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LONG BLOG

The New Kid in Town: An Aion FAQ

   0


Every so often, an addictive game comes along and swallows us whole. For some, it's Call of Duty: World at War's zombie mode. For others, it's Wii Sports Resort, and for the few, the proud, and the nerdy, its a little ol' genre known as MMOs.

These games come and go by the droves. They range from sci-fi to fantasy; from free to play to $15 a month; from casual to hardcore; and from a full $50 entry cost to browser based affairs. But all of them have one thing in common: they're timesinks. For the socially sane, MMOs are squeezed in after work, and before dinner with the kids, or after the wife goes to sleep (cough, cough). Should you choose to take the road less traveled and let an MMO dominate your life, say goodbye to your significant other, your social life, and your job.

So who is the new kid in town? What devilish fiend is attempting to lure you into his van with candy, and take you on a vacation that never ends? This month, its NCSoft's Aion.



What is Aion?

Aion: The Tower of Eternity is a new fantasy based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMO), made with the CryEngine (Far Cry), and published by NCSoft, who has managed a myriad of hit or miss games, ranging from the heralded City of Heroes to the dead and buried Tabula Rasa.

NCSoft is currently charging $50 for the game, and $14.99 per month to play, with discounts offered if you commit to three, six, or twelve months.



What are your choices for your personal avatar?

Well, unlike typical role playing games, you're not going to get a whole lot of choices when it comes to your race. You can either be the angelic Elyos, or the demonic Asmodians. So basically, you can pick the flamboyant pansies (win), or the complete and total badass death bringing devils. Whenever you meet an opposing faction member, you will always be able to kill them, and every enemy level shows up as a "??" on your HUD.

Where Aion fails in racial diversity, it succeeds in customization. Want to make Barack Obama? You can! Want to make yourself? Provided you have the self confidence, you can do that too! If you happen to be me, you can live out your fantasy of looking like a J-Rocker.

Just like Bethesda's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, every cosmetic facet is fully customizable, from your chin size, to whether or not your ears are elf-worthy. For once, I actually think I succeeded in making four completely different looking characters.

Class-wise, Aion has just about everything you could want, sans hybrids. You can play your typical damage soaking tank, damage dealing warrior, arrow shooting ranger, elusive assassin, nuke heavy sorceror, pet-based spiritmaster, the always popular healer, or the black sheep of the pack: the Chanter (the supportive bard).



How does the game look, and how impressive is the overall design?

Without reservation, I consider Aion to be the best looking MMO I've ever seen. The set pieces are absolutely gorgeous, and every area has a unique feel to it.

The CryEngine really does wonders for the MMO genre. Rather than talk about how amazing it looks, I'd rather just serve you up some screenshots, fresh off the burner.







Get to the point, man! What's the gimmick?

Sadly, all MMOs released in the shadow of World of Warcraft need some sort of marketing gimmick: something unique to differentiate themselves from the pack. Well, Aion has flight, and ladies and gentlemen, Howard Hughes would be proud.

I've heard complaints from outside audiences that the flight system doesn't look authentic. Here's a video that I believe will speak for itself.



To be frank, I've never had as much fun in an MMO as Aion, and a large part of that is due to the flight system. Sometimes I'll find myself on a gigantic hill, with my objective some five hundred feet below. In a standard MMO, I'd have to hoof it, but in Aion its no problem, as you can glide indefinitely! Instead of lazily taking the elevator, I always opt to take flight (it's there, why not use it!).

Small note: the initial starting areas are light on areas where you can engage in full flight, and right when you earn your wings, you can fly for a limited time of sixty seconds, which is off putting. Through upgrades, which are essentially "mount" purchases, you can upgrade your flight time, and later areas offer more flight opportunities, but Abyss pvp always offers full flight.



Is it fun: or better yet, is the combat system involved?

Simply put, combat in Aion is much more involved than your standard MMO. To use World of Warcraft as an example, I would use two, maybe three abilities to level from 1-70 (forgive me, I quit before Wrath of the Lich King's 80 cap). Aion is a bit more robust, as I already had eight viable abilities very early on in the game playing a spiritmaster, partially because the game requires you to to make pet commands manually rather than put them on an auto-cast system. Plus, every character gets a limit break ability that can be used every so often, just to mix things up a bit.

Aion also benefits from a "combo system", that encourages you to use lower abilities to "activate" stronger, more useful abilities. For instance, if I were to use the first ability-based sword attack as a warrior, I'd have the option to use a more ferocious strike for a few seconds, while the opponent is reeling.

Combat can take place either in flight or on the ground, but either way, its a blast. At its heart, its still an MMO, which means you're going to be standing in place a lot, but if you have simplicity reservations, expect to push a lot of different buttons.



Is it grindy? Also known as "is it fun to level?"

Is it fun to actually level up? Well, yes, but I say this hesitantly, because at times, it can get monotonous. I was extremely pleased to find out that Aion was very much grind-free until level 22 or so, but I'll get to that in a second.

From level 1-10, all of your time will be spent becoming accustomed to the fantastic world of Atreia, and earning your wings. There are an abundance of quests, and not just "kill 10 boars" (Southpark anyone?) and other such derivatives. In fact, you may find that when it comes time to ascend (earn your wings, and subsequently become a true citizen of Aion) that you have a ton of extra quests left over.

Aion also benefits from the "story quest system": a trait that it shares with fellow competitor Lord of the Rings Online. Unique to very few MMOs, Aion actually makes an attempt to weave a cohesive story, and it simply works. You'll learn the inner workings of rebellious organizations, and become connected to the plot at large. As time goes on, harder quests that require balanced groups will arise, and you'll need to (gasp!) cooperate with other human players to move on.

So what's the problem with later levels? Once you hit level 22, the game stops holding your hand. Quest hubs become more obscure, and only a few story quests are available until level 25. Once you hit the glorious two-five, however, Abyss-Arena PVP, dungeon instances, and a whole heap of other options open up to you. To make up for it, you get experience for gathering materials, and for PVP, which is always a plus.

Bottom line: you have been warned! While I was able to get my third character from 1-10 in two hours, level 22-23 stole 8 hours of my life that I cannot take back!



Is there end-game content?

Here's the meat and potatoes question! Frankly, this is all I look for in a serious MMO. I didn't really start playing World of Warcraft until The Burning Crusade was out, and end-game raid content was a top priority. Just like Vanilla World of Warcraft, Aion is a bit light on the end-game content side, with only a few raid-size dungeons to offer, which may turn off some.

Max level in Aion is 50, and early reports are coming in that it would take around 10 days of straight play to reach this milestone. To give you something to compare it to, in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (which has a maximum level of 70), I reached 70 on my third character in 6 days knowing what I was doing, and with little dilly dallying.

On the pvp side of things, rifts are a really unique addition to Aion that really help spice up gameplay. Upon receiving a message that a gateway has opened up, the entire area will go into a sudden state of panic, as your opposing faction now has access to your land.

"Rift parties", consisting of any number of members will start forming, and all hell breaks loose. The biggest reason why I enjoy rifts is because it forces world pvp, and considering you get experience and gear points for it, its definitely worthwhile. But, if you're the type who finds world pvp too taxing, and enjoy some good old fashioned arena based action, Aion also allows you to enter the Abyss: a giant battleground used entirely for player versus player combat.

The question you don't want to ask after buying it: will it end up in the MMO graveyard?

From the looks of it, no. NCSoft has recently said that every year they will come out with a major update for Aion, not including forthcoming patches that add extra content and items.

NCSoft has had its ups and downs, but if reports of 3.5 million Asian subscribers are anything to go by with the earlier released Asian client, Aion is an early success.

I hope to see you in Atreia!

All of the preceding pictures have been personal in-game screenshots

Also, Cloud Strife
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About Chris Carterone of us since 3:56 PM on 01.05.2009



Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff!

-------------------

Twitter - @DtoidChris

I'm married, and I've been playing games since I was 4. I still remember buying my own NES system at Sears and going home and playing Mario/Duck Hunt. Fast forward to the present, my wife and I now own a PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U.

If I had to choose a system I had the "best times" with, it would be a two way tie between the Sega Dreamcast and Sony Playstation 2. My favorite game series is Mega Man Classic, but I own every Metal Gear, Devil May Cry, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Wario, Tony Hawk, main series Final Fantasy, and Resident Evil game ever released in the US (and a lot more), so it's a close call!

There are too many good games out to count now, but I'm always itching to play my backlog of old PS2 action titles. I'll play anything and everything action-adventure, so if you have a game in mind, drop me a line! I have strong opinions regarding the financial decisions of many publishers, but at the end of the day, I'm willing to give anything a chance; especially if it comes recommended by a community member.

Oh; and in 2012 I started contributing to Destructoid.

Currently backed upcoming crowdfunding projects:

Hover

Yooka-Laylee

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Shenmue III

I also backed the Tiny Cartridge Patreon in 2014 but no longer back any Patreon campaigns currently

-------------------

Here is my story, from my humble beginnings as a c-blogger.

-------------------
Carter's Quests (previously Magnalon's Quest):

2011 - Zelda
2012 - Resident Evil
2012 - Tony Hawk
2012 - Kingdom Hearts
2012 - Wario
2013 - Mega Man Classic
2013 - Devil May Cry
2013 - Mega Man X
2013 - God of War
2013 - Metroid
2014 - Diablo
2015 - Batman: Arkham

Future - Pokemon
Future - Splinter Cell
Future - Mega Man Spinoffs
Future - Elder Scrolls
Future - Mario
Future - Platinum Games
Future - Kirby
Future - Clover
Future - Castlevania
Future - Metal Gear
Future - Tenchu
Future - Ninja Gaiden
Future - Onimusha
Future - Ape Escape
Future - Disgaea
Future - Twisted Metal
Future - Deception

-------------------

Promoted (before I was staff):

Playing with Others: Phantasy Star Offline

Magnalon's quest to beat every Zelda in 2011

Tips for Securing Your Xbox Live Account

-------------------

My top 20 games (in no particular order):

Resident Evil 5
Fallout: New Vegas
Dragon Age: Origins
Dark Souls
Demon's Souls
Skies of Arcadia
Lunar 1 and 2
World of Warcraft: All Expansions
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Tenchu 2
Devil May Cry 3
Phantasy Star Online
Ape Escape 1
Rockman & Forte (Mega Man & Bass)
God Hand
Jet Set Radio Future
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
Final Fantasy Tactics

Bonus:

Bayonetta 2
Shovel Knight
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die
Bloodborne
Yo-Kai Watch
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Ori and the Blind Forest
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Dark Souls II
Deception IV: Blood Ties
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Strider (2014)
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy
The Wolf Among Us
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Super Mario 3D World
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Dead Rising 3
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
Guacamelee
Pokemon X & Y
Super Mario 3D World
Grand Theft Auto V
Dragon's Crown
Gravity Rush
Dragon's Dogma
Persona 4 Golden
Pokemon Silver
Tomb Raider (2013)
Brave Fencer Musashi
Shenmue II
Dark Cloud
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Ikaruga
Asura's Wrath
Mutant Mudds
Far Cry 3
Bayonetta
Binding of Isaac
Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning
Fez
Zone of the Enders 2
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Batman: Arkham City
Kingdom Hearts II
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Diablo
Diablo II
Diablo III
Amplitude
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Tomb Raider II
Metal Gear Solid 4
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Bastion
Zombies At My Neighbors
Super Bomberman 2
Mass Effect
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 3
Spelunky
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk's Underground 2
Onimusha 3
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Ninja Gaiden Black (Xbox)
Power Stone 2
No More Heroes 2
Ultima Online
Aladdin SNES
Super Punch-Out!!
Demon's Crest
Disgaea
Secret of Mana
Sparkster
Borderlands 2
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy X
Super Mario RPG
Super Mario 64
Super Mario World
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario 3D Land
Mega Man 8
Okami
The Lost Vikings
Actraiser
Bujingai: The Forsaken City
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Odin Sphere
Donkey Kong Country
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Call of Duty: World at War
Chrono Trigger
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Half Minute Hero
Kirby Super Star
Super Meat Boy
Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony
L.A. Noire
VVVVVV
Outland (XBLA/PSN)
Shantae: Risky's Revenge
Mighty Flip Champs
Child of Eden
Kirby's Dream Course
Shadows of the Damned
Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR)
Rayman: Origins

-------------------

The following are a few of my favorite fictional characters, compliments of SuitcoatAvenger

-My favorite video game character of all time: Magic Emperor Ghaleon.

-Legato Bluesummers from Trigun: classic villain.

-Although obscure, Zero Beat is among my favorites.

-My original avatar.
 



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