We Just Played Aion 2.5: Empyrean Calling

Aion's latest content pack is bringing a lot of changes to this MMORPG. We go hands-on to get the details.

Released back in 2009, Aion is a high-fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game with an eye for details. Since its release, the game has received numerous content updates that have either altered or added to the existing game. The latest one of these updates is 2.5, subtitled Empyrean Calling, and it aims to expand upon the game's character-customization options, introduce two new instance areas, and upgrade the game's graphical presentation. We recently paid a visit to developer NCsoft and got the chance to go hands-on with some of these upcoming additions.

If the going gets tough then take to the skies.

For our demonstration, we chose to play as Syrie, a level-55 archer who was immaculately detailed from head to toe. Aion has always featured an extensive suite of character-customization options. With the impending release of the 2.5 update, the developers are taking it a step further by allowing players such freedoms as reskinning a suit of armor to look like another (yet still retain its original stats) or even change their character's animations. Instead of simply running or walking like a mere peasant, you can tweak your character to glide gracefully through the air or sprint along with his arms trailing behind him like a certain orange-jumpsuit-wearing ninja.

Before we set out on our journey to Esoterrace, a new instance for the 2.5 release, we were first introduced to Sprigg. This little guy (or gal, we're not totally sure) was Syrie's pet and looked not unlike a miniaturized Wicked Witch of the West. In addition to being adorable, the little creature could be assigned to automatically reapply status-boosting items to our character from our inventory. Other pets could be assigned to collect loot for us or provide other helpful services, but we opted to stick with Sprigg.

After arriving in the lush woodlands of the Esoterrace instance, we took a moment to drink in the amount of detail poured into the world of Aion. The forest itself was a lush mixture of natural greens and browns, mixed with unnatural reds and purples, courtesy of the local monster population. Enhancing the game's visuals was another goal for the 2.5 update, and it's one the developers are excited to roll out. They also realize that not everyone is going to have the best of the best in terms of hardware; therefore, you will be able to scale back these upgrades or completely ignore them, if you so choose.

You can make your character look realistic, or delve into the more exaggerated anime style.

Our journey through the woods was accented by the constant twang of Syrie's bow as we felled one monster after the next. Controlling her didn't feel far removed from the other ranged classes we'd played in previous MMORPGs; all we had to do was stay off the front line and dispense hurt from afar. From the (highly) extensive skill set of our class, we chose to focus just a handful of stat-boosting abilities and high-powered, single-shot attacks. The boosts could be used to increase our accuracy or physical attacks ratings, while the attack skills could stun, snare, or slow our target, depending on which we used. Some attack skills could even combo with themselves or into other skills. For instance, our swift shot could combo into itself up to three times, or a poison arrow or another type of shot could be mixed after the initial hit.

We ultimately didn't make it very far into Esoterrace; in fact, we only made it to the first boss encounter against Dalia Charlands. With a name like that, you might be expecting an aging sorceress--and you would be wrong. Dalia was a giant, talking tree. From our vantage point in the back row, the fight was pretty simple. The tree monster would lash out at the numerous melee fighters who surrounded it and would periodically spray them all with a powerful lighting spell that would knock off a large chunk of health. Luckily, that same spell couldn't quite reach us. As we whittled the beast down, it started to summon what appeared to be giant fairies carved out of wood that would periodically heal Dalia. Because the melee team seemed to have the situation under control, we opted to help out by knocking these pests out of the sky with our arrows.

After sticking it to Mother Nature, the developers jumped our party ahead to the Empyrean Crucible area. This massive, multistage instance is a gauntlet that pits players against a rogue's gallery of the game's hardest monsters. The instance itself is broken down into stages, with each stage lasting a certain number of rounds. Each round brings with it a new wave of enemies to defeat, which leads up to the final-round boss fight that ends the stage. The area you fight in also changes as you clear each stage. What starts out as a simple area carved from stone will morph into a fiery, underground dungeon; a high-flying platform suspended by dragons; and even a full-on cosmic battleground. We played through a few rounds and thought it would serve as a great way to pass the time with a group of friends if you want some instant action.

The map is also getting upgraded to a more detailed, satellite view.

As our demonstration came to a close, we took a moment to chat with the developers about the changes made to Aion since its release. One thing they were ready admit was the fact that the game's pace has slowed down significantly in the higher-level areas. To help remedy this, the developers have since implemented more quests and increased the rate of experience gained across the board to help speed up character progression. Another interesting problem they've been facing is meeting the expectations of both Eastern and Western gaming markets. One example they pointed to was rifting or the ability for players of one faction to warp into areas controlled by another faction and, basically, kill every player in sight. The North American audience loved this, but the Korean audience hated it. To help strike a balance, NCsoft has since implemented restrictions on when rifting can and cannot occur to help mediate this feature without removing it entirely.

Aion is available now on the PC, and you can check out all the new features in the 2.5 update on May 25.

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41 comments
Booshon
Booshon

Snaptrap is right this game id one big grind. I played the game and i realy want to love it but, i couldnt play it no more.Bring the tail then the head etc take the whole mondter and pick the parts you want and leave me alone i hate ginding games.

red666devil
red666devil

Well, I have played alot of Games.. WoW the most, because in the starting it was the sole true MMORPG, plus I have played, Aion, APB, Rift(atm), and am looking forward to The Secret World. And I would say just 1 thing, according to your own personal taste, you might like 1 more than the other. But doesnt means you will start Flaming, abusing and insulting the Communities of other MMORPGs. Being a Game Dev myself, let me tell you, how much amount of work and effort goes into a single game, let alone a whole MMORPG. This Topic was created to appreciate and congratulate the AION team on releasing a good patch, which introduces some new Gfx, items, gameplay, etc. This Topic was not created to come and QQ some more, about how it makes you disappointed for changing the game according to you. So please appreciate and respect what they are doing, and love the Pros of the game. And FFS, stop comparing games to each other, your Parents dont compare you to your friends and then QQ about it all the time.....

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@Snaptrap, your self-entitled attitude is hilarious. :) "I pay, therefore they must listen to ME!". Don't forget that the Koreans pay as well (*gasp*), so then who should NCSoft listen to (Especially if you don't want the same thing)? The whiners in the (minute, fluctuating?) US community, or the whiners in the (very large and healthy) Korean community? Hmmm... Which one I wonder... Such a difficult decision... Oh, and you don't stand with the 'voice of the community' here, what you're crying about is YOUR opinion. After this update I'll definitely come back for a month at least to have a look.

TheMobGoblin53
TheMobGoblin53

This game looks tons better than what the screen shots look like .

TheMobGoblin53
TheMobGoblin53

@Snaptrap Hey dumbass ( thought I'd use your favorite line) Lineage II is still running the first Lineage Just shut down and it had been going since 1998 . 12 1/2 years I'd say that's a pretty good run .

Diogladius
Diogladius

This game is much better than WoW imho .

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

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

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

@Snaptrap Lineage 2 ended up having 8 expansions and was played for years so yeah it'll die eventually just like Lineage 2 .

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

@Devilzzz This game looks tons better than WoW not to mention the graphically update coming in the next patch .These screen shots do not do the game justice what so ever . Take one look at WoW's trees and other plant life and prepare to barf .

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

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

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@Daemoroth Blizzard was given those award years ago, dumbass. Do you think Aion is going to get awards for doing the same thing 5yrs later? Not likely especially when it's unique features are just gimmicks like the wings. Yeah so what if the NA community is small compared to the Koreans. We still pay for the damn game. What the hell is the point of releasing the game over here if they don't listen to what we have to say? The game will die, just like Lineage II.

wexorian
wexorian

It's sad that i and other players got huge hopes before game was launched, no they fixing things but they are making it too slow.

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

Some of those pics look so horrible. People think WOW looks like crud and then you see this lololol

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

The only reason Blizzard gets away with it is because all you need to run WoW is a TV and a hamster wheel .

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@Snaptrap, doesn't change the fact that Blizzard are given awards for doing the same stuff you're crying about in Aion, dumbass. Yeah you can have higher expectations now, but don't imagine that you as the smallest community in Aion by far can call the shots as to what the devs will focus on in their next patch. How's about you address my whole post instead of selecting one badly interpreted sentence to try and nit-pick?

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@TheMobGoblin53 I don't have any ex girlfriends because unlike some people I try to salvage what can be saved through reasoning. This applies to Aion as well. Until the game is officially dead in North America, I'm going to continue voicing my opinions along with everyone else on the Aion forums. Maybe the developer will actually do something when the situation over here hits critical.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@Daemoroth I don't play WoW dumbass. Do you think everyone plays WoW? Some people do have higher expectations from an MMORPG in 2009 than one from 2004.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@Snaptrap, remember that your right to voice your opinion is a two-way street, the eastern players also have a right to voice their opinions. And since their community is so much larger than the western community, you shouldn't be so surprised that NCSoft isn't leaping to address your complaints. I enjoy Aion off and on, and I'll definitely check it out after the 2.5 update. PS - Ironic, WoW releases an expansion which adds, erm, quests (Go kill 10 of these, 5 of these, collect 20 of those) to conceal the grind and they are lauded by the general population. NCSoft does the same and you're crying about it.

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

If you don't like the game move on . I would rather spend my time playing a game I enjoy instead complaining about one I'm not playing ........

TheMobGoblin53
TheMobGoblin53

@Snaptrap I have plenty of game sitting on myself that I'm not going to bother reading anything about . Do you stare at pictures of your ex girlfriends that you dumped ?

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@SuperSaiyanNeo It's because I own the game dumbass. I have a right to voice my opinion for something that's collecting dust for no reason other than the developers refusal to listen to it's NA players.

SuperSaiyanNeo
SuperSaiyanNeo

What a sad bunch of cry babies . I'm trying to figure out your thought process .You see news about Aion and you say ohh that game I didn't like lets go read about it and then trash talk it because I have nothing better to do with my sad excuse for a life . Why do you waste your time reading /commenting on a game you don't like seriously . I don't like Red Dead Redemption for example so any news comes up for that I won't even look at it .

TheMobGoblin53
TheMobGoblin53

Same thing on all the mmo forums everyone whining that they didn't get their binky . WoW a shell of it's former self because they listened to the community. So listening to all the QQ apparently isn't the best way to go about things .

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@gxgxgf They just add more of the same garbage. I don't need more xp because I have four level 55 characters. Everything they change no one cares about. You obviously have no clue about the community's grievances if you think it's about leveling.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@SuperSaiyanNeo The grind is not gone. All they did was conceal it in the form of more repetitious quests. Go kill 10 of these, 5 of them, and collect 20 of those. I gave the game a chance after 2.0. Giving it another chance would be setting myself up for another disappointment. They haven't addressed a single thing the NA veteran community has been voicing. 3.0 will only make the game look pretty. Sorry, I'm not going to spend anymore towards a game I've given ample time to evolve.

Diogladius
Diogladius

Looks like I picked a good time to start this back up .

TheMobGoblin53
TheMobGoblin53

This is my favorite MMO .I don't think the MMO playerbase even knows what it wants anymore . They say they want an MMO but they seem to want something else completely.

TheMobGoblin53
TheMobGoblin53

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

SuperSaiyanNeo
SuperSaiyanNeo

@Jehuty how can you say swtor looks like wow if you read about it all you'd see it's bringing a lot of new stuff to the genre .

SuperSaiyanNeo
SuperSaiyanNeo

Everyone should give this game a second chance the grind is gone . If you say this game is a grindfest you either haven't played in awhile or your a fanboy of some other game .

Jehuty599
Jehuty599

@acsuna I don't think Guild Wars 2 will be anything like Aion, Sure NCsoft owns ArenaNet, but they're just footing the bill. All the innovation, and creativity is coming 100% from ArenaNet...two different companies from my point of view. There doing something completely different from anyone else with GW2, something new for a change...I can't wait to play it...it'll be a day one buy for me. Star Wars The Old Republic looks to me like a WoW clone with a Star Wars skin slapped on it...there's nothing really new there, guess we'll have to wait for the review though.

Elfqueen83
Elfqueen83

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

Elfqueen83
Elfqueen83

I just started playing this got a level 25 Gladiator .Really don't see why this game isn't more popular .

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

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

Prince_DarkDrop
Prince_DarkDrop

This game has improved a lot since it's release . I'm having a blast still don't see why everyone doesn't like it . I could understand before when leveling was a big grind fest but that's no longer the case .

BenekMan
BenekMan

I followed this game for 3 years before relese. after that i played it 3 months (getting to 50) and quited. Bigest dissapointment of my life. Nc-soft is the worst comany you can come across. I hate them after this disaster of a game.

acsuna
acsuna

i played about two months after it was released and quited, too many botters and the citadel assaults were way too heavy on the comps even though back then i had 2x sli nvidia cards, i can only pray that gw2 wont be as disappointing as aion PS: the level grinding sucked too,took way to much even in parties

redangelus
redangelus

True! @ Snaptrap this is why i stopped playing the game. The really cool changes were never coming. Instead they chose to add new stuff that most people don't care about. Also end-game is still very, very boring...

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

This developer doesn't even listen to the NA community. They change everything except what people have been complaining about. This is why the game is dying over here.