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Aethertechs arrive in Aion January 29th

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Aion, Classes, Expansions, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play

If you thought you'd have to wait until the end of Q1 for Aion's Steel Cavalry expansion, NCsoft has a surprise for you! Once dubbed patch 4.5, Steel Cavalry -- with its new Aethertech class, two new instances, and all-new skills -- is launching next week. As of January 29th, players can slip into the long-awaited final new class that uses a mechanized suit as a weapon. Daevas can also adventure through The Illuminary Obelisk and Iron Wall Warfront, the two newest instances to open in Atreia. Want a taste of what awaits you next week? Check out the trailer below.

[Source: NCsoft press release]

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Aion's medical professionals are on the scene to keep you healthy

Fantasy, Aion, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play

So is this the medical show like ER or is it more like Scrubs?  I like one of those.
Even though you might spend most of your time in Aion being healed by magical sources, the hard-working medical professionals of Atreia are still out there and keeping a close eye on your health. Did you know that cold weather is the fifth most common cause of death among Daevas, making it ten thousandth overall? If not, you may wish to stop by one of Atreia's many free clinics for a careful health examination.

From now until January 29th, all Daevas may stop by one of the medical camps set up through the world for special benefits. Doctors provide potions and scrolls to players at level 10+, whilst the rotating nurses will provide players with a variety of buffs to improve their performance in battle. So are you keeping a solid watch on your health? Stop by one of the medical camps now, and ask the doctors if consuming large quantities of potion is right for you.

One Shots: All outta soul

Screenshots, Aion, Culture, One Shots, Champions Online, Allods Online, Blade & Soul, Miscellaneous

Blade and Soul
Man, there are few things worse in the gaming world than to see players of other regions get a hold of titles that have yet to make it to your neck of the woods. First comes the flush of jealousy, then the slow burn of envy, then the mountaintop proclamation of vengeance upon the studio in the middle of a rainstorm.

Reader Dynatos is one of the fortunate to be able to try out this particular game: "I've recently stepped back into Blade and Soul with the Chinese release, and while I'm not very far along into the game (it's a little tough when I don't understand the language!), I'm completely in love with the art style and combat mechanics. Here's my Kung Fu master looking at the foreboding building up the walkway -- not very inviting!"

I WILL RAIN HOT DOOM UPON YOU NCSOFT! DOOM! Er, sorry, I just advanced to stage three.

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Jukebox Heroes: Reader request 3

Aion, Final Fantasy XI, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

jukebox heroes
Since it's our very last Jukebox Heroes column of the year on the very last day of the year, I thought it would be most appropriate to open up the reader request lines once again and feature MMO tunes that are your favorites. If you'd like to put in your own request for the next time I run one of these columns, please list your favorite MMO music track in the comments along with an explanation as to what you love about it!

So check out what your fellow soundtrackophiles appreciate and stay tuned for a totally rockin' 2014!

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The Stream Team: Healing adventures in Aion

Fantasy, Video, Aion, Free-to-Play, Livestream, The Stream Team

It's no secret that Massively's MJ prefers to play healers. Other than her Assassin, all the classes that she plays with regularity in Aion are ones that can give your health bar a boost. No, the real question is: Which one should she play now? She has an Asmodian Songweaver slowly inching up the level ladder, an Elyos Chanter that never sees enough play time, and of course her Elyos Cleric that needs a few more levels herself to hit max. So who will the lucky healer be that gets the love and attention (not to mention the air time) today? Join us live at 11:00 a.m. to see.

Game: Aion
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, December 28th, 2013
Time: 11:00 a.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Aethertech class will debut with Aion's Steel Cavalry expansion

Fantasy, Aion, Classes, Expansions, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play

Mech-lovers, rejoice: The Aethertech class is finally on its way to Aion! Although we don't have an exact date, NCsoft has just announced that the third new class for the free-to-play fantasy game will arrive in the first quarter of 2014 as part of a new expansion dubbed Steel Cavalry. That means that players will be able to suit up as an Aethertech before the end of March.

Previously referred to as patch 4.5, Steel Cavalry (so named for the battle machines that are joining the fray) will be also adding two dungeons to Atreia: The Illuminary Obelisk and Iron Wall Warfront. In The Illuminary Obelisk, players work to regain control of a shielding device in Katalam in order to repair it. The Iron Wall Warfront is a new battle to claim the Eternal bastion from the weakened forces of Pashid. We'll keep you posted as we learn more!

[Source: NCsoft press release]

Choose My Adventure: The weather outside is frightful

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Aion, Guild Wars, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, MMOFPS, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, Choose My Adventure, Allods Online, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Defiance, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Choose My Adventure
December is here, which means it's about time to throw some logs on the fire, grab every blanket in the house, and collapse under the mantle in a freezing, sobbing heap. This week's arctic blast has left the United States feeling a lot like Northrend, but for those of us in certain parts of the country it's just the beginning of what's sure to be a long, hellish winter.

However cold it may be outside, there's always a warm, toasty inn waiting in our favorite games. MMOs also provide sunny vistas, hot deserts, and steamy swamps, all of which make great places to escape nasty real-life weather. Even when it's cold in an MMO, it's still warm at our desks. In this edition of Choose My Adventure, I'm depending on you to help me hide from the snow that's piling up outside of my window.

You don't have to send me somewhere warm, but I'd appreciate it if you send me somewhere fun.

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The Soapbox: Seriously, we have enough fantasy MMOs

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Aion, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Fallen Earth, Lineage, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, RIFT, World of Tanks, TERA, EverQuest Next, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, MOBA, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Let's play a game. I'm thinking of an MMO that features magic, monsters, humans, and a vast fantasy world full of steamy swamps, grassy plains, and deep, dark dungeons -- can you tell me which MMO it is? If you answered RIFT, you're right. You're also right if you answered TERA. Or World of Warcraft. Or Guild Wars 2. Or Neverwinter. Or... you get the idea.

We're people who play MMOs. Our hard drives are practically bulging with games featuring wizards and warriors. We've plunged our swords into millions of orcs and gnolls. We've looted more imaginary copper pieces than anyone could possible imagine. We've even slain so many dragons that you have to wonder why dragons even bother showing up anymore.

It's not the gameplay but the setting that can make the whole exercise so soul-crushingly boring.

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Wings Over Atreia: A guide to Aion's menagerie

Fantasy, Aion, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia, Guides

What does every Daeva need while jetting around Atreia besides a sturdy set of wings? Why, a Daeva's best friend, of course! And there is certainly quite an assortment of pets to choose from in Aion, from the standard pooch to the very non-standard heavy machinery. Introduced three expansions ago in Assault on Balaurea, pets have become a common sight as you travel about the world, whether you are chillaxing in town or hot on the trail of some XP. Pets are even commonplace in PvP; practically every contestant in the recent PvP tournament had a pet out. That's because not only are pets fun, but they are functional, too.

Just how many pets are there? Back when I first started this project, I had almost everything together in fairly short order. Then I blinked, and the pet population exploded! And every time I thought I had them all, more would pop up. So chances are NCsoft will throw another one into the mix by the time you read this, but we'll forge ahead anyhow; it's time to get this guide out there to help all those who wish to adopt the cute cuddliness of some little critter (just one look in those big puppy/panda/bulldozer eyes, and you know you're a goner) or even those who just want to know where that pet they just saw comes from. So regardless if whether you're in the market for one pet or just have the urge to collect them all, welcome to the Aion menagerie.

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The Stream Team: Killing things softly with Aion's Songweaver

Fantasy, Aion, Classes, Free-to-Play, Livestream, The Stream Team

In Aion, music not only calms the savage beat, it also slays it! The Songweaver is an interesting class since it uses melodies to heal and to hurt both friends and foes (hopefully in that order!). And when have you known Massively's MJ to turn down playing an interesting healer class? This week she dusts off those jet-black Asmodian wings and sets out with her harp on her back to make Atreia a better place for all... OK, maybe not the Elyos. Join us live at 4:00 p.m. EST for more 4.0 adventures as she flies through levels.

Game: Aion
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Wings Over Atreia: Inspiration from Aion's latest PvP tourney

Fantasy, Aion, Events (In-Game), PvP, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia, Player-Generated Content

There's always room for improvement, right? No matter the subject, be it your personal skills, group tactics, or your favorite game in general, all things can be bettered. That's just a part of being in an imperfect world. Aion is no different. And through a recent convergence of events, I've come up with a couple of ways NCsoft can make this PvPvE game even better (and help with player retention, too!).

What precipitated my inspiration? The first thing was a comment from another player that really stuck with me; he lamented that Aion really comes into its own at the endgame. I say "lamented" here because this player was saddened that his friends couldn't make it through to the highest levels in order to experience what he considered the best aspects of the game with him. The second catalyst was Kahrun's 1v1 PvP tournament held yesterday, an event I was privileged to witness from a special vantage point. While watching the matches play out between various max-level toons, I realized exactly how Aion could capture that PvP experience and offer a taste of it to any player.

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Wings Over Atreia: Return of the Aion Easy Button, starring Sauro Supply Base and Steel Rose

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Aion, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia, Dungeons

Wings Over Atreia  Return of the Easy Button, starring Sauro Supply Base and Steel Rose
First there was Easy Button. Then came Easy Button Strikes Back. And now we have Return of the Easy Button. Yes Daevas, the next thrilling adventure of the easy button is on its way to an Aion dungeon near you! Well, two actually -- so it's a double feature. And we think you might just like this show. The stars of the show? Sauro Supply Base and Steel Rose, two of the new dungeons introduced in 4.0.

Unlike my previous reports on the easy button invasion that were post-production reviews, this one is a sneak preview. And joining us to reveal this new Aion blockbuster is Associate Product Manager Sean Orlikowski, who provided a coming soon trailer filled with highlights to help get you ready for the main attraction. Return of the Easy Button releases next Wednesday, November 6th, on a game client near you.

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The Stream Team: Braving Aion's Nightmare Circus

Fantasy, Aion, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

The Stream Team
The circus is in town, but it isn't all clowns and cotton candy; no, this one is definitely more sinister than that! Massively's MJ teams up with some friends to mount a rescue mission to save the Queen of Dreams in Aion's limited-time instance, the Nightmare Circus. Join us live at 3:00 p.m. and see if they can save the day!

Game: Aion
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, November 1st, 2013
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Aion opens Halloween-themed Nightmare Circus dungeon

Fantasy, Aion, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

Aion opens Halloweenthemed Nighmare Circus dungeon
Did you enjoy the novelty and rewards of Aion's double run of Shugo Kingdom Adventures, the limited-time instance that offered some pretty nifty rewards to those who chose wisely? If so, you might be glad to hear that Aion has introduced a new version themed for the holiday: Nightmare Circus. As before, only special skills can be used within the instance and only Daevas level 30 and above can enter.

This time, however, instead of becoming a Shugo, players will be transformed into a bear-like Khum'gom. Even more power can be obtained if players transform into a Nightmare Circus Harlequin using an item available via quest and in the store. Also, anywhere from two to six players can participate. The instance consists of three stages, and rewards can include exclusive costumes and wings, dyes, consumables, manastones, and much more. For a full accounting of all the possible prizes and a breakdown of each stage, check out the official announcement. But if you want to get in on the event, you'd better hurry -- the Nightmare Circus is in town for only two weeks and packs up November 6th, 2013.

The Soapbox: Free-to-play wasn't our idea

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Aion, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, MMORTS, Star Wars: The Old Republic, TERA, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Dota 2
Free-to-play is surging. In just a few short years, free-to-play has become the go-to mechanism through which studios broaden audiences, entice players, and build revenue. No other method of monetization has proven to be so lucrative and effective with such consistency, whether it be a monthly subscription fee, a one-time purchase price, or some combination of the two.

Free-to-play's growth has created a world in which non-free games are the exception, not the rule. Of the most popular MMOs and online games as of my typing these words, the vast majority are free-to-play. Games that are bold enough to buck the trend and launch with a sub fee are met with derision and suspicion from the online gaming community; the many thousands of words dedicated to ZeniMax Online's decision to require a subscription for The Elder Scrolls Online are likely the most recent and high-profile examples of this trend in action.

When players complain about a game launching with a subscription, their opinions are often countered by a self-appointed gaming elite who believe that things were better in the good old days, when games cost money and poor people didn't ruin everything by demanding free stuff. The argument summarized is something like, "I am sick and tired of lazy, entitled gamers wanting everything for free."

There's just one problem: Lazy, entitled gamers didn't invent free-to-play. Studios did.

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