At long last, there is a date for when the mechanized Aethertech will join the Gunner and Songweaver in 4.0, even if the date is only about hitting the Korean beta servers. But that means that it's not far from going live there, and when it does, its debut on the North American servers won't be far behind.
As you'd expect, this news sparked a bit of excitement. Some folks, however, are decrying Aion's flagrant foul of destroying its own mythos and all but spitting on the sanctity of its genre. So we're here to discuss that: Is the Aethertech an inexcusable aberration in the lore, or does it actually fit right in?
In the argument of fantasy vs. technology, people seem to have drawn distinct battle-lines and assigned one group one side and the other group the other. Why is this? Someone somewhere arbitrarily dictated that magic goes with fantasy and technology goes with sci-fi. But it is not cut-and-dried like that. What is science now was relegated to the realm of magic before; just look at some of our technological advancements, like flight and telephones. At one point such ideas of long distance communication and atmospheric travel would have been considered possible only via magic.
And let's not discount the fact that there are plenty of examples of a merger between fantasy (Elves, Orcs, etc.) and technology (guns, cannon). Other games, movies, literature cross the lines, so why are Aion fans/detractors so upset about these mechanized battle suits coming to the game?
Let's examine this (sarcastic) argument: Adding aether makes it all better! Some folks are saying that just tacking the term aether to the suit does not make it appropriate for the environment. And in some things I would agree (I'm looking at you, Aetherblade lightsaber knockoff!). But that's not the case here. There is plenty of precedence for the mechs in the world of Aion.
Let's look specifically at the world. Massive golems are an entrenched part of Atreian lore. They make up pieces of the landscape not only in the newer lands like Inggison but in older zones like Theobomos. Just look at the leftover remnants of the massive beasts dotting the landscape. Do you remember the first time you flew past one and realized that the monstrous misshapen rock formation actually formed a hand? So it's not as if the devs just threw something together for the sake of Dark Betrayal. It's just more fleshed out lore that actually let's Daevas in on more of the world's history.
Now think of the fact that Atreia has many natural resources, including metal -- metal that is refined into armor, weapons, and jewelry. So why couldn't a metal workers fashion out a suit of giant armor? The can make giant flying warships, but they can't make a gussied-up suit of armor? That doesn't quite follow, does it?
And finally, Daevas use aether as a power source to personally fly, so why can't there be a power source to animate the suit? I think the story of the Ide, which powered those ancient golems (and remember, we already know there were massive, ancient golems), makes sense in the grand scheme of things. It is a plausible explanation for both the past and the present.
In my opinion, putting mechs in the game is not an attempt to betray and convolute the unique lore of Aion. Personally, I think NCsoft did a good job setting the stage for it so long ago that we can't be certain this wasn't in the master plan from the get go. Nor do I think it is some wild bid to appease the masses by simply adding a hodgepodge of everything.
Like it or not, this mech class is a part of Aion and it does fit in the lore. And in the end, it's not our game, so who are we to say what fits and what doesn't? That's right -- it isn't our call. That privilege belongs to the creators, and it is not betraying their story if it just happens to take a turn in the plot that we didn't expect. Enjoy the class if you are so inclined, or don't worry about playing it. That's the choice you get to make, not whether or not it should be there. Personally, the Aethertech class not for me, but I am sure those who like that style of play will find it entertaining. live and let live... except for that cat mech. That just plain scares me.
Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down biweekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.