You know the feeling -- you learn about some upcoming goodness and you want it. Or do you crave it? You can fall anywhere along the spectrum of anticipation, provoked by things you just look forward to all the way to things that make you squeal in schoolgirl giddiness at the mere thought! It's a game in and of itself. Such is the way of Aion updates, which tantalize and tease players for quite some time before going live (and even longer if you can translate the original Korean patch notes yourself!). Not yet having a release date for updates is not dampening the anticipation of many Daevas but rather is fueling it instead.

So what brought about my musings on this topic? I squealed! More specifically, an announcement this week that put me right into the giddy mode: Winter is coming! George R.R. Martin's fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series will release in July. Now, while my fangirliness in its supreme is reserved for this outstanding literature, I also have things that I am looking forward to in game. However, there are those who have a virtual heart attack when new goodies for Aion are announced; I have one legionmate who will only re-sub when update 2.5 rolls around and brings with it all the little bells and whistles he is pining for. It is quite interesting to listen as he randomly pops into Ventrilo to trumpet the greatness of this upcoming gaming salvation, then disappears again into the night.

So what about 2.5 has my legionmate so excitable... and excited? Skip-to-my-lou past the cut to take a look at some of the upcoming features.

Just as there are many playstyles for many players, different features of the upcoming patch are tantalizing to different folks. Not only so I have my favorites (which are conveniently included here), but I enjoy hearing what piques the interest of others. So which feature has the one legionmate squealing like a stuck porgus? That, my friends, would be the upcoming cap on casting speed.

Smack them mages with a Nerf bat!

Yes, as a Gladiator, my legionmate can be heard chanting this mantra as he dances about the room. OK, I only imaging the dancing (vent does not support video, thankfully), but the rest is true! Since there is already a cap for attack speed, as a melee fighter I find this nerf only fair. As it stands, Asmodians have an inherent advantage as they have an additional skill that increases their casting speed. Add this to the gear, titles, food, and scrolls, and you get instant casts on some pretty hefty spells. Now, I am all for glass cannons' being powerful (and we know they need to get those first big shots off before they are squashed like a bug), but they shouldn't be on par with the Seraphim Lords! And one race certainly shouldn't have a distinct advantage over the other. Stacking casting speed to make it high? Acceptable! No cap? Well, unless you want to remove my attack speed cap...

Skill-licious!

I must say that, personally, the new and improved skills catch my fancy -- specifically, casting personal buffs while stealthed. Now, I know others are excited for their own skill upgrades (like a Templar drooling over the new ranged attack stigma), but I think the one for Assassins is long overdue. Seriously, if your whole power is meant to be that initial assassination attempt, what sense did it make that you couldn't even utilize your buffs without jumping out of hide, saying "Yoo hoo!! Here I am, about to stab you!" and then try to use a backstab skill that's best from behind or in stealth? Did the devs really think the opponent would stand still, turn around and look the other way while the Assassin buffs, then pretend s/he didn't see and let the 'sin make the attempt? Soon, Assassins will be able to use two self-buffs in Hide II and three in Shadow Walk or Wind Walk. Oo yum!

Of course, there are other skills coming to game -- some reduced casting times, some increased ranges (and a few new shared cool-downs... just listen to that Gladiator grumble!). The changes that are most relevant to you depend solely on which class you play. But of course, stealth buffs rule!

I can see clearly now -- the gray is gone!

Also known as the graphics upgrade. "Forget about the little caveats to different classes" is the opinion of one of my closest friends; making the entire world more beautiful and visually stunning wins as his most-anticipated feature. If you haven't seen the official trailer showing off the superior graphics engine option, you are missing out. Everything is sharper, and the additional lighting is gorgeous. A word of warning, though: NCsoft gives you minimum graphics card requirements to enjoy the new upgrade -- GeForce 9800 or higher for NVIDIA users and Radeon HD 4850 or higher for AMD users.

Fortunately, along with the warning is some good news: You do not have to upgrade your graphics, because this option is optional! Novel concept, right? To select your preferred setting, follow this path: Options -> Graphics Options -> Graphics Engine Setup -> Graphics Engine Option.

Another visual update that most have probably overlooked is that the visual for having full DP has been significantly tamed. Thank heavens! I was tired of glowing like a nuclear firework and being unable to see things around me due to the brightness of that effect.

Unfortunately, NCsoft missed the boat on some things, which are noticeably missing from this upgrade. While we all are pretty much jaded enough to call housing vaporware until we see it, it is disappointing that while some emote animations are being altered, no option to turn them off is being added. Someday, I will get my wish! And then, forced emotes will go the way of the dodo.

Hamburger... I mean noob... Helper

I suppose, I should just come out and admit it... see, I have the weird condition -- I really enjoy dashing off and assisting friends regardless of their levels. Quite honestly, the most enjoyment I get out of the game is helping others (OK, and the fact that other than those pesky Krall in Kaiden Mines, I can feel pretty powerful as I swoop down to dispatch those little gray mobs!). I know, it is quite the malady. And in a generation known as being self-serving, I stick out a bit at times. But I am not alone! There really are many other Daevas who drop things to come to the aid of their fellows, especially the youngins.

Basically, this new feature entails lessening or even eradicating the penalty for helping those of a lower level to complete quests. Not only that, but it also grants rewards to the higher-level character as an incentive. What excites me most about this new helper feature is not so much that it will encourage those who refuse to do anything unless they get something out of it (although I do see that happening) but that those who already do so selflessly will be rewarded. Score one for the good guys.

Unfortunately, we have run out of time and space before I could revel in some of the other upcoming features that rate on my anticipation scale. Join us next week as we delve deeper into legion goodies, pets, and the new instances.

In parting, I'd like to ask: How many of you still have that song in your head, even now? Yes, I am evil. All who desire to toss some virtual tomatoes for my act of sheer evilness can do so in the comments below! Or feel free to get another song stuck in my head!

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly 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 mj@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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