Saturday, October 10, 2009

Aion: No.

After about 10 days of playing Aion for 2-4 hours a day, I’ve decided it’s a waste of time and money.

  • The world feels claustrophobic. No sense of exploration whatsoever. The world doesn’t feel big, open, and full of interesting nuggets to discover. It feels small, and cramped.
  • There is one leveling path. No fun for alts. I can’t go through the early levels the few times I need to see a few different classes’ capabilities. I’m not going through the mediocre starting content more than twice. After the first time I never wanted to see it again.
  • Leveling is slow. Whether you’re grinding mobs or turning in quests that forced you to grind mobs, leveling starts to drag. I find myself not wanting to log on because I’ll just be grinding the same boring tasks yet again with no variation.
  • The game is a combination of naked grinds. Grind quests. Grind mobs. Grind tradeskills. Nothing innovative or even particularly fun there. Unless, of course, your a masochistic EQ nostalgiac. In that case, I pity you. This world is nowhere near good enough to make mob grinding seem anything but a trivial treadmill of meaninglessness.
  • Combat is boring in the early levels. This game expects me to fight thousands of monsters over the course of 30-40 hours without any real strategic thinking or skill needed. Awful. It might have a chance at not completely sucking if there was ANY significant character customization or gear selection prior to level 20.
  • Crafting is always boring. Once you’ve got the mats, click a couple of times and you’re waiting for your work to finish. For hours. No thanks. This is doubly bad because you can use the “work order” system to completely trivialize leveling crafting. The designers literally are telling players that this is just a matter of spending 20 hours waiting for progress bars to fill.
  • Character creation is all flash. You can customize your character’s looks to a very pleasing extent. Too bad you can’t actually customize your characters capabilities in the game at all. Aside from picking your class, you have zero character build decisions to make and maybe one or two gear decisions to make in the first 40 to 60 hours of gameplay.
  • It’s clearly not made for this market. The world is so odd—and I’m not saying that in a positive way. It’s like Ryzom decided to take all of the character out its world, then spend a few orders of magnitude more on texturing. The interface is also quite strange at times; it’s like they tried their hardest to westernize the game, but no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t find a word for four-sided circle.
  • Flight is a flighty novelty. Awesome! I can fly! WHEEE—oh wait, why am I hitting an invisible wall? Oh. I can’t fly in this zone. And I can’t fly in this one either. So, for no apparent reason I can’t fly in most of the zones I have access to? Great innovation, guys.

So after playing Aion for 20-30 hours, I’m done. We’ve seen this before. Novelty is seductive at first but turns out to be a nagging hag not worth the shoes she walked in on. I’m done with theme-park pay-to-play MMOs. I’ve yet to find one that is worth my money. I’m not going to spend my money in the future if the game isn’t obviously a significant departure worth supporting.


derek said...

I haven't tried it yet, but from what I saw on the website before launch, it seemed pretty thin. Lots of pretty flying angels, but there was little about how the game was going to be awesome. I wasn't thrilled about the limited class options either.

Glad to hear I was smart in passing this one by.

Glyph, the Architect said...

The whole flight business seemed like it was going to end up a gimmick from the start when they were first releasing videos. There were all these descriptions of huge RvR aerial battles which could occur where you had to be aware of everything in all directions. Then in the actual videos, all of the combat they showed off was ground based and the flying (videos of which were far fewer) was just some guy sailing around doing twists and turns as though he were just playing an updated version of NiGHTS for the Genesis.

On a side note: You would assume that in a game where they advertise flying as a major selling point that you could fly in every zone.

Jasdemi said...

Actually I enjoys the game a lot, the only thing I hate is the horrible customer support.

motstandet said...

I was also initially turned off by the work orders, but they become a huge money investment. Rather than use rare patterns to create scarcity, NCSoft decided to use money and time investments. The patterns aren't rare; the high-level crafters are.

And are you seriously going to complain about "waiting for progress bars to fill"? You're the one who likes EVE's system, remember? :P

evizaer said...

EVE is a lesser of many evils.

I never claimed to like the fact that you don't do anything most of the time you play EVE. In fact, I've repeatedly stated that I stand in opposition to that kind of "gameplay".

Longasc said...

Yep, it is too grindy for me. But the combat is very good. It just needs a lot of levels to get to full potential, I think not even level 25 is enough for that. But think about Paladins in the early WoW levels. I think the progression is just too slow for most westerners.

The game also rewards grouping, but does not force you to group.

What makes me wonder is that you cannot look behind the surface of the unimaginative questing and grinding and see some advantages of the eastern way of gaming. You are playing this game in WoW solo mode, no wonder that the mob grinding boggles you down.

I am no longer playing Aion either, but please do not feel offended when I tell you: You just did not get it. It is a bit alien, but comparing it to WoW is actually the wrong approach. It has much more in common with open world pvp and pve games like Lineage II. We westerners are just not used to games that do not differentiate between pve and pvp as most of our western MMOs do.

evizaer said...

Doesn't matter if I "get" it. I have played RO and I know the point of this style of game. It's just not fun for me and has some objective weaknesses. It contradicts a lot of the basic patterns that yield good games.

If you're not into MMOs to play games, then you should naturally disagree with me about Aion's virtues. But if you're not going to discuss MMOs based on their merits as games, the discussion is useless from a game design perspective.

And comparing it to WoW is the comparison that a western MMO player should be making. WoW is the only competition for Aion over here. I'd rather play WoW than Aion--and I'd rather not play WoW.

Wolfshead said...

Best Aion review I've seen! You hit the nail right on the head with many great points on why Aion just doesn't cut it.

Something is very "off" about the world. I'm not sure if it's the Asian influence or what but it's very bizarre and I don't think it's going to be very palatable and satisfying to the tastes of the western market.

Aion is so "on rails" that it makes WoW seem like a sandbox MMO. Zones are extremely linear, you see people running around like lemmings rushing from quest to quest.

Geekzor said...

The game definitely is NOT group friendly - no scaling of XP, group content is only to fill quest gaps and still leaves masses of them, deaths are much more likely in groups leaving you with a very large soul healing bill which is never made up for by drops gained. The latter has put me off grouping due to how money centric this game is.

To be fair after the strict tunneling of content pre lvl 25 you do start to find areas that you can explore, still not 'massive' by any means but at least a little sense of space.

It needs alot to make it a good game, it's passable for those with nothing better to do and who don't mind the grind. I have a large guild of good mates, that's the only thing keeping me playing, the mass PvP can be fun when and if they fix the game so that it doesn't crash once it reaches it's 2gb RAM limit.

My overall feeling is rather 'meh' but with the lack of anything else and being in a great guild it will keep me amused for a short time...thats the best I can say of it.

Anonymous said...

I started playing today. I enjoyed the game a lot, but... these no-fly zones are just killing me. I feel so free when flying around then it's back to crappy WoW style for most areas... a real let-down there.