I 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.