So I really did not want to write a rant for Christmas week. No, I wanted — nay, I planned — a joyous column filled with happy stuff. But when do things go according to plan? Instead, I am mad. I am really mad. Mad and annoyed, and ready to chuck Aion right out the window. Here I was, willing to give the excessive and unappealing changes in Atreia a chance by starting over on the new server, and before I even got to making my new character on the new server I ran into a game-breaking change. It may not be a big deal to some, but this change happens to be a deal-breaker for me: What in the Abyss (oh sorry, there is no Abyss anymore) is up with abolishing trading?
Here’s how it all went down. I played Aion a whole lot back in the day, and I had a full roster of alts on my server. This prevented me from making a new one on the new server. OK, so I just need to ditch one of the lowest-level alts to free up a slot. Since she became basically a storage alt (I played her only with my son’s character), I just had to move any important items she had and her kinah over to my mains. This actually took a couple days because I kept being locked out of mailing items for “sending too many”; this was an old anti-RMT feature. Fine, I can live with this slower process (which is faster than trying to use the wimpy account warehouse that has too few slots and cannot be upgraded and logging back and forth, back and forth). Next, I sell off all unnecessary items for kinah to get ready to delete. Then I reach the point where I need to deliver the sizable stash of kinah to my main Cleric. And here’s where it goes downhill fast.
At this point it dawns on me that there is no longer a place to put coins in the mail to send it to the alt. Odd, since the mails you receive still have the kinah amount slots (and I’d been receiving quite a few mails to confirm). I check a few more mails, and yes, there is definitely still a slot on the mail you receive, but no way to send it. Well, OK then, maybe this is a new anti gold-seller measure to keep folks from sending money to others. I’m definitely not happy with that as it prevents me from helping others, including new folks, but for the time being at least I can get kinah moved between my alts at the account warehouse.
Except, I can’t. Back at my warehouse I discover that there are no slots for money there anymore, either. No, I distinctly remember having that. So now I can’t even move money between my own account?! You have got to be kidding me? No, no, NCsoft is not kidding. Kinah is literally locked to the character who acquires it. It turns out that there is only one possible way to “exchange” money with people — including yourself: the broker. You have to place an item up for sale at the price you want to exchange and the other person/alt has to jump in and buy it.
If that weren’t bad enough, the broker fees to list something are now astronomical! So if you dare want to move money on your own account or – heaven forbid – help someone out by giving him some kinah or some gear, you are going to take a huge financial hit. You’ve got to be kidding me! Already knowing in my heart the answer, I checked the last possible way to exchange goods outside of a Legion warehouse; I went ahead and tried to set up a private shop on my character (the one you could use to talk with the opposing faction a bit) that would be ideal for this kind of transaction. Yup, they are also abolished. This is the kind of garbage that keeps me from playing other games!
Why does this removal of trade frustrate me on such a fundamental level? Because I do not play MMORPGs to be a self-sufficient, isolated single player! To me, a major part of an MMORPG is working together with friends and guildmates to build up. Trading allows players to contribute to this by playing what they enjoy. One of the things I enjoy most is gathering and giving materials to friends so they can craft. I also enjoy sharing gear and items they can use that I come across or craft myself. I also just really love helping others, from friend to new players. Aion has effectively removed that. And why would I play that here if I won’t play that elsewhere? The biggest reason I cannot bear to play Black Desert Online is the lack of player trading in the game that isolates players. I can’t even give items that are assigned to me as loot to a groupmate who could use it (though I do hear you can do this for a limited time in dungeons later). Not that it matters; grouping is also now unnecessary.
That’s right: The inability to help others via trade isn’t the only isolation I found. I knew there was basically no chance I’d be happy with the removal of so many zones while leveling, but I was not prepared for how horribly streamlined and solo the experience was. You are now seriously railroaded through the beginner island with absolutely no risk. No risk! It was a bore. You could sleep through playing this content. As the squishiest healer class, I could one-shot nearly every mob — including dungeon bosses! Some might take two shots. There was certainly no reason to group up and interact with anyone else. If you did, you were separated for the dungeons anyways which turned solo. It was a quick, single-player experience that left a really bad taste in my mouth. One player remarked to me that it didn’t even start to get challenging until level 50. Level 50! Why even have levels 1-50 if they are a snoozefest?
I also found it quite distasteful how the rich lore of the world that you used to get to immerse yourself in as you adventured was gone. All side questing is gone. Oh, you can “read” a couple stories from books in the beginning, but you never get to come to care about anything going on in the world around you as you are just rushed through. So help me, if Poppy the porgus has been removed from the Elyos side… that hits me in the feels! Having a reason to feel something about the game makes it a draw, gives a reason to continue. The game and world feels so sterile and unimportant now. So why have it at all? Oh, for the PvP at max level? That, I guess, is the only thing that “matters” now. Too bad. Aion had an amazing journey that has been, so far as I have played, obliterated. So have my reasons to play it.
While I can’t say that this next bit of stupidity is new, it is the first time I ran into it. And it added insult to injury at this point. Remember that alt I needed to delete? I couldn’t delete her because she was the Brigadier General of a legion. My legion. My legion of only one. The game refused to let me delete unless I gave the leader position to someone else… but there was no one else in this legion! The only one who used to be was my son, an account that NCsoft wiped because he was unavailable to migrate his account during a big change while on his mission, so that character didn’t even exist.
Fine, I can’t delete with a legion and I can’t pass it off, so I will go delete the legion. Except, guess what? No! You have a 24-hour penalty to wait before your legion can be disbanded. Even a legion of one. Seriously, whom on Earth am I harming by disbanding? If there is no one in legion, it should let me choose to disband instantly. And I should be able to delete my character (which I fully expected to have a deletion timer to allow for that opportunity to change my mind).
In all, my latest experiences with Aion have been a massive disappointment. I wanted to give it a fair shake to see how it would be with these major changes, but the game went too far for me. It didn’t just erase major amounts of content, it removed major social aspects. Without the ability to trade and with no need to play alongside others, why would I continue to log in?