Episode 10: Aion

Originally released in the US in 2009, Aion Online is one of NCsoft's many hit titles imported from Korea. This fantasy MMORPG features several innovative features including the ability to fly, the ability to level up through crafting and gathering, and chaining abilities that make combat seem more visceral.

The story takes place in Atreia, a world torn apart by war and separated by the abyss. Players can choose between two rival factions, the Elyos, and the Asmodians. Through their adventure players can experience raiding, crafting, small scale open world PvP, and Large Scale PvPvE Combat in the Abyss.

For a more indepth look, we asked our Gaiscioch Stream Team to share their perspectives from the recent Streams of Epic Adventure Episode 10.

Learn more about Aion at:
http://www.aiononline.com/

StreamTeam Impressions

The Dragon Slayer Soren

So this week we got to take a dive into the world of Aion.

First thing was, choosing a server and a race - Asmodean’s (plunged into a world of darkness and despair) or the Elyos (have been living in the light for some 750 years). One thing to note is that Aion takes faction locking to a whole new level and once you choose a race you are locked into it for all characters on that server. If you want to dabble with the other race you would have to create characters on a different server. For the night's escapades the Stream Team went with the super shiny Elyos.

Once a server and race were decided it was off the the character create screen, and oh what a screen it was. While not as robust a system as some of the newer games out there, it definitely lends itself to its own sense of charm and players will notice quite a few nods to some of the great games out there -> Final Fantasy, Tekken, Mech Warrior, MGS etc. Honestly I was grinning ear to ear when I found out I could make my very own Heihachi Mishima and that grin got even wider when I realized I could make a version of Cloud Strife albeit with a mop of flaming red hair. Once that was done it was off to choose a class!

Aion comes with your typical standard fare of classes such as the warrior, scout, mage and priest, but it also gives you access to the Muse (fancy pants bard) and my personal favorite, the Technist. Technist had me sold on the fact that 1) you can eventually choose to be an Aethertech and get a mecha suit to run around in or  2) you can choose to be a Gunslinger. A true freakin duel wielding, pistol toting Gunslinger!! Now that I had Ginger Cloud wielding his guns (teeheehee guns) I was ready to take on the world.

One loading into the actual game world I have to say I was pretty impressed with the scenery and general atmosphere. Looking up to the sky you could see the rift and the dark half of the world that the Asmodean’s come from. And there was this dragon/manta ray thing flying lazily about. The weather changes the general atmosphere of the area you’re in and it’s really cool to actually see your character react to it. Take rain for example. Your toon will pull out a leaf to shield himself from the light drizzle. Wildlife is abundant and varied as were the local races and creatures you get to fight. Honestly I can’t remember playing a game recently where I’ve legitly asked the party to stop so I could take screen shots of stuff.

For those that like questing I think it’s safe to say you won’t run out of things to do for a long while. I noticed during our play through that there seemed to be 3 types of quests that players could pick up: Yellow (main story line), Light Blue (local area fetch quests), and Dark Blue (give a solid chance of a higher level item). During our playthrough the Stream Team mainly stuck to the Yellow quests in our bid to reach level 10 and Ascension - basically you get booted out of the noobie pool and given a wicked looking set of wings! Yes, wings people! Wings that let you fly and glide! And you get your sub-class! Helloooooo Gunslinger!

Not being known for my ability to focus and complete fetch quests that don’t involve killing dragons, I was quite surprised by the level of storytelling that has gone into making the main story engaging. Generally I just quickly click through the dialogue as fast as I can but as we progressed I found myself paying more attention and reading what was going on, So props to NCsoft for that. It’s a hard thing to do.

The gameplay itself is pretty fun too. Those familiar with Korean MMO’s won’t be thrown off by the ridiculous amounts of skill bars you have. Skills are pretty straight forward to use, though with smart use you can combo and chain attacks together for extra pew pew. Leveling on the standard server is pretty much on par with any other game, but if you want to get your level on without the grind you can easily hop to what is called a “Fast Track” server. On this server everything is accelerated and you can reach level 10 in about an hour or so. Grouping is pretty sweet no matter what server you choose to be on and all exp is shared. Have to admit I had a pretty good chuckle when I afk’d for a few minutes before we started streaming and low and behold I somehow went from level 1 - 4 without firing a shot.

Overall Aion was a pretty fun game to dive into and I think the team put a lot of love into it. From character create screen, to the lore, to the beautiful environments and the way characters react to it, Aion does a good job of immersing the player in the fantasy genre. Will I continue to play? Depends. If the team decides to revisit for the post 20+ stuff I’d be in but honestly I’m more of a raider at heart and the PvE fetch quests have always bugged me. I’d much rather dive into the hard group content or the PvP.

The Singing Commander Smitty

When I was young, I had massive battles in my bedroom with an eclectic mix of action figures.  Transformers fought against Sky Commanders, He-Man, Robocop, and The Joker.  The battles were epic, featuring guns, axes, bows, arrows, robots, cyborgs and more.  Throughout the Stream Team’s play through of Aion by NCSoft, I was constantly taken back to those fights of yore.  Just as there was in my youth, there is an interesting mix of character types, and you would be hard pressed not to find a class that tickles your fancy.

You start off in the impressive character creation system.  You choose one of 5 servers, picking a faction; Asmodians: dark brooding humans with furry back-tails, or the Elyos: nice bright white shiny people.  For our play through, the Stream Team chose to be Elyos.  (If you choose to try Aion out, please be aware that once you pick a server and a faction that you cannot create a character of the other faction on the same server.  You will need to choose a new server, and never will the two factions meet.) The server has two options for starting you out: “Standard Server” and “Fast Track Server”.  The standard server lets you level at a much slower pace, allowing you to truly absorb the world that Aion has laid out for you.  You will pay more attention to the lore of the world, and feel more involved in the fights you take on.  Danger is more prevalent, and each fight has more weight.  The Fast Track Server allows you to plow through the levels and experience more of the world in a smaller span of time.  You will level up quick (almost too quick – you can make level 10 in an hour or less.)  

Once I created my dashing toon, I chose to play as a “Technist”, becoming an “Aethertech” after “ascension” (which is Aion’s term for kicking you out of the level 10 kiddie pool).  Starting out as a Technist gave me a pistol to play with, and moving up the game gave me a Mech to play with.  That’s right - sword and shield barbarians fighting alongside gun-toting Mechs.  Oh, and don’t let me leave out that you get wings and can fly!  My inner child just screamed with glee again – it is very nerdy.  After only a short period of time playing, you will end up with quite a large number of skills to use in the game, including a chaining system where one attack can lead you into another.  Several attacks you earn can be powered up in a fight.  Each class’ style has a completely different look and feel, not just a different weapon skin that pew-pews the enemy.

The world around you is quite beautiful.  The planet Atreia has been cracked in half, Asmodians living on the inside of one half, and Elyos living on the inside of the other.  Both blame each other for the cataclysm.  Looking up high into the sky lets you see the distant city lights of your planet’s other half.  The world is vibrant and colored well.  Weather changes the mood of an area as your character will react to it, holding a massive leaf over their head to shield yourself from the rain for example.  The wildlife is varied: very little palette swapping from what I could see so far.  And once you enter the massive cities, they truly feel expansive and well-traveled.  

All-in-all, Aion felt like a game that had a lot of love put into it.  Character customization and class specialization felt solid, allowing you to truly put your mark on your creation.  Gameplay was strong, and felt engaging, no button-mashing needed.  The world was beautiful and expansive, no lack of beautiful things to look at everywhere!  If you have a desire to play, I highly recommend downloading the free-to-play Aion and tell ME where your inner-child took you!

The Cpt. Fall Damage Foghladha

Stepping back into Aion for the first time in about 5 years I wasn't sure what to expect. Since I last played, the game had gone free to play, experienced 4 expansions, and obviously has undergone some refinement. Right out the gate I can tell that leveling was accelerated. Before the livestream even began we stood around killing random creatures and leveled up to level 5.

This was largely due to the fast track server which from my calculations returns 2x more exp than the standard server. Fast track servers do have limitations in that you can't trade, send guild invites, or use banks so we did a bit of flipping between the two quite often.

Overall the perspective I walked away with was that it was definitely worth a revisit but it is still the game I grew away from. It is very PvE centric through the early levels and forces you to walk down a cookie trail course. It's filled with FedEx missions of the worse kind. Many requiring you to backtrack to towns and villages you have long since journeyed beyond. For someone that doesn't like the conventional "WoW" style quest and prefers more active approaches like Guild Wars 2, Aion will struggle to hold your attention. However if you're a OCD Quest fiend, you will be in heaven. Just about every NPC has a side quest you can pursue and there are more quests than required to overlevel an area.

I did manage to create a Guild shortly after we were off the air and it appears the guild system hasn't changed much. It still is very limited in size, requires vast amounts of coin to unlock features, and doesn't have much in the way of guild and player information. It does have the ability to set a custom Guild Emblem which can be imported from a png file which is exceptionally cool but I imagine requires a bit of censorship. I will continue evaluating this system and post up a guild system review shortly.

Additionally I also managed to level a second character from 1 - 10 in under an hour after the livestream completed. All in all this game will be one I play with Yulishka when she chooses to venture into it but is not likely one I will play on my own time.

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