Aion: Ascension

You may remember that, not that long ago, I wrote on my experiences in the free trial of the Korean MMO Aion. I didn’t like it enough to buy a subscription, but I was charmed enough by its unique flavour to hope that it might become free to play sometime in the near future.

Guess what happened yesterday.

Aion: Ascension

Aion is going free to play with the launch of its 3.0 expansion, Ascension, on April eleventh, but it seems pre-existing accounts (including trials like mine, apparently) were allowed to start playing for free on the fourth.

My Asmodian Aion character shows off her wingsI’m back, baby!

Ascension also offers the new zones and dungeons and increased level cap we expect from an expansion, though since I’m mostly only interested in soloing on my ranger when I feel burnt out on World of Warcraft, I haven’t much looked into those.

The expansion also adds mounts for the first time, which will probably make WoW players go bug-eyed (NO MOUNTS?!!?!), but to be fair, the game never had much travel time compared to some other MMOs. *Glares at SW:TOR.* Still, mounts are a welcome addition.

I haven’t really looked into how NCSoft, the developer, plans to make money with the new F2P model. They have proudly declared the entire game is accessible for free, but we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. A quick glance at their cash shop shows both cosmetic and practical items for offer, so fears of “pay to win” may be founded.

Still, I just wanna quest. I don’t care much about being competitive for raids.

A dark day for hamstermen

I honestly don’t know why I like Aion. Boiled down to its constituent elements, it’s really just WoW with slightly more interesting ability rotations, better graphics, and a retardly bad crafting system. Mostly all I did in the trial was collect proverbial bear asses and slaughter hamstermen by the dozen.

My ranger character in AionMaybe it’s just the fact that I can be a ranger. An honest to god, no damn pets or minimum range, ranger. The ranger is my favourite class archetype, but WoW doesn’t really offer it.

Maybe it really is just the better graphics. I still can’t get over the fact my Aion toon has collarbones.

Maybe it’s the world. Atreia really does have a unique, alien feel, as opposed to the Azeroth Lite that Rift is set in.

Maybe it’s the rich culture they developed for the Asmodian faction. I said it on the last post, and I’ll say it again: I wish Blizzard would take some lessons from NCSoft on how to portray a faction with dark, Spartan themes without turning them into unsympathetic thugs.

I don’t plan to quit WoW for Aion. It’s good, but not good enough to blow Warcraft out of the water, and Blizzard owns my soul anyway. But you better believe a lot of arrow-peppered hamster corpses are going to turn up in the next few days.

I would encourage everyone to give the new free Aion a try. It might prove a welcome diversion from the regular grind in WoW, and if nothing else, it’s a blast just to play around with the amazing character customization options.

New writing:

WhatMMO has posted another of my articles: Top Free to Play WoW Clones. Shame I didn’t learn about Ascension before I wrote it. It could have gone on the list.

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