Aion: The Tower Of Eternity takes players beyond the traditional fantasy romp and allows them to take flight in a strange dimension as they not only battle each other but also clash with an ancient evil.
The game is set in Atreia, a world ripped into two halves. The civilizations of each half form the two playable factions: the Elyos and the Asmodians.
Over many generations, the two societies discover several portals to a dimension between their worlds, known as the Abyss, where they discover the power of flight.
They begin exploring both their own halves of the world and the depths of the Abyss for artefacts and fragments of the legendary Tower Of Eternity, the magical structure that once held Atreia together.
Once they have chosen a faction, players are invited into this world and tasked with defending their people from the opposing side or journeying to rebuild the Tower Of Eternity and rejuvenate the world.
“We are really excited about the potential of Aion,” says sales director Sarah Rogers. “Gamers are definitely looking around for a new high-quality online game to play, and they are getting really hyped up due to the fact that the game is gorgeous-looking, highly polished, stable and contains a vast world with dynamic gameplay.
“Retailers should expect a healthy launch, but we’re also hoping for steady ongoing sales – really good online games should have a much longer lifespan than traditional games, and the sales should reflect this.
“The other revenue driver for retail should be timecard sales, which is purely incremental business if they are readily available to customers.”
As with any MMORPG, gamers work their way up from humble beginnings in order to become renowned and powerful heroes. In the case of Aion, players must work their way up to Level 10 before the Abyss grants them the ability to grow wings. After they have undergone their Ascension ritual and evolved into Daevas, the winged people of Atreia, they are able to take to the skies whenever they want.
This gives the game a whole new dynamic. New areas become available to them, and they can travel between regions much faster than usual. They will also have to engage in aerial combat, defending themselves from attacks that can come from any angle. As they progress through the game, they will acquire Aether-infused feathers that will improve their flying abilities.
That’s not to say players who have yet to earn your wings miss out on the action. Pedestrian warriors are still able to explore their own worlds and areas of the Abyss, where colossal fragments of the Tower floating through the void serve as battlefields.
On these platforms, the two factions will fight for control of fortresses and key regions of the Abyss, hoping to win bonuses and special resources for their side. As they seek to conquer the Tower fragments, players will discover another twist to Aion’s mechanics.
While a large focus of the game is the conflict against the other faction, players will soon learn a third force exists in this world. An ancient enemy known as the Balaur is also fighting for control of the Abyss.
The Balaur’s allegiances shift depending on the situation. Sometimes players will find themselves in an all-out brawl against both their enemy and the Balaur, while at other times they may be allied with the ancient race.
The RPG mainstay of a class system is present, with gamers choosing between Scout, Warrior, Mage and Priest. They can either focus on mastering each type’s inherent skills and abilities or, through Aion’s Stigma system, they can learn to use traits usually reserved for other classes.
NCsoft has drawn upon its previous experience with this genre for Aion’s marketing, with a much longer plan in place than those used to promote more traditional releases.
“MMO games are marketed in a different way: we are not so much selling a box as providing a service to our users,” says marketing director Mirko Gozzo.
“To do this, we started our marketing activities three years ago via the community team. This is our best tool to engage and involve players from the beginning.
“On top of that, of course, we are investing in traditional advertising across Europe. The main focus is on the massive online campaign where we will be live on more than 96 websites, followed by trade activities and print advertising.”
More immediate marketing for Aion began last month with the initial online advertising. This is due to run until November to ensure maximum awareness among online gamers, the title’s target audience.
This will be supported by targeted print ads in key publications throughout September and October.