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.