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Aion: The Tower of Eternity is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in Korea, China, North America, Australia and Europe. Aion was (up until May 20, 2009) known as "Aion: The Tower of Eternity" but it was released in North America under the one-word title of Aion. The game developer is NCsoft's Aion Team Development Dept, a major Korean game developer. Aion combines PvP and PvE (a concept the developers call PvPvE) in a fantasy game environment. A feature of the game is flight, which is mainly used as a means for combat. Other games in this genre typically offer flight only as a means of travel, while combat stays on the ground.

History

Development

Aion was first announced and previewed at the May 2006 E3 Expo.[1] NCsoft developed it over the following year at their software design studio in South Korea. Closed beta testing in Korea began in late 2007,[2] followed by an open beta test in November 2008.

A version of the game localized for China began its closed beta testing in December 2008 with open testing beginning on April 8, 2009, and ending on April 18, 2009.

The game has also been localized for Western markets including North America, Europe, and Australia. NCSoft held two closed beta testing event weekends in June, 2009, which were open to players in North America and Europe. Each had a limited focus. The first, held June 5-7th, 2009, focused on the Elyos from level 1 through 20. The second initially had a focus of level 1 to 10 for the Asmodians, but at the last minute it was decided to allow it to be open to level 10 for both factions. There were four more closed betas spanned over weekends, allowing both races to level 30. The six closed beta weekends were all played on the 1.0 game version. An open beta was scheduled for September 6–13, 2009, allowing players to play the 1.5.0.3 version of the game initially, the game was updated on September 12, 2009 to version 1.5.0.5 while the beta was extended until September 14 at 2A.M. CDT.

Release

South Korea

Aion was released in South Korea on November 28, 2008, making this the first country to get a final release of the game. Given the success of NCsoft's previous games, Lineage and Lineage II, Aion had been a highly anticipated game in South Korea ever since its announcement. At the end of 2008 Aion won the award "Best Korean Game of the Year" for its "epic scale, immersive story, and stunning graphics and sound design".

China

The game was released in China on April 16, 2009 and operated by Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

Australia

NCsoft is distributing Aion in Australia through QV Software, and was released on September 22, 2009. In Australia, 3 editions were released: Collectors Edition, Limited Edition and the Standard Edition.[3]

Taiwan

NCsoft began an open beta of Aion in Taiwan on June 7, 2009, and was released on July 21, 2009. v1.5 was released on October 21, 2009

Europe

NCsoft released the final version of Aion in Europe on September 25, 2009.[4]

North America

Aion was released in North America on September 22, 2009. The release was accompanied by a free comic book from Wildstorm, Aiva's Story by writers David Noonan and Ricardo Sanchez, with art by Neil Googe.[5]

Story

In the beginning, the god of Atreia, Aion, benevolently watched over his world. He created the humans, and the Draken to safeguard and watch over them. Eventually, the Draken became obsessed with power and subjugation. They attacked and destroyed anything that would not yield to them, and they began to set their sights on humans. As they grew stronger, a set species emerged from them, calling themselves the Balaur. Five of the Balaur rose to a height of strength above the rest, and became known as the five Dragon Lords. When Aion refused to grant them the power they desired, the power to rival his own, they revolted and declared war on the god that created them. Aion's hand was forced, and he created the twelve Empyrean Lords, beings of divinity and power to protect the Tower of Eternity, the center of the world and the source of Aion's power and all Aether in the world. The Empyrean lords formed a barrier that made the land around the tower a safe haven, and people began to populate it and create a civilization.

Some humans, living within the safety of the barrier, learned how to harness some of the same energy as the Empyrean Lords, the aether. Such humans were called Daeva and, like the Empyrean Lords, had wings and the ability to fight the Balaur. With time, enough Daevas were born to form an army. The Empyrean Lords would lead the Daeva into battle and fight ceaselessly, this "Millenium War" as it was called would last for centuries. Eventually Israphel, one of the Empyrean Lords and also one of the two designated Tower Guardians, suggested peace. Ariel agreed, suggesting that if Israphel could overcome his hatred for the Balaur, they all could. Five of the Empyrean Lords, led by Azphel, vehemently disagreed. They considered peace foolish and a sacrilege to the honored dead. However, the second guardian of the tower, Siel, was swayed to peace and her decision sealed the argument. The five Dragon Lords were invited inside the barrier for peace talks. Azphel couldn't contain his rage. He attacked one of the Dragon Lords with all his fury, and it was then when the Balaur charged the tower. The two Guardians of the Tower, Israphel and Siel, frantically moved to opposite ends of the tower, alongside the other Empyrean Lords and Daevas. With Israphel to the south and Siel to the North, they sacrificed their life energy to ensure the Aether within the broken tower would not dissipate and allow the ends of the world to separate into space. Of the original twelve, ten of the Empyrean Lords survived. Five who had opposed peace and claimed that the weakness of the rest of the lords had allowed the Balaur to attack them reigned over the dark part of the world, becoming known as the Shedim Lords. The other five reigned over the light-covered bottom part of Atreia and claim that it was the Shedim Lords' actions that caused the breaking of the tower. They are known as the Seraphim Lords.

The new shape of the world also reshaped its inhabitants. Those that lived in the light part of the world saw little change except for an increase in their beauty. These followers of the Seraphim Lords called themselves Elyos and created the city of Sanctum. The inhabitants of the upper part of the world saw many changes. Having to walk on ground strewn with fragments of the tower, their feet became talons. Having to fight against beasts, their hands became claw-like. Furthermore, the darkness made their complexion change and their eyes grew red adapting to the absence of light. They call themselves Asmodians and live in the city of Pandaemonium under the rule of the Shedim Lords.

Players begin the game as human inhabitants of their chosen world (Elysia or Asmodae) who have had significant memory loss occur. Through attempting to retrieve their lost past and completing other tasks along the way, they are revealed as winged, immortal Daevas. After this has happened, the characters "ascend" to their respective capital cities to begin their lives as holy servants of their respective people. The worlds are almost completely separate until a player enters the abyss. The story and tone of the game differ greatly between the worlds, as do the landscapes and characters one encounters; however the basic linear progression is the same.

Races

Classes

There are four primary classes, and eight specialized classes in the game. Players start the game by choosing one of the four primary classes: Warrior, Mage, Scout, or Priest. After attaining level 10, the players must choose from the two specialized classes associated with that base class. This allows players to get a feel for the playstyle of the class before making a major decision as to which class to play for the rest of the game. Each faction will have a slight variation in class skills.

Mage Archetype

Mages have weak physical combat ability but they can launch devastatingly powerful magic attacks, they are the primary ranged magical damage dealers. There are two specializations possible for mages: Spiritmasters and Sorcerers.

Sorcerer

The sorcerer follows the path of magic, mastering the elements of water, fire, wind, and earth. A sorcerer's skill set becomes very diverse as their combat ability evolves.

Spiritmaster

Spiritmasters are the only summoning class in the game. They can control water, fire, earth, and air spirits.

  • Special ability: Summoning powerful elemental spirits
  • Play style: A pet class with ranged DPS power

Priest Archetype

Spiritual warriors, priests can use healing and self-protection spells to excel in melee combat, and launch powerful ranged magic attacks too. This makes them not only useful support characters in a party of adventurers, but also powerful combatants in their own right. There are two priest specializations: Clerics and Chanters.

Chanter

The Chanter is primarily a buff provider, but also has access to healing and damage spells. Chanter is arguably Aion's only true hybrid class.

  • Special ability: Fortification magic using healing and mantras
  • Play style: Healing, attacking, and enhancement magic. In addition to its magical abilities, it also possesses exceptional skills involving the use a Bo staff. The chanter uses mantra magic to inspire the morale of allies, and since it can strengthen abilities, it is the gathering center during battle.

Cleric

Healer class. Able to raise the dead.

  • Special ability: Healing and protection
  • Play style: The Cleric is the main Healer in the world of Aion. Also capable of resurrecting allies, the Cleric possesses a core position within the group. Gameplay consists of removing negative effects on party members and oneself, and keeping the party alive. The Cleric's equipment provides tremendous defensive potential that is only surpassed by the Warrior classes.

Scout Archetype

The scout combines great agility with swift attacks. Scouts must specialize into one of two sub-classes: Ranger or Assassin.

Assassin

Assassins are experts in deft movement and the silent termination of their target.

  • Special ability: Striking without detection
  • Play style: Stealth DPS

Ranger

The ranger is the only physical ranged damage class in Aion.

  • Special ability: Range diversity of attack
  • Play style: Ranged DPS with traps

Warrior Archetype

Warriors excel in close-quarter combat. Strong performers in a wide range of situations, Warriors are relatively easy to master. Warriors must specialize into one of two sub-classes: gladiators, who concentrate on dealing damage (DPS), or templars, who combine fierce fighting with defensive chants and techniques (Tanks).

Gladiator

Gladiators can use many types of melee weapons, ranging from swords to halberds.

  • Special ability: Close range combat and AoE
  • Play style: Close combat DPS

Templar

Fighting with a sword in one hand and a shield in the other, the Templar is both guardian and fierce combatant. To remain effective, the Templar should stay on or close to the front firing line.

  • Special ability: Protection chants
  • Play style: Tanking. The Templar acts as a guardian, fighting with a sword in one hand and a shield in the other, protecting others on the battlefield.

Graphics

  • The game uses a heavily modified version of the CryEngine (originally developed by Crytek, now owned by Ubisoft).
  • Aion won GameAmp's 2006 E3 MMORPG "Best Graphics" Award.[6]

Character customization

The character creation system allows for a great deal of character customization. Players are able to radically adjust height, weight and scale of various body parts (for example, creating a 4 ft. character with a giant head). Different hair styles, skin colors, facial textures and voices can also be chosen. Further detailing can be found in the selection of eye shape and color, nose shape, ear size and shape and tattoos for the character's face and body. Players have even been able to use the character creation system to reproduce the appearances of a wide variety of celebrities and fictional characters including Barack Obama, Cloud Strife, Wolverine, and Michael Jackson.

The game will allow a player to dye their equipment to change its color and to change the graphics of one weapon or armor to that of another that they have in their inventory (via an NPC). This allows a player to display equipment graphics of items which they find visually appealing, while benefiting from the actual stats of different weapons or armors. Players can only change the graphics of an equipment to that of another equipment of the same type. For example, cloth armor cannot be changed to have the appearance of leather, chain, or plate armor. Similarly, a sword can only be changed to have the appearance of another sword, and not any other type of weapon, such as a staff or polearm.

This adds another layer of customization (as it allow players to control the look of their avatar without sacrificing the better stats of an item that they find visually unappealing[7]) and strategy to the game. One can, for example, display the skin of a level 28 armor set, while you're actually level 40, and benefiting from the stats of your mismatched level 40 items. This can throw your opponents off, especially coupled with the fact that you cannot discern the level of other players in PvP, arguably making for more engaging gameplay. Template:Citation needed

Music

Most of the music was created by Ryo Kunihiko. A sample of the soundtrack is available on the official Chinese[8] site.

Skill chains

As a character progresses in the game, they will learn additional skills, some of which form part of a Skill Chain. A skill chain is a group of skills that as each skill is used, unlocks the next skill in the chain. Generally the skills at the end of the chain are much more powerful.

PvPvE system

The end game of Aion revolves around battles within the Abyss (PvP zone). Within the Abyss are castles which can be controlled by individual Legions (Aion equivalent of a guild). Battle for control of these castles involves combat against players of the opposing faction and computer controlled NPCs at the same time, using siege weapons obtained from end game PvE raid content. Legions in control of a castle are entitled to funding from taxes and players within the faction get specials from NPCs.[9] The game currently does not allow factions to fight against those of their own race, except for casual duels.

The participation in PvP is rewarded with PvP "Points" (called Abyss Points in the game). The game ranks players as battles are won against fellow players. At higher ranks the character's wings will change in appearance to show the character's elevated status. Also certain items can be purchased with these points such as high-end armor and weapons. This is referred to as the Abyss Rank system, and there can only be a limited number of high ranking players per server. The highest ranking players compete for the relatively few rank positions available.Template:Citation needed Abyss points are gained by killing other players in combat, and points are lost by being killed by another player. Higher points are awarded for a kill of a much higher ranked player than for killing an equal or lower ranked player.

Alliances

Alliances are the equivalent of a Raid. Alliances consist of up to 4 parties with up to 6 players per group for a maximum of 24 players in a single alliance. Alliances are treated differently from a Party, especially concerning quests.Template:Citation needed

Professions

There are a total of six crafting professions and two extracting (gathering) professions. Players automatically learn the two extracting professions, and have the option to learn any or all of the production professions if they choose, however you can only master a single profession. Mastering a crafting profession will provide you with an associated title, and statistical boost for mastering the profession.

As of version 1.5, you are able to master two crafting professions, and obtain two titles.

Extracting professions gather raw materials and ingredients from resources found while exploring the world, there are two professions, namely 'Extract Vitality' which allows you to harvest living things, such as plants and fish, and 'Extract Aether' which allows you to collect Aether from specific areas around the world.

Crafting professions create useful items from raw materials. The current six crafting professions are:

Items from crafting skills can help in combat and some are essential for capturing castles in the Abyss.Template:Citation needed

Quests

There are three type of quests in Aion: ordinary quests, campaign quests and Work Orders. The ordinary quests you just complete and receive your reward, Campaign quests are crucial for progressing in the game, and to move through the main storyline, Work Orders are used to increase your skill in a chosen profession. Some of the quests can be done multiple times. Not every quest can be shared or abandoned (especially campaign quests).[10]

Servers

This is a list of the European and North American servers:

  • Europe
Castor  
Gorgos  
Kahrun  
Kalil  
Perento  
Spatalos  
Telemachus  
Balder  
Kromede  
Lephar  
Nerthus  
Thor  
Votan  
Arbolu  
Deltras  
Suthran  
Urtem  
Vidar  
  • N. America / Oceanic
Azphel  
Israphel  
Lumiel  
Marchutan  
Meslamtaeda  
Triniel  
Zikel  
Ariel  
Fregion  
Kaisinel  
Siel  
Vaizel  
Yustiel  
Nezekan 


Cost to play

South Korean, European and North American gamers can pay for time cards that allow them to play the game to the extent of time they purchased. NCSoft also offers monthly subscriptions, priced at US$14.99/AU$17.99/€12.99/£8.99/₩19,800[11] per month. Discounts are offered for subscribing for three, six, or twelve months at a time.

Criticism

Template:Criticism section Aion used the software nProtect GameGuard from INCA Internet to protect against hacks, cheats and bots, which is criticized for integrating itself deep in the player's system with its own device driver that is very difficult to remove. This driver employs rootkit-like techniques to hide the game's process and to watch the computer's memory for suspicious software.[12] Furthermore there is an unpatched security vulnerability in the driver which can be used for a local privilege escalation.[13][14] It has been announced that the North American / European launch version will not contain GameGuard.[15]

Upon its Western launch, subscribers in North America and Europe had experienced lengthy queues when attempting to connect to the game's servers, with waiting times cited as being as long as 7 hours in some extreme cases.[16]. The most recent patch has fixed some issues with regards to this and reduced wait time.

References

External links


AION Online News

04/19/09/ Chinese Open Beta
Chinese Open Beta ended 04/19/09 after giving users 5 free hours of gametime per new account/beta account members. We now await the next Beta to come, which is said to be Japan's Open Beta starting: July 12th, 2009!
Date/title
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