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Aion (Korean: 아이온: 영원의 탑, also known as Aion: The Tower of Eternity) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in Korea and China with localized versions in development for other regions of the world. The game developer is NCsoft's Aion Team Development Dept, a major Korean game developer. Aion combines player versus player and player versus environment in a fantasy game environment. A distinctive feature of the game is flight, both as a means of transportation and aerial combat. Other games in this genre typically offer flight only as a means of travel, while combat is reserved for the ground.
Following the announcement of the game in May 2006 with a preview at E3 2006, NCsoft developed it over the following year at their software design studio in South Korea. Closed beta testing in Korea began in late 2007 followed by an open beta test in November 2008. A version of the game localized for China began its closed beta testing in December 2008, and began open beta testing on April 8, 2009, ending on April 18, 2009.
The game is also being localized for western markets including North America, Europe, and Australia. NCSoft has held four closed beta testing event weekends in June and July 2009 open to players in North America and Europe. Each had a limited focus. The first, held June 5-7th, 2009, focused on the Elyos from level 1 through 20. The second initially had a focus of level 1 to 10 for the Asmodians, but at the last minute it was decided to allow it to be open to level 10 for both factions. CB3 had a focus of both factions levels 1-20 and CB4 focused on both faction levels 1-25 with the introduction to the Abyss. During CB2 there was an addition of 1 more server and CB4 2 new servers were added due to the unexpected overwhelming popularity of the game already. There are plans for 2 more closed beta events on weekends spanning through the end of July and August, 2009.
Aion was released in South Korea on November 28, 2008. Given the success of NCSoft's previous games, Lineage and Lineage II, Aion had been a highly anticipated game in South Korea ever since its announcement. At the end of 2008 Aion won the award "Best Korean Game of the Year" for its "epic scale, immersive story, and stunning graphics and sound design".
The game was released in China on April 16, 2009.
NCsoft has confirmed a North American release date of September 22, 2009 and a European release date of September 25, 2009. The game will also be released in Australia on September 25, 2009.
In the beginning there was a god named Aion who ruled over a world called Atreia. This god created a race of intelligent entities to act as his servants whom he called the Balaur. After some time passed the Balaur disobeyed Aion's wishes and rebelled against their creator. The god Aion then created the 12 Empyrean Lords. The Empyrean Lords in turn created a barrier which prevented the Balaur from attacking the humans charged under their protection. Within this barrier all things were safe. The Balaur ravaged and destroyed many of the living things residing outside of the barrier.
Some humans, living within the safety of the barrier, learned how to harness some of the same energy as the Empyrean Lords, known as aether. Such humans were called Daeva and, like the Empyrean Lords, had wings. With time, enough Daevas were born to form an army. Ten of the Empyrean Lords led these Daevas into battle against the Balaur, while the remaining two were the guardians of the Tower of Eternity, the embodiment of the god Aion. The war with the Balaur lasted for hundreds of years until one of the guardians of the tower announced that they should find a way to make peace with the Balaur. Five of the Empyrean Lords vehemently disagreed. However, the second guardian of the tower was swayed to peace. The Balaur were invited into the tower for peace talks. It is unclear what happened at that point. One of the Balaur lords lay wounded on the floor and the rest proceeded to attack the tower. The two Guardians attempted to raise the shield by going to opposite ends of the tower. However, they were unsuccessful and the tower, along with the world, shattered in two. As their final act, the two guardians sacrificed their lives in order to protect a part of Atreia. With Atreia severed, the survivors banded together to face their new world. Of the original twelve, ten of the Empyrean Lords survived. Five who had opposed peace and claimed that the weakness of the rest of the lords had allowed the Balaur to attack them reigned over the dark part of the world, becoming known as the Shedim Lords. The other five reigned over the light-covered bottom part of Atreia and claim that it was the Shedim Lord's actions that caused the breaking of the tower. They are known as the Seraphim Lords.
The new shape of the world also reshaped its inhabitants. Those that lived in the light part of the world saw little change except for an increase in their beauty. These followers of the Seraphim Lords called themselves Elyos and created the city of Sanctum. The inhabitants of the upper part of the world saw many changes. Having to walk on ground strewn with fragments of the tower, their feet became talons. Having to fight against beasts, their hands became claw-like. Furthermore, the darkness made their complexion change and their eyes grew red adapting to the absence of light. They call themselves Asmodians and live in the city of Pandemonium under the rule of the Shedim Lords.
There are four primary classes, and eight specialized classes in the game. Players start the game by choosing one of the four primary classes: Warrior, Mage, Scout, or Priest. After attaining level 10, the players must choose from the two specialized classes associated with that base class. This allows players to get a feel for the playstyle of the class before making a major decision as to which class to play for the rest of the game.
Each faction will have a slight variation in class skills although only the differences in the Spiritmaster class have been announced thus far.
The game uses a heavily modified version of the CryEngine, and won GameAmp's 2006 E3 MMORPG "Best Graphics" Award.
The character creation system allows for a great deal of character customization. Players will be able to radically adjust height, weight, and scale of various body parts. Different hair styles, skin colors, facial textures and voices can also be chosen. Further detailing can be found in the selection of eye shape and color, nose shape, ear size and shape and tattoos for the character's face and body.
The game will allow a player to dye their equipment (or displayed armor) and "equip" the skin of a weapon or armor they find visually appealing, while benefiting from the actual stats of a different weapon or armor (via an NPC). However, players can't use items they can't equip, even as skins. A Spiritmaster, for instance, can't "equip" the skin of a plate chestpiece, as Spiritmasters can't wear plate. You also can't use the skin of a pair of leather gloves while benefiting from the stats of cloth, mail or plate gloves.
This adds another layer of customization (as it allow players to control the look of their avatar without sacrificing the better stats of an item that they find visually unappealing) and strategy to the game. One can, for example, display the skin of a level 28 armor set, while you're actually level 40, and benefiting from the stats of your mismatched level 40 items. This can throw your opponents off, especially coupled with the fact that you can't discern the level of other players in PvP, making for more engaging gameplay.
Most of the music was created by Ryo Kunihiko.
As a character progresses in the game, they will learn additional skills, some of which form part of a Skill Chain. A skill chain is a group of skills that as each skill is used, unlocks the next skill in the chain. Generally the skills at the end of the chain are much more powerful.
The end game of Aion will revolve around battles within the Abyss (PvP zone). Within the Abyss are castles which can be controlled by individual Legions (Aion equivalent of a guild). Battle for control of these castles involves combat against players of the opposing faction and computer controlled NPCs at the same time, using siege weapons obtained from end game PvE raid content. Legions in control of a castle are entitled to funding from taxes and players within the faction get specials from NPCs. The game currently does not allow factions to fight against those of their own race, except for casual duels.
The participation in PvP is rewarded with PvP "Points" (called Abyss Points in the game). The game ranks players as battles are won against fellow players. At higher ranks the character's wings will change in appearance to show the character's elevated status. Also certain items can be purchased with these points such as high-end armor and weapons. This is referred to as the Abyss Rank system, and there can only be a limited number of high ranking players per server. The highest ranking players compete for the relatively few rank positions available. Abyss points are gained by killing other players in combat, and points are lost by being killed by another player. Higher points are awarded for a kill of a much higher ranked player than for killing an equal or lower ranked player.
Raids will consist of up to 4 groups with up to 6 players per group for a maximum of 24 players in a single raid.
There are 6 Production professions and 2 Extracting (gathering) professions. Players automatically learn the two Extracting professions, and have the option to learn any and all of the Production professions if they choose.
Collection professions gather raw materials and ingredients from resources found while exploring the world.
Crafting professions create useful items from raw materials. The current crafting professions are:
Items from crafting skills can help in combat and some are essential for capturing castles in the Abyss.
South Korean gamers pay for time cards that allow them to play the game to the extent of time they purchased. NA/EU NCSoft will be charging US$14.99 per month when the game is released.