More and more MMO’s are advertising themselves as free-to-play, most of them after I’ve already bought the box and subbed for a while (this will include TERA down the track no doubt)! But … there are catches. EQ2 is ‘free’, but if you want to make full use of the auction house, get a decent amount of bag space, try out more than the basic classes, get to max level etc, you have to purchase expansions and get yourself a subscription. Fallen Earth, LotRo and many more have some kind of subscription or purchase required to open up the game fully.
This is where Aion is different, even if you wanted to sub, there’s no option to do so. All quests are accessible, all areas open, all classes available, it really is free-to-play. The clear attraction of this means that the game is really alive, there are tonnes of people playing in the first and second areas (I’ve yet to level further than that). It’s a AAA MMORPG that you can fully play for free.
So where do they make their money? Fluff (clearly they’re going to get their sub’s worth of money from me :P). The Aion shop is filled with things like pets (although you can still easily get a wide variety of pets in-game), mounts (again, you can get mounts in-game), housing items, scrolls, clothing dyes etc. It’s great, if you don’t want to / can’t afford to pay, you can still enjoy the game in it’s entirety.
Leelew, my stealthy, dagger wielding assassin has now reached 26. In Aion there are two different types of quests, Campaign and standard. The Campaign quests are like story quests and teach you about lore and introduce you to new aspects of the game. My latest set of Campaign quests are setting me up for PvP (not something I’m all that into, but I want to do the quests just to see the Abyss). The Abyss is basically a void between the two factional worlds, Elysea and Asmodae, so it stands to reason that PvP is going to be rife (although there is some PvE there too). Within the Abyss you can fly anywhere, even over to the opposing world, but the usual limits to flight time still apply. It’s all about capturing key locations, and undertaking quests … and fighting other players of course.
I can’t see myself participating much in the Abyss, but it’s nice to take a peek. I’m going to finish up my Abyss campaign quests and then head back to the safety of PvE :). I want to craft some more things for my empty little cottage and see if I can get to 30 by the end of the weekend.