Aion verdict — no preorder (for now)

This morning I jumped back into the Aion beta, and after an hour or so, logged out. I’ve decided not to do a pre-order at this time. Which is odd because yesterday afternoon I almost did pre-order. I’m glad I slept on it. Here’s why:

First, the level 10 experience has been a *bit* of a disappointment. I have Ascended. I am now an immortal, ageless being with angel-like wings, dwelling in a city in the heavens. Great tasks await me. One of the first? Go kill some over-grown snails.

Huh? Now I said in my last post that I don’t mind “Kill 10 rats” quests, but when that phrase is taken literally, I do mind it. The critters I was sent to kill were about a foot high and looked about as threatening as your average garden snail. And why did I have to kill them? Because they’ve been eating too many scallops.

I can stomach (barely) doing this kind of ultra-trivial, non-heroic quest at level 1, but not after I spent a day getting to level 10 (granted it wouldn’t take a day to do it if I wasn’t a lore-reader).  To be fair, there’s a rebel faction of people I have to kill 10 of, and that’s fine. And there are lots of quests available and I haven’t checked them all out. But the one that happened to be at the top of my journal was kill 10 snail-like critters that I forget the name of.

This wasn’t really the reason for me deciding not to pre-order. It was just the factor that snapped me out of my ‘crush’ on the game and helped me to see it more objectively. It’s a pretty, polished game (with great music) but there are other pretty, polished games out there that don’t require me to throw down $50 just to get started playing. And we all know that MMO clients drop in price, often to $0, pretty quickly. I do intend to try Aion, but probably not at launch.

Second factor: Timing. The Champions Online open beta starts in August, with a launch of September 1st, I do believe. Aion is launching on September 22nd. Aion is a fantasy-based MMO in a sea of fantasy-based MMOs, whereas Champions is a Superhero MMO, and the only other (mainstream, at least) one of those we have is City of Heroes. The general buzz I’m getting on CO is that it’s a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to trying the beta of that, and hope to find myself playing at launch. Which means Aion will launch during the free month of Champions Online, which creates quite a conflict, given my limited play time.

Third: Player stores. I mentioned these yesterday, and between then and now they’ve already gotten much, much worse. This is a personal peeve of mine — I just can’t stand the things. I’m going to wait and hope they get removed.

Fourth: The holiday rush of single-player games. I don’t only play MMOs — I love me some console games, too. And there’s a bunch coming out this fall that I’m interested in, starting in early October. So this kind of feeds into timing, too.

Fifth: Levels 1-9. It was fun doing these once, but I did every available quest in order to get to level 10. OK, it’s possible I missed 1 or 2, but the area isn’t big enough for there to be any substantial quest chains hidden. As an altaholic, that means for every alt I want to test out, I have to do the same exact quests again. I can see that becoming a real drag.

So for now at least, I’m not going to pre-order Aion. Hopefully I’ll get into future beta weekends and be able to level up my Gladiator a bit more and see more of the world, and if that happens I might change my mind. We’ll see.

14 thoughts on “Aion verdict — no preorder (for now)

  1. I don’t mind so much the kill ten rats quests, or even the ten snails. But I agree I think the designers have really dropped the ball with respect to flying and the ascendency. If you read the quest texts, they make a pretty big deal out of the path to ascendency.. about how special you are, that both greatness and death await your future. It’s very cool. And the moment you get your wings is an awesome experience in MMO’S. Beautiful cinematic, great stuff.

    and then they promptly ask you to spend the next TEN LEVELS of the game in zones that forbid you to fly! Now it may be that once you get past level 30 or so the game becomes all about the flying, but if tha’ts the case, they shouldn’t give me the wings until then. My point being, if you’re going to grant the player such a revolutionary game changing event, then the game should embrace that evolution right away — allow the player to take full advantage of it. Not expect the player to sit on them until they spend another 20 hours in the game.


  2. Agreed. And y’know, I just finished Infamous, which of course is a single player game, but in it, whenever you get some new power, they immediately put you in a situation ideally suited to using it, and often to using it a lot. It’s like the designers thought “OK, we gave the player a new toy, now we have to let them play with it.” It gives you time to have fun with the new power as well as learn about how best to use it and what its limitations are.

    MMO designers could learn something there, I think.

  3. I bought Aion already from the NCSoft store so I can’t change my mind. I don’t have any regrets anyway. I’m enjoying the beta – it’s fast and fun – and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the final game.

    I thought Champions Online was coming out on the 30th September? Maybe that’s in Europe. It’s going to suck. Aion is basically ready now… they should release it in July and capitalise on the summer market imo.

  4. Agreed with both. It’s all a bit weird – add to that the amount of suddenly de-winged daevas running around…hard to feel *that* special when everyone around you are going through the exact same thing.

    MMO-designers do have a lot to learn from single player games (have a post about Prototype coming up that talks about another part of the design process), but they really need to find new ways to tell stories that fits with the whole multiplayer design. The single player way of doing things doesn’t really work that well – Tortage or Wrathgate anyone?

  5. Dlangar has a point this is like telling people they are not allowed for 10 day/weeks/month after they got their driving licence.

    I will play this game, despite my major gripe that I actually just do not want to be an angel – about as much as I want to be a superhero in Champions.

    The Devs themselves stated the game starts at max level, hear, hear — and what is the game at max level?

    I wonder if there will be a RvR weekend for players, where they start with max level chars.

  6. Thanks for the heads up about Aion Pete, I’ve been eyeing it for some time and it just isn’t grabbing me. However, Champions Online is. Maybe we can play together. 😉

  7. @We Fly Spitfires — If I’d already pre-ordered, I’d be ok with that. I’m not saying Aion is bad, not at all. It just isn’t something that I feel I must play at launch. I can wait and save a few bucks.

    @Hudson — Thanks for the head’s up. Just to be clear, I mean different in terms of milieu. I’d happily play a Diku-based Superhero game other than CoH (nothing against CoH…I like it well enough, but I’m just looking for something new).

  8. I haven’t played in any of the beta weekends, but the feeling I get from the Aion reviews, impressions, and videos I’ve seen all say the same thing in the end: “been there, done that. But hey, it’s pretty!”

    To me, that doesn’t sound like something I would be interested in because, to be quite honest, the traditional MMO grind has become kind of stale, and I want a new game that does one thing exceptionally well or different in comparison to the other games on the market (like WAR/Darkfall’s PvP focus or The Old Republic’s emphasis on storytelling and immersion).

    I’ll probably give Aion a shot when there’s a 10/14-day trial and the client is free to download, but I don’t see anything shiny enough (flying would have been awesome had WoW not done it with mounts a few years ago) to really make me want to give up the nice rut I’ve dug for myself.

  9. Thanks for the write up. I’m on the fence about this one. I hate spoiling myself in betas, but I probably should try this to see if it will be worth an eventual purchase.

    I’m looking forward to Champions as well, but again I haven’t played it. Thank goodness they’ll have an open beta to give some impression about the game.

  10. can i ask how you were using the beta before you bought the game? , co sit sai don nsoft, that do get a beat key i need to preorder the game

  11. I had a beta key through Fileplanet, but it turned out to be valid for only that 1 weekend.

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