Preview: Aion

The release date is approaching for when Aion (pronounced i-on) will be set loose to North America, Europe and Australia but this is not the first time this game was released. Aion has been out for quite some time in South Korea when it was released in November 2008. The game had been so successful that it won the covenant award of “Best Korean Game of The Year” which is no easy feat in the Korean market.

The big question though is how well will Aion be greeted in the lands of hamburgers, frankfurts and meat pies? Will it be met with open arms or shunned away into the bargin bins?

The game has generated an enormous amount of hype as of late and rightly so. It is one of the most, if not the most refined MMO releases to date and has gone through rigorous beta testing and I am not talking Conan Online beta testing — we all know how that worked out. Aion has set a new benchmark standard for MMO releases. To add to the beta testing; Aion has already been released for a year to the Korean market which means we can already get a good feel for the game, and additionally there is plenty of videos and screenshots to go by.

An important component to any MMO is the lore, and Aion does not fall short on this aspect. To give you a quick summary; the game title Aion actually refers to a god that created the fantasy world of Atreia. Aion also created a powerful race know as the Balaur for the purpose of protecting the humans that inhabited the world of Atreia. As with all that are given power they eventually rebel and turn against their master. No longer protectors of humans they would ravage the world. Aion then created an energy barrier to isolate these former protectors, while humans slowly discover the powers of old and harness this to plan a fight against the fallen angels, The Balaur.

There are two factions in the game that combat each other as in any PvP environment, and each faction has there typical selection of classes. You can select from Mages, Priests, Scouts and Warriors. Each class also has sub-categories; for example Scouts will include Assassins and Rangers.

The game play is fast and different from any MMO I have seen. If I were forced to compare then you may see slight similarities to Guild Wars, but this is only to be taken as a grain of salt. An intricate part of the game is the ability to fly and this is incorporated as much as possible. At level 10 you are awarded with a pair of wings, and you will find many battles in the game are fought in the air as much as on the ground. Top gun style dog fights to the soundtrack of Danger Zone is a must.

PvP and PvE are indistinguishable in some parts. You will find yourself in a PvP battle and suddenly a huge PvE character will interrupt and everyone is forced to take down this boss. It looks to be a lot of fun and a great idea that I have not seen used in other MMO’s as Aion has.

The levelling is quick and grinding is minimal, and the same can be said for professions as well. An interesting idea in trading goods ingame is that every character can set up their own stall although how this will play out on a full live server is anyone’s guess.

One of the other amazing aspects of Aion is character customisation. The amount of detail you can put into how your character looks is incredibly ridiculous. We have seen people spend considerable time on this and create look-a-likes from US President Barack Obama to Sylvester Stallone. I can see servers being plagued with Chuck Norris already.

Aion’s graphics look spectacular, using the now dated CryENGINE which was made famous in Fry Cry. The game engine has been heavily modified and pushed to its limits to provide us gamers with stunning environments. Unfortunately the graphic options in the beta are minimal and basically allow you to select the type of bloom effect desired. We will hopefully see more options in the final release.

The general release date for us is 22nd September 2009. In Australia we can expect three versions of the game, Collector’s edition, Limited Edition and the Standard Edition. North America will receive one version with a free comic. Currently the beta is running for those of you who have pre-purchased the game.

What promises to be an exciting new concept in MMO’s; this honestly looks to be interesting and different. If you were a fan of Guild Wars or looking for a change in MMO then definitely give Aion a look. I hope to see you in the world of Atreia for some classic air dog fights.

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.