Aion In 2021
Recently I have been looking for a new game to get stuck in to. I checked out Aion to see if it is still worth playing in 2021.
I last played Aion for the open beta back in 2009. At the time, I was heavily into Guild Wars and never gave Aion much of my attention.
The game has undergone huge changes since then. For one, they removed the thing I remember enjoying during my time in Aion, but more on that later.
It may be free to play, but is it Pay to Win? Are the servers populated? Is the combat engaging? Are the developers still active with new content?
These are the questions I had. Their answers would decide if I would get drawn into the world of Aion or if I would forget about it for good.
What Is Aion
Aion’s PvPvE system has two playable races, the Elyos and the Asmodians. They fight to control the shattered world of ‘Atreia’ whilst also fighting the Balaur, an NPC race.
Players can expect tab-target combat, flight, PvP, sieges and an ‘immersive storyline’.
Server and Customisation
I am in the Oceana region and had two servers to choose between. My plan was to make a character on both but the game recommended Katalam to me so I went with that first.
I chose Asmodian as my race then took a look at the classes. There are five base classes available, warrior, rogue, mage, technist and muse. I wanted to try something a little different so I went with the gunslinging technist.
The game offers some great character customisation. There are a lot of face and hair choices and sliders for both the head and body. I made the essential adjustments to my character and the journey began.
Starting Out In Asmodae
After a very dated looking story-setting cutscene, I was in the game. The starter area was devoid of players but I ignored that for now and hoped they were all off doing end game content.
Straight away the world felt magical. The Asmodians inhabit the sun-starved upper half of Atreia called Asmodae, and the world design reflects this. Shades of blue and purple fill the sky and the world is cast in an ethereal glow. It looks very nice and doesn’t feel quite as dated as the cutscenes.
I received a special headpiece – a halo – that bumped up my stats. There was also a 2x XP event buff up which had me levelling up in no time.
The first few run-around quests and 2 kill quests had me 1 hit kill nine mobs and brought me to level 9 in less than 5 minutes. Then it was time for my first dungeon. The dungeon was much the same only this time I had to three-hit the mobs. Bosses included. I played this dungeon during the open beta and remember it being more difficult.
After finishing that it was time for ascension which would let me unfurl my wings and fly away to battle. Or so I thought.
Ascension takes you the abyss, the region in which I spent a major chunk of my open beta playtime PvPing. We couldn’t do that yet though, this was a taste, and after two-hitting 5 mobs, It was over.
Ascension and Belsuslan
Next, I found myself in the city of Pandemonium. The main city of Asmodae.
It was here that I finally saw some other players running around. 2 of them to be exact. I knew the games player base had declined in recent years but I didn’t know it was quite so much. I said hi in the chat but they ignored me and went about their business.
After more running around It was onto yet another area. Beluslan. A region filled with snowy mountains and desolate plains. Again I enjoyed the look of the world and after a couple of rounds of kill quests, I was level 25. I was expecting an invite to the abyss but after a quick google online I learned the questline was now at level 45.
Getting Into The Abyss
There wasn’t much else to do so I began the grind to 45, as the Abyss had been my goal all along. I had fond memories of my time flying around the Abyss PvPing, and it was this that had tempted me back to the game.
This was when things began to feel a slog. I repeated the same kill and collection quests two or three times. Then moved onto the next region to find a higher level variant. Not too bad you might think. My main problem was with the combat, something I haven’t focused on too much so far.
The first thing I noticed about the combat is that everything is delayed. You push a key to use a skill and then wait around a second before anything happens.
Secondly, I was only using one skill, or rather one chain of skills. The game uses chains likes combos. Some skills are only available for use after the pre-requisite skill is used. This chain was enough for me to kill any mob I came across. Including world mini-bosses.
I threw on some YouTube vids and mashed the skill key without paying much attention to what I was doing. Is the combat engaging? Well, not at this point. I hoped it would change after the level grind and wanting to find out, I carried on to 45.
Level 45 came but my excitement vanished. I never received my quest for the Abyss. Back on Google, I spent some more time reading articles. I learnt the Abyss was removed in a previous patch.
To say I was disappointed was an understatement but it was also my fault for not doing any proper research. The Abyss is where I remember doing all my PvP in the Open beta if it was gone, where was the PvP now? Was there a new area? Was that where all the players were? It was time find out.
Gelkmaros and Endgame
The next chunk of levels took me all over the map, doing kill quest after kill quest until I was level 75.
This opened a new region to me and so off I went to Gelkmaros. Things finally changed at this point. For one, there were people. 10 of them if you can believe it. That made a total number of 13 seen throughout my playtime. Almost all were AFKing for hours on end and were possibly even bots
Secondly, levelling got a lot slower than it had been so far. One quest reward now only gave a small fraction of a level, as opposed to almost an entire level as it had been so far. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The boosts they have in place to allow new players to get to end game fast are good. It is only right that it should slow down a bit nearer to the endgame to allow you to get to grips with the gameplay. The downside is that they are almost forcing their cash shop down your throat at this point.
There are many icons for cash shops over the screen with pops up every time you enter a dungeon. It became clear that from this point forward it would either be a slow grind for gear or Pay to Win. If you don’t want to be one-shot by other players you only had one option.
The mobs also got far more difficult. I couldn’t watch Netflix anymore whilst mindlessly pressing my skill key. Now I had to try.
I finally got to see what the combat would be like at the higher end of this game, and I wasn’t impressed. You do have a lot of options of skills to use but the skill chains are where you will get most of your damage.
There are lots of fun debuffs to use which adds an extra layer to the button spam. Still, it didn’t take me long to once again fall into a mindless rotation of skills.
After making my way through yet more kill quests I finally made it to 79. I looked at my experience bar and I found that I did not care if I made it to 80. I thought of the potential PvP waiting at 80, but from the lack of players, I doubted there would even be any. With the ever-looming cash shop and obvious pay-to-win nature of the end-game, I decided that this was not the game for me.
My Thoughts On Aion
It was nice to return to the world of Atreia, even if only for a little while. If you are looking for something to pass a few hours or a new world to explore then Aion does have something to offer. The world is fantastical and nice to look at and there is a storyline there for you to follow if you want. I read online that when Aion went free-to-play they took out a huge chunk of the game. They intended to rework some elements and add a lot of it back at a later date. This seems to be taking a long time to happen with most of the content still missing.
They are still releasing content updates for the game, so there is still a small measure of hope.
One element of the game that I cannot fault is the soundtrack. Every track fits its zone perfectly and I never grew tired of listening to it. I would love to grab the soundtrack to add to my library so that I can listen to it again.
Aion has changed a lot from what it once was. I couldn’t find anything to hold me in the game longer than the 3 days I had already given to it.
There is hope still for the game. Aion Classic has just been released in Korea and has gone back to the roots of what once made this game great. If Aion Classic makes its way to Western markets then I will be playing again for sure. In its current state, it seems that Aion is not a game I will be spending any more time in