Floating above the island next to Poeta, the heavenly city of Sanctum is the hub of the Elyos' Daevic society and it's huge. At it's centre is a platform and a holographic display showing Atreia. This is the first time the full extent of the devastation which befell the planet is revealed, even if the shattered tower is connecting the two halves (in reality it's the PvPvE area known as the Abyss which now occupies the planet's core). Regardless, it's a stark look at how a single civilizations has been shattered in two, each with it's own characteristics and world view.
After your Ascension ceremony, you're free to do whatever you want (funds providing, of course). You can return to Poeta and kill kobolds or finish up any quests you might have lying in your queue or you can go straight to Verteron Citadel, as per your orders. For now, let's loiter in Sanctum.
The city is so big, it's almost a zone in itself. You can even teleport from one side to the other (for free) and save a five minute run. The only problem is the city is very three dimensional while the map is most definitely 2-D. This can make finding specific NPCs rather difficult. On top of class trainers, Daevas wander the streets mingling with traders and merchants. You can buy everything from a new pair of wings to that must-have weapon as long as you have the Kinah in your pocket.
The city itself is beautiful, all spires and rainbows. The sun shines down upon this heavenly city. Trees are in bloom and birds sing, this city is the epitome of Elysea and the Elysos themselves. You'd think given the angelic nature of the Elyos and the new pair of wings your avatar just received you might be able to fly in Sanctum. Nope. You have to walk/run just like everyone else, even if there is occasionally a need bug (bless the beta gods) which allows you to soar on your wings when you jump off a slope.
As the Daevic hub, this is the place to learn a little bit more about the faction and their world view. Specific Daeva (<of Wisdom> for example) wander the streets with names and dialogue. They don't need to be adults either, one of the first you meet upon appearing in the city is a kid named Leah who lives to meet people and hear their stories. Other player characters mill about, pimping their weapons or armour, and it feels like a bustling city even if the only point of entry/exit is via teleporter.
Next it's time to explore the big wide world. You have orders to head over to Verteron Citadel in Verteron so as soon as you have the cash for the teleporter (and the ability to bind your soul to a new Obelisk), it's time to explore that brave new zone. If you don't there are a couple of Sanctum-specific quests you can do or else it might be quicker and easier to return to Poeta and kill some high-level mobs for five minutes. Do note however you are no longer a normal Elyos so you won't be able to gather herbs or ore found in Poeta anymore so if you have a couple of gathering-specific quests and don't want to buy the items you may as well drop them.
As with any quest-hub, it's time to start leveling again. By now your toon should be a couple of bars into level 10 and the new set of quests follow the same pattern as those earlier in the game. In this case, it's time to thin out the local wildlife and practice using your wings. Yes, finally an area where you can fly. Summoning your wings is as simple as pressing Page Up and then R to lift off into the air. But there's a one minute timer so you have to use your flight skills wisely.
You see Daeva rely on Aether, it's sort of like the divine fuel which keeps you running. Indeed it is also allows you to fly and that is kind of the reason that so many areas of the game do not allow free flying, there's not enough Aether in the air. So you've used your Aether reserves and need a top up when you spy a cluster of herbs. As a weak mortal you would simply gather them and sell them for man's money but now you are higher being and they serve a high purpose. Yes, you get to sap their vitrality in a really cool wave of rainbow light that you absorb and it looks amazing.
Next it's time to cull the local critters and this is where your first time you get to have a proper go at aerial combat. Given the PvPvE content later on in the game, it's good to start practicing now. So you've annoyed a mob and are throwing everything in your repertoire at this creature. Perhaps your down to your last third of health but, good news, your flight timer is maxed out. Just tap Page Up and continue pew pewing to your heart's content. You can't fly too far up or you'll lose threat and the mob will go on it's merry way. However if you're just an inch off the ground and keep throwing damage, it's a surefire way to down the beast and not die in the process. Plus it looks really, really cool.
Verteron Citadel is equipped with everything the adventuring Daeva could ever need. You can fly as far as the road and then it's a mad run, or you can just do the smart thing and catch a bird to Pilgrim's Respite in the south east. Now this is where you get a proper look at the world but also can start thinking about learning professions. There are quite a few to offer and you can learn them all, even if you can only become a Master in one. This is more than enough to keep all gamers entertained without having to rely too much on other people. The good news is you don't have to wander through zones hunting for trainers, you can also learn in Sanctum and it's the same kind of deal as any other MMO. You pay to learn a new level and you can then gather items to make clothes, weapons and other goodies which you can then tailor to your class requirements.
Pilgrim's Respite is like a much larger version of Akarios Village. There's a chapel, shepherds herding ant-eaters and Qooqoo (that's cockerels and chickens to the rest of us), vendors selling food and potions, an Obelisk and a teleportation statue which allows you to fly back to the main hub of Verteron Citadel. However it's a small sanctuary surrounded by danger and death, mobs will rip you to pieces and the land is not as safe as it might look.
It's only a glimpse of an unexplored realm, an unfinished taste of a beautiful and vibrant game world. We might have to wait till later in the year to experience it properly, without time or level contraints, but this first part of the Closed Beta Test has certainly concluded with an awful lot of promise. Until this weekend and the beginning of CBT2, take a look at this video of Verteron below or checkout our Aion galleries.