aion greatly.  His impressions included a very nice HD video to give you a good feel for the world.  Like Sanaya, he too, found himself playing longer than he thought!

I played for six hours straight and didn’t even realize the time was flying by.  As we all know, that’s a sign that you’re enjoying the game.

You can find his impressions here and here!  The second link has the HD video.

Tipa contributes to a great blog about MMOs and gaming called West Karana, she (I think?) was amazed at the immersivness of the world, illustrated in this quote:

Aion is so polished that it gleams. Every inch and corner of the place is filled with nice little touches — like the pool in the corner of one of the starter regions (seamless world, of course) that has a dryad there who will leave you alone if you leave her alone. People were gathered at it, probably on some quest I hadn’t gotten, but — it was so immersive.

A very good read and you can find the whole thing here, with a nice write-up on the user interface here!

That’s about it for now, I am sure we will have another load of impressions after the beta event this weekend.  I am really looking forward to playing with other players that I can actually talk and converse with!  The Chinese client was great, but I couldn’t understand anybody!

Later tonight I am planning another write-up about the graphic/gameplay style of Aion compared to other MMOs I have played.  Stay tuned!

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My biggest fears for Aion.

I am having a blast in Aion right now.  It runs so smooth, looks so good and combat is so tight, its really hard to not have fun if you like this type of game.  However, I do have worries about the game.  Hopefully, they are unfounded, but that is something only time will tell.

1.  Bots.  NCSoft is notorious for being “bot friendly”.  Lineage 2 is totally bot ridden from what I have read, bad enough to be a lost cause on those terms.  Will Aion be the same?  Surely NCSoft must realize that a game can not be successful in the West with those problems?

2.  The Grind.  I don’t mind a bit of a grind.  Hell, I prefered WoW when leveling was much slower.  With that being said, I have a life and gaming is not 100% of it.  Leveling should be challenging but not life consuming.  Asian games, in general, have a reputation for a huge grind.  I hope thats not the case in Aion.

3.  Support.  I will admit,  I’m selfish.  I’m used to American games, where the American player gets the newest patches first and doesn’t have to wait.  With Aion it looks like Korea and the Asian markets will get the patches first, the new content first and we will have to wait.  I can deal with this as long as we are not an afterthought.

4. NCSoft abandoning the game.  I played Tabula Rasa.  I thought it was a unique game with problems.  One that, with the right support and developers, could be turned into a fun game.  It was never given that chance.  NCSoft abandoned it.  I worry that Aion could turn out to be the same.  Now, Aion seems to be in much better condition than Tabula Rasa, with much better content and with a polish that Tabula Rasa didn’t come close to matching, so that will help, but MMOs are a long, tough road.  There are no “instant” successes in MMOs and that include WoW.  Developers have to have a roadmap to where they want to go, how they mean to get there and they have to stay the course even when subs are down.  Hopefully, NCSoft will do that with Aion.

So, thats my top four fears for Aion.  Anyone have others or disagree with mine?

Character classes (Oh God, more decisions!)

My first two MMOs, DAoC and WoW, I was lucky enough to find the class I loved in the first one or two tries.  In DAoC my first character was a Thane, which I played to level 20 or so before trying a hunter.  The hunter became my main after that and I played him for the rest of my time in DAoC.

WoW was even quicker.  I rolled a dwarf hunter as my first character and he remained my main throughout the next 4 years.  I loved him.  I also had a capped shaman and an almost capped druid, but I always found myself back to my hunter.

I wasn’t so lucky in my other MMOs.  In LotRO I had a fairly quick search for a main, after trying a burglar, guardian and hunter, I made a captain and leveled him to cap.  In AoC I made quite a few characters before settling on a Bear Shaman.

Warhammer was even worse.  I went through so many characters that I couldn’t name them all and I still have not made one I would consider a main.  I could have 2-3 capped characters, but instead I have none.  All because I could not settle on a main.

Now I am looking at Aion and praying that I do not have that trouble.  I think that the difficulties finding a main in AoC and WAR especially, were more driven by problems with the game than my indecision.  Or maybe I am just getting indecisive in my old age?  I don’t know, its easier to blame it on the game.

At first glance the Ranger would seem to be the logical class, as my best times in MMOs have always been with a ranged character.  The problem is I always try to use logic when making characters; what class is more rare?  What class will be needed at end-game?  That type of stuff.

Its not that I want to be the most powerful class in the game, to the contrary I enjoy classes that are tough to play.  The Midgard hunter was certainly no powerhouse and my WoW hunter was created and leveled back when hunters were more underpowered than anything.  I just want a class that isn’t overcrowded and needed at end game.

The logical choice, of course, is healer.  Right now, that is my highest class on the Chinese Aion client and I really enjoy her.  Luckily there is quite awhile until the release of the North American game client so I have plenty of time to settle on a main.  I just made a rogue with an eye toward ranger.

Lets see where this goes!

My initial thoughts on Aion.

Yesterday I bit the bullet and downloaded the chinese Aion client, made an account and installed the English .pak file. I didn’t have time to log on last night as I had to work really, really early today, but as soon as I got home I jumped in game and played to level 10. I made a cleric on the Asmodian side and prepared to see if the Aion hype is justified. I had my doubts going in.

Let me preface my initial thoughts with a bit of information. If you had come to me 3 years ago and asked me to name the games that were coming out between 2007 and 2009 and were most likely to replace my WoW addiction, Warhammer Online would be at the top of my list. I love the world, the art style, the humor and the company who was developing it, Mythic. On the opposite end of that list would be Aion. I hate the asian/anime art style, asian style MMOs have never appealed to me and I have serious issues with the developer, NCSoft. Finding Aion move to the top of that list would be akin to a sucker punch from Mike Tyson in his prime, out of nowhere and surprising as hell. Keep this in mind as I give my impressions.

Any impression of Aion has to start with the character creation process. Aion has the most in-depth and engaging character creation this side of City of Heroes. I could spend an hour just creating a character and personalizing it. Its truly amazing. Kudos to NCSoft for making, perhaps, the best character creation in any MMO.

After creating my character (an Asmodian Cleric) and logging in I was immediately struck by how well the game ran. Keep in mind that I was playing on the Chinese servers and I am located in Texas. Even with this there was little to no lag. After enduring the ability lag of WAR, this was a refreshing and surprising find. Besides the top notch net-code, the graphic engine itself stood out. I had high FPS even with many characters on screen at once and everything turned up all the way. My FPS never dropped below 75 or so. I have a fairly high end machine but, even so, the performance of the engine came as a surprise. Simply put, Mythic should be embarrassed. Compared to the Aion engine, Mythics engine is absolutely atrocious.

The graphics of the are sometimes a bit cutesy for me, in that normal anime-style, yet for all that, they are amazingly well-done. Colors pop, animations are well done and the art direction is very stylish and interesting. Spell graphics at low level are not “eye-popping” as is to be expected at low level, but they are still well done. Animations are smooth and flow well.

The best thing about combat in WoW is how “tight” it feels. It almost feels like a FPS in the tightness of the controls. You push a key to trigger an ability and that ability fires immediately. No other MMO that I have played has captured that control. WAR has horrible ability lag, LotRO is designed to be slower combat and all others that I have played have just seemed “off” somehow. Aion, by far, is the absolute closest to WoW control that I have come across and I was playing on Chinese servers half-way around the world. I have an idea that when I get to play on American servers the game will mirror WoWs control almost identically.

The gameplay itself is the normal quest fare that every MMO player is used to by now, at least at low level. This is to be expected, I suppose. Nothing really revolutionary here, but very well done nonetheless. The Epic Quest line seems like it may have a fairly good story with good quests as you go further with it, but I am not high enough to say for sure at this point.

I can say, almost without a shadow of a doubt that having wings and combat while flying will add a whole new dimension to gameplay, especially PvP. Flying is amazingly fun and you can foresee just how cool PvP combat is going to be while in the air. I can also see instances and raids being really interesting if they implement flying strategies in some of the boss fights.

Keep in mind that this is impressions at a very low level. I have not yet seen the Abyss, nor any other PvP. I can not speak with any authority on how bad or easy the grind is at higher levels. Crafting seems really well done but I can not say for sure. However, the basics are all here and extremely well done. If NCSoft doesn’t mess up the release, continues to add content and has a decent endgame, this game looks to be a real winner. I can not believe I am saying this, but Aion might finally be the game that replaces WoW for me, just as WoW was finally the game that replaced DAoC.

Yes, Mike Tyson landed that sucker punch and it absolutely floored me.