It’s fascinating when a new MMO drops and witnessing the ensuring controversy, blog commentary and inevitable comparisons to “The MMO that shall not be named” (TMMOTSNBN is a mouth full, so lets shorten it to “The Unnameable MMO” or UMMO for short).
Yes kiddies I’m talking about the supposed battle between World of Warcraft and Aion. But let’s be honest: this isn’t a fight.
Aion is aiming for the number two spot of Western MMOs. Why? Because they’ve seen plenty of other MMOs try and fail.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
If it was a cage fight – UMMO vs Aion – we know who’d win. UMMO is in a different class all together. It’s too big, too powerful and has the subscribers and resources to take on anyone and anything. UMMO has a punch that will knock down the most confident of challengers.
Just ask Mythic. They’re still on the mat, dazed, groggy and punch drunk long after the referee has finished counting, the crowds have gone home and the stadium lights have been turned off.
But the comparisons made by bloggers, players and forum trolls will continue for weeks, if not months. The most anticipated event after Aion’s release will not be the announcement of a new expansion, but when NC Soft releases subscriber figures for Aion. It is then that the interwebz will pronounce Aion a success or failure.
For the moment we’ll have to put up with the simplistic comparisons. We Fly Spitfires notes how the General Chat in Aion is dominated by WoW/Aion comparisons:
“Aion has a pretty lively General Chat channel on my server and one of the topics that seems to crop up on a regular occasion is World of Warcraft. Usually it’s initiated by someone saying something like “Aion is way better than WoW”, “go back and play WoW”, “WoW is for care bears” or the witty “WoW sucks”. Suffice to say it’s enough to cause a storm in the chat channel as the few people who actually seem to like Warcraft try stick up for it against vast, insurmountable odds. It seems like everyone’s a WoW hater these days. I guess it’s no surprise considering how WoW has so few subscribers compared to the other MMORPGs out there. Oh wait…”
It was exactly the same on my server. It was also noted by the store assistant when picked up my collectors edition: “I’ve heard great things about this game, it’s supposed to give WoW a run for it’s money!”
Well, it’s good that Aion has great word of mouth. But I’m not sure the UMMO/Aion comparisons helps. Bottom line: it’s far too early to tell. Well get a true picture of the game once a sufficient number of players reach the “end game” and there’s been time to reflect.
Aion: the case for cautious optimism
Wall of Text makes a great point, noting time is needed to judge a MMO. I have to agree:
“The moral of the story is to temper your enthusiasm about a game until you’ve experienced more of it. A lot more of it. Just a dose of reality for those enamoured with Aion, Fallen Earth, or even Champions Online right now. Give it time before singing its praises, you could end up eating your words…”
Right now I’m enjoying Aion. Graphically it’s a stunning game. I don’t think this is too controversial a point to make. However it’s still too early to say much else.
Presently I’m playing both a Scout and Warrior – both of whom are about to “ascend”. I’ve not decided on which will be my main: I’m experimenting, testing the mechanics of each class and deciding which play style I enjoy more.
However I’m not prepared to claim Aion “Worlds Best MMO!”.
Instead I’m cautiously optimistic. I think it’s an enjoyable game, well produced and with great “polish”.
That does not mean I’m about to cancel my WoW sub. I’m too deep into the end game to simply give up. Aion gives me variety. How far I go into Aion will depend on how much I personally enjoy the game.
My recent travels through out the MMO world have convinced me that most games have their strengths and their inevitable weaknesses.
The moral of the story? MMOs come in different flavours: it’s a question of personal taste which one you enjoy most.