Oh, sweet Aion. How you wooed me with your gorgeous graphics and flawless interface. How you seduced me with limitless character customization and the promise of avatar flight.
How you dropped me like a lead zeppelin with your confounding game play limitations and your plethora of money sinks.
Initially, Aion had everything this MMO addict could ask for: a UI so flawless I could eat bytes off of it, localization that defied my attempts to find a typo or grammatical error, and a gorgeous game environment that elicited ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ at every turn.
But at level 10 my character ‘ascended’ – she acquired the ability to fly and progressed out of the starter area. And that’s when things started to go, well… south.
The first hint that something was amiss occurred when I arrived at the central hub city and discovered that despite my newly acquired wings, I couldn’t actually fly anywhere. Uh, ok? Maybe these new wings have training wheels, or something? Sadly, no. I later learned that although you can deploy your wings and ‘glide’ down any slope, you can’t actually fly in the main city. Ever.
The second hint came after I spent all my money on training, weapons and armor, only to pick up my first quest and realize that I couldn’t actually get to the quest location because I was broke. No problem, I thought. I’ll just walk to the quest destination. I’m a low level character. No shame in that. Uh, no – that’ ain’t happening. The game world is constructed in such a way that getting from your race’s central city to ANY location on the map requires that you teleport or fly. And there is no free public transportation in this game.
Actually, there is no free ANYTHING in this game.
Absolutely everything in this game costs money. Want to get a new class skill? Cough up the gold. Want to travel across town? Gotta pay for it. Want to work on your crafting? Yup, gotta pay for it. Just died? Yeah, that costs too.
I realize that almost every MMO has some type of in-game economy. That’s expected. But Aion makes it virtually impossible to play without having money, which turns the game into a giant grindfest. It also encourages gold farming, which became painfully obvious within the first few days of the game’s launch, when the chat channels were overrun with spammers.
Oh yeah, and the flying? That comes with a timer. That beeps loudly and expires in 45 seconds.