Aion is a a fantasy MMO being created by Korean developer NCSoft. The first thing you will notice is that the graphics are gorgeous. The game uses the Crytek engine (used in Far Cry) which lets them create some very immersive environments. Movement is not limited to the surface as most other MMOs. Instead the world is built for all three dimensions and all players gain the ability to fly at level 10. There will be some restrictions on exactly where you can fly and for how long but they seem to be making it as useful as possible even to the point of letting you fight other players in the air. The game world has been split into three regions. The top half is the home for the angelic player race, the center, shattered region is where the server controlled dragon race lives, and the dark, bottom half is where the demonic player race resides.
Players choose from one of four classes at the start of the game and choose one of two more specialized classes at level 10 when they also get the ability to fly and may engage in pvp. PvP occurs in the dragon inhabited center region of the game. In the conflict area there are multiple control points that can be captured to acquire advantages in combat for the owning side. There are also 8-10 castles that may be captured ala lineage. Control of the castles grants the owning guild advantages such as access to crafting materials and unique merchants as well as tax revenues.
Combat follows the standard model of auto attacks combined with special moves. The game claims to use a leveling system that precludes grinding but not details are yet available. As might be expected there are a wide variety of clothing and item options to choose from. Some of you will be very glad to hear that stats from one item can be copied to another so that you may customize your appearance as much as you like without sacrificing stats, or get great stats without sacrificing your appearance depending on your point of view.
Korean closed beta signups began on July 31st and the beta itself will begin on October 31st. No word on when or if there will be a US beta prior to release.
Quote from yahoo games preview.
The principle difference will be in "user-driven storylines." Put simply, the actions that players and groups take in the world will have a lasting and profound effect on the world as a whole (at least, within the server that these actions happen.) You can imagine a group of players taking out a world boss of some sort and that having far-reaching effects on the world and player population of an entire server.
Quote from IGN.
all player stats and actions will be recorded. This is significant as the information accumulates over time. How you interact with others and play the game will be tracked. As time progresses, these stats will begin to affect your player and those around you. In instance raids, your stats will either enhance or detract the characteristics of your party