Tobold's Blog
Monday, July 06, 2009
Aion review - beta version

As "how much time do you need to play an MMO to review it?" is a controversial subject, I'll start this by stating exactly how long I played and what I did: I played Aion during the 3rd closed beta event weekend, for over 20 hours, leveling a priest and a warrior to ascension (level 10) and a bit beyond, and playing the other two classes less than that. So I know nothing about the end game beyond of what I read. Let's call this Aion review a beta. A beta game gets a beta review. :)

Aion is a very pretty game, if you are into the Eastern style of MMO / RPG graphics. The animations are especially well done. It is also a very solid one, I didn't have a single crash, and only a few very minor bugs, like hair sticking through clothes, or translation errors. Aion is a very accessible game, easy to learn, easy to play, if you played any other MMORPG you need nearly no time to learn how to play this. All these great qualities mean that if Aion had come out in 2004, it would have given World of Warcraft a run for its money, much more so than Everquest 2 did at the time. But as it is now 5 years later, Aion will have to stand comparison with several other games.

If you would draw a map of the archipelago of MMORPGs (a bit like Tim Howgego's map of WoW online communities), the island of Aion would be extremely close to the island of World of Warcraft, and a bit in the direction of Warhammer Online. Term's like "WoW clone" or "copy" have such negative connotations, so I'll use the term WoW-a-like. It is impossible to deny a certain WoW-a-likeness in Aion, more so than for example WAR or LotRO.

You start the game by creating a character of one of only two races, Elyos or Asmodians. Aion's lore is one of civil war between those two races, so they don't look very different. There is a huge number of sliders for character creation (including one for boob size for females), so you can modify your look over an extremely wide range. For example your height can be anything from 4' to 8', regardless of race. As the end game has a strong PvP component, expect many people to choose the less easily clickable and visible minimum size.

Your character can be one of 4 different classes, warrior, priest, scout, or mage. On ascension at level 9 or 10 you will have to specialize into one of two sub-classes. For example tank or dps for the warrior, healer or buffer for the priest, etc. As the sub-classes still share a lot of spells and abilities, this is more like choosing a talent-tree in WoW than like having completely different classes. Aion doesn't have talent trees, but you can specialize your character further by choosing what manastones to put into your gear. Manastones are a nice feature, stat buffs you typically find as a loot drop, and which can be placed into slots in your gear. The ones giving critical hit seem to be the most sought after, makes me wonder whether the stones are already well balanced.

Once in the game, you meet an NPC with a glowing symbol over his head, click on him, and he'll ask you to kill some level 1 monsters. Just like WoW you'll spend most of your time doing such quests, usually involving going from A to B, and killing mobs, mostly pretty standard stuff. The monsters you kill are quite original though, not the standard wolves, boars, and orcs. Okay, so a "porgus" looks very much like a boar, but in general the monsters are quite well done. There is also a kind of "destiny" quest series, including some quests that have very nice cutscenes. Only drawback is that this destiny is the same for every player, regardless of race or class, I would have hoped for an AoC Tortage-like intervowen web of different destinies. Quests are relatively easy, and the quest text has hyperlinks to names and places which you click on for explanations, and even get locations shown on the map. Quest rewards are mostly cash, avoiding the problem WoW has with you getting too many gear rewards you don't need. Mobs also don't drop gear all that often, at least not in the lower levels, but NPC vendors have a handy "sell all junk" button to clear your inventory of grey items. Some quest chains earn you titles, and selecting a title also gives you some stat bonuses, nice!

Combat is mostly like WoW's, with a touch of WAR mixed in. So you target a mob, auto-attack, but do most of your damage with special attacks launched from your hotkey bar. There are combat ability chains, like in WAR, where you can launch the level 2 ability only after having done the level 1 ability related to it. But somebody decided that finding two buttons was too challenging for players, so after clicking on the level 1 ability button, the button automatically changes into the corresponding level 2 ability. It's a 1-button-chain system, a bit too simple in my opinion. At ascension you get the ability to fly, but only for a minute at a time, plus added time from flight potions, and only in certain areas. Flying combat is possible, but tricky due to the time restriction, and you can't just fly and hit non-flying mobs from above, they evade. Curiously swimming is not implemented, you just walk under water.

Crafting is better than in WoW or WAR (not much of a hurdle). Gathering works like in WoW, clicking on nodes, but you don't need to buy tools or train, and you even get a few xp from gathering. After ascension you have access to 6 crafting professions, from alchemy to weaponsmithing. You can learn all 6 to 399, but only one of them to the absolute cap of 450. Unfortunately the act of crafting itself is not interactive, so getting that high will involve a lot of downtime waiting for progress bars. Critical successes during crafting lead to better items. To avoid having to make items nobody wants, there are work requests from the crafting trainer. Except for the first one, these *do* cost you some money, in vendor bought materials, but skilling up that way is still much cheaper than crafting items nobody wants to buy. You can sell items on the auction house or open a personal shop while afk. Both work reasonably well, I'm just not sure the sorting of items in the AH is working as intended, and for items posted as stack you don't get the price per item calculated.

The only major disappointment of my Aion weekend was the severe lack of replayability. There being only two races means there are only two newbie zones from level 1 to 10. And the two newbie zones are very similar to each other, starting you in the wilderness, getting you to a first village with all the trainers, then a lake area, a forest, another wilderness area, a big camp full of enemies, and a cave. Several quests in the two zones are downright identical, for example the final quest in the cave where you need to activate three colored colums before destroying an abyss gate. As I mentioned, even the big cutscenes for the destiny quest line are the same for the two races, and for every class. So while Aion can compete with World of Warcraft in terms of quality and polish, in terms of amount of content WoW is far ahead, even if you compare 2004 WoW with 2009 Aion.

I haven't decided yet whether I want to buy Aion or not. While the leveling game is fun enough, it isn't much different of the leveling game of half a dozen other fantasy MMORPGs. And I'm a bit wary of the Aion endgame, which is labeled as PvPvE: It seems to be similar to WAR keep battles, with a PvE faction thrown in. There even appear to be world raid bosses in the PvPvE zone, apparently working a bit like Wintergrasp: Win the PvP battle to be able to battle the raid boss. I can't say how good this is going to be, but knowing myself, I probably won't like the PvP part of the endgame.

I would expect Aion to do quite well, there aren't all that many games out there with that level of polish and accessibility. But the mythical "WoW Killer" Aion is not. While Aion has some unique features, the same level of quality as WoW, and even surpassing WoW in some areas, World of Warcraft still comes out ahead with being much bigger, offering better replayability through more classes, races, and zones, and having the more popular PvE raid endgame. It is difficult to image millions of players quitting WoW to play Aion, when Aion isn't that different in the leveling game, and its endgame is PvP-heavy. It is hard to predict how much being WoW-a-like is going to help or hurt Aion in the long run.
Apparently according to an interview in tentonhammer ( with an Associate Producer of Aion you can get gear to increase flight time in the game. The interview is rather old though (January 20th, 2009), but I still think it would atleast be wise (if it isn't implemented) to have such a feature.

Thanks for the great review Tobold, it's always fun to read your thoughts as we pretty much like the same games and I base my playing habits on your recommendations! :D
One of the biggest things I feel like pointing out is that when your playing Aion, it doesnt feel like your playing WoW.

Which is a step up from the majority of games released since WoW came out.
Although Aion is a bit thin on the ground in terms of easily perceived content, its going to be launching with alot more content than most MMO's have in the past few years.

Beginning to sound like a "fanboi" arnt I? Heh, funny thing is I dont like it that much - I mean, I do like it, just not to the extreme.
Nice impressions, Tobold.

I will say that flight time can be increased as you level. You can get better wings and certain areas (such as the Abyss) allow longer flight. In the Abyss, flight is almost unlimited.

The small size of characters is not as much of an advantage as you think, because in 1.2 all characters were patched to have the same hit box. Visibility will still be a slight advantage, however.

Manastones are not the only way to customize your character, at 20 you can start slotting Stigma stones, which can change your character massively. There are a total of 5 slots at level 45, with 3 more slots coming in 1.5. These will give you additional abilities and such.

At higher levels the combo system will get a bit less "simple" as there will be branches in the tree, so to speak. That plus the fact that you have more abilities that have, on average, longer cool downs, means that decisions will need to be made in combat as to what you use and when. Combat at higher levels is less of a 2-3 buttons spam than it can be in WoW.

Replayability may be a factor later, but I expect NCSoft to add in new races in the first expansion or, perhaps, before. NCSoft is adding content at an insane rate so that may come in sooner than we think. Either way, I expect to concentrate on one character quite awhile before I even think of leveling another.

Still, a very good first impression, Tobold. Thanks!
Thanks for the thoughts. WoW-a-like will mean I'll probably not buy it, even though I play WoW at the moment.
The MMO industry really needs to start a critical analysis of WoW, instead of only copy/pasting stuff.
Very nice review, thanks.

As for replayability, I don't think 2009 WoW could compete with 2004 WoW either, so maybe the Aion developers came to the same conclusion as Blizzard: only endgame content development is profitable.
I wonder if I manage to level up to 25 next beta weekend and try the PvP in the Abyss. This is what supposedly is the "core" of the "endgame", after all.

There was a lot of PvP in this phase. I PvP'd for nearly 4 hours total this weekend. Rift Wars are for the win.
So is the Endgame only PvP? What about the majority of the PvE players? Are they being left out? If yes I cancel my pre order :(
I guess their are at least 4 PvE dungeons and a bunch more coming out when the game releases live including end-game PvE instanced dungeons. I also leveled several characters to ten and the early teens and even for a WoW clone the level of polish is so high, and the core gameplay and combat feels very satisfying. I'm not sure if I want to pre-order or not, but I have had fun so far.
I am worried that the game has low replayability and is a little content-light, though.
So is the Endgame only PvP? What about the majority of the PvE players? Are they being left out? If yes I cancel my pre order :(

I haven't played the endgame yet, so I can't be sure. I linked to the official description of the endgame in my review. The "PvPvE" sounds as if you can't have pure PvE raids in the endgame. But I hear that there are world raid bosses etc., you just need to fight in PvP before having access to them. Maybe similar to WAR, where you need to capture the enemy capital in PvP before opening up a PvE raid on the king?

I'd love to hear more about the Aion endgame myself, as I find myself in a similar situation that I'm probably not going to buy it if I'd be forced to do PvP in the endgame.
So is the Endgame only PvP? What about the majority of the PvE players? Are they being left out? If yes I cancel my pre order :(

the end-game is, as the promise says, PvPvE, but more than that, levelling past 40 is only done *outside* the Abyss (ie, outside the PvP zone): mobs in the Abyss don't go past 40. so it's in fact completely trivial to play Aion as PvE only, skipping the Abyss in it's entirety.

The biggest complaint on the Korean forums is that most players don't enter the Abyss, meaning that those ppl who want PvP have only each other to fight, or are left to gank lowbies at 25 who enter not realisng that they're about to be ganked...

Plus, the PvP ranking system has very large diminishing returns, meaning that a high rank, high lvl person ganking a low lvl person gains almost no Abyss rank, but should they die, they lose huge amounts of their Abyss rank (yay the zerg!). Comments on Korean forusm indicate that it wasn't supposed to work this way, but as yet it's not been patched.

And having waited nearly 18 months for this game, am i going to play it? I'm not sure. It looks very beautiful, and character creation is a mini-game in itself, but I was expecting it to be F2P - initial announcements indicated it'd be F2P. many guildies from a previous F2P game who were also planning on playing it can't, due to exchange rate or employment constraints, and for me and the wife, well it looks beautiful, but then so does LOTRO, and we've got 60s in LOTRO...
Great review. I wondered the same thing about replayability. Also considering you have to go through the same content every time you want to play an alt, it's going to get old fast. Two races also seems pretty limited. Otherwise I did really enjoy the game.
Sounds a lot like Rapellez and Shaiya with some tweaks to me.

I understand that if you haven't been playing too many of the imported games, Aion might seem to have a lot of new things, but the Korean games seem to have a standard of their own that they all borrow from.

If I don't have to buy a box to play, I'd be willing to give this game a shot, but the last I read was that this will be boxed.

Shaiya and Rappelz felt very similar to how you describe Aion, "wow-a-like", yet not WoW. I played neither for very long. They were easy enough to get into but they were missing something.

Hope your beta experience continues to go smoothly.
I was writing up a review on my site but you said all I was going to say mostly anyway.

Personally I played almost 24 hours this weekend actually getting to pvp a bit and the class I picked seemed to be very poor pve but was brutal in pvp.

Personally I don't think I'll pick it up, as I'm not really a pvp person and there is not enough re playability for me to play it.
Good review. I think that the next beta event, with PvPvE, is going to show us why someone would want to buy the game. WoW-a-like indeed.
@Seanas:The biggest complaint on the Korean forums is that most players don't enter the Abyss, meaning that those ppl who want PvP have only each other to fight, or are left to gank lowbies at 25 who enter not realisng that they're about to be ganked...

What's wrong with that? People who want to do PvP PvP and the others don't.

If I'll start a new mmorpg, I don't want it to be a WoW-clone unless if it's a kickass clone. Already played enough WoW. Thanks for the review, doesn't look like my kind of game. One of my biggest complaints about WoW is that a lot of classes are nothing but "hit button 1 x 10000". Does this change in this game as you level?
One of my biggest complaints about WoW is that a lot of classes are nothing but "hit button 1 x 10000". Does this change in this game as you level?

I think so. At level 1 most classes only have 1 button. But a typical combat sequence for my cleric at level 11 looks like this:
Button 1: Smite
Button 1 again: the level 2 chain ability triggered by smite
Button 2: a root ability, freezing the mob in place before it comes into melee range of me
Button 1: Smite, which breaks the root
Button 3: A special melee attack
Button 3 again: the level 2 chain ability triggered by the melee attack
At that point a mob my level or slightly below is usually dead.

So in total there are 5 different abilities I use, but only 3 buttons, due to the chain abilities using the same hotkey.

Of course I could program my keyboard with a 1-1-2-1-3-3 macro. But that is a general problem of MMORPG combat, nut just Aion, that the optimum button sequence in most cases doesn't depend at all on what monster you are facing. The same sequence works for about everything.
One of my biggest complaints about WoW is that a lot of classes are nothing but "hit button 1 x 10000". Does this change in this game as you level?

What classes are you talking about?
In classic WoW MC raiding frostmages had this problem, but in the latest expansion there are no such classes anymore, AFAIK.

I do agree with you, however. WoW is as good as it gets when it comes to WoW. WoW is the perfect WoW, the possibilities to improve it are benign.
We want a new MMO that learned the leassons of WoW without copy/pasting them. We want new original ideas (at tripple A MMO level).

There are so many ideas nowadays that could be introduced into an MMO. I have no understanding for those companies that only want to make big money without understanding the market they claim to supply with their good.

They are like Chinese copying European mobil phones. And in contrast to a mobile, I wouldn't even buy an MMO if it was 100% cheaper if it was even 1% worse than the best one. I spend too much time on these games, that it made sense to safe some 15€ the month and consequently have less fun.

I'd happily spent 150€ the month, if the game was the best. But please not via RMT. RMT destroys the credibility of the MMO world. We are not talking about trading card games, arcade games or Tetris, but a fun simulation of a alternative (fantasy) world!

So in total there are 5 different abilities I use, but only 3 buttons, due to the chain abilities using the same hotkey.

Of course I could program my keyboard with a 1-1-2-1-3-3 macro. But that is a general problem of MMORPG combat, nut just Aion, that the optimum button sequence in most cases doesn't depend at all on what monster you are facing. The same sequence works for about everything.

True for the single player PvE part of the game. You could probably also just do autoattack with your priest and still win, although not as fast. Stupid that is!

For druids in an active multiplayer environment (dungeons/raids/battlegrounds/arena) this is not true.

As a feral you need to respond to
1) The positioning of the mob. Not always trivial, especially with a 150ms+ ping.
2) Swiching of the mob you need to attack.
3) The amount of combo points you have, which depends on the number of krits you had with your last CP-producing attacks.
4) The amount of energy you have.
5) Whether the mob is bleeding. Some attack do extra damage if the mob bleeds and are a waste if they do not. In this case you first need to make a bleed attack
6) Whether you have your +25% Attack Power buff. if you don't you need to have safed enough energy and Combo points to have it.
7) Are you behind the mob? One major attack only works from behind and it is better for the healers
8) Is your 30s, or the 3min DD cooldown ready? if yes, should you use it now?
9) Are trinkets ready?
10) How much health does the mob have left? There's nothing to gain from placing a 30s DoT ona mob that is gonna die in 10s.

I could list some more considerations. But some of them required too many words to explain for somebody who doesn't know the mechanics. Point is: Due to the RNG that influences crits and hits you cannot make a rotation. Look at elitist jerks. They really tried and couldn't come up with one. There are just soem basic rules what you should do under which, very spoeciafic, circumstances.

For moonkins there is much less:
Just the +30% dps procc and trinkets, two DoTs that also increase main nuke dps, 3 DD Cooldowns, trinkets.

(For a tree it is once again a completely different story.)

Take all this in addition to the tactiks that the fight itself requires !

So, people, please be honest! Wow has a super simplistic, certainly embarrassing single player, PvE , questing, leveling experience. Otherwise it is an extremel difficult game to master. Especially if you start iwth a feral druid in arena. The number of virtual points you need to keep in your memory about what to do if X happens, is massive. Just consider all the combinations of classes/specialisations of your enemies and the synergies with you partner(s).
Trust Nils to write a full page of comment on a different game than the one discussed in the original post. ;)

I didn't play the class in Aion all that long, but apparently the Scout in Aion is more similar to the rogue / cat druid in WoW, with a somewhat more complicated combat. And I'm sure Aion combat is more complicated in high-level multiplayer situations of PvE and PvP. But obviously I couldn't test that.

And I don't think you can judge a combat system by its extremes. Even a high-level raiding feral druid will need to watch all these factors only a few hours per week, when in raids. But he'll most likely spend more hours every week doing things like soloing daily quests, where he can forget about most of these, and still succeed. Other players never raid / PvP. And other classes have a much simpler combat strategy. So for the average player in both WoW and Aion, combat is relatively simple, and putting a lot of optimization effort into it either isn't necessary, or simply doesn't work in a solo environment.
Sorry Tobold .. somehow I must have drifted off the topic ;)

I doubt, however that what I wrote applies only to feral druids. It's just that I usually do not twink and therefore cannot say that much about other classes.

Blizzard tried to learn from AoC and concluded that there was a demand for more complicated combat (e.g. combos).
Almost every class has proccs nowadays. For example: Every spell X has a chance to increase the damage of the next spell Y by 30%.
Or: If you crit, you place a bleed effect. While the bleed effect is active, spell Z has a 10% higher chance to crit.
etc. etc.

Maybe better than the AoC way to require conbos that were, indeed, always the same. Once again Blizzard looked, learnt and replicated the same thing, just better :). No, I am certainly no fanboy.

Now .. to Aion..
Nice game, I hope you have fun testing it.
If the endgame is different from Wow please write about it. :)
Nils said: "So, people, please be honest! Wow has a super simplistic, certainly embarrassing single player, PvE , questing, leveling experience".

It's comments like this that put me off playing WoW for five years. I finally tried it a week ago and found for myself that this is utter nonsense.

Solo/duo play at low levels in WoW is no easier, and in several ways more demanding, than any other MMO I have played. Having raised many dozens of characters through the low and mid levels (and not a few to high levels)over many years in EQ, EQ2, Vanguard, LotRO, Warhammer and too many others MMOs to list, I can categorically say that I find levelling in WoW slower than many and more requiring of thought and attention than most.

I just wish I'd paid less attention to other people's statements about how fast and simple levelling is in WoW and tried it for myself years ago. The up side is that while 11 million people are now jaded and burned out, its all fresh and new to me and I have it all before me for months before a new MMO that takes my attention finally appears, which certainly won't be Aion!
@ David.

Did you try low-level 5 man dungons with 2 people? (I did this some time ago and it way demanding and a lot of fun).

Otherwise I'd really like to know how you can think of WoW leveling as difficult(?). If you think it is difficult now, you probably had had no chance shortly after release :)

What level ranges are you talking about? What classes? Have you visited the AH yet ?
To a new player in WoW the leveling procsess might seem hard or time consuming.

To everyone else it goes by in a flash now. I do not even pay attention to the game when I quest anymore. I am listing to wcradio, watching tv or popping in a movie.

Sitting and actually playing the game is what gets me burn out so fast. So I do all I can to ignore the grind of leveling -though much improved over the years- and just get to 80 as fast as possible.
when your playing Aion, it doesnt feel like your playing WoW.

Yet, I totally felt like I was playing WoW dressed up in Lineage 2's clothing.

I enjoyed Aion more than both of those though, and I think Aion is good for one time through.
I found the class I enjoyed, and will stick with it. The game does NOT scream alt-itis, and the endgame also does not seem to work for me..
But, it is good for a one time playthrough, especially with the wife and son...

BTW, the true sign of how Aion relates to players?
My 10 year old son was hooked, even though he has never liked MMO's before.

Does that say something about Aion?
This game could not have come at a better time for me. Having played WoW since release, with every class 70+ and 4 at 80, I've been on the lookout for a new MMO.

Aion is gorgeous, the music is beautiful, and most importantly for me: it's not wow. Sure it's a lot like wow, but the differences are the most important for me. I don't have a bunch of max level characters in Aion, and I haven't played Aion for 5 years. The game is incredibly polished, and character customization is amazing. You mean I can have a character that can look almost exactly like me? o.O I also love the combat animations; and once I stopped myself from flying wow-style (pressing space bar to go up...), flying has begun to be one of my favorite things to do!

Are there things that could be better? Absolutely, and as a leveling-fiend, I'm a bit worried about re-playability. Is that enough to keep me playing wow though? No.

Even if I play this game to level cap get bored after a couple weeks of endgame, just like I have in WoW, Aion will at least give me some time to kill (!) before the 'next big MMO'. I also have Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 and a few others (when they come out, of course) to keep me busy until then.

TL;DR: There are some issues, but the good vastly outweighs the scary for me; my husband and I will be pre-ordering.
First, I didn't find Aion to be anything like WoW or even close to it. The whole "WoW clone" phrase, or variation of it in this case, has become a cheap fall back.

Beyond that it would seem that no matter how much you are going to play a game that if you are going to "review" the game (even with the "beta version" disclaimer after it) you might want to at least wait for the game to get out of development to be fair to the developers who are working so hard on it.

I understand about talking about what the game is like. My cohost and I on the plan on doing just that but it's only fair to keep in mind that the game isn't finished and no one on this weekend had access to anything above level 20.

Julie Whitefeather
At the end of the day its 50 bucks. Given the amount of time people sink into these things, 50 bucks is nothing; might as well give it a shot.

A lot of the comments remind me that I just cannot comprehend why most people even play MMOs. It's like trying to explain blue to a blind cavefish.

People carp about WoW clones, but not too long ago the topic was how MMO players hate what they fear, and fear what they don't understand. Which is it? Is The Next Big thing going to out-WoW wow (just different enough to feel new), or be something truly different?
First, I didn't find Aion to be anything like WoW or even close to it.

What exactly were you looking at? My focus, as always, is gameplay. You can't say that a game where you log in, click on a NPC with a glowing symbol over his head, and then do his quest to kill X mobs to come back for a reward is "not anything like WoW". It is the very definition of WoW gameplay, and incidentally something WoW actually invented, or at least perfected, you didn't do quests all day in Everquest.

it's only fair to keep in mind that the game isn't finished and no one on this weekend had access to anything above level 20

So would you say that anything you do before the endgame is so irrelevant that bloggers shouldn't even be reviewing it? What about the millions of players that never make it to the level cap in any game? I find the idea that you can't know what a game is about if you "only" played it 20 hours somewhat disturbing. Many single-player games are shorter than that.
Aion doesn't at all impress me. It's seems like a WoW 1.5. It's like they changed just enough to claim "we aren't a WoW clone" while still keeping the bulk of the WoWesk experience.

I'm tired of games that play like WoW, or the standard MMO for that matter.

I liked EQ because it was hard and we had nothing else.

I liked DAoC because it was the first PvP MMO.

I liked WoW because it was a refinement of both.

Now I want something new again. Not just refining of WoW. You can't polish what Blizzard has already done. Someone needs to come up with something new to really peak my interest now.

I'm really tired of the Fantasy Genre... I need some Sci-Fi stuff.
"You can't say that a game where you log in, click on a NPC with a glowing symbol over his head, and then do his quest to kill X mobs to come back for a reward is "not anything like WoW". It is the very definition of WoW gameplay" - Tobold

By that definition every game ever created that isn't flying ships somewhere is like Wow. It's not a fair comparison. But more the the point is that when you used the term "WoW clone" it had negative connotations and you knew it before you wrote it. The point here is not how many levels were played but that the game isn't even out of beta and calling it a Wow clone, or words to that effect is not fair to the artists, developers, producers and anyone else working on the game not to mention the players that won't try the game as a result.

Yes indeed, before the subject somes up, it's your blog and you can say whatever you want. But come on Tobold, you're better than that.

Aion will have plenty of endgame pve content from what I've read of the patch 1.5 notes off of That patch adds in 12 dungeons alone, not counting 1.1 and 1.2.
I didn't call it a WoW clone, and I specifically mentioned that I didn't do so because of the negative connotations. I call it a WoW-a-like, and also specified that it is more like WoW than for example LotRO or WAR are, at least up to level 20.

Besides graphics, and endgame, where do you see significant differences between Aion and WoW that I failed to mention?
Being "WOW-like" and good for playing through once may not be a bad plan if they time the launch right. They'll pick up loads of up-front cash from bored WOW players waiting for the next expansion and about 6 months of subs. Putting in lots of extra content to allow for replaying may be wasted if you suspect that everybody will go back to WOW anyway.

Still, they should make enough money to provide a fair return on investment, even if most of the players wander away again when Cataclysm (or whatever the new WOW expansion is called) is released.
So far every review basically says Aion is wow -clone with asian flair. I am personally not a big fan of asian flair - their mobs are designed well , but characters models look anime'ish, which just kills it for me.

Asian MMOs also tend to be very grindy and from what I heard the grind is worse than wow already.

They seem to have less interesting classes and less of them overall. Their pvp system is questionable from what I seen ( abyss only?-and abyss is mid level, means it will be a desert soon after release) . No rated arenas

From the videos I saw combat doesn't look any better than wow and flight looks like a gimmick thrown in to be different.
To be perfectly honest I don't think that anyone is going to be able to make the "next big thing" since WoW really popped the bubble on MMO development.

It was a niche market at best during the days of UO and EQ, but WoW making the break from niche to pop culture was the sign that the market was tapped back in 2006/2007.

Everything after that was imitation or too niche for the average player. That's the way the gaming market works unfortunately.

SC2 will not capture nearly the audience that WoW did and Diablo 2 will sever most of the social aspects WoW brings to the table. Other MMOs will either be too different and alien or too similar which defeats the purpose.

Aion sounds nice, but so have many other games you've reviewed Tobold and sadly many of them are now devoid of players or dying a slow death. I would like to give the game a chance, but if the developers emphasis PvP over PvE then it's not a game for me.

Of course, the day someone develops a massive game full of lore, social framework, interesting mathematics, and enough polish to blind the pope that combines fantasy, sci-fi, and furries, I'll be the first in line. :)
By that definition every game ever created that isn't flying ships somewhere is like Wow.

How many games have you played? Sounds like you've only played RPGs in the MMO mold and MMORPGs.

That's the most ludicrous statement I've read on this blog. It's not even remotely true. I can think of more games that prove it false than that adhere to that specification.

The question is "is the game like WoW?" The answer is "yes." You cannot deny this. The game uses core gameplay mechanics of WoW, just like almost every other theme-park MMO out there.
@Julie Whitefeather
the game isn't even out of beta and calling it a Wow clone

Actually, it is out of beta in the are just beta testing differences in language and helping the US model of this VERY Asian game be more friendly toward a Western audience..
The game is in full swing in the East and has been for about a year...

Beta? This is not beta ...this is...

uh..tidying up?

(PS: The Chinese version is on Patch 1.2...we were playing patch go figure.)
"From the videos I saw combat doesn't look any better than wow and flight looks like a gimmick thrown in to be different."

It's about as much a gimmick to gameplay as jetpacks were to Tribes.

Can we just stop getting defensive every time someone says something is like WoW? If someone says something tastes like chicken, I'm probably going to enjoy eating it because...hey...I like chicken. Even though I am pretty much done with WoW, the basic gameplay elements it has are still enjoyable if present in another game...that isn't WoW.
One thing you have to take note also is the Koreans are currently beta-testing patch 1.5, the same patch we (NA/EU) will be getting at release. So there are a ton of changes coming down the line. The beta is still 1.0.

And I have to say combat does get a lot more involved later on. Ive leveled up a lot of characters on China-Aion and around level 22 and 25 the classes really start to take off with the chain skills.
It's funny when ever you post something that could be remotely considered negative you can tell who the "avid fans" are. You didn't even really criticize Aion, just compared it to WoW, and people jump all over you.

By people replying with "it's not like WoW" makes them look like blind fans because 90% of the gaming community see's the similarities. Being like WoW isn't horrible though, WoW is a good game. It has just run it's course for some people.

No matter how fun or good Aion is the art style and wings will turn alot of people off. I don't have any desire to play a fairy.
I find it inherently hilarious that every game is a WoW clone, or WoW-a-Like, when WoW in itself is a polished clone of Everquest.

Yet people very rarely bother to bring that up.
Xay, did you ever play Everquest?

There are significant and fundamental differences in the game philosophy behind Everquest (aka "The Vision"), and the game philosophy behind WoW. Everquest was designed for the player *NOT* to reach the level cap, but be eternally leveling against falling odds. WoW is increasingly designed to make the leveling game irrelevant, and shorter with every patch and expansion, because only the endgame counts.
Tobold: That's a great distinction and completely changes the design paths followed by the devs. It's important to reiterate that WoW is a game designed to be easy. EQ was designed to be difficult.
"No matter how fun or good Aion is the art style and wings will turn alot of people off. I don't have any desire to play a fairy."

whoa whoa whoa now hold on.

How is that anything worse than the stupid EQ2 Fae?

First off the wings in AION DO serve a purpose and if anything they do not make you as dumb as a EQ2 Fae. Think more like Angel from the X-Men and you have a better visual representation. Nobs, have you even tried the game just curious?

No I haven't played Aion, and I never plan on it. The game just doesn't appeal to me. It probably is a very smooth and polished game, everyone seems to say so; however it just doesn't interest me.

I played EQ2 at launch. I love Iksar, they will remain my favorite race of all MMO's. I wouldn't play a Fairy race in EQ2 though if I was still playing.

You can spin the wings anyway you want but they look like Fairies to me. I'm not saying the game is bad, but it seems like it's one major compliment if polish. If we are at a point in our MMO choices where polish is simply enough to woe us then we as customers are SOL.
This game looks beautiful, and I'll probably try it out when it does come out, but I'm really wary of the PvPvE idea.

The way I understood it after reading on the website was less of a Wintergrasp-style "defeat your opponents and gain access to the boss" idea, and more of a "try to defeat this raid boss while opposing faction players are killing your healers". Fighting a PvE boss while simultaneously fighting other players in PvP.

If the game does indeed have PvE-only areas and instances, that makes me feel a lot better. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see in the future beta events, won't we?
hm I already said this in your latest blog entry, but I see it more as a Lineage 2 + DAOC + WoW hybrid, where it borrows mostly UI features from WoW. The quests are much shallower than in WoW.

I agree that the quests (thus far) are shallower than WotLK WoW quests, I'm not sure I agree they are shallower than early WoW quests though. I would say they are about even in that regard.

As far as the "fairy" thing, I just don't see it. yes, you CAN make your character look like that, but the vast majority do not. Most of the character's I saw fit their class stereotype, Gladiators and Templars were big and mean looking, Scout classes were smaller and thinner etc.. The wings look more like angel wings than anything I would associate to a fairy.
@ Nils, we haven't seen the end game stuff yet, Im sure there are more abilities than just 123. Also, druid PVP is ridiculously easy, and any class has to look out for that stuff, as well as not faceroll like druids can.

I'm very excited for Aion though, and will most likely buy it when it comes out.
@ Musabi:
Druid PvP rediculously easy?
In what world do you live ? You are not talking about resto druids, are you?
In that case you are somehow right: It is much easier to be successful in PvP as resto-druid than as most other classes.
but I wasn't talking about restos (exactly for that reason: even Blizzard acknowledges that the WoW way of healing is not interesing enough..).
Nice article, here's another take on the latest beta for the upcoming MMO:
I don't know if many of you played EQlive? i myself played for many years on a PvP server (Rallos Zek) but anyway, when WoW was in its beta phases it gained the same anti-hype from EQ players that Aion now has from the WOW player base. People were saying the exact same things about WoW in general and its end game content. Things such as "Oh the PVP is great and the game is fun! but there's probably not enough PVE/End game content to keep us long term players interested"

8 years later WoW continues strongly..albeit not on a scale it once was, at least not in my opinion as an "ex beta" on/off again player for over 5 years since release.

So anyway, the point im trying to make here is..doe's anyone that can remember that far back see a pattern here?

Personally i have'nt been this excited about a new MMO since WoW and i think Aion could potentially be the next big fantasy MMORPG.

Your review was good! Unfortunantly, I think it will only cater to the "casual" players. You talked about scenery, low level questing, etc. What about PvP balance, group dynamics, or class mechanics? Those are some of the aspects that will make or break the game in the long run.

I've read countless reviews about AION so far, and I see a trend.- All of negative aspects of the game that have been highlighted seem trivial. So there's no swimming - not REALLY a big deal. I can only fly for a minute - Dude, not much of a dilemma. If I could fly longer than that, it'd take out the STRATEGY of flight, which is what the developers intent was in the first place I'm assuming. Low level questing? I honestly don't care.

We really need a review that is focused on the things that make or break an MMO. From what I hear, PvP is balanced, combat is fluid, group mechanics are on par, and all the classes seem valid. So far, those are the things that really make the game.
You might be a cynic, but there is no escaping: WoW is the biggest gaming-hit to date. As for me: there is no game I’ve spent more time on (and I'm not exactly the youngest guy around). Next to that I don't expect a new game to pop up anytime soon that will capture my imagination or attention in a similar way WoW did when it was launched. The Blizz guys simply did a marvelous job and they've been harvesting the related financial benefits ever since. You might not like it……but facts are facts.

But that being said…. After playing WoW since its vanilla start, raiding for more nights then I want to remember and having blunt weapons on every alt from playing PvP in any way possible…...... I just crave for something else. Irrespective of how great WoW is.….. I’m simply bored….

So far I've been trying a load of alterative MMOs (LoTRO, AoC, GW, etc.) but not a single one made me smile from ear to ear. Aion's beta however does! Yes it has many things in common with WoW (as with other MMOs) but it surely isn’t WoW. And based on what I've been reading I expect it to be even less like WoW when reaching endgame. In all honesty: the WoW-clone/WoW-alike discussion made me smile as well. To me it sounds like someone telling you that after buying his first decent car all later cars felt just like….ehh….cars. Aion is an MMO, so don’t be surprised it has some MMO characteristics to it. Just try it, play some classes ,enjoy the scenery, spread your wings and do some aerobatics and then see whether or not you liked the experience. If so, buy the game.

MMOs are games, not religions ^^.

Well as a lvl 19 Templar I have to use 11 Skills in a normal fight, if I tank. (9 Buttons)
3 Shieldskills, Provoke, Rest is different attack skills. Some with bonus aggro, some with debuffs.

Really enough for this lvl! I have to buy a new mouse with better handling of the extra buttons *g*.

I´ve seen a lot of Endgame PvP-vids and they look really nice. Endgame PvE seems to be mostly tank´n spank at the moment.

Performance is MUCH better than in WoW or WAR, cause all 4 cores of my Quad are used (over 100 FPS with heavy action on the Screen) and the farcry engine is really good.

I´ll play it. I like PvP and PvE and well. WAR has lousy PvE, the PvP is imbalanced and t4 is wrecked. The performance is not good too.
WoW has lousy PvP, if you don´t like arena and the PvE dropped down in 3.2 to grinding and 5 Bosses, a similar Set for each armoreclass (a warrior looks like a paladin). I´m bored.

So I´ll give Aion a chance. Looking forward to friday to play ne next beta weekend.

Sorry for my bad english, greetings from Germany.
Hello everybody. I'm just here to give my two cents.

I know alot of people are hooked on wow, and I was too. One of the reasons why im choosing to give aion a try till end game is just for something fresh. Like many others, this is the first mmo that i've tried after 5 years of wow that I actually got past the starting area in. I've tried LOTRO, SWG, EVE, Lineage II, and AoC all since wow has been relased, and not one of them could get me interested.

Except for Aion. It could be the fresh look, it could be the feeling that you dont regain your mana in an instant or that you can't 1-2 shot a same level mob while grinding. It could be the fact that the PvE aspect of the game in terms of Gear is so customizable, and your not forced to wear or have the same stats as everybody else. It could be the fact that there are no cookie cutter talent trees. It could be the fact that there are no arenas.

It could also be the fact that this is the first beta for an MMO that i've run across SO MANY very nice people to play with. If the people are the same during launch and first yr or two of the game, as far as how respectable alot of them are, i will have a game to keep me occupied till the next great game comes out.

I love wow, dont get me wrong, but like alot of others, they're just tired of the same old thing. Going to aion is also meaning that i dont have to show up for my raids 4 nights a week, to farm the same content. Sure the PvE is limited in Aion atm, but albeit it is something new, with better visual, and its just something to keep me occupied without feeling like im going into my virtual job after getting done with my RL job.

Have a great evening everyone!
I can only imagine that somewhere out there, Blizz executives are sitting around a big table in a gold plated room reassuring each other..."Don't worry, they'll come back...they always do". =)
I’ve been a WoW player for a long time now and I’ll probably continue but that won’t stop me trying Aion for something with enough familiarity to get straight into but enough differences to be a new experience with a whole new world of lore (and it takes time to build up an experience of a game’s lore before quests can possibly start having some meaning, hence the perception of a lot more depth in WotLK quests)

To me it seems that while plenty of people have a lot of fondness for WoW, even if the game still holds plenty of interest there are many getting disgruntled with the continued imbalance between classes in PvP and also the pandering to lazy or unskilled players with easily obtained high level items, meaning that ¾ of the population of most servers have identical gear - what’s the point of playing an individual character if you can’t distinguish yourself from others?

Aion might not look like competing on the PvE side of things but a small number of classes gives some prospect for reasonable PvP balancing, and a little bit more work to level may maintain a slightly better ratio of effort to reward that WoW is quickly losing. For me that’s a positive starting point – and worst case maybe some of the better ideas will get copied by WoW like they were from WAR (WoW might be genre defining, but it’s given too much credit for originality imo)
This was probably the most useful string of comments I’ve read about this game. And it has help me reach a decision for buying this game or not. BTW I’m not. I’m not basing that off your opinions but the facts I read. I am not a player that rushes to the “endgame” as fast as possible. I don’t care about that much about gear drops. I like a sense of realness to a game, something that kind of makes it similar to a simulation. Because to me that’s the point.. a simulation out of reality into a fantasy world, but the more arcade like they make the game the less attached I feel. Unfortunately it seems the current MMOs on the market are bastardize mixes of Diablo gear hunting/skill tree and an FPS. I don’t think these MMOs deserve to be called RPGs. (I haven’t played them all.). I am a fan of Blizzard and I did enjoy WoW. But like Diablo I got bored with it. I killed Diablo so many times as I’m sure most of you have, but who went on day after day to keep killing Diablo to farm for more items? WTF was the point? There is no more game after that, Yeah Bale but the point remains the same. I won’t kill Raid bosses to get better gear to kill bigger numbered bosses for bigger numbered gear, I’d rather punch myself in the nuts. But some people enjoy treasure hunting, and that’s cool, I just don’t. I play games for the game play, story, graphics, in that order. And from what I read out of here and what I heard from friends who have played the betas, I won’t like it. I think people are going to grow bored of Aion quickly. Two sides with similar quests? Fail. Quest that have you kill X mobs or collect X items and return for X exp and X money. Double failure if you this is your second toon. PvP can be fun, but gets old twice as quick as the worst FPS. For most of you I figure this game will be good and you’ll enjoy it… once maybe twice, but for me I’m just too picky. And with a bunch of great titles coming out this fall I’ll have plenty to play as I wait for Star Wars:TOR.

Also, Why hasn’t a company made an MMORPGFPS? Who loves Deus Ex? If you do you’re reaching for the cds right now to reinstall it.
Most of these comments are written by people that did not really attain any sort of level in the game.

1. At higher levels your skill chains start to branch out. So Skill1 leads to SkillA OR SkillB, one is better in a different situation than the other. Also it can go like this: Skill1 goes to SkillA and also skill1 has a chance to proc skillB, so you cant mindlessly mash a button.

2. Every MMO out now is going to be similar to WoW. WoW is the market leader bar none, no game can topple it, but theres a huge potential market in WoWs subscribers, so offer them something good and yet familiar and you will profit.

3. Classes become a LOT more powerful and gain a LOT more skills as they level compared to WoW. Think of a rogue, at max level a rogue uses around 6 skills. In Aion you have to be able to use at least double that to be a GOOD assassin. No more SS x 5 and then Evis.

Yes you can get gear and items that increae flight time. As well as at level 30 and 40 you get new wings that increase flight time by 30seconds and 60 seconds respectively.

Lastly, this is game is a challenge. My guild has now quite WoW. We cleared everything, it was just so damned easy. Aion is not so easy. This is a good and bad thing though. Being quite a difficult game (compared to WoW) means people will be less likely to stick with it as they are used to getting everything much easier.

WoW is a great game and if you are sick of it after so many years, try something new =). I have played MMOs since UO, played more hours of Aion than any of the reviewers posting. To answer the original reviewer, as to how many hours you need to play an MMO to review it, clearly more than you did as you posted blatant false information about skillchains for one =).
Wow has gotten easy because Blizzard has gotten Lazy. When TOC gear, Tier 9, 9.25, and 9.5 gear all look exactly alike something is wrong. Lazy developers is the problem. I have been complaining about that since before I heatd about Aion. The new WOW content is a bit weak if you ask me and the new changes for the upcomming expansion don't have me nearly as excited as I am about noon tomorrow.
I played the open beta, I had 2 days but I only played for 1 until I realized this is nothing more than a typical grindy korean "go fetch this" quest MMO fest like the other bunch already out there for free, so after day 1 I uninstalled.

It had some "ok" visuals (Using GTX 260 1GB), but certainly nothing ground breaking, you want to compare to a game with groundbreaking graphics check out Resident Evil 5, I expected way better from a next-gen MMO to be honest.

I won't be buying it because it doesn't offer anything to the table that you can't already get from a free MMO, everyone seems to have cum in their panties over the visuals for some reason when they aren't that amazing.

I expect the player base will shoot up to begin with of course, but after 6 months it will be half and then stablalize with a few hundred k in each region, I'll wait for FF14 see what SE have to offer next year.
Im really looking forward to this game, im clawing at the walls waiting for Friday to come.

Like alot of people posting here i've played WoW since vanilla release, played SWG before that, have dabbled with CoX, AoC, MxO, Champons online, Eve, LotRO and a few other mmo's but none have ever managed to hold me like WoW did (except SWG, but we can thank SoE for ruining that one)and the funniest thing is i hated the look of WoW before its release, for half a year i was saying that i would never play it, then one day it just clicked in my head that i must have it, and i never looked back.

The same thing has happened to me with Aion, for ages i was saying to people "no, not for me" but recently the same thing has happned, i just need it, yes its WoW like in areas, and im sure its borrowed aspects from many other mmo's, but i don't see that as a bad thing, i need something thats not WoW, i need a new world to get lost in, and Aion seems to have set a fire in my imagination.

Yes it sounds like content might be an issue at first (isn't this the same with most mmo's) but then again the game has been doing the rounds in Korea for nearly a year now and has had content updates, with more due for the relase with patch 1.5 adding more PvE dungeon/end game and questing content.

I think if your curious about this game give it ago, if your bored of whatever mmo you've called home for the last few years give it ago, or new to the mmo scene just give it ago, what have you got to lose apart from a small ammount of money, and like nearly every mmo released these days im sure it comes with the 1st months subscription free, so if you don't like it, cancel it and you've just payed the price of a standard game, if it lasts you a few weeks that more then most games.

God i sound like a real fanboi, but im just an avid mmo player thats excited about something new to try.
Just going to get this out there. You do know that it is most likely impossible to make an mmo that isnt like WoW. Since many people play the game, they are always going to relate other mmos to it. All mmos have the same concept, and idk it just annoys me when people say "borrows wow aspects" when it is just another mmo that looks like an mmo.
Blizzard is incredibly good at ripping addons from their creators & using them in their own game, without any credit to the creator of the addon, whatsoever.

Anything anyone else can do, Blizzard can too. They have the resources, and the know-how to counter any attack from anyone. Money will do that for you ;)
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