A Few Quick Thoughts on the Aion Beta

This weekend I popped into the Aion beta for the Asmodian weekend test. The previous weekend, you could play as an Elyos, but I’m not interested in playing that faction, so I when it came time for the Asmodian weekend, I was all in.

Notable points:

  • The character customisation options are plentiful. This is awesome.
  • Aion is very, very pretty. This is also awesome.
  • You’re literally dropped into the game, which is disconcerting and doesn’t help with immersion. I expect there to be some sort of opening with the full release. Because I didn’t bother to read much of the lore (and I suppose this will be the same for many players), I would hope that we’re given an overview of the history of the Elyos and Asmodae.
  • All MMORPG trappings are in place as far as I can tell. This is potentially awesome, but I haven’t played enough of it to say how awesome.
  • Interacting with the NPCs gives you a fairly good idea of the hard lot that your character (and the Asmodians) were dealt. This is good, because this gives you hints about background lore. This keeps me interested.

Something to note when I play RPGs or MMORPGs, is that I generally know exactly what I want to play before I actually play the game. In Guild Wars, my first character was a Necromancer. Before I played World of Warcraft, I knew that I wanted to play a Warlock. Before I started Lord of the Rings Online, I knew I wanted to play a Lore-Master. When I briefly played in the Hellgate: London beta, I was a Cabalist (Summoner). If you’re familiar with any of these games, you’ve noticed that I prefer to play magic-users that can control pets or minions (though having said that, I no longer use my Guild Wars character as a minion master). So, for two years, I’ve known that I want to play a Mage (Spiritmaster) in Aion.

This is my Asmodian Mage:

V - Casting Spell

There were several things I was trying to accomplish in character creation. Firstly, I wanted my character to look as far-removed from human as possible. Secondly, I wanted her to appear powerful, indimidating, and sinister. Thirdly, Aion is probably as close as I can possibly get to playing a flying character that kind of looks like a gargoyle from the Disney television series. :-P

V - Close-Up

Most of the face options look fairly human, but you can use the sliders to tweak almost everything. I made her eyes a little narrow, and angled them upward at the corners a bit. I made her ears pointy, too. This is the only hairstyle with horns, and I’m so glad that they actually look cool. The dark facial markings are the only option of that kind. There are other tattoo options besides the one one I chose (the white pattern on the right side of her face), but I thought this choice best captured what I wanted from the appearance of this character. I wanted to emphasise the more feral features of the Asmodians for my character. I put the sliders all the way to maximum for her hands and feet so that her claws were more prominent. I gave her fairly muscular arms because I wanted her to look powerful. I also gave her the maximum height to make her look more intimidating.

There is one thing that I really, REALLY dislike about the appearance of the female Asmodians. Their feet. Asmodians don’t wear shoes because they have these big fucking claws on their feet. This is cool. The females don’t wear shoes either. Because: really big claws. So, naturally you would think that their heels look just like the males — a flat fleshy pad on the bottom of their foot. But no. They have a bony protrusion there that looks like the pointy heel of a high-heeled shoe. They have HIGH HEELED CLAWS:

High-Heeled Claws...
Not so cool. I mean, seriously. WHY. Let me answer my own rhetorical question: because the only way that the female of a species can appear feminine according to human gender norms is to wear high heeled shoes. Even when they aren’t wearing shoes. It’s really difficult to take my character seriously when she’s sporting those high-heeled claws. This also ruins the whole Disney’s Gargoyles look I was going for. :-( This is a minor point, though, and doesn’t at all affect game play.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get far enough along to get her wings, not because the game isn’t good, but because I wasn’t feeling well. I think Aion shows a lot of promise, and I’m planning on getting it at launch. Whether I’ll stick around for the long haul, I’m not sure. I haven’t played enough to make a decision about that.

ETA – 26 June 2009: Added picture of my character’s feet.

  21 comments for “A Few Quick Thoughts on the Aion Beta

  1. 21 June 2009 at 23:18

    I’m really upset I wasn’t paying attention enough to get in on the beta for this, the one game coming up that I’m most interested in (besides GW2 but, we’ve got a bit before that hits). I’m not going to comment on the high heel claws, let’s just assume who ever modeled the character was… well, no I’m not gonna comment on that. If you do get a chance and can update the post with both the male and female feet, it’d be interesting to compare the two.

  2. 22 June 2009 at 19:17

    You sound like such a… girl! A pet-controlling class lover and all…! *ticks all the boxes on the list*

    Aion looks lovely (and plays very well, from what I’ve heard). But surely other people have noticed how the art direction is almost identical to WoW, only it’s prettier…

  3. 23 June 2009 at 15:15

    Don’t get sick and keep us posted. :)

  4. 24 June 2009 at 12:10

    Feet! I demand pictures of feet!

  5. Apollo Smile
    26 June 2009 at 12:45

    I was in both Betas they have had so far. Needless to say, a couple days ago I preordered. Also, the final version indeed has a cutscene before you get “dropped in” so don’t worry too much about that. How about that soundtrack though? Easily the most kickass soundtrack i’ve heard for an MMO. (Especially Asmodian side).

  6. 26 June 2009 at 18:47

    Added. :-P

  7. 26 June 2009 at 18:49

    The music’s an interesting mix of the standard orchestral fare one finds in most RPGs and MMORPGs and games in more modern settings (specifically referencing the battle music). I’m not sure whether I like it or not, but the theme is certainly distinctive.

  8. 26 June 2009 at 18:54

    I didn’t realise that there were certain classes that “girls” (I’m actually a woman; I did go through puberty, after all. :-P) are supposed to stereotypically enjoy in MMORPGs.

    The art direction is, IMO, really quite different from WOW. For one, the quality is miles better, and secondly the character designs are decidedly not cartoon-y like WOW is. Not that cartoon-y is a bad thing, but it’s just difficult for me to agree that the art direction is identical to WOW, from what I’ve seen of it.

  9. 26 June 2009 at 18:59

    I put a screenshot up of my character’s feet.

    There’s a shot of a male Asmodian here, and you should be able to see his feet for comparison.

  10. 30 June 2009 at 06:10

    I’ll tell you why I won’t be very interested in Aion. I thought it looked gorgeous while playing the beta, but it felt entirely too much like every other MMO I’ve quit playing. I kept muttering to myself “get the wings, wait ’till you get the wings.”

    So I finally get to fly and was testing it out. I decided to fly across a lake and see what was on the other side, but just after leaving shore I’m assaulted by a “you cannot fly here” message and dropped into the water. Later, I run into an open field and pick up a quest. I went to fly across the field and again notice that my wings are disabled for seemingly no reason.

    Having my wings clipped like that, in a game where– as far as I can tell– flying is pretty much the only feature that sets it apart from anything else available, was incredibly annoying. Since playing socially with friends is one of the primary reason I play MMOs, if that’s the way it’s going to be I might as well go back to playing WOW.

  11. 1 July 2009 at 15:27

    I can definitely understand those gripes.

    Aion is an MMORPG, so it’s going to have almost all of the standard MMORPG elements, for good or for ill. I guess that criticsm could be tempered by whether you like the setting and story.

    I’ve known about the no-fly zones for a while, but even with that knowledge I’m sure it will be irritating at times.

  12. anothergurl
    4 July 2009 at 15:15

    Oh yes the heel thing sucks. And I totally agree with u – the society is a bit fudged up these days. I’m a girl myself and have played the beta and u have no idea how
    much it sucked for me to see that every single Asmodian female had those stupid heel claws. Like u can walk normally in those things, let alone fight and run.
    For the Elonian women too – it seems that every footwear they wear there is a heel. I wish they change this really. Since its a beta maybe there will be some ppl that are
    actually smart enough to change this. In Guild Wars at least u had NORMAL war boots and sandals whatever.
    Other then this, the chars look pretty cool and awesome and I like how u can change the physical attributes of your character. It actually gives you chance to adjust em
    how u prefer but I can tell there will be alot of 90:60:90 women out there for those horny players

  13. Pai
    4 July 2009 at 15:38

    It looks like the males have a short claw on their heel too, only its basically a nub that doesn’t affect their posture.

    I’ll bet whoever decided to make the females’ claw into a high heel thought they were being pretty clever with their anatomy. =P

  14. anothergurl
    4 July 2009 at 15:57

    On the ironic note, yes xD

  15. Tralala
    4 July 2009 at 16:06

    High heels truly suck…the armor design is good imho…but the high heels ruin it all. I dont want my female char to look like a slut…dammit

  16. 4 July 2009 at 16:34

    Hey, thanks for commenting. I understand what you’re saying, but I’d prefer if you (and other commenters) refrain from the word ‘slut’ in this way. The reason is that ‘slut’ is a sexist insult used to demean and shame women. It’s a good thing to critique how women are objectified, but using ‘slut’ like this puts the blame on women for the way they’re objectified and portrayed in popular culture. Hope that makes sense. Thanks!

  17. anothergurl
    5 July 2009 at 06:27

    It makes sence yes:)
    I hope u agree tough with what I said up therexD

  18. 5 July 2009 at 08:18

    Yeah, I totally agree with ya about the footwear. In Guild Wars, one of the reasons I have a male Paragon (I normally have female characters) is because every single armour for the female Paragons had high heeled sandals, which I personally don’t like. My male Paragon is awesome, though, so it was okay in the end.

  19. anothergurl
    5 July 2009 at 09:53

    They did? Didn’t pay attention to that really since I chose male paragon from start. Yeah good luck running in those in the sand and all! xD

  20. Pai
    5 July 2009 at 14:39

    If I play Aion, I’m VERY tempted to play a male, because they’re actually aesthetically pleasing to me. In WoW and most other games, male avatars are either bland or else are muscle-head types that don’t appeal to me at all.

  21. dids
    2 August 2009 at 00:45

    I’ve played Aion this weekend. And the first notice i made was the kind of little quests i had to do just like they were in Wow. Kill 5 beast of this kind and then 5 beasts of that kind. In Wow it resulted in me quiting the game after a day playing. Why is this always such a big theme in a mmorpg. I haven’t seen much of the questing in the game but the graphics, chracters are indeed by far georgious and more realistic. However there is to much reference to Asian influence in the characters. The emotes are also very cool, especially the angry one. I would prefer a ccorpg like Guild wars more then a game wich relys on gathering, fabricating things. Then i would play a economic driven game. The name mass multiplayer online economic driven warfare game is a better genre. But then i preordered the game so maybe i find something which is appealing to my interest in the game.

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