Aion: P2P Production Value, F2P Pricing
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
A little while ago Gameforge the Europe’s leading provider of online games and NCsoft, the world’s premier publisher and developer of many MMORPGs announced that Aion would have a lot of upcoming changes. The biggest upcoming change was their business model. First Aion EU and shortly after Aion NA went free-to-play without any needed subscription costs. Aion saw its first daylight around the world in 2009 and had some sort of success for a few years. But unfortunately this game also joins the list of pay-to-play games that had to change their business model in order to keep existence. OnRPG decided it was a perfect time to give Aion a new look as it’s definitely one of the hottest titles on the market now that it’s gone F2P.
Anyone that has never heard of this great title must be new to the MMORPG scene because it has stolen the hearts of many fans. Unfortunately the fanbase of the game didn’t grow that much and actually went down each year which made the change in the business model needed. I personally loved the game on release but after playing for a month I also wandered off like many others. The game did not feel finished at that time and some might say the game was released way too early. Unfortunately this had cost NCsoft many players which meant a lot of income. But with the new business model I see a bright future ahead for this wonderful game because it still carries the production value of a 2012 P2P title, now in a F2P package.
I have seen many different design styles regarding the world and environment but I must say Aion has a world that really stands out as the most distinct from other titles. The world is called Atreia and is divided into two places. The top half of the world is called Asmodae and the Asmodians are currently living on that side of the world. The bottom half of Atreia is called Elysea and the Elyos have settled their residences there. Unfortunately there is a ruling war going on between the Elyos and Asmodians and both have different beliefs when it comes to the origin of their nature and who the rightful owners are of the entire land. The Elyos consider themselves blessed and are living on the light side of the world while the tough Asmodians are on the dark side of the world. I always liked to be good guy greg so I decided to part up with the light side and join the Elyos in the ongoing war with the Asmodians and created a beautiful female mage.
There are currently four classes that are available in Aion; these classes are split into two other sub classes that each have their own unique abilities and role in the game. The four different base classes are The Warrior, Scout, Priest and the Mage. Both nations are able to make these classes and when reaching the level of ten the player gets the choice between the two subclasses. Since I had already planned out what I wanted to go for the choice was fairly easy upon reaching level ten. As I was reviewing the title solo I went with the sorcerer as they can hold their own pretty well. My other choice was the Spiritmaster that is able to summon and control various elements to fight along their side, but they fill more of a support niche that I didn’t intend to be.
Aion is one of those games where Player versus Player (PvP) takes a big role in the game and in Aion it is one of the biggest features that you can enjoy to do. Since I actually love PvP I was really enjoying my time that I spent in the Abyss. The Abyss is a special place where players can go to in order to do quests. The added bonus/challenge is this map is shared by both continents. As you may guess this location mainly revolves around hunting players from the other nations and slaughtering as many players from the opposite faction that you can. Because the Abyss is filled with deadly creatures and deadlier rivals, they limit access on this hardcore part of the game to level 25+. In the Abyss flying is also a big thing that you would have to use a lot in order to go from platform to platform.
Flying is something fairly unique that hasn’t been seen in many MMORPGs or even other role playing games. The player is able to get wings that will help them speed things up when trying to travel to different locations. The players is able to collect a limited amount of wings that will increase the flight time for the player and thus makes it a really important item to have when being in the Abyss.
If you aren’t level 25 yet but still want to get some fighting action against the opposite faction then you might be one of the lucky few to spot a Rift. Every player that is at least level 20 is able to go into Rifts; these Rifts will take the player to the opposite side of the world and thus on the ground of the opposite faction. These Rifts are very rare as you can imagine and people are actually consistently trying to locate one in order to explore some more content of the game. The game will automatically let you try to find one of these Rifts since there are some quests that involve making this dangerous trip, but if you randomly stumble upon one you might just take a peek in it because it is quite fun to hop around on the other side of the world surprising the opposite faction while they are doing their daily jobs and are just questing around.
In every game there is a large fan base that is always busy trying to create things or get secret patterns which will teach them to create something epic. Aion also has a large helping of side events and crafts to keep the players happy. There are many crafting skills that will help the players create a lot of useful items such as equipment, weapons, potions, food and other useful items! Many items are also able to be gathered with the gathering skills and this can keep the player quite busy for some time.
So How is F2P?
The new business model is somewhat different than the norm set by other games that went free-to-play. The game is free-to-play for everyone and there aren’t any charges that force you to get more content out of the game. But the players that are willing to support the game and would like to get some extras could buy the gold pack which is 9.99 per month. Everyone that will create an account for the first time will be put on the Starter rank. This rank has very basic and limited options but is able to play the game completely free with all the available content in the game. For the people that have bought and played Aion before they will automatically switch to the Veteran Rank, this rank will cost nothing but is just an extra thing for the fan base that had the game before. The Veteran rank has a few benefits over the Starter rank like more creatable characters, able to talk in world chat and other useful features.
Aion is actually a really good looking game and back in the day when it launched I personally found it the best looking MMORPG of its time. Because this game is made by a major Korean game developer the game carries a strong Asian theme. I say this because developers on the Asian continent have developed their own distinguishable style, usually stereotyped by larger weapons, glowier armor, and unrealistic female proportions. Everything is over the top Asian styled with a graphical theme that is pleasing to the eye, assuming you are part of the crowd that enjoy this style. To play this beauty of a now free-to-play game you need the following computer requirements:
Pentium 4 2.8GHz, AMD Athlon 2800+;
1 GB RAM;
GeForce 6600, Radeon X1550;
Hard Drive 30GB;
DirectX 9.0c (2008.6)
Recommended (High Quality Engine):
Intel Pentium Dual-Core E6700 or AMD AthlonII X3 CPU;
4 GB RAM;
GeForce 9800, Radeon HD 4850;
Hard Drive 30GB;
DirectX 9.0c (2008.6)
For one that is unfamiliar with computers or just simply doesn’t understand this geek language, I’d say everyone with a computer that is purchased in the last four to five years is easily set to play this game just fine. But if you bring a high-end rig to the table you will definitely be rewarded with improved quality.
I had a lot of fun playing this game on my sorcerer, but unfortunately after a few levels I did experience the grind that many other Asian games have. I personally have an opinion about Asian games that they don’t work in the western market because the focus on fun is catered to a different type of audience than western gamers. The new business model however has made a difference for NCSoft as record numbers of players have flocked to the game both in EU and NA. I do question the price of the gold pack though as I find it too high for a title that also sells cash shop items. I personally would think that they will earn more money if they make the golden status a little cheaper since it is almost the same price as before. Nonetheless I would recommend every RPG or MMORPG fan to try this game out because it is one heck of a fun time and offers countless hours of PvP intensive adventure through the lands of Atreia.