Ok, I said I wasn't going to play the beta, mainly because I didnt want to spoil my pleasure on the release, by knowing already the quests and areas. Obviously I changed my mind. Reading some of my friends testing and commenting about the game wanted me to just have a look inside.
And it was a good move. First of all, I found out the Elyos starting zone, characters, as well the global ambiance a bit underwhelming (I was about to play on this side and to convince my friends to play Elyos too). I don't know really why, but the first two levels there made me more think about a korean version of "Little house on the prairie", than a true PvP fantasy game. I felt like I was playing another free-to-play generic MMO, and that's never good, especially when you have already tried 45 of those, without any kind of success, in your moments of MMO boredom and despair.
Secondarily, the sound of my scout hitting mobs with her dagger got on my nerves after 5 kills, I tried to tweak the sound settings without any success : I was certainly not on the right track to play her 48 levels more, or even 8 more... (I had planned to go Ranger, or maybe Assassin).
Then I had the clever idea to create an Asmodean mage on another server, and it was like night and day ! First of all, the asmodean atmosphere looked much more original and therefore more immersive to me. My character there looked much better also, I felt as being an Asmodean, she had more personnality and charism than what I could achieve on the Elyos side... Well I guess I was born to be an asmodean in this game ;)
(Enjoy this screen, it was a tall order to take one with my mac keyboard, gameguard blocking everything to remap the PrintScreen key...)
Surprisingly also the game looked much more like WoW than Lineage 2 to me : environment, controls, UI, quests, spell casting... etc. On the other hand the characters design and art are much closer to L2, and that's good news.
The game has a great overall fluidity, skills responsiveness... etc. It reminded me of WAR, but as an opposite. That's exactly the kind of gameplay experience I was expecting from WAR the first time I logged into with a Dark Elf sorceress. No need to say I was utterly disappointed back then as I found everything to be choppy, clunky and even kinda rubbish. It's not the case in Aion where I feel the game has been very well done.
(A screen about the "griphon-like flight" in Aion... that just looks truly awesome ! On 1680x1050 it makes for a great desktop wallpaper)
It's of course too early to judge or review the game, but my first impression is really positive (on the Asmodean side). But for the moment it's more about how I enjoyed the first levels, than what I think the game is going to be. I don't really expect much about Aion's PvE : best case scenario it will be like WoW, worst case scenario... It will be like WoW ;)
I need first to experience the PvP there, as well as the teamplay and also find out how mature and friendly the community will be before being able to say if I really like the game or not. My mage (future sorceress at the release) is level 8 at the moment and I won't probably play her much above level 10 during the beta I think.
More news to come if I keep on playing a bit the beta, to do a few more levels or maybe to try new classes.