The Aion Review:
"A highly Polished game for the little Korean in all of us"
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Introduction

Introduction
OK, fresh off the boat from the land of morning calm comes the newest MMO to hit the market in 2009. On September 22nd Aion is released for the masses. It carries a burden of huge hype from numerous players who are not satisfied with the current options in MMOs. There is great anticipation of success for Aion. Not because Aion is a 'WoW Clone (although there are some similarities) but because Aion has targeted one aspect that many players have complained was lacking in many recent MMO releases ...polished gameplay.

The MMO industry is becoming crowded , especially in the dominant fantasy genre of game. As such, players need to make a decision as to whether or not this game is right for them. It is my hope that this review will help you make this decision. I will update the review constantly through open beta as I expect many things will change. Check back often!

I was fortunate to have been brought in to the beta prior to this game's release. I saw the dramatic changes as this game went though closed beta. It remains to be seen how well Aion will do when it officially opens. The launch of an MMO has come under intense scrutiny over the last 2 years (And we have seen some stinky MMO releases ...think AoC, think Darkfall …gah!). It is my hope to give those players who have newly joined or are considering Aion insight as to what to expect, what to do, and perhaps where this game will be several months down the road. One twist is that this is not the true release for Aion, but rather the North American / European arrival of Aion. The game has been released in China/Korea for some time.

This article is about what to expect from Aion...a bit more than what you get from FAQs or boards, it is an in depth look at my experience playing this game. I do not declare myself some MMO guru or expert…most players have played numerous MMOs and are quite able to distinguish what’s good from bad. My viewpoint will be straightforward and as unbiased as possible …addressing why the highs aren’t so high, nor the lows so disastrous.

You will find that I talk and relate aspects of Aion to mainstream MMOs like World of Warcraft. This is intentional. It is not because I consider WoW represents the standard for MMOs, but rather a framework on which most players have some experience with and can relate to. I have little doubt that all MMO developers eyes (Including Aion's) are dead set on becoming the next 'WoW'. Will Aion be a WoW Killer? The true answer is that there is no such thing as a WoW killer (only time). However, of all the games released in the last 2 years...Aion has the best chance for huge success (IMO).

So, with that introduction, let’s begin.

System Requirements
Minimum System Requirements
Microsoft Windows XP SP2
2.8GHz CPU or equivalent
1GB RAM
NVIDIA 5900 Ultra with 128MB RAM / ATI Radeon x700 with 128MB RAM or higher
15GB hard disk space
DVD-ROM drive
DirectX 9.0c (6/2008 update)
Sound device
Broadband Internet connection

<Although this may be the true minimum, it is not practical. You need AT LEAST 2gb of ram for Aion, else you will find the faction cities impassible.>

Recommended System Requirements
Microsoft Windows XP SP2/ Vista
Dual Core CPU 2.0GHz or equivalent
2GB RAM
NVIDIA 6800 with 256MB RAM / ATI Radeon x800 with 256MB or higher
15GB hard disk space
DVD-ROM drive
DirectX 9.0c (6/2008 update)
Sound device
Broadband Internet connection


Into the Game
You can tell as soon as you start this game up…this is is not a Western MMO like many north american MMO players are used to (WoW, AoC, WAR, LOTRO, and others). This game is Asian. If you cannot imagine yourself in a world with strong Asian influences and mythos…and immersion is important to you ...then its time to find another MMO to play. You will find quests like ‘Go to the MuMu village and kill the Tao’, Farm poultry called ‘QooQoo’, karate screams with each attack, and kabuki like character movements. So be ready for it. Anyone who has played Lineage, FFX1 or any F2P game will have little problem adjusting. If I were to sum up the entire feel of the game in two words it would be ….’Asian Serenity’ (which sounds like a new fragrance from Calvin Klein ...but trust me, you’ll understand when you start playing the game)

At the login screen shimmering waterfalls and Asian harmonies (upper octave C sharp) greet you. Time to enter your username and Pword (Same ones that you use for WoW, and for WAR…and for EQ and LOTRO and Facebook). After that you are taken to the character generation screen. Ok, you go through the opening cinematic movie and wonder…what $^%# was that ?!?! (don’t dwell on it) and head to the character creation screen.


Character Creation and Customization
First thing you must do is choose a side. There are 2 factions in Aion: The Elyos and Asmodian. The Elyos are the Goodie Goodie stereotypical forces of goodie goodieness. Light , nimble, cultured and refined. The Asmodian are the gloomy, brooding, fierce goodie-less species in dire need of pedicures. Honestly, there is little to no difference between the sides (feet and skin aside). No special racial powers, differing classes or innate advantages that set one apart from the other (Faction titles are a bit different...more on that below). So chose the side that you affiliate with best. However when you choose a side, you cannot play the other side on that server (unless you delete all your characters). I applaud this arrangement, it makes you commit to your realm and lends to the development of realm pride (something many players still look for since the days of DAOC ….die Hibbies!).

The Elyos Classes
Aion Review: Elyos Classes
The Asmodian Classes
Aion Review: The Asmodian Classes



Once you choose a side you are taken to a screen that displayed all the different base classes all decked out with advanced armor and weapons. There are 4 base classes in Aion: warrior, mage, priest and scout. Each basic class becomes a specialized class at level 10 (after a campaign quest series).
Warriors can become a gladiator (melee dps) or Templar (Tank)
Scouts can become assassins (melee dps) or ranger (ranged dps). Both have limited stealth.
Mages can be a sorcerer (Dps caster) or spiritmaster (Pet class)
Priests can turn into an enchanter (Healer and buffer) or a cleric (super healer)

There is no difference between classes in either faction. The standard abilities of an Asmodian assassin are the same as those of an Elyos assassin. You can click on each and they will do a little dance and yell an Asian  “HI-YAA!! or YI-ARRRGH!! or even…WIKI WIKI WIKI!!”. They will also display the innate properties of each class (Warriors have greater strength and constitution while mages have increased intelligence, etc). Honestly I get the ‘been there done that’ sensation as I click through the various classes (Ki-yaaa). These are basically the standard classes and mechanics that we have seen in most every MMO before. The holy trinity reigns (Tank/Healer/DPS).

The character Customization offers a substantial number of options in order to visualy change your characters face and body (Not as much as CoX or Champions, but still a lot). However, as with most MMOs, facial changes are difficult to distinguish in game, especially when it is covered with helmets, etc. In the end, only your toon's height is really noticible (ranging between 1 to 6 feet...more on this below). One nice feature Aion offers is the aility to totally redo your character while in game (change your character's facial features, body features or even gender). This can be accomplished at the Daeva of life Transformation NPC located in each factions main cities.

PVE Gameplay
Ok, if you (still) haven’t figured this out, Aion has a very Asian feel to it. However, the controls UI and response of this game is similar to what you've played thus far. Its very akin to most MMOs these days and this is by design. The standard UI has a minimap, Hotbars, Your character image displaying health , mana, etc...as well anyone you are grouped with. Sound familiar?

You have the standard minimap in the corner. This minimap also has built in radar function for things in front of you. Player's, NPC's and Mob's locations will be displayed. However as they move out of the frontal arc (About a 45 degree frontal cone) they will no longer be displayed. Various colors mean different things.

Aion has limited built in radar
Aion Review: The Asmodian Classes

Green dot are other players.
White Dot is a non agressive mob.
Red Dot is an aggressive Mob
Blue Dot is an NPC
The keys can be rebound based on your preferences in the system options. All in all it's simple and efficient. Anyone with MMO experience will have a decent feel as soon as they start.

Ok so you enter the game and you are ready to kick some Asian butt (about 3 sizes smaller than the typical American butt...Thanks a lot McDonalds). Generally I don’t spend time in reviews talking about character movement ...not this time. You can move your characters in 4 ways: 1) WASD (considered the MMO standard), 2) Arrow Keys (Generally laughed at MMO players who consider themselves uber), 3) Both L and R mouse buttons propel you forward and 4) The worst by far ...click to move. GAH! This click to move will get you killed...mark my words! You will attempt to R click a mob ...accidently L click and start walking into certain death (Off a Cliff, Agro Mob camp, Deep water, etc).
UPDATE!: Thankfully click to walk is now disabled (but can be enabled in the options menu….don’t do it!)

The level cap has been raised to 50. The first 10 levels are mainly a tutorial and go quickly. Unfortunately the game does get a bit grindy between level 10 and 25 (after which the real PvP starts). The worst part is level 20-25 ..if you can get through this, then things really start to pick up. It’s not agonizing to grind in this game, but it is noticeable. The worst part about leveling up is that it is very (and I mean VERY) linear. There is not many choices for places to go. Every lev 1-10 is in one area, every 10-15 in another etc. The world seems small because of this. Developing alternative zones for leveling up should be one of the first PVE additions the devs should look into. Also the first 15 levels is just all solo and gives no reason at all to make a party to do the quests. As a result, not too many people group early on and don’t know what to do should they ever find themselves in one. After then its kinda alternating of all solo and must group levels. Unfortunatly after level 20 the quest XP becomes such a small fraction of what you need to level, that grinding levels out mobs becomes more efficient.

To attack a target just click your prey and you run up and start auto attacking. Each class has a special set of abilities/attacks which follows a combo system. Certain abilities can be triggered following the use of other abilities. There is a certain time limit to activate the chain before you lose out. When a chain becomes available an icon flashes in the middle of your screen to alert you. All in all it’s simple, straightforward and adds a bit of flash. However it becomes very repetitive as you grind through the levels. You basically use one or two moves over and over again. Mobs are balanced in this game. With perhaps the exception of the sorcerer/spiritmaster, most players can only efficiently kill a foe 1 to 2 levels above them.

Stigma and Godstone Slots
Aion's Stigma System allows you to customize your character's abilties. They are what truly provide the class customization (as opposed to specialization paths) between one player and another. Stigmas are (in general) more powerful than regular abilities. Stigmas allow you to wield weapons differently (Gladiator's Dual Wield for instance), buff you, and even add completely new skills to your repertoire. They are obtained through collecting stigma stones. These stones are found on vendors, through drops, or quests. The rarest ones are dropped and often are sold in the auction house/private stores for HUGE amounts of coin. They say that named monsters are more likely to have one in their possession (can you say ‘Camp check’).

5 stigmas and 3 advanced (uber) stigmas can be placed to customize your character's abilities from others
Aion Review: The Asmodian Classes


You gain access to stigma slots by going through a campaign questline at level 20 after which you are given 2 stigma slots. Each character can equip up to 5 stigma stones when they hit level 50 (plus 3 more slots for uber rare high grade stigmas) . Once you have a stigma stones go to the abyss and farm Stigma shards ( dropped from monsters in the Abyss …more on that below) , then talk to a Stigma Master in the main city. Make no doubt, these will be the most prized and expensive items in Aion. Although it allows more diversity for players in the short term, I worry that eventually everyone may be able to obtain all the stigmas (as the game matures, more stigmas are farmed out and players make more and more money to buy them) leading eventually to mass conformity. Aion needs to continuously add more and more stigmas as the game matures.

Similar to Stigmas, are Godstones. While Stigmas give abilities to the character, Godstones are used on weapons. The basic premise of a Godstone is to apply some sort of ability, which triggers at a certain percent, to inflict damage or debuff to your target. Think of it as a weapon proc that you can apply to any particular weapon you wish. Godstone procs effects include extra damage, roots, snares, blindness, silence and more. Just as with Stigmas, Godstones are dropped or can be results from quests or can be purchased from other players in the auction house (be prepared to pay a lot).

User Defines Macros
Something that I think all MMOs should have. Aion does a good job with these ...almost to a fault. It allows multiple commands to be triggered in a specific order as well as being able to set up delays (So your macro can wait for cooldown timers). As you can expect this will be a huge advantage in PvP fights where activating one macro can now shower a series of numerous attacks as long as the prey stays in range. Also…can you say BOT?

Players can log in to two clients on the same computer. Holy crap!! WTH are they thinking?!! Also…can you say BOT?

Quests:
I do like the quest structure. Quests are divided into standard quests, campaign quests and work order quests (crafting). The campaign quests are a series of quests that follows a storyline of your character (think of them as epic quests). Many of them use voice actors and go into movie mode as you obtain them which really add to the immersion (kudos to the devs). The campaign quests appear in a series and obtaining them is based on levels (you can only complete them after you attain a specific level) but you can do them in any order. Complete the campaign quests for huge rewards in both items and XP.

Questing is the main form of XP in Aion. Although you can mob grind, you really need to quest in order to play this game. Some quests are required (like the ascension quest and PvP quests) in order to advance in this game. You will find the basic quest types in Aion: Go deliver a message to <X> NPC, kill <X> number of <Y> beasts and return to <Z>, find <X> number of <Y> objects and collect/destroy/cleanse/etc. Quest givers have arrows floating above their heads to easily identify them and their location is also displayed on the minimap. There is a max of 30 standard quests that you can have at any one time.

I really like the fact that Aion does not Spoon feed you quests like some MMOs (AoC, Champions). There is no large colored zones telling you where to go or 15 arrows giving you the direction for every quest in a zone. The best thing you can do is read the quest text. The quest text has keywords which you can look up and learn lore from as well as a button to locate the general vicinity of your target. Sorry guys, you’re going to have to actually work to quest in Aion…no more playing the minimap. However most quests are solo friendly, in fact for the first 15 levels you don’t really have to group at all …and most player’s don’t.

Titles
Titles are earned by completing certain quests. They list 50 title slots but I wager more will be added on as the game matures. Titles give added bonuses when you apply them to your character (example, The title “Spiritspeaker” gives  MP + 40 and Magic resistance + 4). You can only have one title up ay one time so you must choose. However you can change titles depending on whichever fits the situation (one title for raiding, another for PvP another for crafting, etc). I like the bonus aspect of titles, however what happens is basically every tank uses one title, every DPS uses another, every caster a 3rd ….so in the end most everyone has the same title (based on their class).

Crafting
Crafting is very detailed in Aion. The crafting in Aion is divided into 2 basic parts: Gathering and Construction. All crafting is performed as a mini race between a succeed and fail bar. Whichever bar reaches the finish line first is the result of the gather/craft. You can have critical hits while crafting that zaps your bar all the way to the goal. You also skill up in your craft by performing the action.

Gathering materials for use in construction is an innate skill that everyone can perform. This one ability gathers all types or resources. So no separate gathering skills …i.e. one for mining, another for herbalism, etc. It is all together in a skill simply called ‘Collection’.  The one exception is a separate skill called ‘extract aether’ which extracts magical essence from special floating rocks (which you must fly to). Extract aether must be skilled up separately from Extract vitality.

Resources are plentiful in the game world. You will find flowers to pick, fish to catch, metal nodes to mine, wood piles to pick up, etc. You just click on the nodes to harvest. Each node can be harvested 2 to 3 times. Nodes have skill requirements that limit who can harvest. Unfortunately nodes are all static …booo …expect node farming to happen and numerous gathering pathway maps to be published soon. The resources you gather are used in construction crafts. In the end, I expect the best way to make money in Aion (and you’ll need to make a lot) is through gathering then selling your supplies in personal stores in the crafting quarter or on the auction house.

There are 6 construction crafts:
Cooking (makes foods and drinks that give boosts to stats),
Alchemy (constructs potions and scrolls that give abilities like healing or speed)
WeaponCrafting (forges steel weapons)
Armorcrafting (forges metal armor)
Handicrafting (produces bows and staves, also jewelry and accessory items like belt, ring, earing, neck, offhand items for caster)
Sewing (Gives cloth and leather armor)

Crafting in Aion
Aion Review: The Asmodian Classes


You can learn any number of the crafts, there is no limit. To do so, visit the craft masters located in the main faction city. They will provide you with initial recipes to skill up on. One great aspect of Aion crafting is that crafting gives XP (not a lot, but some) and there are crafting quests and crafting requests that aid you in skilling up your profession. Completing the crafting requests gives you reagents, recipes, XP and gold. Higher level crafting quests require you to buy reagents from nearby vendors or venture out and gather them off specific mobs. It can get expensive very quickly. Another big bonus is the Craft ALL button! YES!! Load up your inventory with huge numbers of reagents, hit the button , then sit back and relax…your carpal tunnel will thank you.

Smart entrepreneurs will camp outside the crafting areas of the towns selling reagents in the personal stores. Although this is nice and saves you a lot of time compared to running to and fro to the auction house …it gets downright crowded (think Grand Central Station…at lunchtime). So many personal stores set up in one place can be a  visual annoyance and can lag your computer fiercly.

PvP Gameplay
Aion PvP is what occupies the majority of the second half of the game. In Aion there is PvP and PvPvE.

The main PvP occurs in designated zones called the Abyss. The abyss has 3 areas (Abyss top, Abyss core, and Abyss Base). These are like gigantic floating islands that have both PVE and PvP aspects to them. In order to enter the abyss you must complete the abyss campaign which you receive at level 25. I was kind of disappointed at this, I know a lot of players want to see PvP earlier (even if you’re fodder). The only way you can do so before level 25 is by traveling through the PvP rifts (more on that below).

The classes in Aion are well balanced for the most part. Flight brings a great new twist to PvP. PvP seems to be divided between large scale fortress taking ('Large scale' being a kind synonym for the term...zerg) and small group open field PvP. Of course there are always the soloists (Rangers and Assassins) but with stealth being on a timer their movements are not as free as in other MMOs. Still, I expect the most prevalent classes to be Assassin and Rangers. Expect a lot of zerging in Aion ...people who see a large force tend to join that force.

Also one fault of Aion devs...they allowed you to control the height of your character too much. In this PvP game, being undersized to this degree is a distinct advantage. The height controls in the character customization section allow you to miniaturize the size of your character to ~3 feet and in combination with thinning every body aspect ....you have a small barely noticeable stick figure running about. Expect the hard core PvP players to be running as 'mini-me' . The hit box of the character may be the same, but miniature characters can hide in tall grass ..normal characters cannot. Worse still, is that players could abuse the Daeva of Life transformation and change the size of their characters for PvP, then back to normal when they PVE. It all depends on how hard it is to obtain the 'ticket of life' needed to change your character's appearace.

Of the 5 characters displayed, can you find the 4 which are miniaturized?
...you wont be able to in PvP either.
Aion Review: The Asmodian Classes


There are a total of 9 fortresses in the abyss which your faction fights for control of. This is where the PvPvE comes in. There is a 3rd faction called the Balaur. This is an NPC faction that controls the fortresses by default and you must conquer them in order to gain control. However, I still doubt that the NPC will give a substantial fight as this game matures. Honestly I think Aion would be best served by making the Balaur a playable race and having 3 factions (Perhaps in a future expansion …yea, I know its DAOCish…but that’s one thing that made DAOC great).

There are 5 fortresses on Abyss top, 3 in Abyss base and one in Abyss core. The Fortresses are surrounded by various artifacts (also controlled by the Balaur). Gaining control of the artifacts allows you to use them to aid you in conquering the fortress. Holding a fortress gives you access to PvE dungeons and vendor bonuses, it also generates a tax for your legion (guild). So in other words...you have a reason to fight, and a reason to defend! Very cool.

Both NPCs and players will fight for control of fortresses and the surrounding artifacts
Aion Review: The Asmodian Classes


In addition to the PvP zones you can have PvP outside the abyss by crossing through rifts. Rifts are portals that randomly open in one realm and allow passage to another. Players can go through and wreak havoc on leveling players of the opposite faction. The time the rifts open up is random but they always appear at the same spots. Unfortunately,  Players receive a penalty when killing players of the opposite faction in that faction’s territory. A debuff is applied to your character; the severity depends on the number of players killed. These penalties are applied more quickly when killing a lower level player than you. These debuffs prevents entry into the Abyss or through the rifts. Also players afflicted with these penalties are shown on the map to players of the opposite faction when in their territory (sorry, no hiding). Players who kill the debuffed invaders will receive a reward. Which begs the question, if you get punished so much for going through the rifts and fighting the enemy…why have the rifts at all and will players even bother with them.

Fighting in the abyss or through rifts gives you points that are used for PvP ranks and new titles. Your Legion also gains rewards for the PvP of its members. The success of the best PvPers are listed for everyone to see. Small amounts of experience are gained through combat with the opposite faction as well.

Graphics and Sound
The graphics are very nice in Aion. Perhaps not the uber realism that brings the mightiest PC to a crawl (AoC I’m looking at you) ...but very sharp and enjoyable. The character animations are crisp and fluid. The animations and spell effects are impressive. All the eye candy an MMO player expects from a mainstream MMO.

Sound and Music:
Sound in Aion is great. The one exception is the voice acting. GAH!! What kind of second rate acting studio did NCSoft hire? ...HOnestly, its so terrible I wonder if NCSoft just went around its own company with a mic and sampled employee ...secretaries ...cafeteria workers ...hispanic day laborers.

The environmental background noise sounds realistic. The fighting music is great and gets your heart pumping (drums convey the vast amounts of energy expended during the fight sequences). Definitely a game where I did not turn off the volume.


The Flaws of Aion
Been There, Done That
Take one part Lineage, one part DAOC, 2 parts WoW, Eye of newt and a dash of pepper then ...Poof  …you have Aion (Igor! It’s alive…IT’S ALIVE!). There is nothing groundbreaking or new in Aion. Much of what Aion offers is well done but already seen in previous MMOs. All features are well polished, but if you are looking for a truly novel MMO experience…Aion is not it.

Ni Hao, Mutha F*cker!
This game is very Asian. In it’s graphics, music, style and substance. Most westerners have been well introduced to and well experienced with Asian styled entertainment already (Avatar - The Last Airbender Movie …coming 2010, where everyone in the theater will be dressed up as Zuko). However if you are someone who cannot immerse yourself into an Asian environment or get bugged by Asian karate screams with every attack ability, you may want to pass on Aion.

This game is a gold seller’s golden shower.
Aion is very susceptible to gold farming. Let me tell you to expect it now…and expect it hard (The shouts, the in game mails, the random /tells). Its pretty easy to see, that even though MMO players are somewhat skeptical, the gold sellers have decided that Aion is the next WoW and they have swarmed and infested every server.

This game is prone to gold farming, gold selling and Bots for several reasons…the built in features (extensive macro system, players can log in two clients on the same computer), the huge emphasis on money in this game (They nickel and dime you to death), huge costs for needed items (10 million for new wings). NCSoft was being proactive with the use of Game Guard. However, several client /Game Guard incompatibilities made them drop Game Guard. NCSoft has issued several statements assuring they will be agrressive in combating secondary industries in their game ...however, I havent seen tangible evidence of this yet and remain very concerned. They also state that Game Guard may be brought back in the future.

Just Follow the Yellow Brick Road
The Leveling in this game is way too linear. The game opens up at level 25 with Abyss. Still, PVE content is almost ‘one size fits all’. The devs have claimed they are expanding the PVE end game content. However the end game PVE content remains an unknown. We shall see.

Goodness sucks!
Like DAOC and WAR, Aion will be very population dependent. The fairness and enjoyment will matter less on class balance and more on population balance. From observations in closed beta, open beta and countless polls, it seems pretty obvious that Asmodian will outnumber Elyos when the game is released. My guess is Asmodian will be up 3:2 in player population ..perhaps even 2:1. This will be disastrous on servers where this occurs.

I fought the zerg, and the zerg won
Zerging is prevalent in Aion. The fortress attacks require a substantial number of players. As such, large forces tend to move as a group and steamrole anything in their path. Which is again why population balance is important. Sorry guys, might makes right.

We represent the lollipop guild
Miniaturization of characters in char creation offers distinct advantages in any PvP game. The hit box of the character may be the same, but diminutive characters can hide in tall grass, small rocks and crevices ...normal characters cannot. These shrimps can hide in the middle of their group and be difficult to see and target.

Please rise for our national anthem ...as sung by Rosanne
I can't help but be amazed as to how atrocious the voice acting is. There is a cavernous disconnect between the voice acting and the images of ...in fact, I almost enjoy listening to them ...it is funny ...just astonishingly funny. I recommend setting your character up with the 'Vicious' voice in character creation, and enjoy.

Jimmy two times
Lag was a big problem at the end of closed beta and the beginning of open Beta. Numerous disconnects made the first days of open beta a bit rocky (funny about how the game locks up, but there is no lag in chat ...so everyone can complain about being frozen, while frozen). However, never fear...that's is why they call it beta. Now with the game opened I expect a decent size 'bum rush'. NCSoft better put lag at the front of their fix first list or else risk going down in flames like AoC and Vanguard.

But I don’t want to sit at the kiddie table
No Abyss until level 25. You can fight in the baby arena or go through rifts if you like... but don’t expect any meaningful fights until 25+.

Now you see me, now you don’t, now you’re dead

Stealth + DPS …..Its been done before…it’s been overpowered before…it will be nerfed once more. Sorry assassins/rangers, you guys are balanced all the way up to level 49. However, everyone complains about the end game and they will complain about level 50 burst damage from stealth….they always do.

It's called the doggie paddle
Not really a flaw, but it ranks high on the annoyance scale. You cannot swim in Aion. Lakes and rivers have some shallows and some deep areas of which there is no escape. Fall in a deep lake and there is little you can do.

Tips tricks and hints
-- Questing is better XP than grinding up on mobs. Especially at the early levels. Complete multiple quests in the same area. Use a database and check the XP reward of a quest. If you play solo and the quest is just too hard and not part of a chain, abandon it and move on.

-- Complete the campaign quests. Huge rewards in both items and XP.

-- Don't spend too much time in capital cities doing professions and other things. You can do that easily when you hit level 49 when you have a lot of gold and the XP from crafting will aid you towards lev 50.

-- Grow your gathering skills as you level! This is very important aspec of the game and will generate a lot of money once the game matures.

-- /sit and /sleep are very cool emotes …for about 10 seconds. Still, enjoy those 10 seconds….9…..8….

-- Personal stores will spam you in game in the game, especially in the faction cities, quest hubs, auction houses and crafting stations. So here is a temporary workaround to help with the lag in Sanctum or Pandemonium, or other large fortress/town. If you need to go to one of the large towns for training, quests or whatever, press shift+F12 before you teleport, or right after you port in. This option sucks, but works by hiding all player PC toons on your screen which means less your PC has to draw. I honestly think there should be an in-game option to automatically hide all private stores.

-- If you fall into a deep lake which you cannot climb out of, go to the sides and jump onto the wall. These safe spots sometimes stops the damage over time tic of drowning and allows you to recall back to your bind spot. Using a healing over time potion can overcome the damage of drowning granting you more time to find a way out.

-- Heal over time pots are incredibly powerful and easy to make. Use them at the beginning of a fight and use them often.

-- Useful commands include /ping to see your latency, Control-R click to link items and quests in chat, /bindstone to find the nearest bindstone. Also, turn off your profanity filter because it screens too much (the word 'class' becomes 'cl***')

-- When an area gets too crowded ...you can change channels. Channels are like instances for the PVE zones. There are 10 instances in the PVE zones for both elyos and Asmodian lands. However there is only one channel (instance) for the PvP Abyss and the main faction cities. To change channels in Aion open the system menu, then select support. In the support submenu select 'change channels'. This will bring up a dropbox at the top right hand corner of your screen. Then just select a different channel and see if it is less crowded

Summary
Aion is a very solid and well polished MMO. Both PVE and PvP aspects of the game are good. Expect a lot of players to bum rush this game at release …when the smoke clears I expect Aion will maintain a healthy population.

Now there is a lot of hype that Aion will be a WoW killer (God...how many times have we heard that one?). Although I think a lot of WoW players will enjoy this game because of its attention to detail and it is a highly polished game, I wager this game will appeal more to the old DAOC and WAR crowd than to WoW. We shall see.

Although Aion has solid PVE at low levels, PvP is the core of the end game levels. If you don’t like fighting other players, this game is not for you.

How NCSoft deals with population imbalance will make or break this game.


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I agree with much of this article and would add
My experiences have been different in this way