Upcoming MMO Legends of Aria has finally been given an early access release date! We spoke with the team at Citadel Studios as they prep the ambitious sandbox MMORPG for release early August. (Full Disclosure: Legends of Aria is represented by Team CriticalHit, a games PR company operated by former MMORPG Managing Editor Bill Murphy.)
Citadel Studios has announced that its upcoming sand box MMO will hit Steam on August 6th! Inspired by games such as Ultima Online and Eve Online, Legends of Aria strives to be a real player-driven world, defined and shaped solely by its players.
The early access Steam launch of Legends of Aria will bring with it a bunch of new content as well. Via a press release:
- The Bard skill-line: a unique addition with useful buffs and abilities;
- A guided experience in the Profession System that takes players from newbie to Grandmaster;
- A New Weapon and Armor Enchanting system that expands crafting with unique dropped ingredients that allow for more high-end items
- Ruleset changes to provide a more consensual PvP experience across more of the map for those who wish to play without fear of ganking
- A Fresh Start Server where everyone begins on even footing at launch
- An optional Premium Subscription with in-game bonuses and perks
- Tons of new cosmetic options in the in-game store
- Many quality of life improvements, feature enhancements and much, much more!
For players eager to dive into the world of Celador, early access will run you $29.99. You can add Legends of Aria to your Steam wishlist now, or just purchase a copy of the early access version from their website.
Our very own Steve Weber had a chance to talk to Derek Brinkman, CEO of Citadel Studios about their upcoming MMORPG, and he started his interview just simply asking: "What feature in the upcoming release are you most excited about?"
Derek: Hands down it would be the new profession system. A profession is a set of one or more skills that determine your role in Celador. Players familiar with this style of sandbox game immediately understand that they need to build a combination of skills and start making money. However, most gamers in today’s world have never experienced this sort of total freedom. Even if they have an idea of what they want to do in the game, they might not know what skills to train or what tools they need to get started.
With this launch, new players are no longer presented with a daunting set of skills, but immediately presented with a wealth of professions to pursue. Upon selecting one, you are guided to a trainer NPC who will show you what tools you need and what skills you should begin developing. Many of our townsfolk offer profession training and will be a valuable resource to new adventurers But it doesn’t stop there, at periodic skill levels, you can complete additional tasks that reward you with a title and access to trainable abilities.
The best part is you can embark on as many professions as you want. That is, until you hit the skill cap. Then you need to decide what you want to specialize in.
MMORPG: For those unfamiliar with Legends of Aria, the game essentially revolves around a sandbox skillset system. In coordination with the Early Access launch on steam, you are also adding a Bard skill-line. How do you see players melding these abilities into their builds?
Derek: Our designers balance combat characters in terms of templates, which is a set of skills that allow you to be proficient in something. Just about every combat related template requires more than one skill and Bards are no different.
Bards are a specialist profession and will serve both social and combat roles; Musicians in Legends of Aria populate the taverns of our towns and cities, replenishing Vitality lost by players and ensuring that they’re physically and spiritually recuperate from their adventures. Vitality is lost on over time and following death. If left unchecked, it can have serious detrimental effects on your stats and skill gains when low. In combat, bards are unique in their ability to restore their parties health, mana and stamina with their song and in debilitating enemies with their riddles. Unlike the more core skill sets required to be a Warrior or Mage type character, the bard is a specialisation skill set and only requires two skills: Musicianship and Barding. This allows players to easily fit the Bard profession into general character templates and to experiment with even more specialised builds.
When we first introduce a new set of skills, there will always be an adjustment period where we work to bring their power in line with the rest of the PvP balance. There is only so much we can do with Experimental testing. When it gets released into the live servers there are always new balance issues that pop up. Our designers will be closely monitoring PvP action and we are able hotfix changes in between major updates to get balance changes out as quickly as possible.
MMORPG: One thing that has been a big area of contention has been player killers in places like the most sought-after gathering areas. With the potential of many new players joining the fray, is there anything being done to mitigate frustration for those that may not be ready for those kinds of interactions?
Derek: What we have done with this release is to expand our protected zone to include most of the game world and mid to end game items, while still making sure the rate of gaining materials, gold and ability resources is high in the unrestricted PvP area. This gives players who want to enjoy relative safety access to the majority of the game’s content, while still providing adequate rewards for taking the risk of adventuring in unrestricted areas.
We believe this new approach to the Legends of Aria ruleset will benefit PvPers. No more teleport restrictions on evil players and they are no longer outlawed from towns and cities. By decreasing the size of the wilderness area to just the Barren Lands (which is still a huge area) it will concentrate the open PvP fighting and it will be easier to find fights.
Awakening spawns will remain highly competitive events with big rewards and are being expanded. In this update, we are launching a new awakening encounter in the cultist city, Ruins of the Artificer, which is an awesome place for a king of the hill style encounter. We also offer several consensual PvP options which allow for unrestricted PvP combat anywhere in the game (Allegiances and Guild Wars).
MMORPG: What can players look forward to in terms of the ongoing payment model for Legends of Aria? Will there be a cash shop? Subscription? Is Citadel Studios dedicated to ensuring there are no “pay to win” scenarios or will some semblance of power be gained in the event players are willing to pay a premium?
Derek: First and foremost, Legends of Aria will remain simply a buy-to-play MMO. You can buy a copy, and then never have to spend another dime if you don’t want to. That said, these games do take money to keep the lights on and feed the development staff, right? With the Steam EA launch, we’ll be introducing an optional premium subscription that allows a host of benefits like additional housing plots, extra character slots, free-housing tax, and access to a special “VIP Lounge” that’s a neat place in the ether of Aria that only certain very early supporters and premium subscribers can enter. It doesn’t affect the gameplay at all, it’s just sort of a private instance for hanging out in. There are no skill boosts or XP gains from the subscription, either.
Additionally, we are adding a paid currency to our in-game shop. The shop will launch with some new cosmetic items like special mounts and a dye tub. We will be revealing the details on these new shop items in a blog post on our site before launch.
MMORPG: The Steam launch is certainly a big accomplishment, but players that have been following LOA for a long time may wonder, what else will they have to look forward to, post early access release? Do you have a list of enhancements and content that you plan to release?
Derek: We have come a long way since we launched our first alpha test way back in 2017. The world is 10x larger, there are countless new systems, places to explore, and items to acquire. However, there are still two areas of the world map that we have not yet unlocked and there are a few professions we still need to add before we can consider the vision for the game complete. We also plan to spend a great deal of time from now until launch on bug fixes and polish. Our team keeps a public Trello board that lists all of the future changes we plan to make to the game. We’ve allowed it to fall a little out of date because we’ve been so heads down on this current release. As soon as the dust settles we’ll spend a great deal of time updating the board so everyone knows where the project is heading.