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AION : Ascension Review

I remember exactly where I was when this game launched. It seemed interesting but allot of that “Korean” animation tipped me off to one thing…Korean Grind. So I stayed back and read reviews. I also had several friends deeply submersed in the game. Then it goes F2P. This was interesting. All my friends and their guilds left in mass. They already where upset with lack of content, bugs, balance issues.

It was so sever, and such a harsh backlash (Forums on fire!) that I thought this game would sink after F2P people left. But US did something most games at the time were not doing. Going truly F2P. The cash market was very cosmetic. That is…the US version…I moved to EU (France) years later and POOF…I got into AION. Very late…but here are my deductions.

Character Creation, Class, Race: Probably the only game that get’s as close to Perfect World as far as character creation options. SO MANY! It is great to change all the little details of the models from nose bridge, tattoos, nostril size, etc… I created an Asmodian Cleric. There are 3 Races Asmodian (Elfish) – Balaur (giant like) – Elyos (Humanish).

4 classes: Warrior – Scout – Mage – Priest. Each with 2 focus classes to change into later. So I chose Priest / and went Cleric. I usually enjoy healing and self supporting. Something a Cleric seemed to do. Feel free to visit the game website to explore the other class options.

Aion is a game that changes to balance and caters to either market or player needs…which are always in relation. So before, I always heard that a healer should not play solo in AION. Since most games do not guild early levels, I feared my leveling would be hard to do solo, but a few game tweaks and I was able to stick to solo close to end game.

Game play and Community: Normally I keep these separate but they are so important in AION I will talk about them both. Also the evolution AION has gone through. It is important to group them. The Subscription AION is dead. The mass communities that made up Sub AION are pretty much gone. The game you will play today feels nothing like the game of yesterday or the game I am reviewing on right now. In fact, this review is talking about GENERAL AION features. I will then specify EU and US region differences after each topic…Whewww…What a mess huh? So, Game play consisted of venturing forth in this beautiful fantasy land. AION probably has one the best map lay outs I have ever played (on level with Vanilla wow).
For example, you start out in the “noob area” with consist of a crescent shape map in the foresty fantasy world. The rest of the map has fog of war. One of the first things you will feel is the great questing system. The story might not interest you if you are a speed gamer. I do not read text, but click ACCEPT, and just look at “Kill X” on the top right quest list. The last game that interested me story wise was WOW and Secret World and Star Wars Old Rep. (Secret World being a let down), but in all those, the LAND compliments the story / Compliments the world. Example, to kill threatening Frost ogres, you naturally have to go to a frost like area, in WoW that meant actually traveling to a higher elevated place where it snows and start the killing. Some games ignore that aspect and just color the ground white for snow and toss in the mobs called “frost X”. AION is a great example of questing and land done right. The rich forest moves the story and quests along perfectly.
Also, it is not linear. That is, you do not start in zone A and level up, move to B, level, C. etc. Some quests, early on, take you out of A. They tell you at around level 5 to leave and come back. When you leave you might pick up 5 other quests the put you in other regions. But usually not to far just yet. If I were to connect the quest dots and plot out where how a player quests, it would be like a star pattern:

Toss in several zones of the same level and you had good variety. For example, if questing level 20 quests in a desert map got boring you can wander off and search lvl 20 in a jungle like atmosphere.

The Transitions between maps are nice. It is not “Exit the desert and walk into a snow map with not transition or loading screen”…it transitions naturally and smoothly with LOTS of elevation. Mountains, trees, cliffs, overhangs, etc.

Exploiting…or exploring…or…adventuring…whatever you want to call it, was one of my favorite things. For example, early in the game around level 15 there is this horrible map of ogres that are tough to solo. There also is a quest (sort of bugged) that requires you slog through them to warp into a portal to a cinematic cut scene to an npc…sadly you need a group to get past all this over powered mons (only time in the game this happens, kind of a block for noobs). BUT, you will notice on the map you can get around the canyons..but how? I youtubed a video and found the exploit, there are holes in the invisible barries. So I followed the map and was “behind the curtains” so to speak of the design…but it was odd…because despite being “behind the scenes” there were outposts and npcs on the cliff posts like the company knew we would be forced to exploit so they “dolled” it up for us…Any ways, I skirted along the edges, cliff hopped, and glided my way to the mission objective solo (It was in my log for over 10 levels! To hard to solo). But the thrill of adventuring like this is great. Reminded me of the WoW days looking for the hole in the canyon to drop in a frost dragon lair. You had to exploit the canyon side with a side ways double tap jump…hard to explain…but you can youtube it.

Gear is key in this game. Not necessary early on, but getting in early habits of knowing your build is a good thing to start doing. There is also great variety and great looking armor. This pushes for some easy socialing in the cities as most people do not look the same and you are curiously walking up and inspecting or just chit chatting. I like this in mmorpgs. I had that moment: “I do not need it, it has the same stats, but it looks good in a different way, should I destroy it or wear it??? Ohhh the choices!” I like that in an mmorpg.

There are quest types. Regional quests and story like quests. Story like arch quests are the ones that have some nice cinematic moments and push out farther out than you can go. Regional ones are those ones that offer the exp to finish the main story ones. There are key points in the game. Such as that key level to get your first flying wings and dungeon quests.

Combat. This is a smooth experience. The game posts a smooth tab targeting battle system. Probably the best tab system I ever played. Some spells are run n cast. Some are stand in place. I did not like how the voice screams for each spell. Get’s annoying fast. But, the game feels almost like it should have been a action based combat game. All in all, the battles are a little shorter after patches and the grind a little more balanced. However there is a slight grind. I recommend learning macros fast or the fingers will be aching after 1 1 1 2 2 3  repeat repeat rapidly. The hot bar gets filled up pretty fast with allot of skills almost useless but necessary, another hint to macro your set up. All those: “.005%” skills.

FLYING. Flying is key in this game but not how you would tink. Flying battles are almost non existent in PVE and most zones you cannot fly. THIS IS A HUGE NEGATIVE point for me. They really market this game as unique due to flying. But it is SUPER limited. You will learn fast it is just good for exploiting and works like a mount on an incline. Instead of walking down hill, pop the wings and glide down a surface at a fast rate of speed…it glitches to work in non flying zones often. Again, exploiting…Again the dynamics and muti layered maps that feel like a real world, leave flying a great tool to get around.

PvP is like an entire game fleshed out within the game. You will notice almost all elements in PVE are working you to either PvP or dungeon farming. Before, I heard PvP was balanced and fun and what kept people subbed. After some changes, including “Rifts” that open up to dump factions over at certain times (to prevent camping), I heard nothing is profitable except taking the most populated side and ZERGING an area for territory control. Not the same any more…People argue the F2P change brought in idiots that do not want to play fair like the subbers did. People say it was abused before and just patched now that more people ar crying…I do not know. What I do know is that there is always something to fix or something else to do. I had been ganked allot as a low level trying to level up. And that in a grinding mmorpg is no fun. Especially when grouping is hard to do. The dungeon and group finders options are null. And guilds are super VIP at times. I was in a decent guild, but most do no dedicate to anything else but end game.

Other fast points: The bank and inventory can be all purchased with in game gold. It can expensive, but I never had a problem. Also, as you level the game gives you rewards…BIG REWARDS. Weapons and other items that “get you over the hump”. This was not in the original. You had to farm and work hard in groups. Now, instead of grinding the content, they hand out the goods to get you through. I easily used the same weapons and armor set given to me at level 25 – 25 and then 25-35. SO, although I had tons of armor given through drops and quest rewards, none of it really was superior than the hand out stuff. So I looked the same in some areas. It is kind of sad, because if they changed the level scaling, then the quest rewards and drops would suffice and we can play dress up more…But no, we are just patched over.

Some combat + spell moves are wonkey. Running then DEAD stop to cast a spell was death scenario some times. Camera angels can get a little “woah nelly”. Some  mobs early levels are too tough and require exploiting to get around.

There are pets, a great cosmetic feature. Even more awesome is that some are interactive, and you can interact with OTHER players pets. Great feature.

There are other aspects to AION, including Crafting, socketing, etc..It is very simple and can be done on the fly. IF you play you cant miss it, so I will not cover it.

They introduce some solo dungeons early game. I am saddened they do not litter out a few more for certain story and level points. It is like just a test, and then NOTHING until end game.

Music and Graphics: Music is TOP! Best music in an mmorpg in my opinion. Just right for the environments. Great ambiance. The load in client music melts my soul. I LOVE aion sound track! Graphics are AMAZING! Sadly, my gaming lap top can not run it at high, but no problem on medium//low (I can run TERA medium high…). There is allot to process in AION, and just over all beauty and immersion. It is a graphic beauty. It is funny because Haters always said the game is just eye candy and nothing more. Now, years later, we see that SO MANY titles come out offering eye candy and nothing more, and make AION look like great literature form the Russian authors…So now, AION, with time, gets even BETTER! If I knew AION was this great of an over all experience, I would have played it on first F2P launch… But there is a big fat elephant in the room. And it is time to talk about it:

EU vs. US: EU and US went F2P around the same time. Both claiming to be Truly F2P. Only US will really do this. Here are restrictions to EU. All these restrictions lifted after you sub, or go “club” as it is called:

1) You cannot chat in Global.

2) You cannot use the auction house.

3) You cannot trade with players

4) You cannot form a guild

5) You have caps on gold and other items

6) You cannot craft properly (things break)

7) You cannot enter certain dungeons after certain times.
Well here: http://www.aionfreetoplay.com/website/featuresdetails/

There are others, but the MOST IMPORTANT I will learn later on is that you cannot trade with your guild members or others. This is SUPER important because 99% Of the drops are engineered to be for OTHER CLASSES. The purposely made it so you get all these great upgrades, but not for you You will need to auction house or trade to get set up for end game. EVERY ONE in EU knows: ‘You are F2P until level 45ish”. And for sure all club end game. You get a few fan bois crying they are still playing and end game…oh what a horrible existence. The most frustrating, especially when US is NOT LIKE THIS!

Few years later US even opens up a FAST TRAK server. You open the channel button and hop into the fast trak channel. In EU there was mass protest on the forums. The players started a petition signed by over 1000 players. AION EU REMOVES this thread and then sets up an official thread saying: “We know we are late in the latest patch. We would like to state that the certain elements will not be released with AION EU version including the fast trak server. We find this does not reflect the communities interests and will cater the player base…” WTF??? So they are lying. They REMOVED the players petitions to be like US and just push GREEDY PAY MODELS. The Fast Trak never came out and no restrictions lifted, they just waited MONTHS to delay the content so they can trim it down…Did that help them? NOPE! They then, a year later (about 1 month ago) decided to “UPDATE” AION and installed a server (not a channel) for the fast trak, and “unlock” some features…sadly, you are still hindered to pay as the key game breaking features are still there. It is not truly free to play. It is Free to Level up until end game. It is just disgusting when US is truly free. I tried changing to US but it is too laggy in EU.

I got to end game and was to weak. I saw the grind and pay model ahead of me and I uninstalled. But I love AION, and I am so happy the US Version is thriving. EU stays open due to a handful of people that sub. AND HEY, if you have the cash, and you want to sub to an mmorpg.: GO AION! Why not? It is a great sub/club offer.

I Advise a trip to the forums – Game Discussion. You will see the difference in the AIONs really quick

In conclusion. Aion is a beautiful game that offers a decent PvE experience in a lush world and some great PvP that can even take to the skys. The music is a beautiful bonus and you will enjoy a game that brings you back for it for one reason or another. I always think of trying out AION US again with my new net connection….

I do feel bad that EU is such a greedy mess and I have to ding the game for not allowing full free flying. It’s future seems bright and I hope you get to try it out. With so many theme parks like RIFT that are very predictable, AION has a few surprises that will will leave you impressed. If not for its creativity, you will probably have a folder full of screen shots.




Nanbo on blogspot: http://debuffblog.blogspot.fr/2013/06/j7-aion-review.html

Aion   MMORPG  

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