This is just a friendly reminder to everyone out there that Aion goes free to play in North America tomorrow, and gets an upgrade to version 3.0 in the process.
The 3.0 update sees the level cap increase as well, now capping out at 60. The five new levels bring additional skills to your favorite classes, as well as new instances and zones to explore. Two of the most requested additions will also make their debut in the way of player housing and mounts. Housing will start off with the cheap one-room studio and go all the way up to your very own palace. Mounts will increase the speed at which players can travel, and all mounts are capable of flight.
Aion NA seems to be taking a different approach to the Aion EU free-to-play model. Where Aion EU had different classes based on whether you chose to keep your subscription or had ever had a subscription based account in the past, Aion NA seems to have only one account type, “Truly Free”, and will make all money by way of its Black Cloud Traders item shop. Speaking of which, if you pre-order a large C.U.B.E.’s worth of items before the servers go live tomorrow, you get an addition Eternal grade weapon thrown in as an added bonus. The large C.U.B.E. costs 3600 NCoin, which is a tad less than $50. If you have any intention of sticking around for a while, the investment seems to be well worth it.
The last time I played Aion (about half a year ago at this point…) the game had evolved from what was a very real, very harsh grind at the game’s launch into something that was polished, enjoyable and rewarding. The game’s lore was interesting enough to keep players involved, and the mechanics for PvE, PvP, and PvPvE were well implemented.
It was a shame then, when the dreaded server merges began happening. I was the victim of one such merge, and wear the ~NK suffix that was added to the end of my character’s name with honor and sadness. There was no denying that the player base was starting to erode, which was having a severe impact on the game’s faction balance. Because the game relied so heavily on a near equal balancing of the two factions, when people quit it left the other faction with greater numbers, and therefore threw the game’s best aspect – the PvPvE area known as the Abyss – into complete chaos. It became nearly impossible for the opposing faction to take forts during large scale PvP events, and the faction that controlled the forts controlled the Abyss.
NCSoft took steps to try and rectify the situation, and as they turned the original game from grind to compelling experience, things started to look promising once again. The only way to actually fix the problem would have been to completely rearrange the game’s population so that there was an equal balance of the factions on every server, but let’s face it – that’s just bad business. They put in incentives for the weaker faction to try and attempt the PvP portions of the game, and activity rose. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was better than leaving the game the way it was. What they really needed was an infusion into the player base – one that would allow them to fix the balance without having to move everyone around.
But how do you attract players to an apparently broken, dying MMO? You revamp the game, give the players what they want, and make it free to play.
Aion goes free-to-play tomorrow, April 11th – the same day it gets its long awaited update to version 3.0 – which introduces various player requests such as housing and mounts. Only time will tell if the conversion to the free to play model will bring life back to this once-promising game. But seeing as the game is free to play, it certainly won’t hurt to jump back in and see if it’s headed in the right direction.
I’ve got the client downloading as I write this, and in the next few days I’ll be posting my various impressions of the game and its conversion to F2P. The game is free to play, so I hope to see you there!
Source: [Aion Online]