It’s been a short trip from “this is a thing that’s going to happen” to “this thing is happening right now”, but here we are. Today, Aion Classic launches for global audiences. This is an opportunity for those (like me) who enjoyed Aion back in the day but aren’t so fond of the current version, as well as those who missed out the first time around to get in and try things out. That, and there are likely to be some folks who weren’t around for the first time because, as was pointed out to me by Lead Producer Mike Treffler during a brief overview of Classic last week, XP was the most up to date version of Windows at the time of launch.
To offer players more information on what to expect from Aion Classic, NCSoft offered us a chance to spend some time with them and ask a few questions while they explained some of the more important aspects. It’s worth noting up front that not much has been changed. And… well… that’s kind of the whole point of a Classic server, isn’t it? That’s not to say that there aren’t any changes. Some things were just required — like adjusting the game for the current PC environment. At which point, you might as well throw in some quality of life changes… things like ensuring the graphics look right on newer systems and smoothing the leveling curve a bit to make it a bit less grindy.
So, what can players expect when they log in today? For the most part, you’ll be looking at 2009 Aion. That means four classes: Warrior, Scout, Priest, and Mage. It also means a level cap of 50. This will be the same content that Aion Classic launched with in Korea back in November.
If you’re familiar with classic MMO servers — and who isn’t at this point — you’re likely to expect one to be subscription based. And, you wouldn’t be disappointed here either. Aion Classic DOES have a sub, known as Siel’s Aura. The thing is, it’s not required to play. If you’re okay with several restrictions, you can play the game without ever paying for a sub. As mentioned before, the free version limits player XP gain by 50% once the player passes an hour of playtime each day. As you can see in the FAQ (scroll down), it also limits things like item, Kinah, and Abyss Point acquisition as well as gathering. The ability to trade or set up private shops will only be available during the first hour of playtime as well.
According to Treffler, the reasoning behind these limitations is to prevent botting — or at least make it harder for them to do. The Aion team also feels the hour of free Siel’s Aura time for non-subbed players should also be sufficient for those players who may have had hours to spend in game back when Aion first launched but have since had their schedules filled with things like work and children. And for those who it’s not quite enough, but still would rather not drop for a full month’s subscription, they have plans for a 3-day or “Weekend” pass. This will be a less expensive sub that might appeal to those who find themselves with a few extra days to just game every once and a while. (And, no. It doesn’t have to be used on the weekend.) They’ll also be paying attention to player feedback to know if that hour is truly enough or not.
During the first week following Aion Classic’s launch, everyone will have a free week of Siel’s Aura to get things rolling.
While we’re on the topic of monetization, it’s also important to mention the Battle (or Daeva) Pass. This is pretty much what you’d expect from a battle pass, complete mission, get XP, earn rewards. The expectation is that the battle pass and rewards will change from season to season. They will also scale, with there being a lower-level battle pass for players between levels 1 and 10. As a player’s level passes this point, the difficulty of the battle pass will increase.
Aside from the monetization, and general update information, I asked about race balancing. As any of you who pre-made your characters may have noticed, Asmodians were locked out on and off, to encourage players to roll an Elyos and maintain faction balance for PvP. This is going to continue as needed. In addition, to prevent camping of new players, particularly on less balanced severs, Rifts will be level restricted. For those unfamiliar with Rifts, they’re the passages players use to make their way from their faction’s side of the world to the other for PvP purposes. On particularly unbalanced servers, it was easy for one side to come through and trounce the other without any effort.
Finally, if you’re wondering about update and how the game might change over time. Currently, the team plans to follow what’s being done in Korea with updates every 2 to 4 months. I asked about what might happen when we get to the updates where Aion began to drastically change and become what we have now. The current answer is that they can’t predict that far ahead. So, we’ll just have to wait and find out.
Aion Classic is available to play right now. In honor of the launch, NCSoft has a few challenges prepared for players who are ready to take them on and earn legendary titles. You can read about this in yesterday’s post.