Thursday, 19 November 2009

Aion and MMOs - a delicate balancing act

The past few weeks of playing in Aion have, at least for me, illustrated that getting the balance right, especially when it comes to MMOs, is vitally important.

Take my tenure as a Ranger - while I thought that running around with superb blade and arrow skills would be awesome, I found that my weak armour (I couldn't use chain or plate, for instance) and lack of actual melee weapon proficiency was my downfall.

When attacking, I was always on the back foot, and had to rely on kiting to defeat difficult mobs - that is, fire arrows and lay traps, all the while retreating, so that you can kill them without them hitting you and doing damage. I found myself always playing on the defensive and struggling to kill mobs that were at my level, possibly because I'm just not a very good kiter.

This, obviously, sucked.

I gave up at level 19 and started a new character. This time, I'm a Gladiator, and I can wear plate and chain armour. I can also wield a polearm, which is a 10ft tall stick with a god-damned HUGE blade on the end.

This, obviously, means I can wade into battle, hit higher-level mobs around the head and watch them cower in fear.

Which means that I can play much more aggressively.

It's amazing the progress I've made - in less time I'm at a higher level and I'm enjoying it much, much more.

I do feel that, perhaps, the Ranger class could be better balanced - while my blade skills were sufficient to take down lower level enemies, as I approached levels 19 and 20 I found everything far more difficult. Looking up guides for kiting revealed that the best way to progress was to exploit a small animation but that, essentially, allowed you to fire arrows sooner than you really should have done. In my opinion, getting ahead this way is just not right, and illustrates that, however small it may be, there's a small unbalance in the force.

But, now that I'm Gladiator, it's all good - stuff that's my level falls easily because I've managed to acquire some pretty good equipment, but quests around my level still offer a good mix of difficulties - some are simple and easy grinding whereas others are too difficult because of the sheer number of mobs. Others, such as those in the Krall settlements near to Verteron Fortress, require groups, and ranging around with a group of people picking off high-level mobs is some of the most fun I've yet had in Aion.

On the other end of the scale, I was challenged to a dual by a Chancer a couple of days ago. Not having encountered one before, I accepted, and he cut me down with a few simple spells, and I couldn't get near him.

Either I'm not very good or that particular class of character is too powerful for its own good.


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