One of the most striking things about Aion is its grand visuals and fantastic environments. The azure skies, fantastical fauna, and floating cities in Aion make for a nice break from the boars and dusty castles you’re used to seeing in fantasy MMOs. But it’s the highly detailed lore that really helps create a vibrant and believable fantasy world.
Aion draws on mythology from around the world to create the land of Atreia. Torn apart by the cataclysm, Atreia was divided into two worlds. Elysea is constantly bathed in light, while Asmodae is shrouded in darkness. That’s where you come in. As a fresh player, you’ll need to choose which faction your character hails from.
Above: Aion is one of the prettiest MMOs we’ve seen, and is full of picturesque moments like this
Expect to learn a lot more lore over the course of the game, introducing you to Atreia’s sordid and bloody history. But in terms of class structure and gameplay, Aion plays it by the book and keeps things familiar for anyone who’s played an MMO within the last few years. Primary classes include mages, scouts, warriors, and priests. The titles pretty much explain what they do.
Once our character reached level 10, we ascended - literally. Our character received a pair of wings and we were transported to a heavenly city in the sky. Once there, we got to choose a specialization class, which breaks the above four classes into eight. Scouts could become rangers/assassins (hunters/rogues). Priests could become clerics (straight healers), or chanters (paladins). Warriors split into templars (tanks) and gladiators (DPS melee), and mages can choose spirit masters (straight magic damage) and sorcerers (a pet summoning class).
Above: Aion really takes off when you complete your ascension and gain your wings
The classes, regardless of specialization, are fairly weak until level 20, when stigma stones get unlocked. Stigma stones allow a player to choose how certain skills and talents that affect how they play their class. Stigma stones are plentiful and can be bought or found as drops, so we found we could tailor our assassin to our preferred play style fairly easily.
For example, there is a stigma stone that allows for a stun, an ambush stigma for an out-of-stealth backstab attack, a flurry stigma to increase attack speed, a stigma that protects against attacks, etc. Choosing which stigmas can be expensive, but are a necessary investment for any character.
Although Aion didn’t do anything astonishingly different with their class system, there are tons of skills that flourish in group settings, and all the needed tank/damage/healing classes are well-represented. So players familiar with the typical RPG class breakdown will find themselves right at home.
Above: Aion’s cities and landscapes are grand
The user interface will also be very familiar to those who have played other MMOs, and so is the combat system. As expected, skills can be assigned from a skill menu to numbers in the user interface, and while combat macros can be created, we preferred to play with the time-honored technique of mashing our number keys till we found our favorite sequence of skills.
There is one particularly unique feature found in Aion’s combat system. It uses chain skills, which link attacks together in a number of different ways. Some attacks automatically trigger the next skill in the chain. Some attacks only trigger when the character parries, blocks, evades, or procs another action based upon the game mechanics. As your character grows more powerful, certain chains branch out. So when a chain triggers, you’ll be able to choose where your combo takes you. Should you try to stun the opponent to buy more time while another skill cools down? Or should you link your last move with a pure damage attack to finish off your opponent?