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
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
that will queue you for the instances themselves. 
You have two options: One on One, and Free
For All for 6-10 people.  Team
will have to occur elsewhere, and they’re making changes with 2.7’s
quests that enable group loot of key items that will get players of
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. style="">   Each arena is
peppered with lots of
additional things to do besides mash hotkeys with an opponent
kills don’t necessarily win the battle, because the winner is
determined by
‘victory points’

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style="font-style: italic;">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
    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. style="">    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. style="">  Manning this will enable
    you to blow people
    out of the skies with relative ease, but if someone gets behind you,
    probably done before you can respond. 
    You don’t just fire cannon shots, you also can
    people midflight
    and fire a variety of other shells. 
    Paralysis doesn’t sound that bad except you’ll be
    to dodge the
    massive spouts of lava that occur every so often, and that tends to
    dodging difficult.

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style="font-style: italic;">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
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
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
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
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
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. style="">  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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