While those of us stateside have been enjoying version 2.1 of Aion for some time now, Korean players have just begun testing version 2.5 on the Korean PTS and we got a chance to speak with Aion Associate Producer Sean Neil to discuss all the new features and changes that Aion fans can look forward to.
Players looking for new content to tackle won’t be disappointed with version 2.5, as NCsoft will be introducing two new instances to the game. Version 2.0 “Assault on Balaurea” moved the game’s storyline towards all-out war with the Balaur and the introduction of version 2.5 will mark another change in the game’s storyline, as the Daevas pull back in order to resupply and retrain. To that end, two new instances will reflect this change in storyline, the first, will send Daevas out to cut off the Balaur supply line, while the second is an arena-style instance where players will test their mettle against waves upon waves of enemies.
In order to tackle all the new content, players can also look forward to three new skills per class as well as five to six updated skills. A new enchanting system (in addition to godstones, mana stones etc) tentatively named the “Sacred Item” enchanting system will also be included with 2.5, though NCsoft was unable to talk about this system in further detail at this time.
Later this month the second half of the 2.1 update will deploy to live servers and include an overhauled crafting system, which 2.5 will improve upon with additional designs.
New Systems and UI Improvements
Version 2.5 will include some major changes and additions to Aion’s systems. The most noteworthy addition is the introduction of a new “Helper” system that doles out quests to higher level players tasking them with helping lower level players with their questing and rewarding the higher level player with coin.
Aion’s map system will see a major overhaul with 2.5 as well, Sean Neil described the new map as a kind of “Google Maps for Aion”. The new map will be a 3D topographical map, as opposed to the current static JPEG image players are used to working with at the moment. The new map will allow for zooming in, getting directions to certain NPCs, etc.
The pets system will undergo some changes, though details are currently pretty scant. Players can look forward to an array of new pets and some additional functionality focused on interacting with your pets, including new pet emotes and more.
Players who are part of a Legion will be glad to find out that NCsoft is introducing some significant changes for Legions with the launch of 2.5, including a raise in the Legion level cap from 3 to 5, two new Legion character ranks along with new permissions (including warehouse permissions), new Legion items, new cloaks, and last but not least, NCsoft is responding to user feedback regarding the Legion warehouse with an increase to the warehouse’s storage slots.
One Step Closer to the “Vision”
One of the most significant changes to Aion in version 2.5 is the major update to the game’s graphic engine. For those of you who felt their jaws drop when watching the Aion “Visions” trailer, version 2.5 will bring the game one step closer to that “vision” for the game, and you can expect Aion’s graphical fidelity to look just like it did in the “Visions” trailer, though Sean did emphasize that these changes will not be mandatory for players, so those of you who running the game on your toasters can be at ease. Think of the graphics update as being similar to City of Heroes’ “Ultra Mode”, you’ll be able to turn it on if your system can handle it, but you don’t have to run it if your system isn’t quite up to par.
I asked Sean if the changes would permeate to the game’s already robust character create system, and this provoked a pretty excited answer to the affirmative. Characters will be much more expressive and lifelike, perhaps even creepily lifelike. Sean went as far to say that while Aion currently offers players hundreds of millions of options with the existing system, they are confident they have added “hundreds of millions upon hundreds of millions of options” more with the changes coming to character create.
So, this all sounds great, right? But most of you reading this are probably not playing the Korean version of the game. Unfortunately, NCsoft wasn’t able to nail down a specific date for when we’ll be able to enjoy all the changes stateside, but Sean assured me that the localization process has already begun, and they are eager to get it into Western players’ hands as soon as possible.
Well, that’s all folks, at least for now. Sean assured me that there are even more features in 2.5 that they aren’t ready to talk about just yet, so stay tuned as we’ll be sure to check back with NCsoft when they’re ready to reveal more about the upcoming update.