Today I'll be discussing the closed beta test five of NCSoft's upcoming MMO Aion and my initial experience with the game. Now personally I have been looking forward to the release of Aion for a while. When I heard that if you pre-order or pre-purchase the game from either retailers or directly from NCSoft that you could gain access to the beta events, I thought I would take a shot. So I ordered a copy directly through the Aion website and received my beta key within a few minutes. It was pretty quick and painless to download the game client and have it install the game and setup my master account. I checked the website to see what the focus of this beta test was going to be. I was happy to see that it was to be the starting levels from 1-30 and the main character races, Elyos and Asmodians. This was also going to be the first beta with the first of the English voices.
The beta event was held from noon on July 31st to August 3rd at noon PDT. Watching the clock True to their word, at 12:00 PM I got my first taste of what I hope to be a rich, fantastical world. After logging in, I found that there are two races to choose from: The Elyos, or the Asmodians. Elyos are a race that has living in sunlight since the world of Atreia suffered the Epic Cataclysm that destroyed the planet. The Asmodians have been surviving in a much harsher, darker environment.
My first real dilemma: do I choose darkness or the light? For my first character I choose to be Elyos. After selecting your race, you're given the option to select your gender. Once your race and gender are settled you are brought to a scene with the four main classes: Priest, Warrior, Scout and Mage. These classes are pretty self explanatory. I went with the Scout.
Next, you are taken to your character customization screen. What impressed me is the sheer amount of customization that can be done on your character. There are several different default settings for the way your character looks, but if you switch over to the advanced options you have some serious granular control of most of the physical aspects of your looks. So you shouldn't see someone running around that looks just like you do. I spent about 20 minutes going over all the different options before I was happy with my look.
There is an opening scene after you go though the initial character creation that brings you to the beginning zone of the game. Like most MMOs, the NPCs that you need to talk to in order to find out what you should be doing or to receive your quests have an indicator above their heads. I've watched some people that when they are playing they will run up to the quest givers and it looks like they just click on them get the quest and then run off to the next quest giver in the area. Myself I prefer to take my time and read the story that goes along with the quest. That is why I'm playing, I want to really get into the whole lore and story of the game. The first NPC that I encountered started off by letting me know that I was part of a mercenary group that had been hired to provide security for the area of Poeta.
As I was about to accept my first quest I was disconnected from the server and completely dropped out of the game. I was a bit perturbed but chocked it up to the servers being under a lot of stress as people were probably still logging in and going through the same process. So I logged back into the game and selected my server and was shocked to see that my character was gone. Thinking that maybe I had gone onto the wrong server I went through all of the other servers and it was nowhere to be found. I resigned myself to going through the whole creation process again and created a character that was almost the same. This time after accepting that initial quest I was able to explore the starting zone some. I did notice that there was some lag while attacking mobs or interacting with NPCs and I was disconnected again. Luckily this time when I logged back in my character was still there. After that second disconnect things seemed to settle down and I didn't notice any more lag while I was playing.
I played for a couple hours then had to run some errands. These took longer than I had hoped and I wasn't able to put in as much time on the beta as I was hoping to. So while I was away from my computer I was reading the beta forums and I saw that there were quite a few people mentioning they were having major server lag or were running into the error where you are not able to create a character on the server. There were other people that mentioned like I did a bit of lag at the beginning but after a little bit of time there were no problems. I was happy to see that the Aion staff were monitoring the boards and were letting people know that the character creation error was due to them disabling that feature on the existing servers so people would populate the new servers that were brought online to balance out the player load across all the servers. They were also noting down the reports of server lag and would be looking into that issue also.
To find out how I did progressing through the first 10 levels of my Elyos scout keep an eye out for my next article. Thanks for reading and I look forward to keeping you up to date on the latest happenings in Aion.