Returning to MMO games after an enforced two year absence was something I never intended to do. But the ethereal nature of Aion and its Eastern aesthetics initially sold me on breaking my silent vow never to log back into a game after Lord of the Rings Online.
Yes, Lord of the Rings Online and not World of Warcraft. If there's any snobbery I have with videogames and fantasy settings then it’s how British they do (or don’t) feel - Turbine did such an excellent job with Lotro that I couldn’t stomach the more American-influenced nature of WoW.
This is what drew me to Aion in the first instance – the way it would be different from both of those games in its setting and environment. It seemed from the marketing that its Eastern roots would give the game an exotic air, reminiscent of Guild Wars and I hoped that this would mean Aion was something unique with a richness and individuality of its own.
My thoughts so far aren't that positive though. Bear in mind that I have barely begun to get out of the starting area and I'm well aware that I've barely begun to scratch the surface of this game. That being said it's pretty clear that the starting area in Aion is a very traditional take on the genre. Most of the quests are simple fetch or carry variations with a large amount of rat-killing strewn in-between to assist with the levelling up of my character. The way the game presents its story and the environmental minutiae feels really generic at this stage and I have to confess that I wasn't disappointed to log out of the game at the end of the night - coming across the Ent-like beings in the started forest were a bit of a breaking point for me.
It's slightly disheartening as the immediate premise of Aion, with its light and dark sides and the Abyss in-between them, sounded great before I started playing. Part of my problem has to be the baggage I carry over from Lotro and once I get over this maybe I'll find Aion opening out into its own unique experience. At the moment though, Aion simply doesn't have a rich heritage or a sufficiently interesting back-story to hold my interest even though the stunning visuals and verdant landscapes are pretty impressive.
Despite my negativity I'm still looking forward to seeing what lies ahead in Aion (honest!). The promise of wings and the aerial combat is still something I'm very eager to see and get firsthand experience of - as long as I keep my finger away from reactivating my Lotro account I'm sure I'll be fine.