Aion is a deep and rich fantasy MMORPG where the two races of Atreia, the Elyos and the Asmodians, battle each other for control of the world. By becoming a member of either of these races, you help your faction’s war efforts and become a mighty hero.
Released in 2008, Aion initially required users to have a subscription but since 2012 that is no longer the case. Aion adopted a free-to-play model with microtransactions available.
Since then, Aion has received several major content updates, introducing new continents for players to explore, pets, and player housing. Aion also has a unique feature in aerial combat, known as PvPvE (Player versus Player versus Environment). In PvPvE, the two factions go up against not only each other but also NPC dragons. You fight for control over aerial fortresses and specialized zones.
One of Aion’s biggest plus sides is also one of its downfalls. There is 10 years’ worth of content for new players to get through. It will take a while before you can catch up to players who have been around since the beginning. Some people might find this a good challenge, a mountain to climb. But I think that having 10 years’ worth of content to grind through is quite off-putting.
Not only is there 10 years of content to grind through, the client itself is another factor that may turn you off from the game. The initial download size for the client isn’t small. And with Aion as old as it is, the gameplay mechanics and the UI also feel dated. As an action-button-based combat system similar to other MMORPGs it will feel familiar but won’t be anything mind-blowing or revolutionary.
One point where Aion falters is that if you aren’t paying super close attention to the story, it can be quite confusing to follow. There are books in the library of both factions that offer a lot of the backstory. The gist of it is that the Elyos and the Asmodians are trapped in an endless war. Neither side is truly evil. A third faction known as the Balaur are the real bad guys and are introduced a little later into the game.
Although the story is hard to follow, Aion draws you in with its bright graphics and keeps you hooked with engaging, skill-based gameplay. The UI, while not revolutionary, is simple enough to understand for new MMORPG players. Being able to pick a specialization early on will help players hone their skills and gameplay style for the class that they have chosen.
While Aion can seem grindy at times, everything you need is a lot closer than it is other MMORPGs that want you to run half a map length away to collect five animal parts and return to an NPC, only to run the same length in an opposite direction and repeat the same action with a different creature.
As another plus, Aion has one of the most in-depth character customization screens I have ever seen in an MMORPG. It gives you full control over what your character looks like and even what they sound like.
While the initial choices are limited, when you get in to each individual option you quickly find more depth than expected. And if the time comes when you want to change how your character looks, you can do that too with plastic surgery and even gender changes in the game.
All in all, Aion isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it executes what it brings to the table well. The grind has been mitigated by premium services giving you a boost to experience earned to get you into the late game quicker. The graphics draw you in and the engaging gameplay holds you. If you are looking for a new MMO experience, you can do a lot worse than Aion.