China & Korea have more updated versions.
Actually, the Closed beta you can get into here is identical to China's version...because china has not updated.
China is running 1.0; Korea is about to get patch 1.5, and when Aion releases in September, that's what the US/EU version will be.
It's on that note by the way, that everyone basing 'their friends said' opinions on Aion, would be no different than comparing JP pre-ROTZ FFXI to post.
Also, graphically speaking here's a screen cap of character creation screen at low res, and high res: the difference is amazing. http://upload.plaync.co.kr/file/download/AION/2008103069a9a3c-11d4d3aed34--4188
Edit: Also with Aion I heard (If anyone whos actually played that knows can say for sure) that when you craft you can only craft at your guild? I would hate to have to go somewhere specific to craft, I like crafting where and when I want.
I didn't try crafting myself, but my wife would craft whenever she was in someplace safe enough to AFK. Basically you specify what recipe you're doing, the quantity you want, and you can walk away while it cycles through.
Aion does look great, but the battle system looks too much like FFXI's.
From closed beta there are a lot of things about Aion that remind me quite a bit more of Ragnarok Online, which pre-dates FFXI; Job progression for one, and the chain skills are very much like RO's Monk.
The scenery is really lovely, **** it would be nice to see the giant animals you saw roaming in the game (giant air whale) along with all the little touches they put everywhere. For instance, when you saw this large glow in the distance, and you drew closer to it, it turned out to be a lone bug just doing... bug things.
There are some nice touches I appreciate like gliding and hitting air thermals which affect your altitude and such.
I also really liked seeing predatory mobs attacking docile ones; reminded me of that Goobbue eating a Mandy video from years and years ago, except that in Aion it actually happens in game :p
Also, there's something very satisfying about jumping off a waterfall a few hundred feet high and waiting to the last moment to spread your wings and keep from splatting.
The ability to transfer the stats of any item to the model of any item within the same category for a modest sum. For example, you've recently stumbled upon a major upgrade to your leg slot, but it's subligar. In FFXI you had to parade around in your kinky fetish gear and **** well like it. In Aion's system, you could visit an NPC and transfer the stats of your ugly upgrade to a respectable pair of pants.
And this... a thousand times this :p
All that having been said, Aion doesn't feel like it has the same immersion that FFXI does. To date, I have yet to find an MMO that does. Edited, Jul 13th 2009 7:06pm by renasci