So I decided to have a go at Aion.
It was a Friday night and ahead of me was the chore of doing the Daily Heroics over the weekend and maybe some daily quests for gold I don’t even need. Nothing much more exciting to look forward to until Wednesday’s raid. So I thought hell with the dailies, lets do something totally new and try Aion!
Naturally I rolled a Warrior, as up and close fighting is what you crave when you shoot arrows at people for a living. I had a lot of fun designing my character and then, miraculous birth, I spawned into an unsuspecting server along with about two-dozen other people spawning at that exact moment.
Imagine a world where every female looks like Kate Beckinsale, and you will quickly grasp the distracting beauty of the many player characters currently running around the crowded Aion servers. The environment was very nice. Not fall off your seat nice, or staggering innovative by any means, but pleasant to explore.
Here’s what happened in one paragraph. I moved between quest hubs and killed X number of monsters. I experienced several innovations on the WoW system. These were: player shops, more frequent cut scenes, a location helper, a campaign quest log, a great chain-combat system, the ability to fly slowly for short periods of time. (That last one won’t feel like a great innovation if you have an epic flying mount).
I had lots of fun hitting monsters with a big sword, and enjoyed the very regular reward feeling that comes from gearing up a character from nothing. Best of all there were lots of people around and there was a nice general atmosphere of communal exploration.
Then I logged on to WoW to do the Brewfest Dailies (achievement hunter). At that exact moment our 5v5 Arena leader decided we should run some games. We had an absolute killing streak and suddenly I had access to more new arena gear than I had the Honor to buy. I stayed up till almost 2pm grinding battlegrounds and got the first two items that night (reward feeling). But I needed a lot more Honor and suddenly I had new purpose.
I will of course return to Aion, to enjoy some more sword-fighting and at my own pace adventuring. It’s not as polished, precise or self-satirical as WoW no matter how shiny the graphics. It’s not as bloody or combat tactical as AoC or as stylised and innovative as WAR. However it has great atmosphere at the moment because of all the new players exploring it for the first time, and it’s a very competent fun example of it’s type.
But it’s not Coca-Cola. And judging each game by its ability to differentiate itself from it’s peers, I feel it’s the weakest of the primary WoW alternatives.