I’m spending a lot of time in Aion right now, but once the novelty wears off I’ll spend more time in WoW. Each game does some things better than the other and I find both to be fun. Heck, I still like City of Heroes. Nope, I’m not quitting WoW, I’ll be playing that game for a while still.
But it sure is cool that WoW might finally have some competition.
Aion’s winning acolades for the best MMO of the year. Well, since all the others were, in one way or another, severely broken that’s not necessarily saying much. Or maybe what it says is that it’s damn hard to create a viable, fun MMO that appeals to more than a select few.
Aion does a lot of things right. It’s graphically gorgeous and runs well on my meager machine. (I really need to get a better video card. )
So… my thoughts, in no particular order…
The lag? Aion’s laggy at times, but no more than Dalaran. My machine runs it well enough to be playable, but WoW is definitely smoother. More horsepower would be nice. Some people with nicer machines report 80 FPS.
The character generation system just pwns all others. Even the one in City of Heroes, though that one does a better job on costumes. Choose from a bunch of hair styles and basic faces (yawn) and then tweak the face to your heart’s content. The same with body design. You can make a small headed, thick thighed WoW Human or a delicate Elf Prinecess. No tails, though… so Draenei are out, but you can make some strange looking types. Pretty, ugly, tiny, huge, tall, short, fat, thin, whatever, it’s all there.
While there’s only the one set of clothes at the start you can see how your character will look in starter gear, undies, and high level gear.
You get to pick from either of two races with no real racial differences, Elyos and Asmodian. Light and dark side, or Pigeons and Furbacks. Four starting classes branch of into eight at level 10.
- Warrior becomes Templar (tank) or Gladiator (off tank and/or melee DPS)
- Mage becomes Sorcerer (ranged DPS bolt lobber) or Spiritmaster (much like a Hunter or Warlock.)
- Priest becomes Cleric (main healer) or Chanter (light heals, buffs, some DPS)
- Scout becomes Assassin (melee DPS) or Ranger (Ranged DPS, Hunter w/o pet)
WoW has more character customization with the talent trees, but Aion has some. Characters gain stigmas starting at level 20 and these add various abilities. Stigmas have to be installed at a Stigma Master, but they can also be removed and reused.
Eavery piece or armor and weaponry also has sockets for manastones. These stones work very much like gems in WoW and add a bit to various stats, such as crit rating, hit points, mana pool, etc.
The backstory is more or less this – Once upon a time the world was nice and all races were one. The gods above created a protector race, the Balaur, to make sure things stayed that way. But the Balaur got smart, realized the other races were tasty and best used as snacks or slaves, and so decided to conquer everything.
Once thing led to another (major war) and there was a major cataclysm that literally split the world into two halves. One side is continually sunlight and that’s the Elyos side. The other is continually dark and that Asmodians have that area. The Balaur inhabit the Abyss, a void between the two areas.
After the Cataclysm both sides lost touch with each other, and with the Balaur, and developed their owns ways. Fairly recently each has discovered the other, but things didn’t go well and there is now perpetual war. Furback and Pigeons forever at each other’s throats, when they’re not taking fighting the Balaur.
Rifts exist on both Ely and Asmo sides which give limited access to the other side. This results, naturally, in a certain amount of gankage. A few of one side pop through the rift, kill a few opponent (or try to,) word gets out, and they’re hunted down.
The Anyss is an open PvP area, but there plenty of mobs to grind, quests to do, resources to gather and so on. It’s a good place to level, as well. A little like Stranglethorn Vale in WoW. You don’t have to spend much time there, but you might want to.
There are a series of fortresses and artifacts that each side can control, to the benefit of that side. There’s also a nifty series of training quests (and a training instance) which clearly explains how that works. I’d love to see that in WoW for the BGs and some of the raids.
All servers are PvP servers, though there’s no real PvP game until 25. After that the game is set up for group PvP and big fortress battles. Most of the PvP happens in the Abyss which is inaccessible until level 25.
At this time I’ve only been in the one instance, the Training Grounds, which is a training instance for a fortress battle. Go in, clear mobs around the fortress, grab an artifact, kill the force field generator, knock down the gate door (with siege engines,) and kill the boss. Sometimes the boss even drops a piece of decent loot.
Crafting and Gathering
Aion has six crafts: Alchemy (potions, scrolls, manastones, mage weapons,) Armorsmithing (chain and plate armor,) Tailoring (cloth and leather armor,) Weaponssmithing (take a guess,) Cooking (yum!) and Handicrafting (accessories and bows.)
Crafting isn’t done just anywhere. You actually have to go to the crafting area and make the items on the forge, loom, whatever. You can grab work orders from the trainer to work up your skill. At 99, 199, 299, and 399 you pay him a great chunk of money (Kinah) to advance to the next level.
Work orders give you several items to create. When done you hand them in to the trainer and receive some item, generally a crafting mat, but it might be a recipe. Also, you gain XP for each item that you craft, if it isn’t too low level for you.
At least in the mid 20s (where I am) the stuff you craft is every bit as nice as anything you’ll find off a mob or on the broker (Auction House.)
There are two gathering skills which allow characters to gather anything gatherable, generally herbs, ores, and Aether. Like WoW you need to work your skill up to gather stuff.
Prices, Broker, Kinah
There’s only one coin, the Kinah, and it’s both pretty easy to gain and pretty easy to spend. Vendor junk sells for enough to keep you in decent goodies, nice gear (found) sells for quite a bit, and nice crafted gear sell for a lot.
Not only can you buy gear, but you can buy consumables, accessories, clothes, and more. Youi’ll also spend an arm and a leg to get your crafting skill raised.
There is a broker, which everyone calls the “auction house,” but since there is no bidding it isn’t an auction house. Something is put up for sale at one price and you buy it or pass. Youre also limited to ten items posted at a time.
A neat feature is the private store. Going AFK for a few? Set up a store with the items you want to sell at the prices you choose. Set up the store anywhere. Even in a PvP zone in the middle of a war, not that that’s recommended…
Very few. There’s some griping about too few quests and too much grinding, especially at later levels. If you like to grind, then you’re ok. Still, there are a lot of quests so it’s not nearly 100% grind. Plus, mobs drop enough loot to take away some of the pain.
Solo PvP is, well, about like it is in WoW. Mismatched. But then, the game is designed around group PvP, which actually seems to work well.
You do need halfway decent hardware to run the game, but if it runs WoW well then it should run Aion just fine. With a hot machine Aion will be gorgeous.
Lag. Well, that really is more of a routing issue than your individual machine. It’s much better than in beta, but it still happens and rubberbanding pops up at times. Jumping off hills can be entertaining as you bounce back up the hill a couple of times.
There are a lot of other cool bits, too. All in all it’s a solid game, very stable (as stable as any other MMO) and surprisingly bug free.
I’ll be blogging about it at my little Aion blog and this site will be going back to WoW (and I’ll be posting more than every other month.)