Last Friday I visited the Austin offices of NCSoft to tour and preview Lineage II’s upcoming expansion, The 1st Throne: The Kamael. This new, free (as always) expansion is the largest in Lineage II history, including a ton of high end content, and a new player race and starting area. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
A History Lesson
NCSoft started our tour off with a slide-show history of Lineage II. The first expansion, Chronicle 1: The Harbringers of War was released over three years ago and opened up the original 5 castle sieges: Gludio, Dion, Giran, Oren, and Aden castle. This expansion introduced Antharas, the fierce land dragon and one of the first raid targets of Lineage II as well as auctions on the first clan halls in several major cities.
Chronicle 2: The Age of Splendor brought us the Monster Race Track and arena, a small area reachable by any town where players could gather for monster races or small arena battles. More raid bosses entered the scene – Baium and Zaken – and the manor system awarded castle owners more control over their land and the people hunting on it.
Chronicle 3: Rise of Darkness was one of my favorite expansions, introducing the Seven Signs Quests and the best damn dungeons I’ve ever sat in for over 7 hours! Rise of Darkness also introduced one of the most innovative loopholes around level caps that I’ve seen yet: a subclass function, where max level (75) players could choose a different class to start at level 40 on the same character. Of course, this expansion brought some perks to new players too, in the form of friendly buffers to help out local newbies.
Chronicle 4: Scions of Destiny introduced Valakas the Fire Dragon, just as scary as Antharas. Players who reached 75 on a subclass could become Noblesse and participate in Hero tournaments. This expansion also introduced the 3rd class transfer and new pets such as the Baby Buffalo.
In Chronicle 5: Oath of Blood the clan system became even more intricate, introducing the academy for newer players, clan reputation points, and clan skills purchasable through reputation. Soloers got a boost in the form of instant-effect solo items such as heal or buff potions, raiders could square off against Frintezza, and PVPers enjoyed the new Demonic Sword Zariche.
The Interlude marked the end of the Chaotic Chronicles, and introduced Sailren and Primeval Isle, home to dinosaurs! Players who could not afford rare weapons could not get the next best thing: shadow weapons, temporary versions of powerful and sought-after high end gear. And that’s where history leaves off and the present begins.
The 1st Throne: The Kameal is, as said above, the largest free expansion in Lineage II history. Our first glimpse of this expansion in gameplay was character creation, which now included the racial choice Kamael.
The Kamael are a race shrouded in mystery. Created by the giants to fight the gods and their creatures, the Kamael were long ago lost from the rest of the known world. This expansion marks the rediscovery of this race.
Kamael are different from the other races of Lineage II in several ways: first and foremost, they have a wing. No, not a pair of wings – just one, and you can’t fly with it. Kamael classes also function differently from the rest of the gameworld: class choices are based on gender. For example, a Kamael male’s final class choices are Doombringer or Soul Hound, while females can end up as a Judicator, Trickster, or Soul Hound. Kamael will only be able to subclass other Kamael classes, but they are not limited to their gender’s classes while subclassing. Also, once a Kamael has leveled two subclasses to 75, a hidden subclass will become unlocked.
Kamael are very strong at melee/ranged combat, with male classes more melee-heavy and female more ranged-heavy. All weapons acquired by Kamael are convertible (via a special skill) to Kamael-specialized weapons, such as rapiers and bow-guns. All the Kamael classes are heavy non-magical DPS. Special attacks for Kamael are powered by souls, gained either at the death of an enemy or at the price of some of your own HP. There’s a price to pay for being so uber, though – as a race tied to darkness, healing powers are less effective when used on Kamael.
At level 79, Kamael get a very special (and very awesome) skill called Final Form; by consuming a large number of souls, Kamael can grow their second wing and become extremely powerful for a limited time. This skill has a long reuse time to go with its big activation cost but will be great for duels, bosses, and raids.
If you’re not ready to roll a new character but you’re tired of looking at the same old avatar, you will probably love transformations as much as I do. By completing a quest and purchasing different tomes, players will have access to combat and non-combat transformations. For the combat transformations, players can turn into a variety of creatures: from a unicorn to a death blader. Each form has its own set of skills (the user can no longer access their old skills). The non-combat transformations are accessed via talismans purchasable at the Rainbow Clan Hall or Wild Beast Preserve. Non-combat transformations include buffalo or yeti forms.
While pets have long been overlooked in Lineage II, this update shows the pet system a lot of love. The first pet available in Lineage II was the wolf, and this update gives the wolf a makeover. After level 55 your wolf will transform into a Black Maned Wolf, which can learn skills at level 60, 65 and 70.
Players will also have access to a new pet type called an Agathion. Agathion are small creatures tied to one of the new item slots, the right bracelet; using a bracelet from a Fortress or Castle, players can summon a small pet called an Agathion which is mostly cosmetic. The Agathion can perform several tricks while keeping you company on the battlefield.
To augment the pet updates and additions, the pet experience system also got a facelift. Pets also gain EXP differently; instead of being assigned an EXP percentage based on how much of the damage they did during a fight. With this update, pets will acquire a et percentage of their master’s EXP, making it easier to level a pet up without that pet being killed.
I Call Upon the Power of the Elements!
The Elemental attribute system was the system I didn’t really understand. Using special Attribute Stones, players can infuse S-Grade armor and weapons with elemental power. Let’s say you have a Fire Attribute Stone – using this on your weapon would make it do extra damage against water armor, and using it on your armor would make you take less damage from fire (but more damage from water). It’s a double edged sword – used correctly it can give you an advantage, while used incorrectly it can give you a disadvantage.
Or maybe I was just distracted by Fortresses, another large addition to the Lineage II world with this new expansion. 21 fortresses make their introduction with The 1st Throne, scattered across the lands of L2.
Like Castles, Fortresses start out in the hands of NPCs – but that won’t last long. Each fortress can be captured by player guilds, and there are plenty of perks and incentives for players to fight over these areas.
First off, when one takes a Fortress they can decide to pledge to the nearest castle lord – or not. Some border forts even have the choice between multiple castle owners. Swearing to a castle costs money, but allows you to activate special defense functions (including guards) to help protect your land. You also get access to special supply items. More importantly, perhaps, it keeps your nearby castle lord happy.
If you declare yourself as an independent state you instead gain access to a special instanced zone beneath the fortress, allowing you to get fortress items. You don’t have to pay any money to a castle lord, but neighboring castle lords can register for a Fortress Siege against you. And they have reason to – having independent forts in their area loses them reputation, not to mention the money they’d get from a sworn fortress owner.
Fortress sieges are different than Castle sieges – they’re designed to have more turn-around than the castles. Fortresses can be sieged every four hours, 24 hours a day. One hour before siege time, attackers can sign up to siege the fortress via a Suspicious Merchant; 10 minutes before the siege the merchant will disappear and sign-ups will end. This mechanic will allow a lot of turn-over as clans use timezones against each other.
In the out-of-game context, The 1st Throne brings some new account goodies to users as well: long awaited name changes and server transfers will finally become available! Note that there will be limitations on both, in volume and in frequency; no server hopping or constant name changing!
Misc and Wrap-up
The 1st Throne: The Kamael is a massive update, containing the above features as well as new areas (including instances), new items (S-80, S-Grade items usable only at 80+), and even some new item slots (shirts and right bracelets). The expansion should be live (and free!) before Christmas, and is available now on the Lineage II test server.