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I went to PAX on Friday and got to play AION for about 20 minutes or so. The version they were demoing at PAX was the Beta 2 Version. They had only gotten the beta 3 version a week or so before PAX so it was not ready for public consumption.
First impressions of the game in the little bit of the game I was able to see while playing is that it is very polished for a game as far along in development as it is. The game looks gorgeous. I just hope my computer can run it at that level of detail. I absolutely loved the interface. It was clean and functional with very little clutter. We were only allowed to play pre-made characters, but you could look at the character creation process and while it may not be as complex as some it certainly seemed sufficient for my tastes.
It has a real death penalty thank the gods. Experience loss on death as well as a minor debuff. Debuff removal and partial expinece recovery can be obtained via an NPC for a price. I only particpated in PVE content as PVP content does not start till level 25 when you can go to the Abyss. When flying you can fall to your death if you run out of light time typically 1 minute although at higher levels we were told flight time could be extended via potions and items.
Batlle seemed very well paced with the normal button press activated skills. There will be skill chains in solo and group combat. When asked they said their intent was for a player to be able to do PVE only content if the wished to get to max level or alternatively once they were able to enter the ABYSS (at level 25) you could level up entirely in the PVP environment. This goes along with the whole PVPVE concept they are pushing.
Crafting and gathering are already in I did do some gathering, but didn't acutally craft anything. Some gathering nodes are in mid air and you have to fly to gather them. There are also NPC mobs that can be fought in the air as well.
Questing is divided up between missions and quests each with their own seperate tabs. Missions are short uncomplicated things like fedex deliveries, kill x creature type things, while quests are typically more involved and lengthy and may involve several missions.
when asked about player housing and such they said they did not know if that was going to be included or not at this time.
while 20 minutes of play time is in no way shape or form anywhere near enough time to make any kind of concrete judgements, I was impressed by what I saw and enjoyed my play time. I certainly think this game may be something to take a look at. I got myself singed up getting into preview events so hopefully I'll get a chance to do so before release which they said is for sometime early next year.