Thoughts and images from Aion’s open beta

I had a chance to log in to the open beta twice since they’ve opened the doors. My experience has, so far, been very good. Since I’d played in the Chinese version, I wasn’t expecting too much different from what I’d already experienced but as someone who’s been following the game pretty closely, I had to take the chance at checking out what we’re going to be getting.

Now, before we get too far down, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of people.

First, meet Syeric.

Syeric, fresh from battle with his eyes still glowing

Syeric is the original, the spiritual pre-cursor to the character that will be born on release day. In other words, he’s my boy blue!

Now, meet his little brother, Slurp.

Big hands, big feet, big gut

You'd let him take you on a date, wouldn't you?

Slurp is a good creature but, in the words of Hank Hill, the boy just ain’t right. Yet, I fully intend to level him into Abyss range just to see his scraggly overweight body commit mass slaughter. With a face like that, would you expect anything less?

Now, moving onto to the important stuff.

I haven’t been able to play a whole lot but I’m happy to report that FPS seems to be better this go round than in the Chinese version. I haven’t changed anything with my computer, so I can only assume it’s related to the recent couple of patches they’ve released.

Ping and network performance was mixed. When I logged on last night, I didn’t notice any lag or rubber banding, however lots of people were complaining about it over regional chat. This morning was a whole different story. I started off with 800ms latency and moved up to about 1100ms pretty quick. Using the netstat function in command line, I was able to determine the ports the game uses to connect but even after adjusting my firewall and configuring my router, I didn’t notice any difference. Rubber banding was a serious problem.

Now, it should be pointed out that I chose to play on a high population realm which may have something to do with this. Also, we musn’t forget that this is the first day of open beta and things things are far from uncommon. Even playing across the ocean was better than it was this morning though. Many players are also experiencing issues with GameGuard. I was, thankfully, free of these issues but, to be frank, GameGuard sucks and is a horrible addition to the game. A quick Google search should yield some possible fixes though, since this was also a big issue for our overseas friends.

I’ve elaborated on some of the more important issues but here are some of things I made note of as I played.

  • Leveling is quicker than the Chinese version by a long shot – at least early on. Quests give far more experience that they provided previously.
  • You must be level five to use the regional chat. On one hand, this is great because gold spam was a serious problem in the live version (worse than any game I’ve played, actually). On the other, it stops newbies from asking for help. Thankfully…
  • The tutorial is great. Tooltips blink at the bottom of your screen and when you open them a short video, complete with a voice over, shows you exactly how to perform the basics of the game. The voice reminded me of the woman that did Free Realms.
  • The best way for a newbie to regen is to rest. This is done by hitting your comma (,) button.
  • /tell soandso results in the entire tell being announced as a /say. I knew this before but made the mistake again almost immediately. Use the T button to perform a reply.
  • Help your lag. Open/forward ports 7777 and 10241. And don’t forget to allow the game through your firewall. If that doesn’t help, check out our latency guide.
  • There’s dancing and people made sure to do it in the roads.
  • The community seemed very helpful and open to people’s questions. Hopefully it stays this way after launch.
  • The westernized quest text and voice overs are mostly well done. On some quests, I didn’t notice much of a difference at all but others were almost totally re-written. There’s some good stuff here guys, none of this “we write out quests in 100 characters or less business”. NPC voices seemed to be pretty good but some of the voices just didn’t seem to fit the speaker. Maybe I’m nitpicking.
  • The graphics are good and FPS is great even on highest settings. I have a 2.4GHz Intel Core Duo, 800MHz FSB, and an nVidia 260 GTX, and with everything maxed out (except anti-aliasing which was at 2x) I was still hitting anywhere from 50-110FPS.
  • Even though I really like the art style, I don’t like how obvious it is that the distant background is just another template. It’s pretty and everything but it stands out as distinctly 2D when the rest of the world is 3D. I like to believe I can get to any point I can see, template backgrounds like that make me feel like I’m playing in a bowl. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to ignore since you have to tilt your camera up to see it.

With all of this out there, I’m not planning on putting too much more time into the Open Beta. I have a lot of fun with the game but since I’ve already played through these early parts once already, I don’t want to disenchant myself before I actually buy the game. There’s not too much more I’m really expecting to get out of it that I can’t wait for. I’ll be checking in and eagerly reading the reports that come out but, in full disclosure, I’m not the biggest fan of betas. It’s kind of like peeking at your presents the day before Christmas morning.

Still, on the whole, I’d say the game is coming along. If the biggest issues this game faces are latency on second day of open beta,  I think we’re in a good position for launch.

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