I asked Ian to give me his take on Aion after playing it for the first time last night and here is what he has to say:
First Impressions- by Errolian
Aion has just gone free to play (F2P) so it was time for me to venture into yet another MMO. Aion is a pretty game, featuring all that you would expect from a modern MMO. As part of the F2P model not all these features are available to you, and within the first 15 minutes of playing with my long time MMO partner Merry I had found that whispering was not one of these features (lucky I knew her character name beforehand), nor could we trade items with each other.
The other striking thing about any game that jumps on the F2P bandwagon is the sudden influx of new players (me included). In itself this is not a bad thing. The type of player this model attracts however is. The random and often crude naming of characters, the spawn camping of lower level mobs by higher level players and the inane banter in the chat windows have all become “the norm” in these games, and Aion is no different.
But back to the game itself. The core classes you would expect are all present, with key skills being learned (through vendor sold manuals) at prescribed levels. The game features a system whereby you can specialise once you Ascend at level 10 (why am I thinking of Rift right now). This means prior to level 10, a warrior is a warrior and a priest is a priest no matter if you want to play as a tank or a healer later in the game. I started off my life in the Aion universe as a Warrior with the purpose to be a tank. Although I had no threat generation tools (quite usual at lower levels), I was given a key Shield skill to mitigate incoming damage. Unfortunately I had gotten to level 6 by the end of our play session without ever having a shield to equip, so have not played my character to its potential as yet even at these modest levels.
With so many players swarming over the world I found it quite difficult to always locate or follow my ever adventurous playing companion. This could be due to a lack of clarity or my understanding of the in-game mini-map, or my usual ability to become distracted - and believe me I can get lost quite easily in most games.
I also played a scout class later that night to get a solo perspective of early game play. The scout was lot more fun to play that the warrior as I could use all the skills that were afforded to the class. I found one key mechanic quite inept in practice though. A high damage strike that has to be performed from behind the target is a key ability in the scout’s arsenal (especially for a blossoming Assassin). So (from stealth), sneaky sneaky behind the target, press the super “I win” button skill, and watch as the mob turn around and see me before my attack is launched. Epic fail on this one I’m afraid.
I will be playing again tonight, see how the game is after level 10. At this time it is hard to give a truly positive spin on it because of the high number of idiots playing from within the swarms of new players in the starter zones. Just like me (new player, not an idiot).