Friday, October 9, 2009

Aion Impressions, Part 3

I'll keep this relatively short since I'm only level 15 at the moment. As I said earlier, I decided to play an Elyos Chanter. (This is me.) After I made my character I logged into the starting area. When you first start the game you are greeted with a lot of in-depth video tutorials. These are optional of course, but very well done. They are fully voiced and explain a lot to the new player.

The game follows the current standard MMORPG format of levelling through a mix of questing and hunting. The first nine levels of the game before you pick your final class are basically a giant tutorial area. You are limited to a few zones and do not get access to crafting or flying. As you go through these beginning levels you go through a few plotline quests which show your past and how you lost your memory and powers. It was a nice surprise to go back in time on a few occasions and see your character decked out in higher level equipment.

Once you get to level 9, you gain access to your Ascension quest. After you complete the flashback part of the quest you are given the chance to pick your final class. Once you pick your class you are given the option to stay and finish any quests you might have left in the area, or be teleported to your capital city. As an Elyos, I went to Sanctum. Asmodians are taken to Pandemonium. From there, you (almost) finish your Ascension quest and are finally given your wings. After this you can talk to your new trainer and finish the quest. One thing of note is that you cannot level to 10 before this. Your level is locked to 1 xp before level 10 until speaking to your trainer and finishing the quest. From here, you can now train your new classes skills, explore the large and beautiful cities, take up crafting or get back to levelling.
A tour of Sanctum.

The games combat is somewhat similar to other MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online with a few twists. As you level up you gain access to Skill Chains. Certain skills will only become available directly after using another skill. Usually the higher the skill in the chain, the more powerful it is.

A Templar's Skill Chains.

Grouping is standard MMO fare, with tanks soaking up the damage while healers heal and the damage dealers deal damage. One thing that I like about the Chanter is that it is the only true hybrid class in the game, capable of being a competent healer and a frontline damage dealer. However, since it is a hybrid class it is also a jack of trades and a master of none. Clerics will heal better, and Assassins and Gladiators will be stronger in melee combat. Still, a Chanter is a valuable member of a team with their ability to buff, heal and deal damage.

I will try to detail crafting at some point once I get my skills higher. I have been taking my sweeet time with this game as I don't want to get burned out. The levelling speed in this game is closest to vanilla World of Warcraft. I have heard that the higher you level, the more of a grind it becomes and that is usually where I get turned off. Warhammer's grind started pretty early and it was brutal. I'm hoping that the draw of the Abyss will keep me playing once I get to that point. It doesn't help that there are a ton of games out this fall that I am seriously looking forward to. Hopefully I'll be back with more impressions of this game once I get to the Abyss at level 25.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Aion Impressions, Part 2

With this post I want to briefly detail PvP (Player vs. Player) in Aion. Aion is primarily a PvP-centric MMORPG. That is not to say that the end game only consists of PvP, but that the game was built and marketed as PvPvE. This means that while the game does have a PvE (Player vs. Environment) aspect, it is heavily intertwined with PvP.

The first and main example of this is The Abyss. The Abyss is a huge area that goes from the mid-20s until max level. It is an open Faction PvP zone, meaning that the two factions of the game (Elyos and Asmodians) have free reign to attack one another. NPCs here grant more experience than elsewhere in the game because of the added risk of PvP.

The Abyss contains a number of castles which can be held by guilds, called Legions in Aion. Players battle both NPCs (guards) and enemies of the opposite faction assuming they are there to defend their castle. Control of a castle gives players of the same faction access to special goods, as well as bonuses for the Legion who controls it. There are also end-game dungeons within the Abyss, both instanced and open (meaning players from both factions can be inside the dungeon at the same time). This means that players going into open dungeons not only have to worry about the PvE aspect, but that they may be flanked by the opposing faction at any time.

Another example of PvPvE in the game are Rifts. Rifts are portals which open randomly (in 20+ zones) that give access to the opposing factions areas. Players are free to enter the rift and attack anyone on the other side. Rifts have a few limits. First there is a time limit. If you are caught on the other side when the rift closes, the only way back is to die, use your Return spell to get back to whatever zone you are bound to, or via a portal summoned by a Sorcerer. There are also level and number limits. This means that you cannot have 200 people pour through a rift at the same time. This was presumably done to keep the odds from being too overwhelming. At the same time, the level limit means that a level 50 player cannot jump into a level 20 rift and go around griefing lower level players.

The third part with my brief impressions of the game so far up to level 15 will go up soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Aion Impressions, Part 1

(Forgive the jumbled thoughts, I'm still deciding how I'm going to go about this blog. I just wanted to get something posted.)

I've been fighting with myself the past few months trying to decide if I was going to pick up Aion. I've been dying for a new MMO since I built my PC a few months ago. Unfortunately, I'm tired of WoW, Warhammer was a disappointment and I have a hard time supporting Cryptic's ridiculous changes to Champions Online since launch. Aion seemed to fit the bill, but I was wary that it would feature the same horrible grind that is prominent in other Korean MMORPGs. The fact that Aion was developed by the same company that did Lineage 2 did not give me any hope.

In the end, I went against my better judgment and picked it up on Friday. After the 10 GB download from Steam and setting up my account on NCSoft's website I was ready to go. After a bit of research I decided on my race and class to play, and went to the character creator. Without giving a giant lesson in lore, I will just say that there are two races to choose from -- Elyos and Asmodians. The game is heavily focused in Player vs. Player content between the two sides from mid-game on. I will detail this further in later impressions.

The first thing you notice when you begin is the ridiculous character creation system. Because of the freedom they give you in picking your looks, the chances of seeing another character in the game that looks like you is slim to none. The game gives you the option to pick from pre-made faces and bodies, or customize each with tons of sliders. You can make your avatar a model or a real freak in this game if you truly desire.

There are four starting classes in the game -- Warrior, Scout, Priest, and Mage. Each of these classes branch off into two unique classes once you finish the lengthy tutorial zone at level 9. Warriors can go with the offensive-styled Gladiator or defensive-styled Templar. Scouts can become stealthy Assassins or bow-wielding Rangers. Priests can go with the powerful healer Clerics or buffing/combat oriented Chanters. Mages can split into the high damage-dealing Sorcerers or the pet-controlling Spirit Masters.

I decided the Elyos Chanter would be the best fit for me. I liked the idea of a monk-type class wielding a bo staff. I picked Elyos because the Asmodians seem to be the more crowded race across the servers, and I prefer the lighter looks of their areas. I went with a lower-population server as the game has had MASSIVE queues since it launched last week. People have been waiting hours to get in on a lot of servers. Luckily, I haven't experienced that problem. I play more casually at the moment due to school and other things, so I don't expect to be levelling very fast.

In the next part, I'll get into the PvP aspect of the game along with the Abyss, and my impressions up to level 15.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Short and Sweet

Hey, my name is Chris King and I'm hoping to use this blog to practice my writing skills a bit. I'll be mostly talking about games I'm currently playing since I can't really think of anything else to write about. Right now I'm playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, Majesty 2, Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir and a few other titles passively.

Alright, that's it. Adios~