So I quit Warcraft, I’d had enough endless grind, endless raiding just to get epic gear to compete with all the other goons roaming the tired virtual wastelands of WoW.
And it felt good to be free of the chains, I had finally rid myself of that nasty mmo monkey that had clung to my back for 2 years. For those final few months that monkey had become a tetchy, whining, always demanding prick that nagged and nagged, snorting my free time up its virtual nose. And anyway I’d been following the stories about the new mmo AION and all the beautiful wonders it promised.
I licked my lips at the possibility of an mmo that offered such beautiful settings and of course all those fresh new lands and adventures to be grabbed by the throat and shook till xp dropped like ripe cherries. After all WoW is looking tired and aged these days.
I was in a good place by the time the AION dvd’s were whirring in my fresh new pc. The break from WoW had purged me of my mmo addiction, I was in control, ready to accept that my new working life wouldn’t grant me time to waste sat in front of the screen till the early hours. AION was to be a treat, a small slice of time spent in the shiney new world of AION.
I’ll cut through the entire “omg that is totally amazing!” speech about those first virtual horizons, levelling up, new weapons, new cities explored…blah, blah, blah, (you probably know that discovery feeling well enough) and get to the point; AION is amazing, yes it’s beautiful, very well designed and vastly superior in many ways to WoW.
However (there had to be one, right?) there is one thing that lets AION down, where WoW beats it hands down every time. Playability. Something just doesn’t connect right, you don’t feel quite as immersed in the world as you do with WoW. The Interface is asthetically sculpted, yet it kinda keeps you at arms length, whereas WoW has an interface that welcomes you in – sit down, move things around, make yourself comfortable, play and fiddle till your hearts content. WoW let’s you get stuck in, it says “go on, you can’t break it.” But AION’s interface says “look but don’t touch” which is okay for a few hours, but then you want to know if (and when) you can move the map or the other bits of HUD around the screen to suit you better.
It’s very easy to play, the quests are a bit underwhelming, the storyline is good up to a point, but then you start wondering if a story that consists of 2 main races is all that good variety wise. In fact AION had a rather strange and unexpected effect on me, it made me want to play WoW!! I yearned for the chunky robust nature of the WoW screen, the reliable solid scenery and the sounds of real grunting, spell bashing battle. I cared for my WoW characters and couldn’t give a shit about my AION toons.
And you know what? I got me a months subscription to WoW, logged in and smiled as the city of Dalaran appeared around me. I was back. Back amongst solid virtual characters, the trading, hustle and bustle of the city, the reliable old graphics/textures still looked dated but that didn’t matter. I went out into Icecrown and shot me some mobs, it felt guuuurd!
Then I realised what AION’s problem is. Twofold. Number 1) You simply don’t connect with the game as you do with WoW. Say it how you like, give it some bullet points, make a list, but it just keeps you at arms length. It’s like getting a puppy for your birthday only to be told it has to stay in the box and you can just pat it’s head a little each day. And Number B) AION is just too perfect. It doesn’t have the same grittyness that WoW has. You don’t feel like you can get dirty playing AION, but after a quick dungeon run in WoW you know your character needs a shower.
So, AION is nice. That’s all it is. WoW wins on playability. However (and yes, there is always room for one more however) I currently don’t play either game! Want to know why? I bought a PS3 a few weeks ago and can’t seem to get enough hi-def MW2 shooting enemies in the back of the head action!
– tango down –