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.

Witness The Belly That Belongs To Mighty Mantooth

Witness The Belly That Belongs To Mighty Mantooth

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.

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  1. Longasc says:

    I do not see myself levelling an alt in Aion anytime soon either. Your character and faction choice is quite a choice for your whole Aion life!

    The problem is, you do not learn your class in the first 10 levels. I would argue not before level 28 if not even 30. The Abyss at 25 is a chore, as you need the proper level 30 wings to kick ass – otherwise you are virtually grounded.

    • Gordon says:

      The problem is that it makes the whole 1-25 levels a complete waste of time. I don’t want to spend 40hours grinding before I can get the character or gameplay I want. I don’t want to play anything that’s a chore :)

  2. I’m so glad this game isn’t “that” easy. However it’s not tedious to level it’s just like any other game, quest, run, run, run, run, quest, run, turn in. I’m sick of games that hand everything to you, so I’m grateful for Aion.

    • Gordon says:

      I don’t think Aion is difficult. I haven’t died yet and didn’t even have to run from a fight. I could pretty much take on anything without fear. I just found the newbie zone pretty dull and repetitive. I don’t think grinds or that sort of thing make a game challenging.

  3. Frank says:

    The way the design works, the Elyos area is pretty much the same as the Asmodean area, only brighter, with prettier sparkles.

    The reason why I’m playing Aion is not the design or the gameplay, because for reasons you’ve already stated, they just don’t appeal to me. After the grueling nonsense of Lineage 2 I’ve been wary of any NCSoft East-originated game, and at level 18, Aion is more and more confirming my suspicions.

    Still, like I said, the game design isn’t why I play. Playing with friends and old acquaintances from my WoW days is. When you play with people, that grind and grueling nonsense you see in a game just goes away.

    • Gordon says:

      It’s why I’m hanging on with Aion for the time being. A couple of people from my EQ2 guild have already started it and some more will join soon. I’m looking forward to playing with them a lot more than I am playing the game itself :) I just wish I could convince them to try WoW :P

  4. Devric says:

    I found after leveling a character to 10 on both sides that the Elyos intro area is more bareable than the Asmodian equivelant, maybe it’s because of the lighter colours and atmosphere. However I will say that I don’t really want to go over either of the intro areas for awhile and that I also find playing a generic class for the first 10 levels tedious and somewhat irratating.
    On the otherhand the experience after the intro area has only gotten better for me atleast (Yay for Gliding :D ) and from what I have heard from guildmates and general chat is that grouping becomes more encouraged after level 20 thus providing a somewhat harder leveling experience than found in most MMO’s today, which I look forward to :D

  5. Wickedjinx says:

    I am playing Aion as I speak actually, and although it is not as immense (so far, only lvl 10) as lets say, WoW, I am just bias because of playing WoW for 3 1/2 years now. Currently I raid in one of the top guilds in my server, and I can’t spend a whole lot of time on Aion because raiding takes up almost my entire week, then school, then work. I don’t mind the generic classes you pick, after all, I don’t expect a handout of my intended class that I want. Although, the first baby steps of the game could have been a little more interesting.
    Overall, I like the game anyways, it’s pretty much the same as most mmorpgs, they all copy eachother, some are just prettier than others.

    • Gordon says:

      I’m more driven by lore, story and ‘feel’ than anything else. If I can get into my character and the world I’m far more likely to enjoy it and less likely to see it as a grind. AoC and Tortage is a perfect example of this. Unfortunately the newbie experience of Aion just didn’t captivate me.

  6. Scarybooster says:

    I never played Aion beta so this is fist time I have seen what it is. I enjoyed the cut scenes but the game play was a bit boring. No different from WoW, WAR, or LotRO. I thunk this game has depth some people don’t realize. Lastnight I thought what game this is most like, I think I can compare it to LoTRO the most. There are many little things that this game doesn’t really compare to the arcade style of WoW.

  7. SmakenDahed says:

    Or just saved your money entirely?

  8. Atnor says:

    I agree very much with your assessment. Bland, uninspired writing, uninteresting quests… all good descriptive terms for how the initial PvE in Aion seemed for me during beta.

    And the archtype system? I always felt that EQ2 had shown the way with how that generally is not a good system, ESPECIALLY when in Aion it takes a comparitively long time to get through it to your “real” class. EQ2 does it, but you were run through those levels fairly quickly.
    Plus, they had a bit more diverse starting content.

    It was so bland, that although I’ve pre-ordered and signed up, I havent had the urge to fire it up and play much. I’ve found myself playing more CO with DDO occasionally, and feeling a big urge to go back into FE, after having played in that beta too. It’s very likely that I will attempt Aion eventually (esp. since I bought it), but right now I cant seem to make myself fire it up.

    It’s really too bad, because like most, I agree the game is gorgeous and performs excellently.

    Also, my experience was that both sides newbie areas are mirrors of each other. The quests are essentially identical, just with a slightly changed “flavor” wrapper. Replayability is hard. Even with AoC, Tortage took several run throughs before becoming boringly routine. Aion starts off with that.

    All in all… not bad… but not really inspiring. Will be interesting to see where it lands once the newness fades.

  9. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    The starting area is not bad, but it’s bland. The thought of running another character through it does not sound very appealing. If I had a choice I would prefer a game have a starter area like WoW or WAR, much more variety.

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