Aion: Tower of Eternity Hands-On - Combat, Classes, and Flight

This exotic online game will let you play a character who can fly. We take it for a spin.

Many massively multiplayer games start you out in a high-fantasy world as some kind of penniless elf who must go out and beat on goblin after goblin after goblin in the hopes of finally earning enough copper coins to buy a rusty dagger. From there, you work your way up to a less-rusty dagger, then maybe a sword, all while gaining experience levels, going on quests, and possibly adventuring with other players in a persistent world. Aion: Tower of Eternity will take a decidedly different route. Yes, the game will have elements of high fantasy, but it will take place on a completely different planet inhabited by two factions of exotic-looking humanoids that carry bows, arrows, swords, shields, and magic spells, but can also sprout wings and fly through the air at will, or at least until your character tires and must rest briefly. Apparently, the world has been shattered into two parts and is separated by a monster-ridden rift. Each half of the world is inhabited by one of these two factions, and it'll be your job to conquer the other half for your nation.

In this unusual massively multiplayer game, you, and everyone else, will fly.

Even though Aion was developed in East Asia, the game is, according to NCsoft, "being developed for a global audience," which hopefully means that it will be less punishing and require less repetitious "grinding" away (killing the same monsters repeatedly to complete quests or eventually gain experience). The game is said to be a "PvPvE," which means "player-versus-player-versus-environment." Traveling in and around the hostile rift (which can't be done simply by flying all the way, given that the rift is too big to cover) may lead to encounters with the "Balaur" monsters, and also against players from the rival faction. The game's two factions, the Elyos and the Asmodians, may choose the same character classes, but they have striking differences in appearance. The Elyos inhabit the half of the world that receives sunlight and have a brighter, more angelic appearance, whereas the dark-skinned Asmodians have hands that end in clawed fingers and a more demonic look (though neither faction is considered "good" or "evil").

The game will have four basic character archetypes, warrior, scout, mage, and priest, though you'll be able to branch out into one of two advanced professions for each archetype once your character reaches level 10. In addition, at level 10, your character ascends to godlike "deva" status, which is a fancy way of saying that you'll get your wings. You can sprout wings at just about any time and take to the air when you please, though you'll have an onscreen fatigue meter that will gradually run out over time (and replenish after you land). Running out of flight power while high up in the air could mean an ugly fall from a great height, though your characters will later gain access to many different means to prolong his or her ability to fly, including skill increases, magic potions, and magic formulas that can be used to imbue your characters' weapons and armor.

Flying will be crucial in high-level play--both in an assault role and in a scouting role--which will involve raids, fortress attacks, and missions to recover precious artifacts. Interestingly, though it will be impossible to fly to the enemy nation's half of the world, random portals will occasionally appear on either side, allowing entry into enemy territory for raiding. However, this sort of raid will be best left to high-level players, as will fighting in the abyss, which will apparently incorporate full 3D combat on all sides.

When you fight in the abyss, enemies will come at you from all sides.

Like in other, similar games, combat will require you to attack your opponents with various special abilities that you can link to hotkeys on your keyboard. These will include "positional" skills that function best when you're flanking or attacking an enemy from behind. Apparently, the game will calculate your abilities to hit and deal damage if you're on the move, so you'll need to take positions wisely. You'll also be able to launch your enemies up in the air in the middle of a fight in spectacular fashion.

In our hands-on time with the game, we tried out several character classes and found a good mix of different abilities. The ranger class, an advanced version of the scout, can either attack from afar with his bow or fight up close with his dual daggers from a stealth position, dealing extra damage with rear attacks. Other classes can hurl extremely damaging magic spells from a distance, heal their teammates, or pound their enemies into the dirt with their melee weapons. Though just about all characters seem to be able to adventure well on their own at lower experience levels, we imagine that the higher-level content will be best conquered by groups of players. Fortunately, it's not likely that you'll be seeing groups of identical-looking characters, given that Aion's character-creation system will offer a huge variety of different heights, builds, hair, hairstyles, facial features, and decals such as tattoos.

In addition to getting trained up for higher-level player-versus-player skirmishes, Aion will have a sizable chunk of player-versus-environment play in the form of many, many quests that will be stored in your quest journal and can be quickly consulted and mapped using the game's easy-to-use minimap screen. Furthermore, your quest journal uses a hyperlinking system for any characters or monsters of note that also links directly to your minimap, so you can efficiently accomplish quests to hunt monsters or seek out specific characters with a single click. With the addition of flying, completing these quests is even more convenient; rather than wandering around walls or hills, you can simply take to the air and fly over them.

The game will also offer plenty of quests and new characters to meet.

Aion's exotic art style and its unique flying mechanic, which is a standard part of its gameplay, should help distinguish the game from many other high-fantasy-themed online games on the market. The game's official launch date hasn't been confirmed, though the original version has already launched in Asia, so a localized version for North America shouldn't be too long in coming.

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33 comments
Argal
Argal

@dingleberry01 It's pretty much open world, though there is a kind of instance based system where you can change "Channels". It's more like WoW than GW in that aspect really.

dingleberry01
dingleberry01

open world like WOW or instance based like GW??? Thats what I would like to know.

Ceil
Ceil

I have played Guild Wars and the one thing I disliked about it, was the fact that everytime you left a village center to battle, you were in another instance, no other players, only you and the enemy. If this is like that, count me out. Wow and other mmo's have a smooth transition except for instances. If this goes that way, I will definitely try it. Most all Asian products use the cheaper method of transition. I think Ill wait to see how it all falls out, before purchasing.

skyydragonn
skyydragonn

After playing many of NCSofts games.. I think I'll pass... they are almost all boring after a week. THough I suppose i may try out a trial account when thier avialable.

Hot_Shot801
Hot_Shot801

I've watched all the official site videos, it could look good but play bad, I liked the content. Also most mmo games are paid by monthly, I would assume this will to so they can do updates and restore hacked accounts.

Raginmar
Raginmar

I hope this is going to be good.It has so much potential that if the developers give their best shot,it should turn out to be one of the best MMOs out there

Jir11
Jir11

Looks veeeeeery interesting.

markoni93
markoni93

it looks very nice but do i have to pay evry moth?

Night_stalker01
Night_stalker01

If you'r interested in the game, you should take the time to read other previews of the game, such as the ones features in PCGzine and MMOZine, both are free to download. This article isn't very in-depth, and alot of the information is slightly off.

demi_veritaz
demi_veritaz

This looks pretty promising. I will be more than willing to pay if they deliver on what they say they're going to deliver.

Cynthe
Cynthe

"non-stop grinding" Do your homework before spouting nonsense, there will more then enough quests and content for people who hate mob grinding, and yes quests give XP. However if you like mob grinding you can do that too, unlike WoW and LotrO where it's useless to even try. This will be a great game for PvP lovers and fun for people who enjoy PvE as well, both modes work together so there won't be any servers with different rule sets, so far anyway. Apparently the character AI and monster AI is better then what we're used to, animals interact and don't just stand around or walk back and forth in the same line, and your characters have a few idles like looking up at the sky with palm upwards when rain starts to fall... I'd say definitely do more reading and youtube viewing before jumping on the it's-just-another-grinder-no-thanks bandwagon. ;)

vortex_gw
vortex_gw

This will be nothing special. NCsoft is making it. Monthly fee and boring none-stop grinding. No, thank you.

Juliandavidea86
Juliandavidea86

Any 1 know , will be "pay for bye" or "free to bot"? I think blade & sold is better

OldKye
OldKye

I don't comment almost even but I have to say something about vortex_gw's post I really don't see how a game that took 15 mins of beer and jokes to make where you are a panda on a tiger on a two headed dragon or flying sword and looks like it's out of a comic book looks anything like this game... which was started before I'm pretty sure it's been beta in Korea for a few years now

vortex_gw
vortex_gw

Can this game be a better rip-off of Perfect World?

Squall_gunbl
Squall_gunbl

they forgot to mention that the chara creation involves plenty of sliders so definitly hard to find exact copy of yourself

Old_Gooseberry
Old_Gooseberry

hope they do away with the xp penalty from death

zarkia
zarkia

looks good. i like the idea of PvPvE. and the ability to sprout wings and fly sounds great.

Anastase
Anastase

This looks very interesting, definitely watching it as well.

magick0108
magick0108

This game is published by same company of Lineage series, no wonder why characters look familiar. But what I really like about this game is Character customising!!!!! You can customise tour character's face like in Oblivion, and also the body!

NiteX
NiteX

I love how there are still those few people that still ask if this MMO will be P2P. Seriously now stop embarrassing yourself.

casualtyk
casualtyk

Uh, of course it will be subscription.

xatman911
xatman911

Yay! Say nye to grinding! I hope it is not subscription: that sucks.

Solace678
Solace678

The woman looks like a kamael from Lineage ][

Zee666
Zee666

Flying in a mmorpg is gonna be wierd, hopefully the classes will feel just right and the combat will be good. If so then this should be awesome!

CaptinAustin
CaptinAustin

This game is gonna rock, i just can't wait for it to come out.

Targzissian
Targzissian

It actually uses the a modified version of the CryEngine that powered the first Far Cry. But even so, its graphics do look a lot more like Guild Wars than Far Cry, which probably has to do with stylistic decisions and various developmental constraints.

wswedin
wswedin

I have noticed something, same engine for this, that they used for guild wars (graphics). However, they have a dramatically different approach on art, gameplay, and story. I hope it isn't just another guild wars.

Cheddarchet
Cheddarchet

This looks pretty sweet, and I loved GW, which is from the same group I think, so I'll have to follow it.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Cool, I will keep my eye on it