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Let’s talk about the problems with Aion

Since criticizing Aion seems to be all the rage, I think it’s about time that I toss my hat into the ring with the issues I’ve seen and foresee as problems. I’m not writing this post in agreement with anybody because, frankly, I don’t agree with a lot of the doom and gloom people are calling for. I’m just going to call it as I see it.

First of all…

Players will leave in mass

Why? Because they always do. Honeymoons are real in the MMO industry and they tend to be short lived. Expect to see people complaining about the game before too long. Unlike Genda (first link above), however, I don’t think this has much of any relation as to the quality of the game. To the point, I think it has to do with the ADD, get excited now, quick satisfaction, low dedication, mindset of the average MMO hopper. MMOs aren’t about instant gratification and, unfortunately, it’s hard to leave a game you’re already established and powerful in to start all over again as a noob.

So, players leave. The ones that remain are those who like the game for what it is and are the true representative audience you should turn to for insight into the title.

Grinding is so 1999

Grinding has its place in Aion and it gets worse the farther in you get. I’m level 22 right now and I’ve grinded out the end of the past four levels so that I didn’t run out of quests. It’s not as bad as it may seem, since grinding can be very lucrative (and, really, doesn’t last very long each time… ~1 hour) but, all the same, it will drive some people away. I’ve heard rumors that a patch dropping in Korea is going to substantially increase quest experience but, for a lot of the current crop of players, it may be too little too late.

The unexpected consequences of grinding

I started my true MMO career after WoW launched, so I was spared from the grind. I dealt with it for long enough in MUDs, so I wasn’t scared off by the idea in Aion. What I didn’t expect was the rampant amount of kill stealing that would take place as a result. People quickly pick up on the easiest mobs to grind on and camp them. I was grinding in Morheim the other day on Tumbling Fungies competing with a good 15 other people. It was constantly a “rush to the mob before the next guy” scenario and courtesy seemed to have dropped by the wayside. People rarely talked and when I called a guy out on following me around to nab my mobs, I was told that “its not ur mob noob. its called getting there b4 u duh.” That kind of attitude pisses me off and I can guarantee you I’m not alone.

Now, I should note that competition really wasn’t a problem until about level 19. That’s when the Race to Killsteal really began and was exacerbated by the fact the many of the best grinding mobs were also quest targets.  Maybe it’ll get better later on but, I’d be willing to put money down, that this will be something people complain about and list as a reason for leaving.

Again, thankfully grinding doesn’t last very long at any given time. I should also note that by level 19, you have multiple places you can go to kill off that remaining XP. If players go for the path of least resistance, though, you can probably count on the best and quickest XP spots will see this phenomenon as long as grinding remains in the game.

Not enough low level PvP/dungeons

Maybe not any low level PvP/dungeons would be a better description. Most of the players coming to Aion are there for the PvP and I’ve always maintained that it was a poor decision to make them wait 25 levels for any real taste of it. Granted, you get a quest that sends you to the opposing faction’s leveling zone at level 20 but, let’s face it, that’s not enough to sate any PvP’ers palette. People that come for PvP are forced to PvE for dozens and dozens of hours before they can even try what they came for.

The dungeons are another issue but it’s not so bad as the PvP. Elite regions, like Blackclaw Village I talked about before, help alleviate the problem. Still, it exists and the game would benefit from having a couple of dungeons earlier on.

Those are the main issues I see. None of them are deal breakers to the players you’d expect to stay with this game anyways. The WoW tourists will be gone within the next month and maybe sooner but, if we’re being honest, they were probably a lost cause anyways.

Aion is a good game. There are some issues but all of them can be fixed fairly easily and probably will be. I don’t think we’ll ever see it drop down to where WAR is at like Genda describes simply because they do just about everything better. I haven’t touched the endgame but I can tell you for a fact that I was having far less fun in WAR at this point even with the grind and douchebaggy players I’ve come across in Aion.

C’est la vie. Life will go on, even when the honeymooners go back to their home games. I’m not giving up on Aion, reducing my play, or anything of the like because of these issues. They simply are and deserve pointing out if we’re in the mood to be critical. I’ve played the game for many, many, hours at this point and am doing my best to be fair. Some people may take a more bleak outlook but, really, I don’t see it nearly as bleakly as some.

6 comments

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  1. We Fly Spitfires

    Pretty much sums it up. I was disappointed with Aion after I played it for a while – it lacked anything unique to interest me nor did it have a strong IP or game world to bond me with my character. I’m sure it will do OK though but whether or not it will hit 1 million players is another matter.

  2. Andrew

    Question:

    Why do you consider killing 10 mobs for a quest to not be grinding, but killing 10 mobs for raw Xp to be grinding? I don’t get it. Quests *ARE* the new grind…. they’re mostly banal “go here and kill X” thoughtless excursions that are as grindly – or more so because they are interspersed with pointless running – than old school leveling.

    I’ve played both systems, and dislike ’em equally. Both are grinds to me.

    1. Chris

      They’re both grinds. Questing changes things up a little bit more because you have more travel and more variation. Plus that little XP bump at the end is nice. In Aion, the grind is a lot more monotonous when you’re forced to play that way.

      1. Andrew

        I actually find that the travel makes it far worse. Often times you’re going to & from the same general locations, with small bursts of action punctuating a much larger span of relative inactivity.

        The Xp bump from quests is almost always offset by the decrease in the per-mob experience. A lot of games assume that players want to quest-grind, and so lower per-mob Xp to add a disincentive for grinding that way.

        Frankly, it would make more sense if both were valid paths up the level tree (and equally efficient)…. plus perhaps PvP, crafting, exploration, and achievement whoring.

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