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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Aion: Updated Impressions and the Abyss

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday July 22 2009 at 5:56PM
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Aion: Updated Impression and the Abyss

Since my last article covering some of the basics of Aion at low level, I have had a chance to invest a bit more time in the Chinese version of the game.  Having progressed far enough to see the Abyss finally, I wanted to take some time and give some updated impressions on my play experiences since I am a bit farther into the game.

 

The Grind

The first thing I want to touch on are my experiences with the grind in the game so far.  From levels 1-20, I can say that I was pretty much able to quest through most of my levels.  The campaign quests give a substantial amount of EXP over the standard quests, and there are some repeatable quests to help you through some of those areas where you do find yourself grinding to reach the next level after your quests are all completed.

Between the levels of 20-24, the grind starts to pick up more and more each level.  The percentage of your levels EXP you are able to get through quests starts to gradually go down in this range for a few reasons.  The first is that the amount of exp to reach the next levels ramps up pretty quickly, and secondly, some of the quest EXP rewards don't seem to be enough.  The repeatable quests really don't reward to well either, as one requiring you to kill X amount of mobs, rewards you at turn in with amount of exp equal to killing 2 of those mobs.  In the time it takes you to go turn them in, you could have kept killing and came out better off.  As a result, I spent a lot of my time grinding in the jungle and desert in Eltnen. Once reaching 25 however, things seem to pick up a lot (I'll touch on this later).


Legions (Guilds)

During my time playing, I had a chance to delve into the Legion functionality with some of my guys on the NA and Chinese versions.  My first beef is that Aion only allows 3 different ranks for your legion members, and these rank titles can't seem to be changed.  While you can set permissions for each of the 3 ranks, you can't have 2 people be the highest rank.  In MMO guilds like mine where there are 2 leaders, this is somewhat disappointing and inconvenient.  The current version I played during the NA weekend and Chinese also only allow 10 characters for your legion name, which I find unnecessarily restrictive.  Since my guild's name is 11 letters long, I can only fit "Inquisitio".  This forces us to abbreviate ourselves to INQ, and I am sure other MMO guilds will have to do the same unless the newer version updates we haven't played yet increase the character limit.

Aion legions also have levels like some other MMOs like EQ2 and WAR.  Unlike its predecessors, Aion only has three levels for legions.  Upgrading your legion to level 2 requires having 10 people on your roster, and a payment of around 120,000 gold.  Once you upgrade, you will have roster limit increased from 30 to 60 maximum members, although in my opinion the fact that there is one at all strikes me as silly.  Once you upgrade, you can also customize a guild emblem for your cloak.  There are only a dozen emblems, but you can pick any background color you can imagine.  You can also change your guild emblem at any time if you so chose for a small fee.

The one really good aspect of Aion's legion system is if you are able to upgrade to level 3.  Level 3 requires a higher roster count and around 1.2 million gold, which is not as bad as it sounds on paper given how much money I was making.  Any decent size guild should have no trouble getting this cash together if everyone kicks in a bit of cash.  At level 3, the limitations of the emblem system redeem itself by letting you put your own design.  This means you can literally use any graphic or logo you want to represent your guild.  During my playing I managed to see some pretty interesting logos as seen in the above screenshot.  Overall I think there is room for improvement in the legion functionality, but specialized level 3 emblems make for an awesome feature.


Rifts

Once you reach level 20 and start to move into the third tier of zones, you will start to get your first taste of PvP.  It seems like every so often, there are rifts or portals that appear somewhat randomly that connect to the other faction's area.  These rifts seem to have a chance to appear in one of many predetermined locations across the zones, which are quite large, and have a set number of uses before they become unusable.  From my own experiences, it seems that at almost any given time there is a rift up that either leads to the enemy area or has the enemy coming into yours.

There are no PvP restrictions in terms of where you can go and who you can attack.  Enemies can even go inside the perimeter of your main fortress if they are careful to avoid guards, which is not difficult.  While you are able to attack anyone of any level, you will not know what level the people on the other faction are.  This makes for some interesting encounters where people misjudge the strength of their opponent.  In one personal experience, a bunch of us ganged up on a single enemy only to have him obliterate all of us by dropping a meteor on us!  In addition to the PvP points awarded, there are special "infiltration" quests that require you to go to the enemy zone and complete tasks there.  In this regard the rift aspect of the game makes the PvP not consentual, which is fine by me but may turn off others.

 

The Abyss

Once your reach level 25 the game starts to open up and you are allowed to start delving into the Abyss, which is the games central area for RvR.

As soon as you hit level 25, you will receive a new campaign quest series to complete in order to be able to access the Abyss.  The campaign consists of 3 mini trials you have to go through in order to prove your worth, but also double as a minor tutorial.  The first test consists of proving your worth by completing 1 task from 3 available choices.  I chose a challenge to kill some monster under the arena in a certain time limit that was laughably easy.  The second trial tests your knowledge, and has you answering a series of multiple choice questions that serve to educate you a little about the Abyss and some of the game's lore.  It's impossible to fail it seems as picking the wrong answer prompts you to try again among the remaining choices.

The final trial is a test of flight in which you have to fly through a series of rings in a short time.  This serves to educate the player about the use of these rings which are present in the Abyss.  Flying through the rings replenishes a portion of your flight timer and gives a small speed boost during the trial.  Like the previous trials, it was not difficult at all and I was able to complete it on my first run through.  Once all trials are complete, you are shown to the Abyss portal (as seen above) and are free to go through whenever you want.

Once you arrive in the Abyss, you will find yourself in a fully functional fortress area with pretty much everything you will ever need.  The fortress was complete with various vendors, banks, auction house, bind point, and even teleporters to take you to many of the games PvE zones.  You will also notice that there are new standard quests for the Abyss that helps alleviate the strain from leveling, as well as campaign.  The first campaign mission presents the player with a simply amazing tutorial about RvR in the Abyss through the use of various cutscenes.

Abyss Tutorial

Here is a quick summary:

The first thing they explain is that the Abyss has a total of 9 keeps that you can fight over, and they are spread across 3 different layers: bottom, core, and top.  The Balaur are a monster faction that participates in the Abyss wars, and they often take over these keeps.

Each keep has some sort of damage shield that protects it from air assaults.  Trying to attack a keep from the air while the shield is up is supposed to be difficult and damaging.  Inside each of the keeps is some sort shield generator that powers the shield.  If this generator is destroyed, then the shield goes away and people are free to assault from the air without any kind of penalty or negatives.

Each of the keeps has doors to protect it from ground assaults that will need to be broken down in order to gain access.  The doors are also especially vulnerable to siege weapons that can be deployed by the attackers.  In addition, there are also portable bind points that can be dropped in the field so that people can respawn close to the fight.  These bindpoints are supposed to easily destroyed and only be able to be used a certain amount of times before being rendered useless.

Finally they explain about artifacts that can be used to sway the battles.  They are supposed to be activated to provide various effects from mass healing, mass damage, and other assorted abilities.  They also tell you to kill the boss to take the keep, and elaborate on the benefits of taking on for your legion. Benefits range from Abyss points, items (including Abyss medals), cash, and other bonuses in the newer versions of the game we haven't received yet.  They also give you a final warning about some sort of Balaur flying battleship that can drop monsters into areas to mess with people.

The Abyss environment itself look very nice and seems to vary as you go from island to island.  The entire area is flight enabled, and the rings can be used to guide you over some of the longer stretches between islands.  There are teleports that take you from the bottom level to the top level, but if you look up at the sky on the bottom level you can see the upper level far above.

The core of the Abyss can be seen in the center and resembles a large sun-like ball of fire.  In case you were curious, flying into this ball of fire will result in being insta-gibbed.  PvE in the Abyss was getting me around 13 AP (Abyss Points) per kill at level 25.  The fact that you can gain points through PvE can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at things.  On one hand some people might not like the fact people can PvE grind their way up the ranks to abyss abilities and gear.  On the other hand, people opting to take this route do so in an area where they can be ganked at any moment, so it will help drive traffic to this area making people somewhat easier to find.


Rewards

Abyss rewards come in the form of abyss abilities for reaching certain ranks, and item rewards for cashing in your points.

Over on Aion Source, I spotted this thread that shows an example of some of the high ranking Abyss abilities.  One of the more notable abilities this high ranking person has is the ability to effectively turn themselves into a raid boss once every 2 hours for 10 minutes.  This is definitely an interesting dynamic that should be interesting to see in action.

Items are the other major reward you get from PvP.  There are stores in which you spend your Abyss points in order to purchase high end gear.  There are various degrees of gear for each level range that have varying prices.  Most of the green items can be bought purely with points, but some of the high level gold (epic) items also require medals which are earned during fortress sieges.

The Abyss gear actually looks to be itemized well, a problem that WAR had at launch with a lot of its PvP reward gear.  The above picture shows 2 Abyss bows that are both level 30.  The green one costs much less AP then the gold one, but the gold one features more damage, stats, and socketing slots for manastones.  It is up to the player to decide if they want to hold out for the higher end item, or hold out for higher level gear.  Since players lose AP for PvP loss, some may want to cash out sooner depending on their luck.  One final point, spending points you have earned subtracts them from your total, thus reduces your rank.  This means as people purchase items, there will be a constant moving up and down the RvR ranks, and high rank players will have to decide if they want to give up their rank abilities to cash out their points for weapons.

 

Conclusion

I really am looking forward to seeing how this all pans out when the game releases in North America.  The game has solid PvP rewards, risk, and keeps / artifacts for people to fight over.  For all the comparisons you hear about this game with WoW because of the playstyle, I'm starting to think it might be in many ways like an asian DAOC.  If everything works out, I think this game could offer a lot to people who were fans of DAOC and disgruntled Warhammer fans.  I look forward to continuing my journey on the Chinese version a while longer, and I am curious to see how the patches NA will have at release alleviate some of the issues with the game.  If they can reduce the grind as they claimed in a recent interview, then I think this will be a game a lot of people will probably be jumping into if the end game ends up being solid.

 

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition
www.inqguild.com

 

alextodo writes:

Great article. Also people can avoid PvP [ Elyos] if they go to Theobomos at 20. That Zone is a 45-50 Zone but it also has a 20-25 Region with no rifts.

Wed Jul 22 2009 6:59PM Report
popinjay writes:

Excellent read. You covered quite a bit of ground in this one.

Thu Jul 23 2009 9:44AM Report
Newfeather writes:

thanks for the info!  I just played to closed beta over the weekend, and only made it to 17.  So this info is terrific!

Thu Jul 23 2009 11:33AM Report
necklare writes:

Very good read. Looks like you covered everything pretty well. As alextodo mentioned Theobomos on the Elyos side is a PvE only area, with a 20+ region. So if you want to avoid potential hostiles in Eltnen that's the place to be.

Thu Jul 23 2009 12:14PM Report
Xavierxx writes:

You said that you can enter this abyss at lvl 25 and i heard that the level cap is at 50 or so. Does that mean that there'll be a bunch of lvl 50 players in the abyss which i assume will easy just take down all the lower lvl players making the abyss a pointless place to go to at those lower lvls?

Thu Jul 23 2009 12:28PM Report
Leucent writes:

Nice job. I also in my experiences, will say it s the closest to DAOC RVR I ve seen yet. This alone has me wanting to play for sometime to come.

Thu Jul 23 2009 12:56PM Report
Paragus1 writes:

Theobomos really was only good for levels 20-24 for me.   It is not really a large zone that you will spend a lot of time in.   if you go look at the map on Aion Armory, you can see it is very different from the other zones.

The Abyss is a lot like the RvR Frontiers from DAOC.   There are monsters, quests, and keeps there.  I am fairly sure there are no level restrictions for who can attack who.   It is worth going to though because you get AP for killing mobs there, and the Abyss gear is some of the best you can get at any level range.

Thu Jul 23 2009 1:27PM Report
Inktomi writes:

 Alas pargus, you have outdone yourself!

:::tips hat:::

Thu Jul 23 2009 1:49PM Report
Birdeye writes:

Yea great article made it to 19 on the CB look forward to the next CB weekend.

Thu Jul 23 2009 3:52PM Report
melody2tds writes:

 

@Xavierxx

No, it doesn't work that way in practice. A lvl 50 player would get a grand total of 1AP for killing a lvl 25, even if that lvl 25 were higher ranked than he was (can happen through abyss gear purchases). At that point in your playing career, it is a useless waste of time to go around hunting lower level players, and it would likey only happen if the person were monumentally bored. There are much better, more productive, uses for your time at endgame.

At lvl 35 in CAion, I already get no more than 2 points from killing a same-ranked lvl 25 player. Yes, it would be an easy kill, but I get more benefit from killing a mob, so personally I'd rather grind them, or go find someone who'll be a challenge, than pick off lvl 25s. xD

Thu Jul 23 2009 4:07PM Report
demonDOTshad writes:

Well done! iv been playing the beta and most of this stuff is unknown, as the download took forevor to get, 30kb/s thats on my 16mbit connection... it picked up tho from 80-100% tho i did lose valuable beta time. can't complain as the beta was worth it, you leftout all the small cool things however, like emotes and when you leave your char standing still for a bit. Your character will pull out a magic leaf to block the rain when it rains, /sit he/she poofs out a magic chair, /sleep he/she makes a magic cloud and sleeps on it. /eat and /drink they pull out food or water and drink it. small things like this that id never imaged but was stunend when i seen it. Also when you stand on sand and don't move for a few seconds, he/she will pick up the sand and let it slide through his fingers.

I was wondering how the people got their wings to stay out while standing, even in no fly zones (beggining). but the beta ended very fast for me. i think i reached 13-15. I loved how the classes felt NEW yet you could easily understand how to work it. And the grind starts after you get cool things like wings, and some good spells, so its not like some mmo's where you grind to get to that cool spot, here its a grind after you get some of the nice. visually stunning, and it is not that bad on hardware. The beta was insane only bug i encountered was a rock that shot you forward when you got close to the ledge, like 5 feet forward, was more amusing then annoying as their was no point being on the rock. but i tend to advanture and this games got the the environment for it. MY biggest dissapointment was the invisable barriers. the pluss side to people worried about ganking, when you die your back at town, none of that pinning you down till the already bored opposing faction player(s) gets bored. So no looking for your body!

Thanks again for the amazing post!

Thu Jul 23 2009 6:44PM Report
Paragus1 writes:

Post was getting extremely lnog as it was, so I didn't want to delve into emotes and cool things like Express mail, where a guy visits you to give you the package instead of going to mailbox.

Type /wings to show your wings while standing on the ground.  This can be done in any area.

Thu Jul 23 2009 7:08PM Report
slashnburn writes:

Just an FYI but the grind is worse on C-AIon than it is in the NA version. C-Aion quest rewards are for the most part less than half of what they are in the NA version. Whether this is a result of the patch differences or the chinese developers purposely chose to make it more grindy is uknown to me.

Thu Jul 23 2009 8:23PM Report
Markn12 writes:

Great writeup.  VERY informative and has me sold :)

Fri Jul 24 2009 1:09AM Report
LexStriker writes:

I agree with the statement that Aion is more of a DAoC type than a WoW type... bringing both the good and the bad of the older design. I am not happy with the XP grind (especially from 18-25) or the crafting system... seeing them as a unnecessary timesink.  But yes, I am looking forward to the new concept of PvPvE. The one problem with DAoC, is that the two strongest Realms ended up fighting over the weaker one. I see introducing a NPC Realm (under somewhat Dev control) in as the third Realm as a way to keep balance... and thus not letting one side completely dominate the other. Will be interesting to see how this turns out.

 

Fri Jul 24 2009 7:28AM Report
cmagoun writes:

I will say, this overview does make me want to play Aion. Good stuff.

Fri Jul 24 2009 8:05AM Report
Bureyku writes:

Just a note:  We are on 1.0 now in beta, but will launch with 1.5.  I read reports that with 1.5 there are a lot less content holes and more of the ability to quest for levels and less forced grouping.  Can't cite a source though, but I believe it was a moderator at AionSource.com. 

Fri Jul 24 2009 1:57PM Report
Bureyku writes:

Oh and very nicely done Paragus.

Fri Jul 24 2009 1:57PM Report
ARos1 writes:

I was already completely hooked to the game after my 2nd beta, but now when I read this, I know I did the right thing by pre-ordering the game. Thx for this Paragus1.

Hope to reach lvl 25 next weekend (almost 18 now) ...

Sun Jul 26 2009 5:35PM Report
Nihilist writes:

I am both a DAOC fan, and a disgruntled WAR player, and the article has certainly upped my interest in Aion. Looks like it could be something worthwhile to play until something more innovative comes out that is...playable for the long term.

Portals look like they could mix things up a bit, and not seeing the enemy level or 'con' is great.

My main concern would be the old playtime = skill issue where newbs/lowbies cant even hit a higher level meaning that you can't be competitive until you have put in thousands of playtime hours.

Also is a full abyss gear player going to easily own an equal level player in non abyss gear? I don't know if I am all that interested in another tiered gear = pvp skill game either.

Anyways, thanks for the writeup and outlining the more interesting features.

 

Thu Jul 30 2009 9:14PM Report
Torpedo writes:

Good read.

 

By the way Paragus, I love the reviews and previews of MMO's you do, but I was wondering, are you gonna do any more rants like you did at the start of the blog? :)

Tue Aug 18 2009 8:28AM Report
DuraheLL writes:

Extremely nice job man, hats off to you!

Fri Oct 02 2009 10:51AM Report
blythega writes:

 Nice review. The gold spamming did this game in for me. 

Sat Oct 24 2009 9:46PM Report

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