Aion: Assault on Balaurea - Content Galore!

It is finally upon us!

It is finally upon us! The promise of the famed Aion update 2.0, now properly named Assault on Balaurea, is scheduled to be released on September 7th, 2010 and with it comes a whole lot of content for the big, big price of absolutely free. I have to admit, IÂ’m a sucker for free content, especially when it comes with expansion sized goodies which is exactly what Assault on Balaurea has in store. Is this dangling carrot tempting enough though to win back the players who lost interest shortly after release? Keep reading to find out if it will have a little bit of something for you.

Let me preface by saying that nearly everything we know about the Assault on Balaurea update is based off of the Korean patch notes. Localization will alter some things but IÂ’m fairly confidant, based on prior updates, that not much will vary between the Korean version and the North American and European version of the game. We will know more when previews roll in and hopefully the update will make it to the public test server before launch, in which case you can certainly bet that Ten Ton Hammer will fill you in on the complete details at that time.

With that in mind, letÂ’s take a look at what this update has to offer!

The Story

The Balaur are the third unplayable faction that strikes a sort of balance between the two playable factions: the Elyos and the Asmodians. This vile race considers no one to be a friend and strives to rule all of Atreia unchallenged through brute force. For the first time in the gameÂ’s history, the expansion will open the doors to the Balaur homeland and allow players to take this war out of the confines of the Abyss and onto the BalaurÂ’s own turf. Both the Elyos and the Asmodians have a score to settle as the Balaur were partially responsible for the destruction of the Tower of Eternity but donÂ’t forget, these two factions still have their own war brewing between each other and that epic saga shall continue.

New Content, New Battles

From what we can tell, the content within the new zones will be primarily for higher level players. Balaurea will yield content for the newly added levels of 51 through 55 so if you arenÂ’t at cap yet, this may add new incentive to make it there before September! The good news for this is that if it encompasses higher level content then players wonÂ’t be stuck in the same zone for 20 levels which is certainly a good rut for NCsoft to break free of.

Answering the call of players to make flight a bit more active in non-Abyss zones, there will be more opportunities to spread your wings in the new lands with the addition of windstreams, updrafts, and geysers. It is unfortunate that only high level players will see these benefits as it has always seemed silly to me that players could have wings but only really use them in certain areas.

Lower level players wonÂ’t be missing out completely though and youÂ’ll also be seeing some new content.

Six instanced dungeons are being added and the excellent news here is that they wonÂ’t all be tagged for high level players! The level ranges are fairly wide so just about everyone will get a chance to see something new. Not big on grouping? NCsoft is even adding a solo instance strictly for single players only.

For the Abyss players, there will be two new fortresses for each race. The fortresses will be much like existing fortresses with only a few minor alterations and plenty of new benefits to enjoy.

Promising Progression

Players that have been sitting at cap for a while now will be certainly happy to see new progression making it in game. Aside from the addition of 5 more levels of gaming fun, a master level of crafter is also being added allowing crafters to push their skill level up to 549. Advancing that crafting character should be more rewarding and less of a chore because you will also be able to create bundled stacks of ten items at a time all while consuming less aether resources. Oddly, collecting resources in some areas is going to be slightly more rewarding as well. Certain types of collection nodes will yield unique weapons. I donÂ’t know really how they fit weapons in those teeny little nodes, but we just donÂ’t question free stuff, ya know?

It appears that the abilities for levels 51+ are a bit more unique than the typical Ass Kick I, Ass Kick II, and Ass Kick III. Level 51+ level players will enjoy, on average, four new class skills in their arsenal as well as new Greater Stigmas skills. New abilities and combat animations can go a long way in refreshing the look and feel of a class so we are very happy to see these.

Miscellaneous Goodness

A big gripe regarding Aion has always been its user interface. With the strict prohibition of any kind of mods, players are forced to live with the standard UI as it is. The mod ban in still in effect but NCsoft is making a whole slew of improvements that will make what we do have far more user friendly. The UI revamp will include more information, especially for quest markers making it easier to find NPCs that have missions for you, more ways to find NPCs, more functional crafting windows, more shortcut keys, and (very badly needed) additional broker slots. The update may not fix the clunky UI completely, but it will definitely help!

Utility will be making an adorable appearance in game disguised as fluffy player pets. Gamers will be able to score decorative pets that donÂ’t add any real value except they are super cute, alertive pets that will tell you when the opposing faction is nearby, productive pets that spit (or maybe poop?) out resources when you feed it, warehouse pets that give you additional storage, and multi-purpose pets who are multi-talented (maybe hold your stuff while pooping resources?). I look forward to seeing these!

Clearly this is a big update and while we touched upon some of the highlights of the expansion, there are certainly far more features to be enjoyed that will be shared in the upcoming months. Be sure to keep your browser tuned in to Ten Ton Hammer for more Aion and general gaming news!

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