Let’s get the positive stuff out of the way first – I am really starting to enjoy Aion. Yes, it’s so far nothing more than a typical quest grind for XP, the quests are terribly unoriginal and getting into a fight with more than one mob (God forbid three) is a pain. But I’m having fun, I love the alien design, the flavor texts and the storyline. I’ve started to craft a bit, which I also like despite the system for doing it is traditional (do I dare call it “archaic”?) and I like to fly (even though I think the flight timer system is silly in a game so built on flight). PvP, at the arena, is intense and gives me a taste for more – I still wish there was a way to level through PvP alone. If you develop a game so focused on PvP as Aion is at higher levels, you really ought to offer that as an alternative to the typical PvE grind.
With that said, I do have problems with the game. And one of the major ones is how the community feels right now. It’s still early in the game, a lot of people probably won’t play after their first 30 days are up, but at this point it’s almost scary. The general chat is filled with utter nonsense most of the time, the names taken from World of Warcraft are in abundance and the name calling and insulting is constant. Today I was called a “rtard” (people actually use words like that?) by a player called Ladysylvanas (I called that name “unoriginal”, another player called it “gay” – you choose…) and it’s almost becoming a sport between me and Terr to spot names like “Kiljaeden”, “Jaina” or “Azeroth” while we play and point them out over Twitter. Got to love that real time updated social web, no?
I managed to find myself a pretty nice Legion to at least chat with, they seem like a good bunch, but the community is a constant noise in the back of my head. Sure, I can block them, and I keep my Legion chat tab up most of the time to not see General (I don’t want to leave it just yet, since the game is so new there might be a few hidden gems in it), but just knowing that they are out there makes my skin crawl. I guess it’s a problem with most MMOs, but I can’t remember it being this bad in Warhammer Online or Age of Conan when they launched. There were idiots, absolutely, but the community in Aion reminds me more of the one on my server in Runes of Magic than in any other game I’ve played so far.
The impact on actual gameplay is of course none, Aion is still fun. But it better pick up as I level, since I don’t really want to waste away hours on end on a game filled with people that get on my nerves. I want to enjoy Aion without the constant reminder that the good people are few and far between. If you don’t believe me, do take a look at the official forums and tell me that I’m overreacting.
Also, and this is one of the things that gets me the most, everyone seem to be terribly lazy. Despite Aion having clickable links in the quest journal that often can show you exactly where to go, a lot of players don’t seem to even bother to do that, instead asking in General chat about the most fundamental things (“where is X, where do I get Y, I can’t find N, etc”). I can’t help blaming this a bit on Quest Helper, which truly turned World of Warcraft into a game for drones. I’m guilty as well, I installed Quest Helper just like everyone else, but that does not mean I feel handicapped the second I end up in a game that doesn’t have similar tools. Read the freaking quest journal, for crying out loud. It’s all right there! Some even ask for directions to things that’s been shown in cut scenes, which always makes me wanna shove my head through my screen.
There are two things that might get me when it comes to Aion – the grind or the community. As soon as I’ve played enough to deliver my review (which will never, truly be enough of course), I’m going to make a decision. Either I press on, or I ditch Aion for the time being. The community in games like Ryzom is so nice that I don’t see why I should have to live through this crap to enjoy myself. I am also considering picking up Fallen Earth to see how it is and feels, with an extra careful eye towards its budding community. No more, I say. No more.