So, I managed to get in Aion's Open Beta last week. Most of the blogosphere must be pretty bored by Aion rants already, but since it's the most exciting thing* that's happened in my life recently, I guess I should write something about it.
* shows just how exciting my life has been lately
I like the game, but won't be buying it (I had a preorder, which I cancelled). LotRO is pretty stagnant at the moment, and most of my raiding unit are about to switch over to Aion, so of course I was curious about the game. Also the artistic RP community is something I've really missed - LotRO just doesn't have anything like that. I'd certainly welcome something new, and exploring a new game felt really exciting.
Except it wasn't, because when I logged in and spent an evening grinding myself to level 10, it just felt like the free-to-play Korean MMOs I used to play in high school (meaning you stand still using 1-3 skills over and over until a mob topples over, and then you move on to the next one). Even though Aion has an extensive questing framework, the actual leveling still consisted of killing x amounts of y. Which is all right as long as the quest framework makes it interesting and gives it some kinda twist, but the Elyos side staring area was just awfully dull. Okay, so here's a sparkly lake. Here's a magical forest. Aaaand... the Asmodean side had the very same things! The sparklies kinda lose their effect when they're force-fed down your throat everywhere you look.
Omg, big tree with magical sparklies?! VERI ORISINAL YES
It's only a model.
Once I got my wings, visited the capital city of my side and started to explore the 'real world', it started to get interesting. I giggled out loud when I found a Fashion NPC whose shop had these on the walls:
Base patterns, which I had to learn to draw from day one at Fashion Design. Also, WTFnapoleon? :D
These guys look kinda cool. I wanted to try and fly to them, but was met with a glass wall. Bleh.
However my biggest disappointment with Aion were the graphics. Everywhere it's said that Aion is the most graphically advanced MMO at the moment, and it certainly has its merits, but the quality isn't very obvious, at least not in the starting areas (which you'd expect to look stunning!). Monster and armour design is really cool, but what bothers me more than necessary is the horrible texture quality! I play with a big screen, so low-res textures look really bad (I remember when I got this 24" to replace my old 19", and was shocked how awful Guild Wars looked). Except for some really nice shine effects on armour, Aion seems closer to WAR than LotRO or AoC, at least judging by the outdoor areas. I guess it must look incredibly stunning to WoW players.
The textures don't scale at all according to distance - the mountains in the back look all right, but the same texture is stretched out there on my character's right.
Here's the "shroom" from the previous picture.
Click for original size, and be amazed!
I'd still like to play Aion, but it feels like the kind of repetitive and time-consuming game that I really, really shouldn't pick up at this moment in my life (still aiming to graduate next spring..). Plus, LotRO has a new expansion coming, and me and my bf have just applied to a really cool kinship... let's see what the future brings :).