Don't let the title fool you into thinking Aion suddenly turned grindtastic at level 15; it didn't. But it has hinted at possible things to come in the future which I'm looking towards with both anticipation and dread.
I should warn you now, this post is long. Haha okay so all of them are, but this one felt exceptionally long... maybe I'm just imagining things, but it felt like I uploaded more images this time than usual.
Let's jump in to where I left off in Part 5: The Fledgling Years... or whatever I called it. After obliterating the orcish onslaught with our overwhelming offense, we were sent to lands unknown in order to follow up on some previous quests involving contaminated jellies and whipped cream... mmm whipped cream. Okay there was no whipped cream, but it would have been awesome. In any event, our adventures sent us travelling!
I'm not exactly sure that picture was taken at the start of our trek, but who cares? It's got waterfalls. Waterfalls. Who doesn't like waterfalls?! Even Thrall made sure to have a waterfall in Orgrimmar and he's an Orc! *ahems* To keep going on this train of madness, I just so happened to discover the markers you can have appear over a targets head. If you've ever raided in WoW you will feel totally familiar with these -- they're shapes like diamonds, hearts, clovers, and purple horse shoes! Okay no horse shoes, but Aion does go a step further with having numbers and some extra icons available.
The bomb icon would have been great for Baron Geddon in WoW. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if that's where they got the idea for such an icon.. or perhaps they frequent Giant Bomb. (Not that it would have stopped people from blowing up half the raid..) But I digress!
During our journey we stumbled across a headless statue, who -- through body language -- told us to find his head. Yes, statues can use body language. What? Stoic is an emotion, you know, and he conveyed it very well. So we found his head nearby and reattached it for him as best we could. Cutscene!
Moar cutscene! I'm really starting to dig them, as brief as many of them are.
That statue called me the Daeva of Destiny *blush* It's got a nice ring to it, though it seems my "destiny" is to run errands for random people -- committing mass-murder for some; collecting shrubberies for others. Oh well, an immortal angel has to pay for food and clothing somehow, I suppose. At the moment, we were tasked to kill golems, spiders, blobs, gryphons (that looked like bald eagles), dogs, and... well, pretty much everything else we came across.
I don't completely remember the order in which we dished out death, but it really didn't matter -- as long as things died, we were making progress! I will note that one quest which required picking up mushrooms was a bit bugged -- many of the mushrooms said they were lootable but wouldn't loot when you clicked on them. I've noticed a similar bug with many such collection quests. Oh well. Bridge!
I really did enjoy the scenery around here, it was all temperate rain-foresty which reminded me of some of the parks here in BC. Okay cept for the big purple flowers growing everywhere that helped level my gathering skill. Speaking of which there were a TON of gathering nodes all over the area -- pratically ever 2 feet there was either a plant, a mining node, or a fishing spot. It's been like this throughout the game so far, which is pretty awesome though also the first real feeling of grinding I got.
You have to harvest a lot to gain levels, so you'll be stopping to grab a lot of these. I definitely advise doing this while leveling instead of leveling and then going back later to grind out gathering... it saves a lot of time in the long run, and doesn't feel quite so chore-ish as you're accomplishing quests while you do so.
We had a quest to kill some named slime guy... What an annoying quest this was. You were supposed to drink a liquid that made you immune to his life-draining attacks, or rather they would still hurt you, but he wouldn't gain life back. The item only explains it as making you immune to his poison or something, yet it wasn't a poison debuff. In any event, we fight him, he hits me a few times I try drinking the potion. No go... finally after getting beaten nearly to death the potion works and... I get crit and die. Ugg.
Try #2! Didn't go so well either.... with me thinking I was out of the potion and trying to hold off and let Red tank the thing and drink her potion... Bad idea, the thing aggro'd me as soon as I threw a heal. But thankfully Clerics get a Fade ability where we drop the level of threat a mob has on us.... only one problem -- It's on a TWO MINUTE COOLDOWN. What the hell? So within 10 seconds I had aggro again and the attempt was a loss.
Try number three was buggy... but we killed it... cept some other person got credit... huh? We definitely hit it first, but whatever. So we had to go all the way back around and get more potions and attempt to kill this thing again -- Note to NCSoft: Please don't put quest-givers in the middle of nowhere and then have them send you to another middle of nowhere that's nowhere near the middle of nowhere the questgiver is in. It's lame.
In any event, we finally killed the stupid thing, though I forgot to screenshot the kill where we got credit, so this one where someone else got the credit will hafta do. Doesn't it look sexy? Don't mind Kato, he's a friendly ghost that we avenged or something.
Done with the surrounding quests, it was time to move to the next area and destroy the wildlife there! Actually, our quest count was pretty low at this point and we decided to do some exploring and see if the next area offered new quests. On the way I caught Red clearly defying the "No flying here" law and I have contacted the appropriate authorities.
So we came to a lush forest reminiscent in some ways to Un'goro Crater in WoW.. except no giant T-Rexs ready to bite our heads off. In the center was a giant tree with some ruins at the top. I should mention that this area had a weird green glow effect to it that was, well, weird. I guess you could say the plants were really in full bloom. *ba dum chii*
Upon our arrival, we came to the realization that we weren't welcome there yet. The quests were grayed out, and the NPCs gave us this disgusted "Pfft, what are YOU doing here?" Okay they didn't but I could tell they were thinking it. So what did we do? Well, I did a bit more exploring while Red went back to Sanctum and trained. somewhere along the way to an observatory located on a sandy beach, I found a new top, yay for new armor!
On a side-note -- wouldn't it be awesome to work in an observatory on a beach? You could go to work in your bathing suit and jump in the water after you're done. It'd be great!
This chapter is already getting pretty lengthy and we're only at level 17 ladies and gents! So... you might wanna take a break if you're reading this. Don't worry, I'll wait for you right here till you get back. Intermission picture! Pirate ships, arrr!
Okay, moving on. If you just rejoined us, welcome back! After exploring a blooming forest and a pristine beach (well, save for the fact the wildlife was being murdered and pirates were invading) it was time to hit up Sanctum, train, and search for some new quests. This is when the realm of customization in Aion turned on its head and I found myself spending a lot of gold senselessly. For I had discovered... Dyes!
Hell yeah! Why WoW does not have these is completely beyond me. They make mismatched gear look GOOD. WoW is notorious for the gear being so ridiculously mismatched at any given time it boggles my mind why they don't let you do at least a little something to make it look a bit better. Unless you have a full tier set, you generally look like a clown (hell, some of the full tier sets are pretty clownish in appearance...). Dyes are such a simple solution. The only reason I can see that they've avoided implimenting dyes is so they can keep reusing the same damn tier sets with different colors for the higher tiers (eg. pieces of Tier 1 and 2 drop in the Outlands and Tier 3 was used for level 80 Naxx). Lazy bastards. Lawbringer? More like Lawlbringer, amirite?! (This next image is from WoW, btw)
Okay enough WoW-hating, I still care a lot for it even if I no longer play, but that really has been my biggest complaint about it since day one -- a severe lack of customization. Back to dyes! They cost 1200 each (which is like nothing at level 17 and beyond) and you can cover old dyes with new ones, or use dye remover to go back to the default color. I've only played around with blue and purple so far. Blue looks fantastic, while purple is good but is really more pink... Whatever. I settled on all-out blue and really liked the results.
While I was off being giddy about discovering dyes, Red was looking all coy and teasing over in the weaponsmithing area. I'm not sure she was even there to actually weaponsmith... ;P But I did make her some new pieces of armor so she wouldn't die quite as quickly! She was totally only wearing those heels to get attention... I mean come on, how the hell would an assassin sneak up on an enemy in heels, let alone fight them? Look at her, she's absolutely glowing from getting so much attention!
Have I side-tracked long enough? I think so. Back to quests! Pretty soon we found ourselves back in familiar territory with a new stack of quests asking us to kill ghosts, a banshee, check out some mysterious stones floating around, and squish some beetles while we were in the area.
All of those quests out of the way we had hit the magic 18th level and it was time to revisit the forest that had shunned us earlier. This time they were ready to welcome us with open arms and give us quests in which we were introduced to a new game mechanic -- coins. A common staple of the MMO genre, coins are rewards you collect for doing repeatable quests which you can turn in for rewards. Some games call them marks, others call them tokens, they're all the same.
Only one problem with coins so far -- you don't get to pick your reward. The quartermaster in charge of giving out rewards is not apologetic in the least about this saying "Hey, it might be a shitty reward, but you can sell it... maybe!" What the hell? This just screams "Lazy!" on the devs' part. Would it be too hard to let us pick from an assortment of greens that might actually help us?
I'm not sure if higher level coins will let you choose rewards but I wasn't impressed when I ended up being rewarded with a staff that was worse than the one I was already using for turning in the max number of coins I could turn in -- four. What makes it even better is the fact the staff I'm using only requires level 14 to equip while the one I was rewarded requires level 16. What the hell?? (If you can't read the text, just know that green stats mean they are higher and the item on the left is the one I'm already using -- note that the majority of stats are higher and there are three sockets available on mine, only two on the other)
The only argument I can think of in its defense is "Well, at least you get a green out of all that grinding" which is sort of scary if that's their logic -- it means I can expect to see a LOT of grinding in the future... as getting those four coins involved killing 22 mobs 4 times, or to be more precise, 88 mobs. Grindtastic! Though killing them wasn't tough, they dropped fast and we had more problems with finding the rare of the two mobs needed for the quest, than we did with killing them.
Having completed the grindtastic coins quest multiple times, we decided to have a chat with a talking tree who kindly asked us to talk to other talking trees. After many lengthy conversations with talking trees we felt we had done everything we could for the forest and took our leave.
It turns out that a spell book that had dropped off of one of the water spirits we fought sold for quite a bit of money on the auction house and I soon found myself with enough money to buy some more emotes...
...and buy a guild charter! Thus, Harmony was born and consists of a whole two members. Yeah, we're pretty awesome. You don't need to get signatures like in WoW, nor do you need to give people a physical item, such as linkshells in FFXI. you just puchase the charter and boom, you're in a guild.. err Legion, rather. You invite people as you would in WoW, and there are member ranks, though they're very limited -- basically member, officer, guild leader.
The guild itself also has a rank, which grow based on number of members, what you've accomplished in the Abyss, and I think you also have to pay a fee to upgrade the level. Considering we need 10 members to get level 2, I won't be able to confirm that anytime soon. I do know that at rank 2 you get to change your insignia -- the symbol that's shown on the cape you get that shows off your guild, much like a tabard in WoW (I choose to hide mine since capes and robes never look good together). At rank 3 you can apparently import custom graphics for your symbol.. or at least the icon that shows up by your name... I've seen one guild with the face of Joey from Full House as theirs... o.O Sadly no screenshot, but I shall try to track down on of these people and take one!
Instead, a screenie of Red during her opening Legion speech! (I always seem to catch her blinking when I take screenshots ><)
Legion created, it was time to get to 20! Our current errands involved heading over to the observatory on the beach and reporting in. Upon doing so, I was put on clean up duty, clearing flotsam from the water which happened to be attached to the back of some weird creatures...
I was also turned into a macaw and asked to spy on some pirates. As we all know, the best spies are macaws, so I did as I was told and completed my clandestine mission with ease. One problem with the macaw form, according to Red -- They can't fly over deep water, instead sinking to their watery graves. I suppose this goes hand-in-hand with the fact we Daevas sink to the bottom of deep water when we walk into it. Lazy programming, grr.
You may have noticed in the one picture a few paragraphs up I was sporting a pair of leg warmers. While better stat-wise, I just wasn't in the mood for them and went back to Sanctum (as I had quests to hand in there) got my old clothes and a different pair of pauldrons. Yes, I am totally vain, and I am happy to admit that. If I'm gonna spend hours killing mobs, I want to at least look good while doing so!
I also took this time to a) confirm that yes, male characters do carry around pom-poms, too, which is pretty awesome and hilarious. This fellow and I had fun making random emotes at each other back and forth. We both had purchased them all as well as having the collector edition ones, so it was a lot of fun.
And c) Explore a bit of the next zone (to hand in a quest, of course) before finishing off the quests back at the beach. Wow was it ever crowded -- the screenshot below doesn't begin to convey how packed it was when I arrived, especially in the buildings. I used an image with the fewest people possible so you can actually see the scenery. This was the first zone without multiple channels, so everyone between level 20 and 25 congregated here. Both Red and I have had a few game crashes from just too much information on the screen at once.
But more on that place next time! I quickly made my return to the beach and grinded (ground?) out the last bit of experience I needed to hit 20! And poof! Level 20, yay!
Immediately I received a quest that would lead to the introduction of a new element of the game, but I shall save that for next time. See ya then!
Chapter IndexPart 1: The Prequel
Part 2: Character Creation
Part 3: The Early Levels
Part 4: Ascension!
Part 5: Learning to Fly
Part 6: Let the Grind Begin
Appendix 1: Emotes
Appendix 2: Bugs and Issues