So why do we still know so little about Aion? Is it because the impending Tabula Rasa is currently eating all of NCsoft’s focus? Is it because the now-cancelled Auto Assault was a catastrophic failure, so this next MMORPG is getting a rethink? Is it because it still hasn’t escaped the conceptual stage?
What we do know hits some of the right notes – a modified Far Cry engine means a certain degree of pretiness (though that’s what I thought when I first heard of Aion a year ago, and since then I’ve feasted my eyes on all number of incredible ocular sweetmeats). And it has flying – not on the back of a poxy animal of some kind, but you, the character, actually flying, with big giant wings on your back. Ooh. I like flying.
There are also bum notes, specifically every single screenshot. MMO developers, if your characters look like this:
then I am immediately 25% less interested in playing your game. I’m sorry. I know it’s a horrible prejudice. Really though, I’m as sick of seeing that soft-focus Asian medieval fantasy look as I am seeing men called Jack with giant forearms in Western action games. Stop it. They can throw as many pretty pixel shaders as they like at it, but it won’t stop Aion looking forgettable if that’s the approach they’re sticking to throughout. The point of an MMO is that it makes you want to live in that virtual world, not to be reminded with every single character you pass that YOU ARE PLAYING A VIDEOGAME.
I’m sorry. I’m angry because I’m still desperately seeking the post-WoW MMO that I want to swallow my free time, and I get frustrated when one I was curious about starts looking like it won’t scratch my particular itches. I look forward to finding out more about Aion, and hopefully being an impressed wee laddie.
Much more positively: cities in the sky and flying dragon-rhinoceros thingies. That I’m down with.