ZAM Explores Aion 2.5 at NCsoft Event

Staff Writer Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland met with the NCsoft team and tried out the new content that's coming to Aion in the Empyrean Calling update.

Last week, Staff Writer Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland had the chance to attend NCSoft's Aion 2.5 event in San Francisco. The team briefly discussed the history of Aion up to this point before diving into a hands-on experience with the new content that's coming in the Empyrean Calling update on May 25. Read on to find out more!

Several news writers from various sites gathered around a bank of computers to hear about and sample the latest content that Aion had to offer. During the presentation, most of the detail went to 2.5's updated content, but a hefty portion was spent on the history of Aion in the United States up until this point. Game Guide Lead Scott Hannus took center stage as he talked about how far Aion has come for its western audience. According to him, Aion has three main advantages over other MMOs: character customization, World PvP and distinctive PvE content, especially in the realm of PvPvE.

A themed stage from Empyrean Crucible, a new instance in 2.5.

The first advantage Aion brings to the stage is its character customization options. According to Scott, there are “amazing tweaking abilities” with the Aion character creation program. Speaking from experience, Aion does indeed have a great slider scale, allowing a player to make his or her character a large-headed guy with a tiny body or a long-limbed nigh-anorexic warrior. The customization doesn't stop after the character is created, however: in-game armor can be customized as well. Players can use the skins from their favorite weapons and armor for their entire gaming career, and dye their armor to their preferred color. In a lot of the demo images for 2.5, our hosts hoisted a weapon that resembled a large halibut... because nothing says “OWNED” like smacking down an enemy with a fish-sword!

The second advantage NCSoft says Aion has over its competition is its world PvP. Aion features multiple facets of PvP: solo options, instanced areas like Dredgion and world objectives, with fortresses that can be controlled by the Asmodians or Elyos. After the lower levels, much of the PvP occurs in a common area known as the Abyss, a level 25+ area that focuses heavily on combat with other players as well as questing.

The final advantage comes in the form of “distinctive PvPvE content,” according to Scott. Bleeding into the Abyss area, Aion pits its two playable factions (Asmodian and Elyos) against a non-playable third faction, the Balaur. The addition of a third group means that the game can compensate for inequalities in faction distribution, and provide more static challenges in a very quick-changing aspect of the game (PvP combat).

Before... and After

While not one of its key advantages, the NCSoft team did not hesitate to promote the new graphical update coming to Aion in 2.5, including a montage of “before/after” pictures of different areas. Their focus relied heavily on “dynamic lighting and shadows,” and the team attempted to make Aion “the best looking MMO on the market.” The new graphics are indeed fantastic and, for lower-end users, the enhanced graphics can be turned off through the settings options. Beside the graphics, NCSoft has also included new movement styles, such as the ninja and levitation. These are purchasable in-game and will change everything from stationary poses to movement.

The latter half of the presentation was a hands-on demonstration of the two new instances coming in 2.5: Empyrean Crucible and Esoterrace. Head over to page 2 for more details!

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