Over the last year Citadel Studios has been hard at work updating Legends of Aria and getting everything ready to bring even more players in. They have had the main systems for how the game operates in place for a while, but what was really needed was a lot of polishing. So I was pretty keen to check in with them at PAX East and see everything they have been working on since last year.
One of the biggest changes is Legends of Aria is currently in closed beta instead of alpha like it was last year. This is a huge step forward and with this they have done a ton of polishing and updating of a lot of their systems. One of the biggest pieces of news is they are currently planning on doing their last server wipe around the end of June or early July. After this there will be an early access period before they go into a larger more open beta. This is huge news and shows some real movement towards a full launch of the game.
One of the big differences between last year’s game and the way it is now is there have been a lot of updates to the UI. Previously the UI has felt not only bare bones but not finished entirely. Now everything is still minimalistic, but it conveys important information much more concisely. As a veteran MMO player I was able to understand information very easily and even more importantly find information about my character, the map, or other players easily. Some parts of this UI probably would be less intuitive for new MMO players, but everything is simple, and it would likely easy to figure out.
Another area which has been heavily updated is there is a more robust character creation system and new options for hues in every aspect of character creation. As someone who likes to mess nearly every aspect of my characters this was very welcome change. Related to these new color options is the whole world has received a bit of a coloration and graphics update as well. Running around anywhere in the world looked much better than it did a year ago.
One thing which unfortunately is not in yet is the new player experience they have been working on. This will be a very important part of the equation once they move into a more open beta and will be getting players who have never played this game, or possibly any MMO, before. I wish I had been able to check on that, even if it had only been very bare bones. Getting new players acclimated and understanding of the basic underlying systems is important for the long-term health of any MMO. I’m not really concerned about players having enough to do once they are in game, my current concern is getting new players acclimated, so they will become old players. Hopefully this will be in soon and we’ll be able to check it out.
Overall the general gameplay and feel of being in the world felt much smoother than last year and it’s easy to see they have been putting a lot of work into making sure everything works properly. I look forward to seeing how things continue to move forward and to Legends of Aria getting into the hands of even more people.