They’re Picking a Good Time to Strike
With WoW stagnating in the eyes of many gamers Aion’s release date could not have been planned better. WoW seems to have split itself into casual and hardcore communities who are both losing interest due to the “hard mode” design offering very little extra content and rewards for a lot of extra work.The typical WoW raiders at the moment are either bored off their rockers with regular Ulduar on farm status several weeks after it came out, or banging their heads against the wall with hard modes that no one sees much purpose in completing – the upgrades are marginal and incredibly time consuming to attain in comparison to their normal mode counterparts. But enough about WoW. Suffice it to stay, the MMO landscape is ripe for something new, and Aion may just be that game.
The Game Runs Well on Almost any Machine, with Excellent Graphics
Say what you will about maintaining the status quo – Hey, at least the game works. You won’t be running along in crawlspaces of the game unable to be targeted in order to kill bosses that can’t fight back a la Age of Conan. You won’t get killed in a second or less by a Bright Wizard’s PBAOE going off way more times than it should in a single cast. Aion runs smooth as a whistle and is as pretty as a picture. After being burned by games that were widely considered unplayable by today’s standards, the MMORPG community will be more than happy to give a game a try that actually, believe it or not, runs.
Bells and Whistles
Being able to spread wings and fly around, or save yourself from otherwise lethal falls by gliding down to safety is just the beginning. Characters also receive divine power points (DP) from fighting which accumulate and can be used in emergencies to execute much more powerful abilities than normal. This of it as something like a limit break. Basic combat focuses around combo chains, where the player uses several weaker abilities to unlock much stronger skills at the end of the chain. Some of these chains only pop up some of the time, adding a fast paced, surprise, twitch element to combat.
It’s got Plenty of Polish, and a Familiar Feel
As it’s been out overseas for some time, you’d expect a polished product. Which it is, but don’t get the wrong idea – Despite having flying, you’re still playing the essentials of a basic MMORPG. You go to a town, collect 5 or 6 collect X Kill Y quests, head out to complete them, come back, and turn them in. Instead of gems to socket in your gear there are manastones. The classes are your typical fantasy archtypes with all the usual abilities. They also get a “super move” you can execute after having been in a ton of combat, but these are very underwhelming. The popular aspect of dungeon running/grinding is limited to the PVP area, so we’ll have to see how a western audience feels about a non-consensual PvP system being a major part of the game.
Bringing Back World PVP Objectives to the Forefront
Even so-called “RvR” games like Warhammer Online became instanced WoW-style battleground grinds in practice. Aion seeks to bring back the objective based PvP of long ago, where holding battlefield objectives will allow players better experience, monsters to fight and other benefits. This harkens back to the glory days of Darkness Falls in Mythic’s Dark Age of Camelot. Darkness Falls is possibly one of the best dungeon concepts ever executed in an MMORPG and kept the game incredibly strong until it self-destructed with the pve-focused Trials of Atlantis. It will be interesting to have “real” RVR back in the limelight of the modern MMORPG.
Putting it All Together With Predictions
It’s sort of a mixed bag for the Aion release. The MMOPRG community is incredibly fickle and loves to try new games, but if you don’t impress them they run back to the solid game they’re already established in. Even worse, if you burn them with a title like AoC, they remember. If Aion can grab a decent amount of bored WoW players looking for a “new” MMORPG experience and hook them, they have a great chance of actually becoming a sustainable title. Aion had better look out when Arthas hits Icecrown down the road, though.