Aion: Assault on Balaurea Q&A

A major update to the world of Atreia lifts the level cap to 55, adds new stigma skills, and adds changes to the flying mechanic. It is set for release in the fourth quarter of 2010.

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Massively multiplayer online role-playing game Aion's 1.9 version update may not even be out yet (it's due on June 2 this year), but its developers are already priming its strong international community of gamers for the major 2.0 update. The 2.0 update--officially named Assault on Balaurea--brings with it some significant changes to the world of Aion, including an increase in the level cap, new instances to try for higher-level players, and some gameplay tweaks. We spoke with Aion's North American producer Chris Hager to find out about all the changes Assault on Balaurea will bring, as well as get a gauge on how community feedback has affected the game.

GameSpot AU: There’s been a lot of speculation about what the 2.0 upgrade--Aion: Assault on Balaurea--would bring to the game. Let’s start with the level cap. Can you confirm what it will be raised to? What sort of new abilities, weapons, and skills will be introduced alongside it?

Chris Hager: The level cap will go from 50 to 55. With this, there will be a host of new additions, from new zones, new instances, skills, and weapons. We’ve added 33 new skills from level 51 to 55 across all of our classes and also added more powerful versions of existing skills for these new levels. We’ve also added 43 new stigma skills for these levels to further complement the new skills. As far as items, whenever you introduce new content, you have to follow it up with new weapons/armor, and this update is no exception. The Aion: Assault on Balaurea trailer is full of new weapons and armor (my favorite is the bark-looking armor toward the end of the video).

GS AU: What types of new instances are you planning to add? For what level player will these instances be tailored?

CH: We’ve got a wide range of instances that are being added. There are two new solo instances at levels 18 and 37 that will be great ways for players to experience an immersive story line on their own time. We’ve also got six additional instances that are intended for characters level 50-plus that range from single group instances to multigroup instances. Facing down dragons, ancient secrets from the Millennium War, and uncovering the secrets of the Balaur are all very compelling stories that we think the players will enjoy both on the story level and the gameplay level.

GS AU: We’ve also heard a little bit about pets. What are you doing to the animal companions in the world? How will they fit into gameplay?

CH: Pets will serve a variety of functions in game. There are vanity pets, which are just meant to follow you around and be cute. In addition, to vanity pets, there are pets that will increase your inventory by being able to carry a small number of items for you (similar to a player inventory). Lastly, we’ll have functional pets, which serve a couple of purposes from detecting incoming enemies and warning you to creating items like manastones by feeding them. I think pets are going to fill a wide variety of roles in Aion, and the players are going to find them to be a great addition to the game.

GS AU: Will you also be introducing new areas to explore? Can you describe them?

CH: We are introducing two new main areas for our players to explore, along with several shared instance areas. Ingisson and Gelkmaros are the lands deep within the Balaur homeland of Balaurea. Players of both races will be able to go to these areas and explore them. Ingission is where the Elyos have made their stronghold, whereas Gelkmaros is where the Asmodians have made their home base in this land. Both areas have a likeness to what the world of Atreia looked like before the Cataclysm and hold an ancient look and feel.

GS AU: What sort of other community feedback are you building into the game?

CH: There are several system changes and additions in Aion: Assault on Balaurea that the players have had a hand in shaping. To name a few, we’ve added a new flight mechanic, the new wind-current system, that allows players to use flight more freely than before and also offers a quick traveling alternative to flight transporters. We’ve also increased the crafting level so players can keep up with the new levels and integrated Twitter into the client so players can take in-game screenshots and upload it to their Twitter accounts. There have also been a lot of adjustments to skills, quests, and mobs in-game that normally come along with the constant balancing an MMO has to do with its content.

GS AU: Tell us more about the changes to flight? Will you be changing the game’s mechanics in this regard?

CH: The major change to flight is the addition of wind streams. These are naturally occurring wind currents allowing players to jump in and travel large distances by flying. Flying in the currents doesn’t decrease your flight timer, and depending on the type of current you are in, you can break out and gracefully glide down to the world of Atreia at any point in time. Some wind streams are stronger than others and won’t let you leave the current until the player reaches the end. Geysers and updrafts are also additions that are being more widely used within Aion: Assault on Balaurea. These will allow players to get projected into the air and glide to reach areas that aren’t accessible by normal means.

GS AU: Chris Hager, thanks for your time.

Discussion

52 comments
Bonweezy
Bonweezy

updates look cool. just wish they would add more quests for lvl 20-30. Wind currents will help alot depending on how much they use them. I hate having to walk everywehre

j0abell
j0abell

Aion's not great, but its a decent polished alternative to WoW. Unlike so many other MMOs that are just terrible. I'm looking forward to this expansion, but I'm looking forward to SWTOR a helluva lot more. Then again, not so long ago, I was looking forward to APB most of all. Meh. This genre's pathetic, and that's why I still play a bland simplistic game like Aion. It's the best of the worst, and I look forward to what little they'll add to it.

CryonicMaestro
CryonicMaestro

@ Snaptrap Read your comments, and have to say I agree with all of them. I played Aion for the first month, got bored of all the same (collecting materials and killing certain monsters) quests and did not renew my subsciption. Hopefully NCsoft will release an update to stop all the grinding and repetitive gameplay so I can renew my subscription. Awesome story, awesome graphics, awesome community, crappy repetitive gameplay.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@Atheno Been there done that. You think a group of low level toons are going to fend off level 50's? Like I said when the game started - people who play the game at the beginning with every one else are going to have it easier than those who play later and have to battle those who are already max levels. There's nothing to protect new players. No legions which are will to go out of their way for you and no friends who can offer enough help. Probably why the servers are dead. Generic game design with extremely sloppy features.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@shock70 So what you're saying is that a level 25 in the hands of a hardcore Asian gamer can take on a level 50? Please. Hard core boredom is more like it. Asian gamers seem to enjoy repetition, while some of us prefer variety. It takes skill to make an MMO that offers variety, it doesn't take any to make a cutter cutter MMO that seem to be what comes out of Korea and China. Different monsters, some boring collect-a-thon quests. Skill? More like time to burn on no outside life.

impost3r
impost3r

@Uwanq I see what you did there, but I'm not going to play the same game with my reply because it doesn't fool anybody with half a brain. It doesn't really matter anyways. I just "responded" to you because your post was below mine and I half way agreed with you and wanted to bolster your argument. I misspoke when I said "your... standards". It should have been "their". Glad you agreed with mine, just don't claim that I stated the obvious, because it's not. Take snaptrap for example, who obviously has no respect or understanding of the strengths of Asian gamers. His mentality is extremely common and goes contradictory to my point, which was neither common nor obvious. It is like my brotha shock70 said, Americans are all about instant gratification. Guys like snaptrap say what they say because it's part of their culture to think that they're deserving when they aren't.

shock70
shock70

@Snaptrap Actually he is right. Did you even look at the game he mentioned? Might want to check out some pvp videos before you start telling somebody they don't know what they are talking about. Asian gamer understand the value of hard earned rewards. America is casual, casual is instant rewards. You proved his point anyways. What u said is a description of hardcore gaming. You will learn ur lesson someday when MMOs take skill to play like they do in Asia currently. It'll quiet you. You'll know your place then.

Atheno
Atheno

@snaptrap If you go in teams, groups, friends, you can survive better. That's all I'm saying. All the complaining about being attacked or ganked can easily be solved with a trusty group of friends. I got ganked many times when I was on my own, but that is just the game. That is the way it was when it was played outside of America and Canada, and that is the way it is now. It will not change, NCsoft does not care. Plus, with so many mmorpg's coming out, or being out, you do NOT have to stay with Aion if it is bothering you that much.

oldpraetor
oldpraetor

You can truly see the level of contempt among NA players here. It’s really too bad they want WoW hand feeding of everything. WoW is easy plain and simple. Playing a game that requires some skill this seems lost on the NA player base. I enjoy Aion and everything it has to offer. The Gold Sellers are all but history. I restarted my WoW account only to see spam’s of Gold Sellers. I guess the horse does bite the other way. Any way’s I am pumped about the updates and I am hoping for much more. Old

deustchin
deustchin

it is a bit too late now to attrack back all the people who left.

runstalker
runstalker

"Wind streams... These are naturally occurring wind currents that allow players to jump in and travel large distances by flying. Flying in the currents doesn’t decrease your flight timer, and depending on the type of current you are in, you can break out and gracefully glide down to the world of Atreia at any point. Geysers and updrafts are also additions... These will allow players to get projected into the air and glide to reach areas that aren’t accessible by normal means." From casuals to hardcore, everyone's first reaction to Aion always included a slight criticism of the flight system -- as everyone expected more free flight in all areas, what with the strong marketing of wings and flight features. I suppose the wind current idea (which originated in the US and was approved/designed-in by the Korean studio) is a good way to expand the flight. I haven't laid a finger on Aion since early December. Enjoyed it enough and it ran incredibly smooth, but it lost me. I may return for a month when this 2.0 patch arrives.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

IMO, Aion is one of those games that's good enough to sell but not good enough for a subscription. Why don't they do what Arenanet has done with Guild Wars? It just takes away the obligation of using subscription time on a game that has little to offer. It's like eating Vanilla ice cream every day. You get to the point where you're so sick of it that you give up on it completely. At least this way people can take a break from it whenever they want without wasting money.

_Emperor
_Emperor

Aion was OK..the actuall game style was so different from WoW so "non-asian" didnt really like it...they tried to make it eastern style mmo, but really didnt suceed. But again. NCoft never said it will be a fully western style either, it was from the minds of "us" that thought it would be like that, thus got very dissapointed when we realized that we was wrong... But Aion is ok..not great tho Edit: Sorry for the spelling, blame the Friday, not me :P

Uwanq
Uwanq

@impost3r, I actually agree with the point you have bought up although not really sure what you interpret my standards to actually be. My main point was after reading a lot of posts here that it was hard to actually ascertain a constructive set of viewpoints. I just find it funny you seem to think that only you seem to know what you are talking about and no one else. Thanks for stating some obvious observations though. I just hope that aion will stay around for more then the short term. Good luck ncsoft

luert
luert

for all that don't know how to deal with the gankers it's simple, if you need quest in the other side just place a kisk in a point where they can't find it ( not hard trust me many places are safe just find who knows them) and keep trying the important is don't attack no matter what or the 50s will always get to you, and I did this all on my own and I soloed all the quest :) as for the engine of aion I totally agree but just so that you know it will be changed don't know when ( complain about it if you want to) but at least they will, if the game doesn't run too well even if you have a good pc it's beacuse of the net speed, download a program to make run better aion data download I don't remember how was that thing, it does help a lot, by the way I don't understand of all mmo's I played aion is one of the less boring expecially when you have to grind, by the way also don't blame Ncsoft if the other players are just too lazy, I always helped around many times, just once in a while I was too tired to do so, think anyways aion is not perfect but worth to be played if you can understand how it works, just be sure to get an active legion, not easy at all I think, also one person doesn't need to be anti-social or play for very long time to be cool, all you need is to use your head that is just it, have nice time evryone

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@impost3r People in North America aren't as hardcore because unlike in Asian countries, we're not as willing to deprive ourselves to death of nutrition or sleep while playing repetitious rubbish. That's why there seems to be so many bots in Korean MMO's. They've evolved into mindless cyborgs.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@shawnanthony Who's comparing it to WoW? There's been no mention of WoW until you. Do you honestly think a legion is going to escort you on quests to keep you from getting ganked? Sure they will. They're probably too busy trying to get better gear in the Abyss. MMO's are games that are played in worlds with other players and playing them doesn't make a person ant-social if they prefer to quest on their own. Most people have moved on to games that are actually worth a subscription. Aion is all flash with the substance of a F2P MMO. They're selling candy.

wexorian
wexorian

ANd people stop talking about wow i'm playng wow and also playng lot OF other MMO, if u are MMO lover it Must not be only wow at all.

wexorian
wexorian

This game need More fixes,it's need evolution graphics and design are good, new monsters are looking cool too that's good they got new designers think so. I have palyed this game but leaved alone i'l eb back think so when game would be more cool. (But it's NC soft who knows :D )

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

Obviously it is moan moan moan about grinds because if that is the major problem in a game then that is what they will complain about. What kind of a video game player doesn't want better games? This is why all games have sucked in the past few years. Half the population is fine with broken mechanics and claims that it is "hardcore."

impost3r
impost3r

@Uwanq This isn't Korean or China, hardcore gamers are very, VERY few. The industry knows how soft, stupid, and casual gamers are in America so they adjust their games accordingly. They probably had trouble adjusting Aion (which is Asian) to your... standards. BTW for any casual gamer who don't know how different gamers are in Korea or China investigate the pvp in a game called Continent of the Ninth. They are light years ahead of you people in terms of skill. My point being, stop posting here like you're into gaming and know what you're talking about.

Uwanq
Uwanq

Glad to see that NCsoft has released an update. Not really surprised at all the whingers that seem to have flooded this page. Instead of providing constructive comments so that readers can glean relevant information it's the usual moan moan moan about grind fests and such. The option is quite simple you didn't like the game then don't play it and quit crying about it to whoever cares for more then half a nano-second. If you didnt like the game and can constructively say why then this group aren't included. Face it people, it's an RPG which means at some point in the process of reaching level cap you might have to grind a bit. Aoin as with any other rpg is no exception to this, thats including WOW. Only difference is that WOW had changed drastically from a promising and challenging experience to one where they succumbed to the wishes of whingers and lazy heffers.

sequekhan
sequekhan

Sorry for the double post, but I should also point out lvl 45s *can* own lvl 20 characters in some areas. Where's the fun in that?

sequekhan
sequekhan

These are the sorts of things they should be implementing NOW. Not in a billion months time, when you log on and only hardcore vets are playing. People have been leaving in droves - there are other games to play. I've been playing other stuff too. They need to start tailoring more to the solo player and PvE because rifting is killing new players before they get to the good stuff. I'm not saying PvP is bad in Aion, only that it's hella hard to play when a twink squad at lvl40 wipes out players ten levels higher than you.

HavocEbonlore
HavocEbonlore

Worst MMO I've ever played. The only redeeming factor is that I made $250 off my account when I sold it. I then promptly took my aggressions out on a hooker (sexually) as a result of the amount of time I wasted on that garbage. Aion. It'll get you hookers.

shawnanthony
shawnanthony

Aion is dope, it isnt wow, you cry about grind and pvp, cause you walk into it comparing it to wow. Learn the mechanics of the game, they are way better, and get a legion (in a legion and working together will protect you), it isnt a Solo Game, it is an MMO, you getting ganked because you are anti social and probably quit before you even understood what is going on, do you even know what rifting really is about? If you dont like it then go back to wow and play on easy street with your well-fare gear. People in dope gear on Aion earned it, unlike wow. My point is: you complain because you keep trying to make it your old game and that it is not. IT IS NEXT LEVEL MMO DOPENESS and if you come to my server i will kill you! lol

Exia2004
Exia2004

ok seems clear we all hate Aion(me included)

Marttie
Marttie

Its too late for this "major" Update dont you think ? New instances , level cap wtf people Leveling in Aion was my worst expirience in a p2p MMO . I cant tell a diference between Aion and other f2f crap like Requiem for example , im giving this example because its Korean too that means a Grinder with a Cash shop . . Its all about grinding whats the point of all those professions . So you are adding more Areas to explore i hear that means more mindless walking and doing nothing.. Whats the point of those Wings ? - Some one put a timer on those haha Its a pity I expected more .. but i saw CryENGINE with no DX11 support instead and many , MANY crashes like - "not enought memory" with 8gb ram and 2gbVideo, Pointless grinding for exp. and money , poor game-play , boring story-line , slow progress even in a group its all about farming the dungeon again and again and ofcourse the goldsellers my ignore list got full for 13hours and i couldnt ignore scams any more haha so that was the end .. canceled ! - I dont want to offend anyone with this comment and i wont recommend Aion to anyone that i know this game is the worst MMO I played ever

gamefreak13
gamefreak13

aion was one of the worst games i have ever played.

1_Mango_1
1_Mango_1

got to lvl 22 and quit. The community was terribly unhelpfull and unsupportive. The flight system really didn't add much in my opinion. One thing no one mentions that I noticed is how terrible the UI and chat system was. Don't forget I was getting ganked morheim or whatever it was called almost 24/7. The quests were also garbage and there was little to no inscentive to group with other people. Still waiting for an actually good MMO. I liked the concept but the only MMO i have enjoyed truly was Guild Wars.

Jato_81
Jato_81

@In2an3 Having a state of the art computer wont help you. I upgraded my computer the month before aion beta just so I could run it flawlessly. i7 860 cpu, 13gig ram, 2x 4890's in crossfire. Running windows 7 ultimate. My first fort I crashed to desktop within 5 seconds of seeing all the names about the players. Crashed another 13 times and rage quit. Installed XP on another partition to duel boot. Tried the fort again, This time it didn't crash but my fps dropped from a steady 210 when soloing to 7 in a fort. So I too still had to turn off character models. The Farcry engine was designed for a FPS not a MMO. It looks great but was only designed to play a 6v6 multiplayer not 100v100. Aion's beauty is its own downfall. all the individual player models and customizations are to much for it to handle. So now i'm just a casual player of aion until Guild Wars 2 comes out.

akhorahill
akhorahill

Played Aion for one month and a half in expectation of its PvPvE content. I've reached level 38 and all I ever found was empty sieges or sieges in which one side, luckily mine, crushed the enemies without real resistance. There were no battle grounds, no arenas and absolutely no form of PvP that you could prepare for, only random portals from which came people clad in end game gear to melt face. I've abandoned it and installed Warhammer Online, which is truly a PvP game and a game I recommend to all MMO players looking for a solid PvP experience.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@Atheno Who's WE? The people who started the game at launch and had little worries from being ganked by level 50s? Those level 20 regions you speak about don't get you passed 25. The game should be balanced for everyone, especially when they pushed the idea that PvP only took place in the Abyss. A lot of people complain - you're right there. They're the majority. They're the reason why the servers are so empty.

moriwenne
moriwenne

Grind is a problem with all MMO's and it's our fault? Look at any rpg launched in the past 20years. They give your some 10-100hours of content. That takes us a month to finish. You'd need to make a game with 600hours of content to have the MMO we all desire. That would take many many years to produce. Instead we get 1 month of content and 5months of grind hidden within the leveling system. It's not fun. PVP can make up for the lack of content. It needs to be engaging and fun. IMO Aion is lacking in this department. What they should have is smaller battles, guild wars style, and places with PVP that are smaller (instead of the huge abyss). Your current choices for pvp are the go gank or be ganked (or spend 30m looking for it and never finding it) that is eltnen, heiron, abyss OR the zerg and messy fest that are sieges. Nothing in between. Versions 1.9 and 2.0 are coming out and don't address any of this. The game is lacking.

Shiroukai
Shiroukai

I rather see them add lvl 25 - 50 instances and quests. Cause the whole grind after lvl 25 is what made me left Aion.

In2an3
In2an3

Some of the people here are exaggerating, where as others have just left on early in the game and then of course there are the people that just don't like the PvP "ganking" business, (which is fair enough, you don't like ganking then the game is then not for you.) The game is great even though it is lacking end game content, but that will be resolved in June with new patch coming in and of course in in October with the 2.0 patch.

In2an3
In2an3

@Sunio what Hacks/exploits? I have been playing Aion since the start and I have never heard of anything like that. Unless you mean bots, well that problem was resolved back in December. The economy picked up not too long after that. As for the ganking well.. it's part of the game mate. If you don't like that risk then the game is not for you but that doesn't make the game bad. I have to admit I quit the game last month but only because of lack of content. (which is resolved in June) and yes the siege is a massive zerg unfortunately but there is a tactic to it and that is FACT. And if I had a state of the art computer I would have been able to enjoy it but unfortunately I have to disable other player models during the mass zerg lol. On our server Kahrun tactics plays a big role so, saying only the biggest zerg wins is not true, atleast not on our server. And dude, you do realise there is PvE as well right? Don't tell me the PvP sucks, because it definitely isn't. That's my favourite part of the game. I was playing WOW the other and I saw the opposite faction and I couldn't even attack him!? they are supposed to be enemies! why can't I attack him? I don't like the comfort that you can do whatever without risking being ganked. It makes it more realistic to have that risk!

sunio
sunio

aion has the potential to be a great mmo but it's plagued with massive people doing hacks/exploits. the economy is broke, inflation so high due to farmer bots. pvp is a joke, its gank or be gank. if you're a melee class don't even try pvping in the abyss PVPE siege is one massive zerg fest, who ever has the most zerg wins. What's even worse is that in order to get the best pvp gear, you have to do some pve'ing instead (guard farming, dredgion)

In2an3
In2an3

The game is great and the problems that people are complaining about (eg the grind, which by the way doesn't start as early as level 10 but later around mid 30's) will be resolve on the 2nd of June. It will no longer be a "grind fest" In my honest opinion the proper grind started at level 45+ but they are going to resolve the speed of the levelling from lower levels as well as higher levels.

Azraellll
Azraellll

Played it for 6 months. Very interesting game untill you hit lvl 10 then starts the never ending grindfest... Atheno mate i can inderstand that there are worse grind games then this but guess what we are talking about this game and yeah the majority of the people that left the game at the same time as i did complained about the same thing, the grind.. Further more its a lovelly game in what comes to graphics but more then that it has some glitches that render it dull after more then 2 months.. Even the crafting system that i thought outstanding in the beggining becomes extremelly frustrating when the quests ask you to get a proced item that just does not come, and you spend hours and hours and hours gathering the stuff for the retry.... you get the general idea.... its a pitty i say again had a lot of potential had good advertising but lacked or failed in the content delivery..

Atheno
Atheno

A lot of people complain about the PVP, but I wonder if they realize there are areas for level 20ish with no pvp at all. If you do not like pvp, then this is NOT your game, I'm sorry, but do not change a game that WE like playing to suit your own needs. If they do make servers seperate for people who prefer PVE and only have abyss as pvp, then that is swell and fine. But do not change the game completely. If you also can't handle the grind then you have never played a true grind game, such as Kal online, which takes 8 months to get a level of straight grinding. So please..

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

This game is a major turn-off for new players especially when they're getting ganked by level 50 players when they're only level 20 just entering Elten. I know many people have difficulty questing or grinding to level because of this. Keep PvP in the Abyss and let PvE players progress without added headache. They should class these games as P2G = Pay 2 Grind. I should also add that this game isn't going strong. I haven't played since December but I renewed my subscription to find a new surprise - few players. Actually, this doesn't surprise me at all. The whole system does very little to keep veterans playing and very little to attract new players. I'd swear that the developer had only one thing in mind when creating the game, and that's the milk as much time from subscriptions as possible by designing quests similar to the one that gives you the level 30 Daeva armor. Come on, level 5 characters to 30???

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Pete5506
Pete5506

The grind is what made me stop playing this game

Hate_Squad
Hate_Squad

too late,the game lost its chance

Syrenz
Syrenz

More grind yay! Stopped playing this game after grind killed me.

utbigred
utbigred

Cant imagine the grind from 51 to 55. It was bad enough from 48- 50

Azghouls
Azghouls

'There are two new solo instances at levels 18 and 37 that will be great ways for players to experience an immersive story line on their own time.' He forgot to add 'and get ganked on the way..' PvE server please.