GDC 2009: Aion: Tower of Eternity Updated Hands-On - Updated Features

SAN FRANCISCO--With 2009 Game Developers Conference underway, we took the opportunity to take another look at Aion: Tower of Eternity, the upcoming massively multiplayer role-playing game from NCSoft. As you may already know, the game takes place in an offbeat fantasy world where a disaster clove...

SAN FRANCISCO--With 2009 Game Developers Conference underway, we took the opportunity to take another look at Aion: Tower of Eternity, the upcoming massively multiplayer role-playing game from NCSoft. As you may already know, the game takes place in an offbeat fantasy world where a disaster clove an entire planet in twain, and each half is home to a different race of winged adventurers who blame each other for the mess. What that means for you is that you'll be able to create a character from the healthy-looking Elyos faction or the demon-like (but not "evil") Asmodian faction. Your choice will affect which half of the planet you live on and your appearance.


Do you believe YOU can fly? Do you believe YOU can touch the sky?

However, since we last saw the game, Aion seems to have incorporated a tremendous amount of new character customization options, including 22 default faces and fully scalable character stature and girth. You can also use a series of sliders to tweak every last feature on your character's face, and another set of sliders to make your character taller, shorter, fatter, or thinner. For instance, while the game will only have the two playable races to play, you can, if you take the time and effort, create a "dwarf"-like character by giving your character a more-pronounced nose, choosing a long, bushy beard, and making your character's body shorter and stockier. Or, you can make an "elf"-like character by making a tall, thin character, choosing fine features, and making especially long ears.

Once you've created your appearance, you then choose one of four character archetypes (warrior, mage, priest, or scout), and eventually graduate to one of two specialized professions for your archetype at level 10...at which point, your character will also sprout wings and be able to fly in 3D space. Flight is a function of using "aether," the magical residue of the world-shattering cataclysm--the more aether your character has, whether developed through skill specialization, consumable potions, or armor enhancements, the longer your character can stay airborne without getting tired. NCSoft expects that high-level adventurers will spend their time in epic "PvPvE" (player-versus-player-versus-player) battles in the world's rift itself, where hidden castle keeps can be captured to grant powerful faction bonuses like unique armor and weapons, unlockable hunting grounds, and bonus merchants that sell exclusive items.


The power of flight will let you leap into action...literally!

But in the deepest reaches of the abyss, you won't be able to flNy freely. However, thanks to feedback from the game's closed beta testers, in those situations, you'll at least be able to glide by pressingyour space bar so that you don't always die a humiliating death by falling. And as it turns out, flying isn't just intended for travel; it'll also serve tactical purposes within the game's "positional" combat system, where attacking while advancing does minor additional damage, retreating backwards in a fight grants you some defensive bonuses, and strafing to the side grants you limited dodge bonuses. It turns out that flying characters trade off their mobility for increased vulnerability to damage, so in high-level battles, flyers might be better suited for lightly-armored scouts. In fact, in a really nasty PvPvE battle, you may even have some of your guildmates carry tons of heavy armor, and otherwise equip themselves to not fly at all.

Our brief hands-on time with the game was spent with a level 18 Asmodian cleric character, who possessed a handful of instant healing spells as well as some "healing over time" spells, and a handful of magic spells that dealt mystical damage directly to our foes and set up "chain" attacks to follow up one spell with another. Our character also had a spell that summoned a mystical (and fragile) turret with a temporary lifespan but the ability to bombard our targets at a distance, and the extra damage helped during our quickie solo monster hunting session. Combat also seems to have been sped up since our last time with the game--monsters seemed to go down slightly quicker and without quite as much trouble. This is a sign that NCSoft's guidance in making this a "global" game (not just a game for East Asia audiences who are more accustomed to arduous "grinding" away at fighting tough monsters over and over again) is helping make the game a more immediately-rewarding experience.


Even the prettiest characters can swing a mean sword in Aion.

Aion's colorful art style, fully 3D flightmechanics, and easy-to-use quest system (the game will include some 1,500 quests at launch) should appeal to beginners, while its high-level player-versus-player abyss battles (between both players and active computer-controlled monsters, or "mobs") should offer a challenge even to hardcore players. The game is planned to launch later this year.

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14 comments
xxxSkodaxxx
xxxSkodaxxx

from the images it looks awesome its like WoW but much better

keltoncapuchina
keltoncapuchina

49.99 supposed release date september 1st 2009, I have already preordered it from Gamestop... WOOT GUNNA BE AWSOME

KuoiBara
KuoiBara

Anyone has an idea of the launching date? Prices?

Penono
Penono

This game is going to be a new generation on mmorpgs... I would like to think of this game as the replacement of WoW wich gave lots of joy before. When I played BETA i loved it, the graphics, the pvp, how you can customize your character and how each every single class can pvp in its own way. PS: If you guys have intel core duo 2.0 and 2 gb ram you guys dont need to worry about anything if you have more than that great

dicnar
dicnar

"A bunch of w.o.w nerd morons will be coming to this game with there complete SHI* attitudes and childish ways/Children to -partially- ruin the community." While everyone else was commenting on how the game looks promising, a guy who calls himself "Pwnmachine21" and refers to "online mmo gaming" (online massively multiplayer online gaming?) is the one worried about the "W.o.W nerd morons" ruining the game

Pwnmachine21
Pwnmachine21

Yeah well be prepared.. if this game is as good as I've always hoped it would be ever since I dunno 4 years ago when I saw the first trailer on G4, A bunch of W.o.W nerd morons will be coming to this game with there complete SHI* attitudes and childish ways/Children to -partially- ruin the community. You can always thank W.o.W for bringing the majority of morons to online MMO gaming nothing you can do about it. Aion will range from Extreme nerdy serious captains, to I'm a Leeroy fan because I'm a drone or because I'm 13 years old.. To just I'm a moron that thinks because I'm online I don't have to treat others with respect online because I was raised in a trailer, and People are not real people online. See yah in game!

Schym
Schym

Aion's still looking good. been following it since 2006 and still hope that it certainly won't die because of the stubborn people of WoW.

ryaz_weaponx
ryaz_weaponx

looks awesome. hope this one doesnt fall flat in front of the titan (wow).

Avalanche_91
Avalanche_91

Yeah, it looks decent. I have to check it out when it comes in Europe.

djiin
djiin

Used to play WoW(no 'real' pvp plus the game is literally dying now)but also Lineage II(too much of a grind to reach end lvl).. from the articles i've read ~ it looks like that the game will be a combination of the 2. Then there's the graphics and the whole flying concept which look amazing, a good effort from NCsoft it seems.

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

I'd like to check it out. It looks neat.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

Hmmm looks like a better version of lineage2. could be worth checking out.

AndrewP
AndrewP

SAN FRANCISCO--With 2009 Game Developers Conference underway, we took the opportunity to take another look at Aion: Tower of Eternity, the upcoming massively multiplayer role-playing game from NCSoft. As you may already know, the game takes place in an offbeat fantasy world where a disaster clove an entire planet in twain, and each half is home to a different race of winged adventurers who blame each other for the mess. What that means for you is that you'll be able to create a character from the healthy-looking Elyos faction or the demon-like (but not "evil") Asmodian faction. Your choice will affect which half of the planet you live on and your appearance.

Do you believe YOU can fly? Do you believe YOU can touch the sky?

However, since we last saw the game, Aion seems to have incorporated a tremendous amount of new character customization options, including 22 default faces and fully scalable character stature and girth. You can also use a series of sliders to tweak every last feature on your character's face, and another set of sliders to make your character taller, shorter, fatter, or thinner. For instance, while the game will only have the two playable races to play, you can, if you take the time and effort, create a "dwarf"-like character by giving your character a more-pronounced nose, choosing a long, bushy beard, and making your character's body shorter and stockier. Or, you can make an "elf"-like character by making a tall, thin character, choosing fine features, and making especially long ears.

Once you've created your appearance, you then choose one of four character archetypes (warrior, mage, priest, or scout), and eventually graduate to one of two specialized professions for your archetype at level 10...at which point, your character will also sprout wings and be able to fly in 3D space. Flight is a function of using "aether," the magical residue of the world-shattering cataclysm--the more aether your character has, whether developed through skill specialization, consumable potions, or armor enhancements, the longer your character can stay airborne without getting tired. NCSoft expects that high-level adventurers will spend their time in epic "PvPvE" (player-versus-player-versus-player) battles in the world's rift itself, where hidden castle keeps can be captured to grant powerful faction bonuses like unique armor and weapons, unlockable hunting grounds, and bonus merchants that sell exclusive items.

The power of flight will let you leap into action...literally!

But in the deepest reaches of the abyss, you won't be able to flNy freely. However, thanks to feedback from the game's closed beta testers, in those situations, you'll at least be able to glide by pressingyour space bar so that you don't always die a humiliating death by falling. And as it turns out, flying isn't just intended for travel; it'll also serve tactical purposes within the game's "positional" combat system, where attacking while advancing does minor additional damage, retreating backwards in a fight grants you some defensive bonuses, and strafing to the side grants you limited dodge bonuses. It turns out that flying characters trade off their mobility for increased vulnerability to damage, so in high-level battles, flyers might be better suited for lightly-armored scouts. In fact, in a really nasty PvPvE battle, you may even have some of your guildmates carry tons of heavy armor, and otherwise equip themselves to not fly at all.

Our brief hands-on time with the game was spent with a level 18 Asmodian cleric character, who possessed a handful of instant healing spells as well as some "healing over time" spells, and a handful of magic spells that dealt mystical damage directly to our foes and set up "chain" attacks to follow up one spell with another. Our character also had a spell that summoned a mystical (and fragile) turret with a temporary lifespan but the ability to bombard our targets at a distance, and the extra damage helped during our quickie solo monster hunting session. Combat also seems to have been sped up since our last time with the game--monsters seemed to go down slightly quicker and without quite as much trouble. This is a sign that NCSoft's guidance in making this a "global" game (not just a game for East Asia audiences who are more accustomed to arduous "grinding" away at fighting tough monsters over and over again) is helping make the game a more immediately-rewarding experience.

Even the prettiest characters can swing a mean sword in Aion.

Aion's colorful art style, fully 3D flightmechanics, and easy-to-use quest system (the game will include some 1,500 quests at launch) should appeal to beginners, while its high-level player-versus-player abyss battles (between both players and active computer-controlled monsters, or "mobs") should offer a challenge even to hardcore players. The game is planned to launch later this year.