The 10/10 Project: Aion (Day 2)

Aion0001I know that I’ve not been kind to Aion in the (far, distant) past, but for the sake of this project, I was more than willing to put any past preconceptions aside and meet it on its own terms.  After all, one of the points of doing this is to broaden my horizons and try new things.  I don’t know many people who play Aion today, but back when there was a lot more chatter about it, I do remember enthusiasm for its looks and polish.

So while I put myself in as neutral of a state as possible, Aion itself apparently held a grudge against me.  Seriously, it was a day-long process just to get signed up and download the client.  For whatever reason, the NCsoft signup page really, really hated Firefox and wouldn’t let me use drop-down menus that were necessary for the forms.  After too much fiddling with that, a friend suggested a different browser, which did the trick.  Then came a gargantuan download which wasn’t helped by the fact that it got about 90% done before my computer halted it to tell me that, hey Syp, you’ve finally reached the limit on your 1TB hard drive.  So… delete programs, defrag, re-download… and I was in.

It really wasn’t worth the hassle.

It was pretty, sure.  It was polished, more or less.   It was also quite underwhelming.

Sure, some MMOs take a while to get rolling, but there’s got to be something that grabs you from the start to keep your interest — the story, the looks, the combat, the character system, something.  Here there was pretty much nothing.  Something that Aion couldn’t help is that I generally am not a fan of the Asian style of graphics, particularly character models.  I did give the game props that you could create really chunky or eensy-weensy characters if you so desired.

And none of it was really ugly, to be frank.  I’ve seen much worse-looking titles.  What I bumped into from the start is that the beginning zone (I went with the only-slightly-less-dark-than-the-good-guys faction) was really “busy” with its colors and textures.  It felt like there was too much to look at and my eyes grew fatigued making out what was important from what was in the background.

So what was a few hours with Aion like?  Very rote MMO gameplay.  I played a mage and thus juggled spells like fireballs and roots.  I clicked on mobs with marks over their heads, read the rather dull text, and dutifully did whatever they asked.  I know that this is 90% of what’s out there in the rest of the market, but without anything exciting that was hooking me in, it was just… boring.  Not bad, not unplayable, just boring.

It probably didn’t help that a level 2 mob killed me after I fought a third one in a row without pausing to heal up.  It’s been a long time since a wee little level 2 anything killed me, so that was somewhat of a novel experience.  I also haven’t seen that much blatant gold spam in quite a while either.

Would I play it again?  No way.  At least RuneScape was interesting and put some effort into its quests; this was pretty with little apparent substance.  Maybe it gets better later on.  Maybe flying is awesome and advanced classes are the bomb, yo.  But based on a first impression, I had no problems deleting Aion from my hard drive and not looking back.

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11 thoughts on “The 10/10 Project: Aion (Day 2)

  1. Kinda surprised you didn’t like it, to be honest. Not that you don’t have some accurate criticisms — it is most definitely a by-the-numbers MMO — but the same could be said for most games. I mean, you play Rift, right? Everything you said about Aion — bar the graphical critiques — is true about that game as well. At least Aion has some personality in its lore and its looks.

    For me, the initial grab for Aion was largely the aesthetics. I really loved the look of the game, especially the ultra intense combat animations. I wish more MMOs made abilities look and sound that exciting. Admittedly, it didn’t hold my attention over the long haul, but it maintains a special place in my heart.

    The gold spam is obnoxious. I’ll give you that.

  2. I liked Aion, though I found it slow leveling as I played it at launch. But I gotta agree on the painful and horrific installation. I’ve wanted to play Aion again for some time now, since I heard about the increased xp fixes, but have been twice defeated by the NCsoft launcher/patcher. I do not foresee this ever improving to the point where I can even log in and find out what happened to my old account.

  3. Poor Aion – I had a similar experience about a year ago (having budgeted one or two whole evenings to getting out of the newbie area – perhaps longer than you held on for?).

    And hat tip on filling the 1 TB drive. I have a 500 GB drive almost entirely set aside for MMO clients, but I don’t think it’s ever gone above 300 GB.

  4. Yeah, I’ve tried AION too – I have a love-hate relationship with it, actually. I love the crafting, (more or less, though the grind with that is horrific). I love the look to it (because to me, a gamer who has only just discovered MMOs in the past decade and generally am on and off games, it’s still a neat new thing), and I more or less like the questing. Can’t figure out flight for the life of me though. And well, getting any character to 20 is – I played it for 3 months and couldn’t figure that one out. Yeah, I see what you mean about “generic MMO”. If you take off the smoke and mirrors, it basically is. Quest, kill X amount of Y for xp, craft, rinse and repeat. You can have a house at level 20. You can fly. Crafting’s a little more like in Ultima Online, with the success/failure bar, but more refined than that. But yeah, standard MMO. With gold spammers to rival those of World of Warcraft (lol and that’s saying something!)

  5. Do they still start you out on that boring tutorial island? It is the worst of all starter areas, and back at release, every new character you created have to go thru it. So if your impression is based on the first hour of play before you get to the main actual questing area, then as I suspected, this speed-dating MMO quest you are on is silly.

  6. This is Bio Break. It is always silly. But what’s wrong with sampling, seeing what the opening couple of hours look like, and reporting on that? First impressions are vital for MMOs — not everything, but not nothing either.

  7. No it’s partly Aions fault as the pacing is slow and questing very linear until you get into your late 20′s. the highlights for me was the main city and the gliding mechanic, both gotten at level 10 if I remember right.

  8. I have played Aion at launch, wrongly believing it will be the successor of GuildWars.

    For me, the levelling was soooo slowww and sooo linear. Just give me 2 places to go at every time ! The gliding was fun, but at this time, there was nearly no place where you can use them – they later add the ‘flight corridor’ and ‘bumper’ if i am correct.
    But the worst point for me was the no personnal specification. One of my love with RPG was to choose the next power. Here, everyone have the same powers at the same level. What is the difference between me and the other guy here ?
    Then I start to read forums and discover “rotation”. press 1-2-1-4-4-1-8 and then repeat. Not for me.

  9. I played Aion a bit longer back in the day, but yes, it never was a very interesting game. It was pretty grindy and slow leveling without anything particularly interesting. The flying (or shall i call it gliding?) however is alot of fun, it definitely added a few hours of life to the game for me, especially because it’s not straight forward flying. It’s definitely something to master and the whole air tunnels and airflows (making you go faster or up into the air) can be alot of fun, until you have to get back to leveling.

    I’m also not a fan of the asian themed MMOs, but coming straight out of TERA, i did feel Aion’s world felt a little more “mature”. TERA which did remind me too much of Aion however had all these silly kiddie type things in there (especially the mobs you fight are quirky little things, making it VERY hard to take the world seriously). Despite TERA having the most exposed/mature character models, the world did not reflect this, where Aion in contrast did feel a bit more serious.

  10. Did you happen to close down the install while it was downloading? I had to do it as my husband complained that I was eating up our bandwidth, and now I’m getting a hard drive full error as well….except there is still 225gb free. Very frustrating indeed.

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