Aion – Levels 1 to 10
Eventually this weekend I managed to ascend in Aion and hit level 10 with my now Asmodian Gladiator, Mantooth. It took me a while to get there due to the fact that I’ve been busy in real life as I’m in the midst of moving apartment and also that I found leveling in Aion to be pretty slow compared to other MMORPGs. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that in this case it does seem to make the whole experience even more tedious and dull than it already is. Yeah, as you can gather from that statement, I’ve been kinda disappointed with the “newbie experience” of Aion.
Maybe it was the fact that I’d already experienced the game in beta but I have to say that I found my progression through the gated, newbie theme park to be boring, grindy and repetitive. I think this is mainly due to the fact that I haven’t able to buy into the lore behind the game and feel any sort of connection to the world and it’s setting. It also doesn’t help that the storyline is very dull and the quests extremely uninteresting and sometimes even downright poorly designed (I thank God I never have to visit the Odella Plantation again). Although one could argue that all quests in MMORPGs follow a similar vein and none tend to offer anything new, Aion just doesn’t seem to want to try. Everything is very by-the-numbers and it makes for an incredibly bland introduction to the game.
Aion also manages to commit three of my most despised sins in MMO design. Firstly, there are only two races, secondly, there are only two starting areas and thirdly, you’re lumbered with that awful staged archetype class progression which just annoys the pants off me. Why would anyone want to play a generic Warrior for 10 levels? If I want to be a Gladiator, I want want to be a Gladiator. Playing for six hours with an archetype class is not going to change my mind, it’s just going to irritate me. Overall, I can see these factors really hindering the replay value of the game.
It’s all a shame really because Aion does offer some nice things and I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about the later levels. Unfortunately the introductory stage of the game fails to deliver and has put me off a bit. Compared to Tortage in Age of Conan (which ironically also suffers from the issues I outlined above yet still manages to provide an engrossing experience that oozes immersion and sex appeal), Aion’s Asmodian newbie theme park is bland and unimaginative, failing to invest the player in the virtual world and their character. Maybe the Elyos one is better.
I haven’t given up yet though and still intend to play on and see how things pan out. Hopefully my initial experience will just turn out to be a minor hiccup along the road although right now I can’t help but wonder if I should’ve bought Champions Online instead.