- Great character customization
- Fun flight system
- Low system requirements
- Cash shop is fair and balanced
- Amazing PvPvE end game
- Healthy population for an older MMORPG
- Older game that feels dated at times
- Unfriendly and salty high level community
- Economy out of whack due to botting
- Slow leveling speed despite fast track server
Aion Online is an MMO developed and released by NCSOFT in early 2008 as a pay to play title. Currently, it’s available free to play with a fairly decent fair freemium system.
Aion Online is a typical third person view MMO from the onset. Movement is done via the WASD keys on the keyboard but you can also point and click on the map. To target an enemy on the map, you can either press tab or left click on the target.
There are 2 playable factions in the game, the Asmodians and the Elyos. Like most other MMOs, the two factions have different starting maps and have some minor difference in skills. But besides those, the differences between the two factions are mostly cosmetic. After selecting a faction you will select a class. There are six main classes in Aion: Warrior, Scout, Mage, Priest, Technist and Muse. After reaching level 10, you can then further specialize by selecting from one of the two subclasses available.
Reaching level 10 also unlocks wings and one of the core mechanic of this game: flight. The flight mechanic is one of the most unique things about Aion. Unlike other MMOs, wings in this game are not merely cosmetic effect that makes your character hover a few inches from the ground. In Aion, you can actually fly. In fact, flying is going to be your main form of travel in the game. Some maps are only accessible by flying to it and yes, it is actual three dimensional flight.
While flying, the controls are mostly the same as when you are on the ground but with the addition of 3 keys: R to ascend up, F to descend down and Space to glide. Aerial combat is also possible and works similarly as when you are on the ground. When you first get your wings, you will only have one minute of continuous flight time. This can be extended by having better equips, finishing quests, or using consumable items that extends flight time.
But that doesn’t mean you can fly anywhere, active flight in this game is actually limited to some areas. On most of the maps, you can’t actually fly, however, you can still glide. Pressing space when you’re in the air will activate glide mode. During glide mode you can control your descent speed by pressing the W or S key to lean forward or backward. Compared to flying, gliding is more restrictive, for example, you can’t attack and you also can’t ascend up. But there are updrafts you can catch to get a boost in altitude and extend your gliding range.
Since the initial release of the game, the developers have also added a fast track server. This doubles the rate of EXP gains so that new players can catch up for the end game. It also puts all players in the fast track server in a world together so they can do low level dungeons and quests together. There is actual a fairly large new player population given the game’s age, and overall the game has a surprising level of activity.
Aion is an extremely fun game. The character creation is top notch, there’s a lot of customizations you can do to make your character unique. As it is an old game, the system requirements are also pretty low which makes it run pretty smoothly on low end pc. There’s an in-game cash shop, but it’s not pay to win. The cash shop’s contents are mostly just skins for your weapons/armors.
But one thing that really sold Aion for me is the flight system. Thanks to it, Aion doesn’t feel constricted like most MMOs. You have an almost unbounded freedom to go almost anywhere. It’s pretty exhilarating flying and gliding all over the place, trying to catch updraft to extend your flight time and jumping off cliffs to reach the other side. Flying in Aion never gets old, you could spend an afternoon just marveling the scenery flying up and down all over the place.
The PvPvE element that arises later is also fun. This takes place in the Abyss where the two opposing sides fight one another while also completing quests. Included in this are epic sieges that bring the conflict to life in a unique fashion. The end game in Aion is something really special and for many, worth grinding towards.
The game is unfortunately old and it shows on some parts of the game. If you come from some recent MMOs, some parts of the UI and controls of this game will feel dated to you. This game also has open world PvP, which isn’t necessarily a con. However, it can be frustrating at times facing off against old timers. Even if you do manage to win against one, well you better prepare for some salt inbound. There are some helpful folks for new players, but there’s a lot of elitist jerks too. The economy is also out of whack due to botting and RMT that has never completely gotten under control.
In closing, I recommend Aion to anyone that wants to check out an MMO with a flight mechanic that works. Flying and exploring around the world in this game is pretty fun and never gets old. But unfortunately, since this is an old Korean MMO, it also tends to be dated and grindy so this game might not be for everyone. The fast track server helps a lot with the grind, but don’t expect modern leveling speeds. The end game PvPvE is also unique and a big driving force for long term play. If you put the time into Aion, it can be very rewarding for a long time to come.