Legends of Aria is motoring along in development in preparation for Early Access on Steam, hopefully by the end of this year. Later this week on September 28th, players will get a look at some big changes in what Citadel Studios is calling “Final Alpha”. I managed to score some time with Citadel’s Derek Brinkmann and Lead Designer Jeffrey Edwards to see what’s new.
A quick look at the graphics on the Legends of Aria site reveals some big, big things in store for Final Alpha. These include:
- 32 new abilities
- 100 new weapons and armor
- 300 new items and crafting resources
- New places to “call home”
- New regions to explore
- Experimental server will be opening on September 22nd (hopefully!)
While hanging out with Derek and Jeffrey, I asked them about each of these “signature” features coming to Final Alpha.
The game got very big. The biggest problem before was that it was very binary. You were in one place or the other -- in a safe zone or a PvP zone. Now with the addition of the new areas, there are more connections and it feels like a more open world. There will be five dungeons including one raid dungeon when Final Alpha is released too.
One of the biggest additions in addition to nearly tripling the size of the game world is the addition of a second starter location. Valus is the second starting city. Both starter areas have the kinds of things that a newbie would expect. Crafting, sewer dungeons, a graveyard area, merchants and so forth. Basically everything you need to get started on your LoA adventure is right there at your fingertips, though it’s by no means all.
When you first spawn, you start at the end of the city because, as Jeffrey says, “All good adventures begin at the end.” Just be prepared to run around a bit to find what you want.
Character creation has also been addressed. You’ll create your characters before entering the world unlike previous versions where you didn’t actually get your character’s look squared away until after you logged in. Right now there aren’t many customization options, but more body types and hair types will probably be coming. Since LoA is a top-down game, minimal visual customization is needed. For now, you’ll pick class items and starting gear but they have no actual effect on stats or how you play but are there to provide an aesthetic option. You can, for instance, choose clothing and equipment for a warrior archetype, but find a bow, equip it and start playing as an archer. Once in game you can choose all the styles to try them out and progress before working to specialize.
As you play, you’ll want to hoard all of your skills to progress your prowess in battle rather than split them between your fighting abilities and crafting. As a result, most players will have a crafter alt.
“We think it’s kind of cool that crafters aren’t fighters. They are creating things so by having one a crafter, the fighter character doesn’t sacrifice skill points for crafting and vice versa.” said Derek.
Prestige Abilities have been reworked. All of them have three levels. The level 1 version (and its three interior levels) can be attained very early in the game and the other two levels (and their three interior levels) can be earned fairly quickly. Players will need to purchase a prestige skill book in order to have your class trainer unlock the ability. Examining the book will even reveal which trainer to take it to to learn it. At least one Prestige Ability book will be available from a vendor in the starter locations. You’ll also have a chance to have mobs drop additional skill books, or that they are found in the world, which can also be learned at a class trainer.
Before being able to train your shiny new Ability, you need to know that each Prestige Skill will require a certain level in basic abilities and Prestige Experience before training. Basic abilities are raised by using so head to your local training dummy or out into the world and get busy! Prestige Experience can be earned by slumming in nearby sewers or just by killing things. It is used to unlock and level up your active abilities.
Some UI functionality has been addressed as well. For instance, Tap + RMB brings up a radial menu over a mount or pet. The goal is to bring a more intuitive interface and better usability to players.
Vitality has been added, though it’s in its infancy. Players visit a “hearth” (cities, towns or in guild halls eventually) to reclaim vitality that can be lost by dying, not eating, etc. If it gets to zero, a few debuffs are applied such as slower XP gain and so forth.
Progression will be a much more present feature. Players will need to adventure in appropriate areas. It’s not linear, however. Levels are mixed in with one another, so the challenge becomes finding the ones that are best suited to a player’s level. As you travel throughout the game world, you’ll unlock points of interest that will then appear on your map with a tooltip of information about what a location is best suited for.
Outlaw outposts are safe places for murderers to visit without guards instantly killing them, though active aggression will see them come to life and kill murderers.
Teleportation towers are scattered throughout the world, carefully put “close-ish” to a town, but not necessarily that close. It’s not a long run. The “network” requires players to travel between interconnected towers, so traversing the world may require a couple of paid jumps before arriving at your destination.
As for what players can truly expect when the Final Alpha begins? Well, Derek said it best: “It’s the kind of thing that players will need to see in action. There are so many places people will want to live, to explore and to discover. With so many points of interest, it’s a massive world to discover.”