Friday, October 30, 2009

The Silent Caster

Now that is a scary idea. What good would a silent caster be?

But as Mojeaux pointed out to me I've been helping with the design work, but haven't contributed to the blog with any content.

--== My Aion experience thus far ==--

Road leading to Basfelt Village

Well I started out with a Sorcerer (InfiniteDarkness) and blasted my way to 13 in probably 5.5 - 6 hours. Then I hit Basfelt Village, and came to a screeching halt. I don't know if it was my gear, or just an increase in difficulty beginning there, but I was just struggling with all the quests. The mobs seemed to be resisting about 25%-50% of my spells, and my cloth armor just wasn't that great at stopping the Mau blades as I started becoming the pin cushion of the MuMu Village. In my previous MMOs I have played the pet class, but for Aion I had decided to break with tradition and try something new. Now my stubbornness had set in, and InfinteDarkeness would become the conqueror of the MuMus, Mau, and MossBears as I would forge my way through with a rain of destructive magic. Well that was the thinking for that evening....

The next morning Mojeaux asked me why I didn't just try a different class, maybe the Templar, Gladiator, Cleric, or the Spirit Master. Well the Spirit Master was off limits as I had sworn to not play the pet class, leaving me the main tank, off tank and the healer. I started thinking, "I've played the tanking classes before but never the healer, how bad could I be?" And thus Reparation was born. As I started running around the starter area, I began to realize how much more accepted the healer is. In my previous MMO incarnations, if I came across someone in trouble, I could try to beat the mob down to help, but I always had that feeling like I was uninvited guest. Now as I ran around, I could buff, and cast heals to those in trouble, and I would almost always get a thanks from the player in need.

Once again I leveled Rep up to 13 in about 5+ hours, and set my sights on the Basfelt Village, but this time things would be different... and they were. It was still challenging, but as long as I didn't aggo more than 2 mobs, I could keep myself healed while ever so slowly eating through the mobs HP. The Basfelt region had been conquered, not with the reign of destructive magic, but with healing arts, a mace and a shield... well the chain armor helped too.

Impetusium fell with rather ease, and my next challenge was the dreaded BC, and my first experience being the group healer. My first BC run was interesting trying to balance the HOTs, minor and major heals (our tank wasn't very good at holding aggro) but I made it though. I've since gone through BC 3 times, and each time I'm getting better at the group healing. I have to say the hardest part is balancing my health and the parties health, and having to make that decision that sometimes a member is going to die so I can live and heal the rest.

Well now I'm to 20, and looking forward to what Morheim has for me. The cleric I have to say has really started to grow on me, I guess we will just see from here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Morheim and my first Elyos sighting...

Quick update since I really haven't done or experienced much of anything in the last two nights.  For one, I didn't play at all last night and the night before that, I only had about an hour to burn.  I really couldn't accomplish too much in an hour so I decided to use that time to explore my new surroundings and reveal as much of the map as I could.  During the process I ended up seeing my first Elyos!

Quick first impression of Morheim ~ I found the fort to be, basically, another Altgard-esque type of place.  Some of the quests even reminded me of Altgard's newbie quests.  I'm not sure if it's because of my level (probably) or what, but there really weren't all that many quests available to me upon arrival. 

I followed the main road out of Morheim until I started running into mobs that were 10 or more levels above me at which point I stopped to ponder the situation and decided that discretion was the better part of valor.  So with that justification in mind ( I ain't skeered!) I headed back to Morheim in defeat with only about a quarter of the map explored.

During my trek back I decided to bolster my newly injured self-esteem (I'm telling you, I wasn't skeered!  Really!) by killing a few quest mobs here and was in the middle of killing one of them when out of the corner of my eye I saw something fly by me.  It had looked suspiciously like a Daeva.  I looked again.  OMG it WAS a Daeva... and it's name was all in RED....!!  I thought, "Oh man!  That's an Elyos!!" and so of course, I ran off like a mad man trying to follow it.  As I was running behind and below it, trying to keep up, I saw another one glide past me, this time directly over head.  

"Hmm.." I thought, self preservation entering my head for the first time (/boggle!),  "maybe I better check to see if there are more... hell, I might be chasing a freaking war party for all I know and stupidly running to my untimely death!"

The thought of alerting the rest of the nearby Asmos entered my mind for just a split second as I was turning around to look behind me for other Elyos, but the scene that greeted me assured me that there was no need of that because lo' and behold, hot on the trail of the two Elyos was a horde of bloodthirsty Asmos!  It was kind of funny too, because the scene was straight out of one of those vintage horror flicks, you know, where the mob chases poor Frankenstein with pitchforks and torches.  Anyway, the first Elyos did land, and was quickly overwhelmed, but in my haste to get to him, I ended up overshooting my landing and needless to say, before I got to the hapless Elyos, it was too late.  I'm not sure what happened to the second Elyos, if he made it or not, but I will tell you this:  My blood pressure and level of excitement shot up ten-fold when I spotted those Elyos...  Man! I can't wait to start PvP'ing!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Wrap up

Well it was a GREAT weekend for AION!  All three of my characters managed to level up.  Crowe clawed and scratched his way to 18 and is still haunting Impetusium.  Mojeaux made his way from 18 to 19 while making a few BC runs ~ but not before Morituri, my Templar, hit the big 20 and ended up making the move from Altgard to Morheim (I can't wait to dive in)!

 Crowe getting it on with a Wild Tayga

I have to say that getting Morituri to 20 was a blast!  It was the most fun I've had in game to date, bar none!  Notice the mediocre armor at the start of my night, below:

Looking less than professional...

Being that BC is the first major "dungeon" available to you as you hit your upper teens, there are always groups forming up to go and delve into it's mysteries.  So, it wasn't surprising that after a short wait, there was an opening in a BC group.  It was the first opening of many over the weekend.  Anyway, once the call came, I eagerly dropped what I was doing to finally go and experience BC in all it's glory for myself.
Chieftain Kumbaron was no match for our fury!

And man o man, did I ever!  We started our first foray by storming the front entrance and then quickly working our way around all of the known spawns looking for the named Mau and their drops.  In many cases, we hung around and changed channels at each spawn for more opportunities at the great gear being dropped.  It almost felt like cheating.  Almost.  Anyway, as it turned out, more often than not, I was the only tank in the group and even when I wasn't, and there was a Gladiator in the group, the lion's share of the plate still ended up with me.  So, as you can imagine, it wasn't long before Morituri was sporting an almost complete set of Mau armor...

How you like me now?  Notice the shiny new threads..

During our many expeditions deep into the heart of Black Claw Village that night, we hit Chief Kumbaron several times and the drops just kept coming.  I think I scored this shield during one of the beat downs:


And I wasn't the only one getting lucky.  It seemed that everyone, in each of the parties that I ventured into BC with, got some nice gear for their efforts.  Drops were so abundant that we even managed to pick up a few things for our alts.  Another added bonus, was that I was able to finish the BC quest line, culminating with a rather anti-climatic boss fight...


 A cleric and I were all it took... well, at least it DID look cool.

After finally giving Morituri a well earned rest, Crowe and Mojeaux took up the rest of my time, with Mojeaux hogging the majority of what was left of it with a few BC runs of his own.  All in all it was a very satisfying and rewarding weekend of AION.  I'm really looking forward to Morheim and I think that I will find it a great challenge to keep Morituri sidelined while I catch Crowe and Mojeaux up...

Friday, October 23, 2009


So this has been my new home for the past level and a half or so.  So far I have brought all three of my characters here in an effort to hit 18 so I can start participating in some BC quests groups this weekend.

Now, in order to get to Impetusium (red circle), you'll have fly to the Trader's Berth (orange circle) and then hoof it the rest of the way to Impetusium.  The Trader's Berth is a little pit stop run by  the Shugos where you will find several quests to complete, as well as a General Goods vendor, and of course the flight NPC.

 What did you just call me..?

Impetusium is a "fly zone".  A good thing too, because you'll need to fly up to the top of the structure in the middle of the zone in order to talk to the quest giving NPCs located there and to bind yourself to this location.  At first, I had a hard time deciding on whether I wanted to bind there or not.  The main reason for that was that I didn't like the fact that if I wanted to get to Altgard or Pandaemonium, or anywhere else for that matter, I had to make the run back to Trader's Berth.  However, if you don't bind there and suffer a little mishap, you'll end up with a rather lengthy trip to get back to Trader's Berth and from there, make the run back to Impetusium.  After experiencing my first mishap, I chose to bind there, but only after picking up a couple of Altgard Scrolls.  A little expensive, but a nice compromise nonetheless.

 You want me to do what..?!?

The quests given here are of your usual variety, kill 10 of these, get me 20 of that etc.  You can get these quests from both the NPCs on the platform atop the structure where the bind spot is, or from the NPCs conducting what looks like an archaeological dig at the base of the same structure.  Nothing to get excited about.  However, there is one quest in particular, where you have to kill 6 Bladestorm Spirits and 16 Cyclone Spirits in order to receive a Coin from the quest giver for each set killed.  You heard me right, you only get ONE coin per set of mobs killed.

 One sheep.. two sheep... three sheep..

Once you accumulate enough coins, either a set of 2 or 4, you can trade them into the NPC for a random piece of equipment.  On both of the occasions where I turned in 4 coins, I received a decent looking (Green) polearm useable by the Gladiator class in exchange.  It was a little disappointing in that I couldn't use it (and that I got it twice), but it was going for about 9k on the broker so it wasn't a total disappointment.  All in all, not a bad area to quest/grind at.  Plenty of mobs to kill.

That being said though, after doing it three times, I'm ready for something new.  Here's hoping that I can find some BC groups tonight!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

OMFG! Did I really do that?!?

Ok, so I'm a dumb ass.  Or maybe it's like my good friend, John said, in an attempt to make me feel better; "Maybe you're just getting a little confused playing three classes...".  Yeah, maybe.

Remember how I had complained that my Templar was terribly slow at leveling, or more specifically, at killing things?  Well, much to my embarrassment, I think I have discovered a major reason why.  I'm not sure how it happened, but happen it did, and not just for a level, but for quite a few (/hangs head in shame).


While shopping for skills, I found that I had missed out on getting a whole crap-load of skills, starting way back from the beginning!  OMFG!  How did I finally make that mental leap forward, you ask?

Well, when I last left Morituri, he was hanging in the Basfelt area.  I had just hit 16.   It was getting late so I had decided to log, leaving getting my new skills until the next time I logged on with Mori.  Well, that time came at about 10:30 Tuesday night.  I logged on and promptly went to Pandaemonium in search of my new skills.  Little did I know what a bitter/sweet moment that would turn out to be!

Sweet, in that I finally (OMFG!) discovered that little tab on the Warrior Class skills vendor called "TEMPLAR", and bitter in that it took me 16 levels to do it.  Prior to this "discovery", I had been buying my skills while looking under the Gladiator tab, which is the default tab when you open the vendor window.  I had always found skills to buy because each respective tab will also list any skills that are shared by both Classes,  so I had thought nothing of it.  I just bought what was available and went about my ignorant (but merry!) way.

  Die Kermit!

Well, after that little epiphany, I figured I had better check on my other two miscreants to make sure that I hadn't made the same mistake with them.  Mojeaux was fine (Ranger must be the default tab), but Crowe was not.   After much teeth gnashing and cursing,  I'm happy (and embarrassed) to report that all three are now fully equipped with the available skills (OMFG!)...  Makes me wonder what I else I might be missing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Ranger so far...

Well, I have to tell you that I am really enjoying my Ranger so far.  He's not quite as squishy as I originally thought, and in fact, seems to be faster at taking down a mob with his blades than he is with the bow.  By a lot.
Now I'm not going to sit here and blow smoke up your rear ends and tell you that the Ranger is able to tank, because he can't.  Nope.  Uh-uh.  It ain't going to happen.
I will tell you, however, that he's actually a bit tougher than some folks gave him credit for.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm ready to ditch the bow and arrows in favor of dual wielding swords any time soon when it comes to my opening attack, but I sure do enjoy going "Ginsu" on mobs when the need arises .  One nice thing that helps a lot, is that he still has his Surprise Attack ability from his scout days.  Dodge an attack, stun opponent and then slip behind them for the big hit. 

Kiting is still the preferred method for encounters involving mobs without any ranged attacks at their disposal, especially if given enough room to kite comfortably.  You can do it in close confines just as effectively, but it's always nice to have room for mistakes or quick breaking snares, especially if low on health.

Dealing with a caster at these levels, on the other hand, requires a different approach.  The ranged attack is not the best course of action in this case as their missiles often hit a lot harder than the Rangers do and they will eventually out damage and kill you in a shootout.  Fortunately, casters are pretty squishy and particularly susceptible to a stealthy blade. I've found that it's best to sneak in close, get that backstab in and then quickly dispatch them in close quarters combat.  They rarely get more than two or three spells off which shouldn't be anything to worry about.  Give those finger wigglers much time though, and it will most likely end badly for you.  This strategy may change once I get my silencing and sleep shots but for now this seems to work out rather nicely.

Anyway, the run from 16 to 18 has been fun, so much so that I'd like to keep playing Mojeaux, but I think it's time I showed my other characters a little love.  Question is, which one? 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wife mandated breaks and NcSoft goodies...

Well, if you read my last post, then you know that I had big plans for Thursday night of last week.  I had managed to get Friday off in order to take my wife to Baton Rouge for the Oak Alley Plantation's Fall Festival, a highly regarded wife mandated break of great renown. 

Anyhoo, since we weren't due to leave until 11am or so on Friday morning, I figured I would be able to get some quality play time in to make up for all the lost time over the weekend, even if it meant having to bite the bullet on the 3 hour long drive down to the old Red Stick, as the wife had already made it perfectly clear that she was not driving...

Well as luck would have it, all my previous late nights of staying up to play AION, finally caught up to me.  I made my first and last mistake by telling myself what I always tell myself when this happens to me:  "I can just lay here for a bit, I'll be able to make it back up."  And like always, I was WRONG.  As my wife will quickly point out, I was out like a ton of bricks, not to see the waking world again until around 3:30am when nature called.  Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.  Anyway, seeing as how my plans had been ruined, I shuffled off to bed with muddled thoughts of getting in some early morning playtime in a few hours.

Well, I'm happy to report that I did manage to get Mojeaux up to level 17 in between loading up the truck and finishing up all those other pre-trip tasks assigned by my wife.  Early on, I was able to get into a small group to do a few of the BC quests.  It was fun and I definitely look forward to going back.  However I found that coin collecting quest that Zeli talks about on her Blog and found quite a few quests down there that are sure to keep me occupied for at least the rest of 17 and possibly 18.  I do hate that there is no flight NPC at Impetusium.  I know the nearest flight NPC isn't too far away, but I still find it a pain the rear.  I know, "Waah!", right?

Oh and one more thing.  I found this waiting for me when I got back from my little vacation.  Kudos to NcSoft for this:

It may be a little too late for some, but I thought it was a nice gesture on their part and welcome their acknowledgment of what turned out to be a craptastic situation for some.  For the record, I started on the day after Meslamtaeda went live and rolled on that server and have never had any issues logging in.  See you all next time!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

That's why the call them Tanks...

Well, it's been two days since my last post, and in that time I've managed to get two of my brood to about 16th and a half.  Crowe, the little DPS monster that he is, didn't seem to take much time at all in hitting the mark.  Between mopping up the last few quests I still had left in the Basfelt area, and a doing a little mob grinding (those Sprigg Outlaws on the way to Grimblade Canyon from Basfelt Village give pretty good XP at level 15), I managed to take him from being just a sliver of a bubble into 15 when I started, to almost 16 and a half in about 2.5 hours.  The only thing that slowed him down was that he had to stop after every fight to bandage up and rest, a few deaths due to me not paying attention to my health bar didn't help either!

Mori, my Templar, on the other hand, was sloooooow going.  Or at least it felt that way.  He didn't have to stop and rest as often as Crowe did, being able to engage at least 2-3 mobs before having to take a rest.  However, his meager damage output slowed things up considerably on the front end of each fight.  I don't know, maybe it all balanced out in the end.  After all, it took me about the same amount of time to level  him to 16 as it did Crowe.  It just seems that the Templar's limited damage output being what it is, definitely puts the "G" in grind.  

Hopefully things will go back to a less "grindy" pace as Mojeaux the Ranger is up on deck tonight.  I have a few extra hours to devote to the game this evening, so who knows, I may have my first level 17 to brag about in short order...  

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Impressions...

After putting in enough time to get 3 characters to level 15, I've come away with these first impressions of the game.

Graphics/Game Stability
Both are top notch.  It's a beautiful game.  I'm runing a modest set up that's about 2 years old (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz, 2 GB's of Corsair gaming RAM, 500mb Nvidia 9800GTX video card, all of it running on Vista Ultimate) and the game runs pretty well on that platform at max graphics, but runs better if I drop all the settings down one notch from max.  The game was released in Korea in November of 2008, so a fair amount of the bugs have been worked out of it in the 10 month span between the Korean release and the North American release.  Thankfully it's not the usual "rush-to-market-even-with-all-the-bugs" fare that we've been used to of late.  In fact, aside from it locking up on me twice since I got it, it's been flawless.

Game Play -
Is a lot more challenging than, say, WoW, which in my humble opinion, was somewhat dumbed down from the onset in order to attract the type of folks who make Barrens chat such a delight.  The lore is pretty good, though not too deep or convoluted.  I'd say the difficulty/challenge is about on par with Verant's EQ and Sigil's Vanguard, though I haven't run any dungeons yet so therefore I can't comment on that aspect of the game just yet.

Questing/Zones/Travel -
I like the way they set up the quests.  The Asmodaen newbie area, for instance, which is huge, is for levels 1-10, and it itself is broken down into various sub-areas, each with it's own unique mobs and quest lines.  The quests in each sub-area eventually end up having you travel to the next new area/zone once you've exhausted all the quests pertaining to your current area or reach a certain level.  There is a fair bit of travel involved and you will spend some time doing just that, since the areas are pretty large and sprawling.  Travel is by foot for the most part, but you can fly for a price.  There are NPC's that offer the service in most of the central hubs that I've been to.  Once you hit level 10, you can also begin using the NPC Teleporters for the really long range travel.  For the most part though, travel will be localized to your immediate area/zone until you level and are ready to move on.  Zone travel is seamless, though you will get some loading screens when you go from one major area to another, for example, from Altgard to Pandaemonium.

Gear -
Gear matters and you can often see the impact of a new piece of gear on your character as soon as you take it out for a spin.  Gear drops from mobs frequently enough that you probably won't want to buy any gear right away.  Green gear, the lowest of the "above average" gear, drops with enough regularity that by the time you hit level 10, you will have picked up 3-4 pieces of it.  It won't always be something you can use, but you can usually trade it for gear that you can use or sell it to buy some if you just can't help yourself and need that new shiny right then and there.  Right now, green gear sells for some good cash (the game is around 3 weeks old at the time of writing).  You can also get nice gear from quest rewards but in my opinion, I think most of the gear dropped by random mobs is better than a lot of the quest rewards - at least it has been in my limited experience.  That being said though, I have gotten some nice quest rewards.

Classes - 
I'd say 80% of the game you can get by solo with just about any class if you play it right (again, bear in mind that this is from the perspective of my limited experience).  The classes that I've played so far are pretty typical.

1 - The Templar is the heavy tank, slow to level solo, but wanted in groups once you hit level 17 or so.  In fact, I see more calls for a Tank in the LFG channel than I do for anything else, to include Clerics.  He can usually take on 2-3 mobs at one time if geared properly.  Bring lots of bandages, potions and reagents for the herb treatment - it will keep you in the field a lot longer and therefore speed up the leveling process just a bit.

2 - The Assassin, which was my first character, is a great damage dealer, and levels at a decent pace, but I have noticed that there are a ton of them running around.  They can take a mild beating, but you should know when to run away to fight another day.  The stealth (Hide) ability makes some quests easier to complete, than, say for my Templar, who has had to fight his way through the same quests and has died a couple of times as a result.

3 - The Ranger, I've found, is pretty squishy, but maybe that's only because I've died with him the most.  He obviously can't take a beating as well as my Templar, but he's also not as resilient as my Assassin.  Maybe it's the gear? /Shrug.  But what he lacks in the durability department, he more than makes up in the fun department.  And to be fair, he actually CAN melee some, and should in fact, especially in the lower levels because his bag of tricks doesn't have a lot in the way of keeping targets away from you at first.  From what I've read, that gets better later on (around 19) and you can often kill something before it even makes it close enough to a lay a paw on you.  I did learn to kite a bit better with the tools currently at my disposal, so now I find myself being able to take out mobs 2-3 levels higher than me at this point.  I did get my first trap the other night, but haven't had the chance to try it out yet.

Crafting/Money - 
From what I've read, crafting is very expensive and of course, time consuming and tedious.  Food and potions seem to be highly desired for PvP, so I'm thinking that that might be the way to go if you want to have a steady stream of money coming in.  Armor smithing and Weapon making also seem to be pretty popular.  Something else you might want to look into, is harvesting.  I know, it's about as fun as poking yourself in the eye with a stick, but right now, you can make a good bit of money selling it on the broker to those folks who are just too busy leveling to harvest.  You also make decent amounts of money doing quests and from selling the occasional mob drops, but things seem to cost a lot of cash too so you'll quickly see, what seemed like a lot of money, disappear with just a few purchases.

Flight/Leveling - 
Flight is VERY cool.  You get your first wings at level 10, which if you can play non-stop, you should be able to achieve in about 4-6 hours of steady game play.  It goes faster for your Alts, because you'll know where all the quest mobs are and what drops what.  Leveling slows down once you hit level 10 and in some cases you'll run out of quests (not the right level, need a group to finish, etc.) that you'll have to resort to grinding out mobs to get those last few bubbles to ding.  You get new spells/abilities, it seems, every few levels, and usually more than one.

Final Thoughts (phew!) - 
So far, I'd have to say that I'm addicted to it.  It's one of those games that i can't stop thinking about and all I want to do when I get home is kiss the wife on my way to the computer.  Hell, it's even inspired me to try my hand at writing a blog, a first for me.  Of course, only time will tell if it's a keeper...

Two's Company... Three's a Crowd?

Ok, so I have a hard time making up mind sometimes.  In the end, I've always chosen to play a Tank as my main.  This time around, however, I decided to try something different.  Something I had never tried before.  So, I *decided* to roll an Assassin as my main.  Crowe was the end result:

Well, after getting Crowe to level 10 and Ascension, it only took me about 5 hours, I decided, in typical fashion (arrggh!) that maybe I shouldn't just lock myself into one class (oh nooo, why be efficient, right?) and that I should just go ahead and give my old mainstay a chance too.  So, the next night Morituri was born:

I quickly (though not as quickly as Crowe, despite knowing where the quests were at ~ assassin dps just rocks!) leveled Mori up to level 10 and got him his wings (wife mandated breaks impeded progress somewhat, but I managed).  

Well, apparently not content to have to agonize over just two character choices with my limited play time, I decided the next morning that maybe I should make it a Tri-fecta and go ahead and roll that Ranger that I originally thought about rolling up in the first place (/sigh) and so prior to a 5 hour non-stop AION binge, Mojeaux the Ranger was born:

Interestingly, I managed to get Mojeaux leveled up the fastest, despite dying more often (Rangers are a bit squishy) and by the time I was done that evening, I had outleveled both Crowe and Mori, getting Mojeaux to a hard earned 15 in the shortest amount of time.
I have to say, that Mojeaux has quickly become my favorite character, though I did give him a rest and have leveled Crowe up to 15 and Mori up to 14 (almost 15).  I still haven't decided if I'm going to concentrate my efforts on one character in order to get into the PvP game faster, or if I'm going to divide my play time amongst all three and just let things progress that way until an obvious favorite becomes apparent... decisions, decisions.