Aion Icon Mid-Level Gameplay on Aion

This is my second update on the state of play in Aion – I was level 28 when I wrote this. You can read my initial impressions in An Introduction to Aion

The initial issues with queuing and server-side lag have completely disappeared. The game is playing smoothly for me at all times.

Since the first update, I have experienced the game in three new dimensions: PvP, Instance Play and Crafting.

Impressions follow:

PvP

I have only participated in impromptu, open-field PvP, not in any Fortress or Artifact organised pushes yet. This is for the moment dominated by level difference and implicitly the level and quality of the gear you wear.

One feature of the game is that you cannot determine the exact level of your opponent when you target them. You can see their Abyss Rank which shows how many points they have acquired in PvP areas but I believe this balance of points can go down when you spend Abyss points (for PvP vendor gear). In general though the higher Abyss rank, the more likely the player is to be of higher native level.

As a tank, the few encounters I have been in have gone one of two ways.

  1. I get ganked by a group of Asmodians while I am questing which usually means a quick death unless I see them coming and manage a sharp run for my life
  2. A one-on-one encounter which is then more interesting.

One-on-one fights at similar levels require you to understand how the opponent’s class is played in order to have a better chance of defeating them. The game only has 8 distinct classes which are effectively identical (8 evil classes mirrored by 8 good classes) in skills/spells. All classes have a small set of “special” abilities to avoid or deal massive damage and you need to anticipate what the opponent will do and react accordingly with your play, keeping your own special skills in store for the right time in the fight.

It’s a very deep challenge to try to understand your enemy, read what he is doing during the fight and react appropriately. Fights can be over in seconds or can last up to a minute. I had one such fight where I ended up running but only after 30 seconds toe-to-toe with an opponent who was also a tank and 5 levels above me. I found out his level by looking him up on the Aion website after the fight.

I have been spending a lot of time with a friend who plays a Spiritmaster (pet class, debuff expert with DD). He has had a few frustrating fights where the level difference resulted in endless resists to his spells (we think – it could have been avoidance skills being used).

As people reach the top-end of levelling (50), PvP should become increasingly even. I am told that a top level Templar (my tank) when well played is a devastating force, is able to pull enemies to him from range (like a Marauder in WAR) and unleash a series of stuns which, if they hit a couple of crits, can down soft, unprepared targets in one cycle. That would not be the usual outcome, more the occasional one. The majority role will be a disruptor of the enemy, crippling key targets at the right time to allow more DPS-centric group members to put in the killing blows. I can’t wait!

Instance Play

I have a lot of experience with the first instance in the game, which opens at level 25 and becomes unavailable at level 29. I have been making the most of it: the experience you get in that instance is substantially greater than the experience obtained in regular quest / grind play.

The instance teaches people the basics of group play very well. It’s not too difficult but requires people to perform multiple roles at all times. Tanks have to select targets correctly and manage aggro on multiple mobs. Healers have to…well they have to heal and rez. DPS have to DD but in Aion they also act as the Crowd Control with sleep spells. At most you have to manage 3 mobs of Elite level which is not too hard but if not controlled can lead to a wipe. Loot is not great but the XP makes up for that. I found I was making 60% of a level per 2 hour run and tonight will likely be my last run in this instance as I will ding 29. I will have done the instance 4 times on 4 consecutive nights :-)

An interesting point is that rezzing occurs on the spot you died (as opposed to the spot where the rezzer is standing) so dying close to mobs makes recovery harder. For example, I died in a tough fight (mini-boss) last night but the cleric managed to run for safety. In order to rez me we had to initiate combat, with a Sorcerer sleeping the named boss and the adds it spawned, while the Cleric rezzed me. It was touch and go but fun. Deaths to NPCs are expensive to erase so people really are cautious about dying. Deaths to PvP are free to remove death penalty though.

Crafting

The top-end gear that can be crafted is substantially better in quality than the gear you can get in regular quests or drops. The act of crafting itself is simply a process of collecting the ingredients / components and clicking “Craft”. There is no interactive element to influence failure or success. The higher level you are in your craft, the more likely your combine will succeed. It is rumoured that within 10 levels of the level of the item you’re crafting is the sweetspot for crits but I have not seen empirical evidence to confirm this.

An interesting dynamic at the moment is that because a lot of people are in the 20-30 level range, the components used for crafting recipes in that range are very expensive. Currently, they are more expensive than components for higher level gear.

It makes getting the best gear a challenge at the moment, as you need rare Crits to occur and the rate of success is somewhere around 20%. You can literally spend fortunes trying to create a set of gear which will be superseded in 5 levels by the next set. You can minimise the cost by harvesting all the components yourself, though some are item drops off mobs so you will need to buy those or spend endless time fighting.

In saying that, it makes trading very important on the Auction house. You can really play the market, stocking up on higher level components waiting for the players to get into that level range at which point demand outstrips supply and you can sell your stocks to fund buying the more expensive materials you need at your lower levels. There are lots of base materials in high demand and a gatherer person can make a lot of money simply selling those.

There are also drops you can farm (grind) which sell for tons, and you can also scan for good deals all the time: both uneducated players who don’t know the right price for valuable items and impatient players who under-cut everybody to sell first.

Conclusion

All in all, for someone who enjoys the trading and making side of things, Aion is very rewarding. If you play the market, at the right time with the right products, you can become very very wealthy in a short space of time, even to the point that you simply do not need to craft anything as you can afford all the best gear directly.

The various paths you can take to get to the objective of being well geared at a given level is something I find very enjoyable.

More later :-)

Wiz

P.S. You can purchase Aion for the PC from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk and still receive it in time for Christmas! -Taymar

Posted by Wizlor on http://mmorpg-info.org.

 

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