Sadly, contrary to previous expansion launches, the new publish date for Wings Over Atreia did not leave me with nearly enough time to really wade into all the new content. There's simply so much I was barely able to dip my toes in! So diving even deeper into Dark Betrayal will have to wait until next time; for now, I'll just share my initial impressions gleaned from my first glimpses of 4.0.
One of the greatest things about this expansion is that it truly has content for everyone, from the brand-new player to the three plus-year veteran with six max-level toons. The two new classes (a first in the history of Aion) are open to each and every person whether he's played through every other class before or has just downloaded the game for the first time. And I think the new classes are the biggest boon to the game, much more so than anything else in 4.0.
Besides just offering something new and different, the new classes have seriously bolstered the ranks of the lower levels. It's been a long time since I had to dodge other players and be on my toes in order to snag my quest items before someone else did! But you won't hear me complaining; this starting-area population explosion couldn't be better for Aion. Sometimes folks are put off on joining an established game because they worry about the population of those lower levels and don't want to be faced with a ghost town. Now, however, those just starting out know that plenty of vets will also be enticed by the Songweaver and the Gunner. And my short experience has already shown that life before endgame is vibrant again, teaming with activity.
Singing a new tune
As I mentioned, I started an Asmodian Songweaver. Having mostly Elyos characters, I've long sought to give the Asmodian side of Atreia some time, and this is the perfect opportunity. With the skill set of support and healing combined with some powerful ranged blasts, it was really a no-brainer for me to select the Muse. But I've got to admit, I wonder at times if I made the right choice.
You see, the whole cutesy-ness of the class is driving me nuts! From the way she stands (even on the character select screen) to some of her her casting animations, her mannerisms are just all over-the-top cutesy -- and I can't stand cutesy. Even as a young girl I hated frills and bows and the like. I've always preferred jeans, sports, and action moves instead. So as much as I love the power set of the Songweaver, I look at the Gunner, with her no nonsense bullet-to-the-brain demeanor and her awesome stance, and I am jealous. Heck, I even miss the tough-girl attitude of my Spirit Master!
It doesn't help that the Gunner gets some slick outfits, while I have horrid frilly dresses to look forward to. Maybe I should have made a male character for once -- unless he is cutesy too? I'd check, but it almost feels like there is a gender restriction; almost every male toon I've run into has been a Gunner, and the two male Muses I did meet didn't help dispel my cutesy concerns. Needless to say, I have every intention of strapping on a gunbelt; I just have to figure out whom to delete in order to do so. Can I please get some extra character slots over here?
Now, while I may not have gotten too far with my new class yet due to a lack of time, I am not ready to abandon her for the sleeker Gunner yet. I am actually having quite a bit of fun with the Songweaver's skills. I am definitely enjoying the new charged power shots, and I already have a range of skills, including the dancing inquin CC. How do I avoid getting annoyed by her prim little mannerisms? I'm running around mainly in first person (which also means I don't have to watch the back fur/tail thing clipping through my instrument).
While I am eager to explore more in the new lands of Katalam, Danaria, and Idian Depths, I haven't had the opportunity to lose myself in these new areas yet. I've barely scratched the surface. I can tell you that it rains a lot in Katalam, and the lands are beautiful! Don't worry, though -- I'll definitely have more to report on those lands and all the great things they contain (like bases) another time, and I'll be doing a livestream tour on Massively TV later next week.
What I have discovered during my jaunts, however, is that you do not have to be level 60 in order to access them these new areas, which is a departure from past expansions. I am unsure how many quests will actually be available for lower levels, but I have proven that a level 57 can travel via the teleporter in Sanctum or Pandaemonium straight to Katalam or Danaria. Surviving long in the lands is another story...
Speaking of using the main teleporter in capitol cities to travel, that's only one of the many little changes that I've uncovered in 4.0
The small things can be big!
Besides the change to teleporters to include travel to all lands, there are so many little tweaks and alterations that came with Dark Betrayal that I am still discovering them even though I read the patch notes! But as the patch notes are easily the heftiest and most detailed I have ever seen, it's easy to miss things as you scroll through.
For instance, we noted before that arrows are no longer necessary. Did you hear that cheer? Only Rangers had a mandatory regent to make their main weapon function, so this change erases a money sink that no other class had to bear. It also eradicates those embarrassing moments when you realize you are out of arrows mid-dungeon or mid-PvP. Anyone with leftover arrows (like my Assassin) can sell them back to the vendors for full cost.
PvP enthusiasts will notice that the AP gained from killing an enemy has increased, although the loss from a death has not changed. Additionally, players cannot use buff or support skills at the border between neutral and disputed areas to remain invulnerable to enemy attack. The only exceptions are the Chanter's mantras and the SM's summon groupmember skill.
Although the new skills for the new levels were expected, there are also new level 10 skills for all classes, so make sure to visit your trainer to grab yours! And the new classes aren't the only ones with charged shots; Gladiators, Sorcerers, Assassins, Clerics, and Chanters all have the ability to super-charge certain skills for even more damage.
The UI has also undergone changes. I am not happy with the new "world" chat window that I can neither collapse into my other window nor dismiss, but I can see how the quest journal filters will be helpful.
And last but certainly not least, a new instance group feature that auto-matches players from different servers was added. Now Daevas from various servers can group up and run a dungeon together without being on the Fast Track server (especially helpful for all those higher-level instances that are not a part of that server). Of course, the Fast track server itself now includes Inggison and Gelkmaros for PvP-free quest completion. However, the fortresses are not active on that combined server and there is no XP bonus for levels 50+.
Obviously, I couldn't expound on everything that this expansion added, tweaked, and fixed. There's simply too much to cover in just one sitting! But I can tell you that this expansion is breathing new life into the game. Now's the perfect time to jump into Aion, either for the first time or returning after a long absence. The new classes give a perfect opportunity to (re)acquaint yourself with the game, and the fact that it is Truly Free means that you don't have to pay a cent to have access to everything.
And as a bonus, if you've ever wanted to try an Asmodian out, there's no time like now: The Asmodian incentive package included plenty of rewards at different level intervals. These rewards are available on Tiamat, Siel, and Israphel. Of course, if you'd rather play Elyos, you can do that as well, sans rewards. Just be aware that on those servers Elyos creation is restricted during peak (read: afternoon and evening ) hours if you don't already have a light-wing created there, so plan accordingly. See you in Atreia!
Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down biweekly 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.