I had intended to do this "in-character", as I'd done so many Choose my Adventures before, but there's something discouraging about beginning yet another story with a whimsical tale about waking up with amnesia, looking for your true purpose in life. I'm a bit tired of figuring out where to go from there. Although Aion has wonderful lore, the game begins much in this same way, as your character is in search of its true calling. I'll give you a hint: it involves wings.
So with that behind us, I just wanted to give my impressions of the game as I easily plowed through the first 12 levels in a fairly casual weekend of play.
Our bearded hero began his life in a small farming hamlet known as Aldelle Village. I created Sargyen to be a stern, no-nonsense mage with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. My playstyle with him so far has been fast-paced, which I find easy to do with Aion. When I hear so many comments from readers that I'll hit a leveling brick wall in the higher levels, I can't help but think that this is a direct result of the lowered expectations in these essential early hours of the game.
I realize that playing your character's first levels during a double-XP weekend doesn't help those expectations, but I have this strange feeling that it won't always be this easy.
That said, I spent a great deal of time just grinding mobs early on, even though I didn't need to. I don't mind a little grind once in awhile, so I took advantage of the 1k+ XP gained with each monster kill and mindlessly fireballed my way through the farming village, a lake, a tree sap farm, another farming village and a graveyard. By knocking out very simple quests along the way, I quickly found myself right at the point where I could earn my wings. Literally.
It was here that I hit a fork in the road that I completely forgot about when making last week's polls. At level 9 I was given a quest to choose the next phase of the mage class. My choices were Sorcerer or Spiritmaster. Without the loving guidance of the Massively readers, I chose Spiritmaster because I know that's totally what you would have picked for me. Right?
A little disclaimer here before I continue. I played Aion in beta and at launch off and on for about three months. In fact, I've taken two mages (one Sorcerer, one Spiritmaster) through this exact same area when friends joined me to play the game and when I switched to a new server for a guild that eventually fell apart. So I'm certainly no stranger to Aion, the mage or the Asmodian side of the fence. But a strange thing happens every time I roll up a new character and play the starter area of this game: I have fun. It's easy to discredit the game based on popular (or just the loudest?) opinion, but every time I get back in, I find myself genuinely having fun.
I cleared my quest log of all quests in the starter area of Ishalgen and made my way to level 10 and a shiny new set of wings, courtesy of a wonderfully-implemented ceremony. I can't even tell you much about what was happening in Ishalgen, which is to blame on the enhanced XP, the ease of navigation and my own eagerness to get me some wings. What's funny is how drastically the leveling process stops as soon as you get those wings. This isn't the fault of the game or any special mechanics, but mostly because all I wanted to do was fly around all day.
Once I got to Altgard, I was reminded of something that irked me at launch. I just left an area where I killed slinky lizard-looking animals and colorful walking birds, and here I am again killing the same things in the same lake environment. Of course this isn't exclusive to Aion, but it was still a little sigh-inducing.
So here I stand, a level 12 Spiritmaster flapping around Altgard waiting to start up the new crop of quests. I know I haven't even scratched the surface of the game yet, so I honestly look forward to continuing on through my remaining five weeks with the game. In fact, I found myself excited about jumping back in every available chance throughout the weekend. Despite the lack of RP or organized reader get-togethers in the game for this run, I'd still like to join up with anyone who'd like to play along with me. The game has an obvious lack of grouping in these first few levels, but I hear that will all change in about 10 more levels. I must warn you though, my playing times are varied and often very distracted (with lots of hiding in a safe corner to answer IMs), but I'm eager to join up with anyone else who wants to run through the game with me. If you're on the Lumiel server, add Sargyen to your friends list and give me a shout. Oh yeah, and I'm looking for a legion, too.
As I've played Aion
before, these would more-appropriately be named "revisited impressions", but I still believe the game stands on two very solid legs: a unique world and amazingly gorgeous graphics. The quests are very MMO-typical (kill 10 of these, go deliver this message to my girlfriend on the other side of the world, etc), but the game's beauty and easy navigation helps tremendously. The map is clear, quest directions are concise and the "locate" button for important quest locations makes it even easier to skip quest text and focus on that shiny next carrot. Did I say that out loud? I actually look forward to what else is in store for me.
For this week, you will choose which crafting professions
I should take. I've put up two polls so I can focus on two professions, but admittedly, mastery will not really be an issue with five more weeks to spend in the game. The polls will close on Friday, at which time I'll spend the following weekend progressing through those new crafting professions.
Join me next Wednesday as I give you more on my adventures and impressions through Aion