Not only that, but I was able to sit down with Associate Producer Sean Orlikowski to talk about some of these great new features, like housing changes, legion quests, and Dimensional Vortexes. We discussed the epic conclusion of the Dragon Lord's saga, the underlying story that has been playing out since the game launched. Then he shared some details about the Anniversary events starting on September 19th. Trust me -- a lot of stuff is coming our way.
So what do Daevas have to look forward to next month? Where to begin...
Before we dive into the first new feature we'll be discussing this week (and I know you all can guess what that is!), I have to give a shout-out to the NCsoft localization team for Aion. It's not just your imagination that this patch is making it to North America faster than any previous update; it really is. In the three months since Update 3.5 launched in Korea, this team has localized the patch so we can enjoy it sooner and experience less OMG-I-can't-wait spasms.
The speed is a result of the fact that the team needs to localize with only one language instead of many. Sean noted that we can expect this trend of speedy turn-arounds for all future updates.
In my family, when we start to rattle off a long to-do list, we always end with "reroof the house"; at some point it becomes ludicrous to expect so much to be done that we might as well throw extensive home renovation onto the list! In Aion's case, however, home remodeling is actually on the list in a big way.
For folks who don't like the Victorian look of Aion's current houses, update 3.5 is introducing a way for owners to change the appearance. Sean shared more details on this, explaining that Daevas will be able to acquire special designs for different exteriors by participating in the village improvement process that is being implemented. Basically, each village will be able to participate in quests that will result in the addition of new NPCs who will offer new toys, including the housing designs and new mounts. It is unclear at this time whether folks who don't live in the village but do own a condo might be able to utilize these vendors for items like the new mount.
The exterior appearance is not the only change coming to Aion's houses. There will be more customization options for walls and floors as well. And according to the Korean patch notes, two housing sizes will see their max item limit increased: Luxurious Houses (to 60) and Grand Mansions (to 90). Thank you, NCsoft! We definitely need higher item limits, but let's not stop there. Now we'll be hoping for other living accommodations to receive increases.
A big proponent of customization, Sean also gave the scoop on another aspect of home personalization: furniture dye! OMZG1! Hallelujah and praise the Seraphim Lords! You can't see me, but I am so doing a little dance of glee here in celebration. Daevas will soon be able to change the color of their furniture, making it better reflect their own tastes. And these dyes will not be a BlackCloud Marketplace exclusive, so Daevas who prefer not to use the cash shop will still have access to them. (Be sure to go back and look at an example of the variety in the gallery above!)
I did ask Sean about the possibility of adding player-generated-content to the game and to decorating specifically; I mentioned my previous idea about having players submit screenshots to be made into paintings for homes. I also asked about the possibility of a workshop that would allow players to create and submit items, as discussed in Some Assembly Required. He answered, "It's a really cool idea. It's not outside the realm of possibility. We are always trying to get more and better customization into Aion." But for now, no plans are being considered.
Another interesting new feature coming in October involves legions. Legions will be able to progress past level 5 all the way up to level 8. Of course, this means an increase in storage space and a higher member cap for each level. Legions that make it to level 8 can have 240 total members and access to 80 storage slots in the legion warehouse.
Higher-level legions (5 through 8) will have another additional benefit: legion side quests. At each level, more side quests that the legion members can complete together become available. Each quest branches into sub-components; quest completion is determined by how many legion members complete those quests. Once a side quest is completed, members will receive rewards dependent on their individual contribution points. Once a legion is over level 6, members can purchase special items (Sean described a new warhorse that can display your legion emblem) from a special vendor.
Into the vortex
Another addition to Aion 3.5 that I want to cover comes in the form of Dimensional Vortexes. Sean describes these as special 24-man raid rifts. These are is an event occuring at a specified time when space is distorted and Elyos players can go to Brusthonin and Asmodians can slip into Theobomos. The home faction has to shut down the portal to keep the enemy from rifting in. This sounds like an amazing way to get to see lands otherwise off-limits to your race.
According to the Korean patch notes, rifts will be open to Daevas up to level 60. Since players have a way to avoid PvP in many zones now thanks to the Fast Track server, allowing for rifting to expand on the servers that do allow it.
It's the end of the story as we know it
One point that really caught my eye was the fact that the new dungeon, Tiamat Stronghold, and the battle with Lord Tiamat that Daevas will face represent the conclusion of the Dragon Lord's saga that has been the underlying story of everything in Aion thus far. Tiamat's defeat is heralded as the last chapter of the story. But just because it is the end of one story doesn't mean the game is over.
As soon as I heard this conclusion business, my first question was, "What's next?" I wanted to know what adventure is next in line. Sean told me that besides other Dragon Lords (like the one who changed the face of Beluslan into what Daevas see today), two already-known characters will be explored more in-depth. Their stories will weave throughout the update and beyond.
Let's start with Kahrun, the leader of the Reian people. Folks know he is all about uniting the Asmodians and the Elyos, but why? Update 3.5 will reveal a skeleton in his closet, one that will explain his drive for reunification. Sean also noted that different hints have already been dropped throughout the game, and some players have actually been piecing things together through old quest texts.
A second player getting more screen time in 3.5 is Lord Israphel. Far from dead, he's already exposed himself as the leader of the Lephradists. Now, he is trying to recover all of the relics of Lady Seil, who unfortunately did lose her life in the Cataclysm. So what is his agenda? Is he a friend or foe? The story will play out more as Aion continues, and by the end of 3.5, players will know what his intentions truly are.
Oh, and just to help set your minds at ease, I did ask whether that choice to follow Lephar made way back in the level 50 campaign quest will affect players in 3.5, and the answer is no, not as far as Sean knew, at least for now. (I worry I might have actually given him food for thought. I personally agonized over that choice forever!)
Of course, as with every update, there are many more little morsels for Daevas to snack on. Here are just a few:
One change that I am actually divided on is the ability to add folks to their friends list even if the person is offline. This means that players will no longer have any control over who is watching their logging in and out habits. So much for avoiding those stalker types.
And as a fellow fan of customization, I'd be remiss if I left out this next fact, which also happens to be Sean's favorite part of 3.5. All of you Deavas out there who saved all of your really cool looking wings (as I did) will love to know that come October, you will be able to skin wings! WOOT! You won't have to sacrifice style to have those awesome stats. I am particularly interested in this because I really prefer the older, weaker wings that are more simple in design. And this will allow the personalization of a major aspect of each Daeva that, until now, we had no control over.
There will also be the option to have legion wings in your legion's colors. I suspect this will be a skin purchase from the legion vendor, just like legion outfits right now, but I do not know at what legion level these will become available.
So with Aion's anniversary fast approaching, I asked about specifics concerning upcoming events. Starting September 19th, there will be multiple events running simultaneously. And to top it all off, there will be a special mystery surprise only for Aion fans at the end of the celebration. Stay tuned to Wings Over Atreia next week for more details about the celebration (including the cake-shaped kisks, cake-dispensing tables, and AoE buffing candles) as well as a look at how Aion has grown over the last three years.
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.