MMORPG.com: Steel Cavalry is another great free expansion for Aion players. What's the past year been like for Aion?
Sean Orlikowski, Assoc. Product Manager: We’re definitely excited for what the update means for the game. Over the last year, we’ve added two entirely new and different classes to the game and that’s been a rewarding challenge. The Aethertech will be the third, and for the moment, final new class added to the game when Steel Cavalry launches.
MMORPG.com: The expansion comes with the Aethertech class. Can you give us a rundown of what makes the class so unique?
Sean Orlikowski: The first thing you notice about the Aethertech is its size. They’re big, they’re bulky and have some really fantastic abilities. There aren’t many games out there, sci-fi or not, that implement a class such as this, so we’re very proud of its unique presence in the genre. Aion’s always been a fantasy game with sci-fi elements and as the story has progressed, we’ve moved closer and closer to being able to introduce technology such as this in a believable way. From the Dredgions at launch to Chief Lahulahu in Steel Rake to Petraliths to war machines in Rentus and even Hyperion, the lines between magic and technology have slowly been blended together into what’s become the Aethertech.
My personal favorite things about the class are how you summon your Bastion and how they act as an extension of your character’s body. To summon a Bastion, an Aethertech takes their key-shaped Cipher-Blade and stabs it into the ground and twists. Magic swirls around them for a moment in the shape of their Bastion and it appears below them with the character in the cockpit. While inside, the Bastion mimics your movements, so things like emotes are performed by the Bastion, which can get very amusing very quickly.
MMORPG.com: What is the lore behind the Aethertech and what was it like setting the background for the class?
Sean Orlikowski: There’s been a lot of discussion about this new class - mostly revolving around how natural it is or isn’t to the world. We wanted to make sure that when we introduced the Aethertech and Bastions that we kept it completely in-line with the world. As previously mentioned, there have been sci-fi elements in Aion since launch, and technology has evolved in the world as ancient civilizations are discovered and their secrets unlocked. Magical technology has been at the core of Aion’s story since the beginning and piece by piece, the Daevas have discovered and utilized new and lost technology to create these magnificent war machines. The Hyperion was really the final piece of the missing puzzle.
MMORPG.com: Tell us about the concept behind the Bastions. How did you come up with the idea to have these magic war machines enter the game?
Sean Orlikowski: Our dev team spends a lot of time trying to make our classes as unique as possible. Sure, there are the normal Tank, Healer, Damage characteristics to many of them, but they’re also always a step above that. For instance, I remember the first time I saw the Templar use Doom Lure and a bolt of energy shot from his sword, grabbed hold of an enemy and yanked it back to him. I’d never seen something like that on a tank class before and now similar things have been popping up in other games. It’s become almost iconic. All classes, no matter how similar they are to traditional fantasy roleplaying classes, have their own flavor. I think the dev team wanted to really push the envelope this time and create something truly unique and we were at the perfect point in the story to do so. Beritra inadvertently gave the Daevas this technology by arrogantly thinking the Hyperion would be his to control. Seeing its power first hand, there’s no doubt the Daevas would want to harness that power and turn it against him.
MMORPG.com: Aion remains a MMO with such a strong unique setting, what is your favorite part about writing for the game now with these new expansions?
Nikko Stevens, Creative Writer: There’s a lot of new blood running through the game; we’ve hit new technological and magical touchstones with the Aethertech and it allows us to go back and build something from the ground up. The most exciting thing is having the ability to take this idea from conception to implementation and seeing it finally come into the game. Working with a class that is so unique to a fantasy genre, and giving players a chance to go what I call “stompy-face” all over some Balaur (not to mention other enemy players) is pretty rewarding.
MMORPG.com: Tell us about the new dungeons coming to the game. Can we start with The Illuminary Obelisk?
Ryan Moroz, Producer: The Illuminary Obelisk is a six person instance for endgame players. Level 65 players will be able to enter through the Idian Depths and participate in a sort of tower defense dungeon. It is a timed, 30 minute instance where Daevas need to work together to attack monsters while strategically protecting the obelisk’s defenses. The setting will remind players of Void Cube and Infinity Shard with its glowing blue tones and “modernly ancient” feel. The final boss fight will have players going up against Beritra’s forces’ prototype weapon, an Ide-powered spider of sorts. Communication and timing will be key to conquering the instance, and successful parties can gain Eternal and Mythic armor, weapons, and wings. The appearance of the set is rather unique, especially the wings – they look like a jet pack!
MMORPG.com: Alongside the Obelisk we also have the Iron Wall Warfront to explore. How does this encounter play into the war efforts between the two factions?
Ryan Moroz: The Iron Wall Warfront is essentially an attack on Governor Pashid, who suffered heavy losses from previous battles. Daevas on both sides are seeking to take advantage of this weakened position to gain an advantage in the ongoing struggle. The 24 vs. 24 Dredgion-style instance will be open to players level 61 to 65 and includes both PvP and PvE objectives to gain points like similar instances. There are also 10 bases to capture and control, with additional points awarded for continued control of a base. Of course, the fight against final boss Pashid is a key factor in the battle. AP is up for grabs as always, but the new Honor Points and other prizes will also be awarded to the winning team.
MMORPG.com: What other plans do you have for Aion going into 2014?
Ryan Moroz: 2014 is going to be an exciting year for Aion. With Steel Cavalry coming soon, there’s a lot of work to do. And, this year Aion celebrates its fifth anniversary in North America. Aion’s anniversary, known as Daeva’s Day in game, is always a fun time for our players, and those events have been some of our most entertaining. And five years is a big milestone, so our players can look forward to an even bigger anniversary celebration later on this year. In the meantime, we’ll continue to provide exciting and fun content for players old and new.