Aion: The Tower of Eternity

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Aion: The Tower of Eternity
AionTTE.jpg
Developer(s) Aion Team Development Dept
Publisher(s)
Distributor(s) PlayNC under NCsoft and Shanda (China)
Engine CryEngine
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s)
  • SK November 25, 2008
  • JP July 17, 2009
  • NA September 22, 2009[2]
  • RU December 27, 2009[6]
Genre(s) MMORPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Distribution Download/DVD

Aion: The Tower of Eternity (Korean: 아이온: 영원의 탑), known also as The Tower of AION (タワー オブ アイオン?) in Japan, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released by NCsoft. The game combines PvP and PvE (a concept the developers call PvPvE) in a fantasy game environment. As of May 20, 2009, Aion had 3.5 million subscribers in Asia.[7] AION's first major expansion pack was released to North America and Europe on September 7, 2010 under the name AION: Assault on Balaurea. On February 29, 2012 AION became free-to-play in Europe[8] with a limited set of options regarding gathering, trade and chat,[9] while North American Truly Free launched on April 11, 2012 with no such restrictions.[10]

Gameplay[edit]

Aion logo

Skill chains[edit]

Many of the skills acquired as characters progress may only be performed in a certain order, or chain. Generally the skills located farther along in the chain are more powerful than those at the beginning, or those that have no prerequisite.

PvPvE system[edit]

The PvPvE gameplay of Aion revolves around battles within the Abyss and Balaurea (PvP zones). Within the these zones are fortresses which can be controlled by individual Legions (the Aion equivalent of Guilds). Battle to control these castles involves combat against players of the opposing faction and computer controlled NPCs at the same time, using siege weapons obtained from PvE raid content. Legions in control of a castle are entitled to funding from taxes and players within the faction get specials from NPCs and discounts for travel and vendor items.[11] The game currently does not allow factions to fight against those of their own race, except for casual duels or in the Arena.

The participation in PvP is rewarded with Abyss Points in the game. The game ranks players as battles are won against fellow players based on their participation in the Abyss and Balaurea. 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.[12] Players of a very high rank are also granted the ability to transform into what is known as a Guardian General; a form that bestows an exceedingly large boost to certain stats. 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. Abyss Points can also be earned by completing certain quests and by selling certain items

Classes[edit]

Character customization in Aion

There are six subclasses, and eleven main classes in the game. Players start the game by choosing one of the six primary classes: Warrior, Mage, Scout, Priest, Technist or Muse. After attaining level 10, the player must choose from two specialized classes associated with their chosen class (with the exception of Muse, which at the time can only ascend to a Songweaver). Warriors may become a Templar or a Gladiator; Mages may become a Sorcerer or Spiritmaster; Scouts may become an Assassin or Ranger; Priests may become a Cleric or a Chanter; Technist may become a Gunslinger or Aethertech; Muse may become a Songweaver.

Grouping[edit]

Up to six players may form a group, to assist one another in battle, and share the benefits of victory. Certain areas are designed for group play and a group is required to enter some areas in the game. Up to four groups may form an Alliance for situations that call for greater force of numbers. Eight Alliances may combine to form a League, allowing for a total of 192 players participating in a given activity.

Crafting[edit]

The base process involves learning a particular form of crafting, of which there are seven in Aion: weaponsmithing, armorsmithing, handicrafting, tailoring, alchemy, cooking, and construction. Players can learn all seven crafting professions, but can be an Expert in only two, and a Master in only one.

Any item that can be crafted is actually composed of several individual components, or materials. The player can either learn which materials are needed for a particular item automatically or via purchase of the design. Generally these materials must be purchased from vendors or from other players, gathered out in the wild (via collection or extraction), crafted already, or morphed. Not everything can be crafted, however.[13]

Flight[edit]

There are many aspects to flight in Aion, which plays a vital role in Travel, Combat, Quests, and Crafting. Flying is only permitted in certain areas, known as flight zones. Flight is initially limited to 60 seconds but can be increased with various armor, titles, and other items in-game.[14] A player may also use potions during flight which add to his or her remaining flight time. However, these potions do not change the maximum amount of flight time. Players get their first set of wings at level 10.

Quests[edit]

There are three type of quests in Aion: ordinary quests, campaign quests and Work Orders. Ordinary quests require the player to complete a task to receive a reward. Campaign quests are focused on story, and are crucial for player progression. Work Orders are used to increase skill in a chosen profession. Some quests are repeatable. Some quests, especially campaign quests, cannot be shared or abandoned.[15]

Mounts[edit]

Mounts can be obtained through world boss drops, quests, crafting, guestblooms, events and Cash Shop. Players can only use a mount when they are out of combat. They can remain on their mount as long as they are not attacked by another player or monster. Mounts can be crafted with some difficulty, as the materials needed are hard to come by. NC West has sold materials to craft mounts on their real money store.[16]

Plot[edit]

Backstory[edit]

When the god Aion created the world of Atreia, They created the Drakan—powerful dragon-like beasts tasked with safeguarding the humans; performing Aion's will on the planet; and protecting the Tower of Eternity, Aion's physical presence on Atreia. For a time, the Drakan obeyed Aion; but over time, they began to enjoy their power, ignoring their duties and abusing the humans who inhabited Atreia. Aion took notice, creating the twelve Empyrean Lords in response.[17] Angelic in appearance, the Empyrean Lords were demigods who walked amongst humans, and used a force called "Aether" to create a powerful barrier, later to be called an aetheric field, around the Tower of Eternity, protecting all of those within. While the outside world continued to be ravaged by the Drakan, who had become the more ferocious Balaur; the humans within the barrier managed to tap into the Aether, gaining their own powers. In time, they would become known as the Daeva.[17][18]

As time went on, the Lords decided that they had to be more aggressive in stopping the Balaur. With the number of Daeva growing in size, the Lords decided to form an army, with ten of the Empyrean Lords leading the Daeva into battle; while the remaining two, Siel and Israphel, protected the Tower of Eternity (thus earning the title "Tower Lords"). This conflict between the Balaur and the Empyrean Lords would come to be known as the Millennium War, which led to no real progress by any side.[17] As the war progressed, a faction of Lords began to view the war as unwinnable, and Lord Israphel proposed a discussion of peace with the Balaur. This surprise proposal drew criticism from within the faction; after a lengthy and heated debate, seven of the twelve Lords became the winning majority to move forward with the plan.[17]

However, for reasons unclear, the negotiation failed. When the Balaur arrived at the Tower of Eternity, a commotion broke out, killing a Balaurian captain; the remaining Balaur, enraged, marched upon and destroyed the Tower, which set off a chain reaction that threatened to destroy the planet. However, Israphel and Siel made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their own lives to protect Atreia. The world was shattered into two "hemi-shells", with a dark Abyss lying between them; but it was held together by the aetheric field created from the Tower Lords' sacrifice.[17]

While the Balaur were banished to the Abyss, the Empyrean Lords found themselves in conflict with each other. Two groups were formed as a result, each with five Lords; the Seraphim, who had proposed the peace solution and blamed the others for sabotaging the peace negotiations by failing to agree to them; and the Shedim, who blamed the Seraphim, believing that their weakness and their proposing of the peace talk allowed the Balaur to gain the upper hand. From that day on, the two sides became bitter enemies.[17]

The Shedim migrated to Asmodae, the dark and harsh upper, inner half of the planet; while the Seraphim Lords settled in Elysea, the light and abundant bottom half. They both took their humans and Daeva with them, and over time, they adapted to their respective new worlds and declared the opposing side their mortal enemies. Those in Asmodae became the Asmodians, rugged survivors, gaining dark features and a fierce loyalty to their kin.[19] Those in Elysea became the Elyos, growing even more beautiful and believing themselves to be Aion's chosen people (although they have grown arrogant). From that day on, they would wage war for centuries as bloody enemies.[17]

Development[edit]

Aion was first announced and previewed at the May 2006 E3 Expo.[20] It was developed at NCsoft's software design studio in South Korea. The Korean closed beta test began in late 2007,[21] followed by an open beta test in November 2008. A localized Chinese version began closed beta testing in December 2008, with open testing beginning on April 8, 2009.

The game was then localized for Western markets, including North America, Europe, and Australia. NCsoft held six weekend long closed beta tests for North American and European players beginning in June, 2009. An open beta began in September 2009. During the course of this open beta, the anti-cheat program GameGuard was removed. GameGuard is used in many Asian-market games to stop botting and cheating, but was abandoned for Western markets due to a range of issues experienced during the open beta. Casting and voice production were redone for the Western market by Blindlight.

Expansions[edit]

Aion: Assault on Balaurea[edit]

Released on September 7, 2010, this expansion evolves the game’s story and terrain as it expands the game world of Atreia far beyond the traditional territories of Asmodae and Elysea. In this expansion, both sides take the fight against the invading Balaur to their homeland of Balaurea. Players will receive new challenges; novel and updated instances and zones; an increased level capacity from 50 to 55; and fresh weapons, items, skills, and flight mechanics. The expansion also introduces functional pets equipped with in-game benefits that will rapidly become constant character companions.[22] While Assault on Balaurea is a free expansion for NA and EU players, NCsoft released a retail box version with bonus content such as an in-game pet, which varies depending on retailer.[23]

Aion: The Promised Lands / 3.0 Ascension[edit]

Released on October 19, 2011, The Promised Lands (Ascension in NA) takes Aion further into Balaurea, including areas where opposing factions must work together with the Reians[24] to drive the Balaur back into Tiamaranta, where players face Dragon Lord Tiamat in her fortress. With new quests, instances and game mechanics (including a new level cap of 60), players will encounter a wide array of new PvP and PvE armor sets and weapons with a wider level of customization than before.

Aion 4.0: Dark Betrayal[edit]

Released on June 26, 2013, "Dark Betrayal" features two new classes, the Gunslinger and the Songweaver, as well as three new zones, Katalam, Danaria, and Idian Depths, as well as increasing the level cap to 65.

On the 29th of January, the 4.5 patch added another class, the Aethertech, who boost "magical mechanical mounts to unleash both short- and long-distance attacks", according to a press release by NCSoft.

Music[edit]

The official "Aion: The Tower of Eternity" Original Soundtrack was released as a single CD featuring 22 tracks written by composer Yang Bang-Ean (Also known as Kunihiko Ryo in Japan). The soundtrack was released in Japan and Korea on October 21, 2008, and in North America and Europe as part of the Collector's Edition. The soundtrack was also released on iTunes on October 20, 2009.[25]

The Second official album called "AION - Annales of Atreia" was released on May 10, 2010 via the iTunes Store for $9.99 USD. Composers Inro Joo and Wonki Kim created the Original Soundtrack with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.[26]

Release[edit]

  • South Korea: Aion was released in South Korea on November 25, 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.
  • China: The game was released in China on April 16, 2009 and operated by Shanda Interactive Entertainment.
  • Japan: NCsoft released the game on July 17, 2009 in Japan under NCsoft Japan. As of February 2, 2010, Pixiv collaborated with NCsoft for a special fan art contest.[27]
  • 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.[28] The game is also being distributed via Valve Software's digital distribution platform, Steam, within this region.
  • 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. v2.0 was released on October 13, 2010. And v2.1 was released on November 24, 2010.
  • Europe: NCsoft released the final version of Aion in Europe on September 25, 2009.[29] In Europe, Aion was available in two editions: Standard Edition and Collectors Edition. The latter includes many in-game items, figurines, posters, and the Official Aion Soundtrack CD by composer Yang Bang-Ean (known as Ryo Kunihiko in Japan).
  • 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[30] for those who preordered. Also for those who preordered gained a 3 day head start before launch. Aion was in available in two editions: Standard Edition and Collectors Edition. The latter includes many in-game items, figurines, posters, and the Official Aion Soundtrack CD by composer Yang Bang-Ean (known as Ryo Kunihiko in Japan). The Game was made available through Retailers for DVD purchase, and Via download from NCsoft, Steam, Gamestop's website, File Planet and Direct2Drive.
  • Russia: Aion open beta running since December 8, 2009.[31] In Russia, Aion is supposed to use a mixed payment model with monthly subscription and additional payments for in-game items and benefits.[1]

Sales and revenue[edit]

Aion was the biggest MMO release in recent years according to NCsoft, with 400,000 pre-orders in the US. The game generated 40.6 billion won ($32.7 million) in the fiscal quarter in South Korea, Taiwan, China, and Japan.[32] In China, over 1 million players logged in within the first four days of release.[33]

On its western release, Aion became the best-selling PC game of September 2009.[34] It also managed to remain at No. 1 on both the Steam and Direct2Drive charts for several weeks.[35][36] By 9 November 2009, the game had sold nearly 1 million copies in the west, with 500,000 units sold in the US and 470,000 units in Europe. The success of Aion resulted in NCsoft's quarterly revenues to rise 112% for a total of $142 million.[37]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 79.34%[38]
Metacritic 76% (PC)[39]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 7/10[46]
G4 4/5 stars[48]
GameSpot 6.5/10[42]
GameSpy 3.5/5 stars[43]
GameZone 8/10[44]
IGN 8.5/10[40]
PC Gamer US 70/100[47]
PC Zone 80/100[47]
X-Play 4/5 stars[41]
GamePlanet 9.0/10[45]
Awards
Publication Award
RPGLand.com Best MMORPG RPGs of the Year 2009[49]
MMORPG.com Best New Game
MMORPG.com 2009 Awards[50]
Gamescom Best Online Game
2009 Gamescom Awards[51]
PAX Best MMO
2009 Inside Gaming’s Best MMO of PAX[52]
Korean Game Awards Best Korean Game of the Year - 2008[53]

Aion has received generally positive responses from professional reviewers. Review aggregator Metacritic lists an average review score of 76%.[39] Positive reviews have cited that Aion provides a "refreshing look" from an artistic perspective and a "great first impression", with a lot of polish and balance.[41] [54] IGN states that Aion "tries to offer something for everyone and succeeds at it, albeit in varying degrees and at different stages".[40]

Negative reviews focus on the game's tendency towards "grinding" and its lack of innovative features. GameSpot's review noted that the first levels of the game were "fast-paced and intuitive", but that grinding "quickly became obtrusive".[42] X-Play reviewed that "after a few hours it'll become apparent that there isn't much radically different here". GameSpot also noted that the servers appeared to be unable to handle the number of players involved in large-scale PVP.


References[edit]

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External links[edit]