50 MMOs in 50 Days #3: Aion

Last played: 2012
Experience: Minimal

Aion is really pretty. It’s almost too pretty.

Aion is a different kind of pretty than something like Guild Wars 2, which I think looks good because of the artists behind the game. Aion, on the other hand, looks good due to sheer processing power, and when it came out in 2009, it blew a lot of people, myself included, away. The game’s received graphical updates since, but still looks very good in older screenshots for a game that was launched five years ago:

aion0011previewIt’s a game that a lot of my Lord of the Rings Online kinmates were really hyped for back in 2009 and, based on their recommendations and the previews in Massive Online Gamer (which I was just a freelance writer for at the time), I gave it a shot.

If Aika was the last game I played before I figured out that I didn’t like “grind until you get to the fun stuff” and “here’s the one thing we do different but you’ll barely get to see it” MMOs, then Aion was the first that did this to me. I slogged through the first 10 levels, picking through the dirt before I was finally accepted into the city of the Ascended. There was a lovely ceremony where I got my wings, which I then took for a test drive outside the city. Woo! I was flying! That’s what the game was about, right? That’s what all the images, all the press, all the excitement was about! Wings! Flying!

Then I left the city to continue my adventures and my wings were clipped. Other than the occasional short-term glide, I basically had to walk everywhere, following the specific paths through the wilderness laid out for me. When I hit the content gap at level 13 and had to literally grind mobs to advance, I figured I’d had enough. I picked it back up after it went free-to-play a couple years later, but other than fixing that gap, I was still at least 10 levels (so someone told me) before I’d get to do the cool flying PvP.

Aion has remained popular for people willing to work through the initial doldrums and get to what’s probably a really cool-looking, if derivative, endgame. If it had come out a little earlier, it might have kept people around long enough to not suffer as it did after launch. But by 2009, there were finally starting to be enough similar-feeling MMOs out there for people to realize they had options, and even a ridiculously pretty face couldn’t save the day.

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8 Responses to 50 MMOs in 50 Days #3: Aion

  1. Aion is one of those games I have really weirdly mixed feelings on. There’s a lot about it I love — the oh-so-pretty graphics near the top of that list. I also really enjoy some of the classes, including the new gunslinger, and the lore is actually surprisingly interesting. I really enjoy how alien the world feels — it’s not just another Azeroth or Middle Earth wannabe.

    But… it’s just such a WoW clone. It’s the same old boring quest design and bland tab target combat. I’m not someone who pathologically hates that design, but I’m not overly fond of it, either, and I get my fill of it from WoW.

    In simplest terms, the only times I’d play Aion are when I’m burnt out on WoW, and when I’m burnt out on WoW, I’m also burnt out on Aion.

    But I’ve still got the icon on my desktop, singing its siren song.

    • jasonwinter says:

      And the thing is, MMO devs know that. They know their game is a WoW clone, so they attach one thing they can use in marketing copy, like “We’ve got wings!”

      But actually implementing the wings/flying content is hard (and if you don’t get it 100% right out of the box, gamers will fry you), while designing a million kill 10 rats quests is easy, so the wings are a tiny part of the overall game, and most of it is just the same old stuff you’ve been doing for a decade-plus.

  2. Yangscholar says:

    I played Aion till I was lvl 60 (which was the cap at the time, I think it’s now 70-75.. i dunno lol). I played back in closed beta, open beta, and launch. I won’t lie to you.. the grind.. took it’s toll. There was just some days I had to spend a few hours at a time to grind away, just to hit that level. I reached it and was just a whole new slew of content.

    Honestly, I didn’t care.. I just wanted to PvP. ever since it went free 2 play, leveling up has gotten LOADS easier.. but even so. I respect your opinion though.. I feel grinding is a bit necessary lol

    • jasonwinter says:

      Hm, I jumped in after F2P and didn’t notice any difference. Maybe I’ll give it another shot… someday…

      • Yangscholar says:

        …..someday lol. I doubt it. There’s just too many new f2p mmos coming out to backtrack back to that. I like Aion, don’t get me wrong.. but with games like Swordsman and Archeage…it’s hard to want to go back lol

  3. Pingback: 50 MMOs in 50 Days #12: Dragon’s Prophet | Wintry Mix

  4. Pingback: 50 MMOs in 50 Days #13: Drakensang Online | Wintry Mix

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