But even if you aren't in the mood for a bloody round of patty-cake, there is plenty of PvE and exploring to be had in this ecologically diverse land with a variety of new mobs to see (and dispatch) and new tasks to accomplish. Not able to make the trip yourself right now? Join Wings over Atreia's guided tour and get a taste of Tiamaranta.
To start our Tiamaranta tour, we hop a flight line in Sarpan's main fortress, Kamar. Now, even though there is a truce between the Asmodians and the Elyos here, you'll notice that segregation abounds; merchants, storage, and even mailboxes are race specific. The same is true for the entrance to Tiamaranta, so all the Asmodians will need to fly to Fatebound Garrison, while the Elyos head to Hushblade Garrison. From there, just hop over and enter the portal to Rancora Base. Dn't worry; we can meet back up once there. It's perfectly safe to intermingle.
Now, although PvP is the first half of the infamous Aion acronym, let's save that for the end of the tour and focus on getting the lay of the land first. Upon entering Rancora Base in the north, Daevas have the opportunity to head out and gallivant around in many different areas. The land of Tiamaranta is segregated into different regions, from lush and green to fire and brimstone, with desert, mystical, and frozen thrown in. You can run between these areas or take a handy flight line to one of the bases (one being a floating island you can access via the swirly black portal beneath it), though sometimes finding a passable route between areas is easier said than done.
Exploring Tiamaranta is worth it just to get a look at some of the new critters scampering about. In the Steam Springs, you come across an octosnail, actually named Kelpfrill Gastron, and glowing cornstalks, which are benign until you try to pluck an ear. In Avad Village, the lions/mantacores wear earrings -- no joke! The mystical area looks all serene and fairytale like until you get too close to one of those wispy unicorns. Don't forget ram-boar heads and horned finned things. And then there are the orchid spiders. No, I am not kidding; take your arachnophobia to a whole new level -- include a flower! To get a full appreciation for the variety of flora and fauna, you truly must traverse the entire zone. Now please try to avoid feeding the animals any other tour members.
Of course, PvE is only part of the equation. If you want PvP with some like-leveled folks, just head to the four corners of the globe, or map, as it were. Although some places in Tiamaranta are still under the truce, once you get around one of the four Hearts of Tiamat, that truce is lifted. There is also PvP within the Eye, which is a pretty compact space, unlike the Abyss, so your chances of running into hostile targets increases.
Sieging in Tiamaranta is a bit unique, as we found out during our attempt to stream one of them. First off, they go fast -- and I mean fast. Due to NCsoft's connectivity issues (which the studio has stated are resolved, but my computer didn't seem to get the memo), I dropped right as the Hearts went vulnerable and got back in just as they were being conquered! Oh, but that won't stop our tour from proceeding.
What's so unique about the Hearts of Tiamat? Besides being super fast, that is. For one, a smaller force can conquer them. And the return investment for your time is pretty good; I received a platinum medal for my 10 minutes of trouble.
A big difference with the Hearts is that they all immediately revert to Balaur control when they go vulnerable, so no faction can retain any; factions must fight for control each and every time. But once a faction has a Heart, it is easier to retake because you get to stroll right in while your guards protect you and start clearing the guards that spawn five minutes before vulnerability. Then, as the Heart goes vulnerable, everyone inside the area gets ported out to the edge of the vulnerability area and has to go through one little portal back into PvP area (all PvP areas are blatantly marked with a force field and a portal you must choose to enter when on the ground) and just run straight back in to where the boss will spawn. With no doors to slow you down and so few guards to clear, you end up standing around waiting for the boss to appear at five minutes after vulnerability.
When the boss appears, the first time you experience it it is awesome. Unlike the humanoid Brigade Generals from the other regions, one gigantic dragon appears to feast on you. Careful how long you stand in awe if you happen to be the *ahem* group's healer!
Now, trying to wrest one of the Hearts away from the opposing faction members is another story because they are already setting up in their places just like you did in yours, but it is worth it to give it a try. After all, if your faction owns three or more of the Hearts of Tiamat's power, only allies can enter Tiamaranta's Eye
The Eye of the dragon
Concluding our tour for today is a journey to Tiamaranta's Eye. If you are truly looking for PvP, you won't reliably find it in the corners of the land; you have to aim for dead center. To access the Eye, Daevas can either run down and manually enter one of the gates or teleport (during non-siege times) from the faction-specific Eye Abyss Portals located outside of the respective headquarters in Rancora Base. And while the segregation of race specific amenities may be slightly annoying, be grateful they are in this case: Who wants to load into a PvP area into the waiting arms of a bunch of hostiles? Not I! Each portal drops Daevas in a corresponding safe zone surrounded by guards to give folks the chance to re-acclimate and prepare for PvP.
The teleport drops you in the center of the Eye, and the outer gates take you to the outer ring. The outer ring is inhabited by cannon, fairly easy mobs, eight artifacts, and three quite formidable Brigade General bosses: Naduka, Satra, and Basrasa. Steam puffs scattered about the area can lift you up to the windstreams that move between the three regions, one for each general. Naduka and Basrasa look like twins in all their scaly purple glory, but the visage of Satra is more standard dragon.
The center of the Eye is shaped like a wheel with an outer ring, an inner ring, four spoke-like chambers called War Rooms, three artifacts, and a center hub called the Commander's room, all containing mobs and even occasional bosses to slaughter all while hunting and/or dodging the enemy. It also holds the entryway to the Satra Treasure Hoard instance. If you want AP, this is a good place to get it. Just remember, you will be kicked out of the Eye when the Hearts go vulnerable, so you must re-enter through the doors.
Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.