Aion 2.7 Hands-On Preview

Will a big injection of PvP bring back the hardcore players who left it? Or is it too little, too late for our winged MMO?
Aion has had somewhat of an identity crisis in its years here in the North America market.  Originally marketed as a superior PvP game, its population and interest in general tanked as people experienced a hellish grind and a lackluster array of PvP environments.  NCSoft sprang to action, giving us a an array of single player instances, a dungeon finder, lots of new areas with full flight access, and just general quality-of-life type improvements everywhere.

But the PvP was forgotten in the process.  Now NCSoft seeks to regain those crazy PvP goons with Aion’s 2.7 patch, which adds two major PvP instances.

The PvP Crucible Overview

Located in each major town now will be a large battlemaster style area, with nothing more than vendors, consumable dealers, and the daevas that will queue you for the instances themselves.  You have two options: One on One, and Free For All for 6-10 people.  Team battles will have to occur elsewhere, and they’re making changes with 2.7’s daily quests that enable group loot of key items that will get players of both factions banding together, and hopefully running into each other.

Going back to the instances though, the first thing that stood out to me was the variety.  The dueling queue has four battlegrounds available, and the FFA version has six.  The battles themselves are split into 3 rounds, and each round will instantly teleport you to another arena with no loading time or hell, not even your pet will make the journey intact.   Each arena is peppered with lots of additional things to do besides mash hotkeys with an opponent targeted—your kills don’t necessarily win the battle, because the winner is determined by ‘victory points’

This arena looks normal enough, until you realize that one step in that acid will kill you within 5 seconds.  Make sure your glides are perfect!

  • One dueling arena has a seemingly random spawning boar that will bum rush the nearest player, doing good damage and disrupting casting.  When the boar spawns, a barrel of meat also spawns, and the player it agros will need to immediately destroy it and lure the beast over to it to get them off.    Of course you could just kill it too…. But that’s kinda hard with someone beating on you!
  • One of the Free for All arenas has a huge number of NPCs wandering in the manor you’re fighting in, and they will all agro on sight.  You might even spawn on one!  However, NPCs in these games are worth victory points, so a little PvE when no one is looking can get you the lead if you’re quick about it.
  • A large coliseum FFA battle is made all the more interesting by switches that trigger the gargoyle head opposite them to spew a gout of fire.  You get some points for triggering the switch, but of course you’re looking to roast some poor sap and double up on the reward points.
  • One of the FFA lava arenas has full flight enabled.  It also has a damn anti-aircraft cannon.  Manning this will enable you to blow people out of the skies with relative ease, but if someone gets behind you, you’re probably done before you can respond.  You don’t just fire cannon shots, you also can paralyze people midflight and fire a variety of other shells.  Paralysis doesn’t sound that bad except you’ll be trying to dodge the massive spouts of lava that occur every so often, and that tends to make dodging difficult.

The NPCs are no laughing matter.  The ones you can slay in seconds are barely a blip on points, where as some are mini-raid bosses and will terrorize players, but are worth a ton of points to the main damager.

Access and Rewards

If this all sounds wonderful to you, I can tell you it’s as fun as it sounds.  But unless you’re a current Aion player, you’ve got some work ahead of you.  You must be max level in order to enter either of these PvP queues.  Not only that, but if you find these are you new love, you’ll be sad to hear that these require Arena Tickets to enter for rewards.  Arena tickets are acquired once daily, and thus you’ll only be able to do one ranked game a day—not even of each.  You can still queue as much as you like for the Training version, which has super cheap consumables and guarantees a good time, but it’s a little depressing to be so limited on working towards the new 2.7 gear.

Much like any hardcore PvP gear, you’ll have to put in some time.  The restriction on entering for Courage Insignias (the new 2.7 PvP currency) cripples your ability to grind for them, and you’ll be at it for a few months to acquire a complete godly PvP set.  At least you can acquire AP inside these PvP arenas with no worries of losing them.

Something for the PvE Crew too!

Even though the emphasis of 2.7 is on PvP, they’ve got something in store for the carebears of the world too.  A new 48 man instance is coming out, and with it, a newly developed fight with a world boss.  Sadly he’s being removed from the world, but since the restrictions on player count and area are now in play, they’ve reworked the encounter to be a more professional and serious experience, rather than a badass zerg rush.  What is it with MMOs and having zerg tactics for raids in their first year or two of launch?

Will 2.7 be enough to get you to return to Aion?  If your lust for PvP hasn’t been sated by the offerings of the last year and you don’t want to be a Jedi in the future, now just might be the time.  You can also watch for their free reactivation weeks that occur ever y few months.  Hopefully we see each other on the (changing) arenas of battle.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Aion Game Page.

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