Aion, Mage

The Aion Experiment

A couple of weekends ago, I went out and bought Aion.  I am getting pretty close to done with WoW until Cataclysm comes out.  Not done with WoW period, just really need something new.  Ever since I got the game, I have been thinking that I should really try to write some sort of cohesive ‘review’ of the game, and not just tweet random thoughts.  So here goes.

The really good stuff:

1) Character customization – AWESOME character customization screen.  Seriously, I had so much fun creating first Vixxyne, a Mage: Spiritmaster, and then Mynx, a Scout: Assassin.

2) The general GORGEOUSNESS of the game.  It really is beautiful.  Check out the detail and art of this mau (a sort of cat-man) that I had to kill:

3) Related to the beautiful graphics are the amazing spell and ability animations.  I’ve included an example of Vixxyne casting spells, and Mynx dual wielding (a skill you get as a level 5 scout):

4) Again, graphics related: the crafting animations are really cool.  You’re not just rubbing your hands together, but actually using tools you’d use in the craft.  Here’s an alchemy example:

5) Travel: Awesome travel options.  Basically, you can teleport between regions, and take a flight within those regions.  Even if you haven’t been there before! No more running, on foot, for an hour to get to a new flight path.  And no 15 minute flights – you teleport those ones.  Kind of like portaling in and out of Dalaran or Shattrath.  Also, the signposts on the road indicate how FAR it is to that place, so you can decide if it’s worth it to run or go back and take a flight.  Although you may want to choose the flight for the sheer beauty of it:

6) Finding your way around: This is such a simple thing, but just genius.  You toggle a key to pull up this amazing see-through map with quest-giver markers, mailbox markers, etc.  And it shows you moving on the map – so you can check if you are headed in the right direction or not.  The mini map indicates the presence of hostiles and other creatures with little dots – red for hostile.  So you never run into a bunch of mobs with no warning.

7) Getting wings: Yes, having angel wings (black ones in my case) is really really cool.  You get them at level 10.  But see the bad stuff below for a caveat.

8) If you are out of range when trying to cast a spell or use an ability, you will move INTO range.  I totally loved this feature.  Totally wish Blizzard would implement it.

The Bad Stuff

1). You can only craft in your main city.  This is really kind of a pain.  And becomes more of a pain as you go.  Various ingredients and stuff start clogging up your ‘cube’ where you keep all your stuff.  And you have to keep track of how much crafting material you have collected so that you don’t go all the way back to Pandaemonium to craft and discover that you are one leather short.

2) Speaking of Pandaemonium – the main city has so much LAG!!!! Especially on weekends.  I didn’t have very many problems apart from slight one second hang-ups while running around during the week.  But on Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening, it was awful.  Once, I actually lagged out, and on Sunday night, I just logged out.  It was way too frustrating trying to get around.  My system has absolutely NO ISSUES, meaning it runs totally smoothly, in highly populated areas of Dalaran or in raids.  I find this unacceptable – especially when you must go there to craft.  And crafting was such a good thing int he game too 🙁

3) Personally, I did not like the pet mechanics for my pet as a Spiritmaster.  I know this isn’t WoW, but I really missed the auto-attack skills for my pet.  Having to cast my pet’s spells and my own spells separately was a little annoying.  And I missed growl, defensive, and aggressive options for my pet.  This is something WoW does well, and I found it so annoying it was lacking in Aion that I switched to a melee class.

4) Flight.  OK, having wings is cool.  But I can only use them for a minute at a time?  Not cool.  Not cool at all really.

5) No whispering before level 10.  Gold seller check, of course.  But annoying.

6) You have to pick up your money from sales through the broker AT the broker.  No getting the money in the mail.  I have found brokers outside Pandaemonium, but I am not sure how many there are.

6) This criticism is actually from my son, who has also been playing. Lack of soloing ability for so many classes.  As a cleric or a templar there is just about ZERO chance of soloing after level 14 or so.  He also had a lot of trouble soloing as a sorcerer if he got overwhelmed by mobs.  I know it’s an MMO, and you are supposed to group, but really, you should be able to do stuff on your own as well.

General observations:

1) The opening zone was fun and the quests were fun.  I like the division of ‘personal story’ quests and other quests.  Everyone tells me wait till you get to the grind, when there is a total lack of quests.  I haven’t hit it yet, but it seems to be just about a universal thing that everyone brings up.  The son is level 18 on his sorcerer, and he hasn’t complained about that aspect yet either.  Maybe it will come.

2) The classes are cool.  I like the specialization format and how it works.  And the cut scenes?  AMAZING.  Really really cool.

3) I got a TON of new abilities at level 10 – especially as I specialized to Assassin on Mynx.  Almost to the point of ridiculousness I thought.  I feel like I could just knuckle mash my keyboard and win every fight.  I didn’t actually put this in my ‘negative’ section though, because my son pointed out, rightly, that I probably felt that way when I started playing WoW 5 years ago too.  It takes time to finesse and choose your abilities to maximize dps.  This could just be a noob factor, that I would definitely learn to get past.

4) You can enchant items no matter WHAT your profession.  You buy an extractor to extract the good stuff from greens you are either discarding or have picked up, then you use that material to enchant your new stuff.  I found this AWESOME – but also FRUSTRATING – because sometimes you fail.  And I can’t figure out why you fail sometimes, and why you don’t at others.  You can also socket your items yourself, which I also find cool.

In conclusion:

I have really enjoyed my time in this game – the visuals are stunning.  It’s fun.  and apart from the HIGHLY frustrating lag, I was really enjoying it.  More than Age of Conan, which was kind of ruined for me because of it’s lack of an auto-attack.  There are a lot of my positives above that I really wish Blizzard would implement in WoW.

To tell you the truth, I have more of a desire to play Aion at the moment than World of Warcraft – until Cataclysm comes out of course.  But, I got a pre-order of Final Fantasy from my youngest for my birthday, so I will most likely be joining my friends who have been playing the beta on Wednesday 🙂  My son is totally loving it though – he is definitely playing it until Cataclysm.

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