OK so you know by the title what I am derisively known by in any number of MMOs I’ve played. Unlike an alcoholic, I’m not on the road to recovery from my “carebearness” but am simply setting the stage: I just don’t do PvP. So sue me.
So I'm sure you're wondering what was I doing at a recently held press event on the Aion Public Test server that was designed to showcase the upcoming v2.7 patch and to herald the emphasis on PvP? That’s actually a good question and one I certainly was asking myself logging in. In fact, so concerned was I about my lack of any relevant knowledge of PvP that I told our developer hosts that I just wasn’t sure how much I’d get out of the event. “Not to worry,” they said, “you’ll learn more than you think and probably have fun too.” Guess what? They were right!
On log in, I was greeted by a seriously buffed out Gladiator character and was told that in PvP, the Gladiator players could pretty much slam their heads down on the keyboard, roll back and forth and still kill just about anything. “The Gladiator is a very durable and tough class,” said my tutor Sean. Judging by the wicked looking weapons and the new 2.7 gear, it certainly seemed to be true.
But you know what they say about ‘easier said than done’? You guessed it: I was an abysmal failure. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a lot of fun laughing at myself and enjoying the experience. I had a blast, if you can believe it.
When entering the new PvP arena staging area, The Crucible, players are greeted by matchmakers, class trainers and vendor NPCs that give access to the new 1v1 and free-for-all maps. Vendors sell some mighty impressive gear and PvP-only potions and scrolls. Gear is sold for Courage Insignias, the new 2.7 currency gained during PvP battles, while scrolls and potions are sold for Kina. And believe me, those scrolls and potions are necessary. Being low cost, it’s worth building up reserves.
Once ready to enter into PvP combat, players head to the matchmaker and select what type of match they’re interested in. Choices include the 1v1 match ups or the 6-10 player Free for All. Once the queue has matched players, they’re instantly transported into the arena. Players have three minutes to buff and get ready to rumble.
To say that I was an abject failure is something of an understatement but I had a LOT of fun in the 1v1 match up. I think that I was spending too much time taking in the arena environments. Note that I said environments plural. During the match, the map changes in the blink of an eye. At one point as I was charging across the floor, the map changed and I found myself hurtling into a fiery pit of lava before I could make any adjustments. Another saw us launched into a full flight arena, again hurtling to the ground. It’s worth keeping an eye on the clock in the corner telling you when the map will change. That said, there is no way to know what map you’ll be sent to but it just seems wise.
The environments are lush and pretty (if you have the time to look!) and some of them have NPC enemies that you’ll have to deal with as well. In one of the 1v1 maps we landed on, there was a marauding boar to deal with in addition to my opponent. Yay me…death from both sides.
After humiliating myself in the 1v1 match, the group was taken into one of the new 6-10 player free for all maps. Players are randomly matched for the battle. Interestingly, player names are removed to take away the possibility that players will group together to take out others in an effort to raise the overall arena score. No artificial grouping here, buckos. When devs say free for all, they mean it.
Free for All works pretty much the same way as the 1v1 battle in that maps change throughout the course of the match. However, there is a lot more danger for participants on most of the maps. One we landed on had a deadly, and I do mean DEADLY, swamp and another was packed with wicked undead NPCs that were as tough, or tougher, than your human opponents. Note to self: Don’t round up all the NPCs and try to take them all on at once.
On entering the FFA arena, players are placed inside spawn points three to five on each side of the map. The spawn points are very close together and unless totally ready when the match begins, players scatter like roaches when the light goes on in the kitchen.
Free for All was definitely a place for a rank PvP n00b like me to find some success. I pretty much stalked around the outer edges of the arena and observed players beating the crap out of each other and then rushed in to obliterate the weakened winner of the encounter. I actually killed a few during the battling. FFA was a LOT of fun and is definitely something that is sure to attract a lot of PvP neophytes.
Arena PvP comes with a few caveats of note:
I have to admit that I had a lot of fun playing these two new PvP-specific matches. It will remain to be seen whether or not the improvements in PvP will bring back the hardcore crowd that has drifted off but v2.7 seems to be an incentive for those folks to take a look again.