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Look Pa! It's rainin' patches!

In the midst of Daevas gorging themselves on festivities and goodies galore, NCsoft tossed out another juicy bit of information that might have been lost in the frenzy: Patch 2.7 will release on October 19, 2011. "Wait a minute!" you say, with second-anniversary cake dribbling from your mouth. "Didn't Aion just have a recent patch?" Aye folks, that it did! This patch will actually be the third in only a five-month span.

Color me hopeful, but it certainly looks like someone was listening when I requested more frequent content updates. And I have to say I am pleased! Giving players more options only helps stave off boredom and retain players. From new instances (3rd Crucible, Padmarashka's Cave) to reductions in DP costs and skill cooldown timers, there are enough little goodies to keep Daevas entertained until the -- dare I hope not too long in coming -- next update.

So what does Aion have in store for us this time around? Join me past the cut for a look at the the upcoming changes.

Aion screenshot
Another patch, you say? Yup. It's not like these things grow out in the patch patch or on a patch tree, but Daevas are enjoying a plentiful harvest nonetheless. Patch 2.7 is coming just two months after 2.6 went live, which was not very far off the heels of Empyrean Calling last May.

Although they're perhaps formulaic in their offerings, that doesn't diminish what patches have to offer. By and large, updates can be counted on for adding new places to go, tweaks and changes to skills (for better or for worse), new quests, and fixes to little bits of broken text, quests, UI, and the like. And 2.7 is no different.

Aion ScreenshotGone in an instance

Two new instances are being introduced in 2.7: 3rd Crucible and Padmarashka's Cave. The first, 3rd Crucible, is the much-anticipated arena where members of both factions can meet up and test their skills against each other without the interference of a random zerg. The second, Padmarashka's Cave, is a bit of tweak to something already in game.

3rd Crucible: Unlike its predecessors but just like the Dredgion, this Crucible can be utilized by Daevas starting at level 46. Once inside this instance, Daevas can choose one of two different arenas, the Arena of Chaos or the Arena of Solitude. Besides just other players to fight, the arenas will have gatherables, special devices (like cannon!), and monsters. For both arenas, matches will consist of three rounds of combat and battle will be timed (three minutes per round); matches end when either the timer runs out or one player gains the points needed for victory.

Possibly the most distinguishing feature of this new instance is that Daevas of either race will be able to enter the same arena. However, whereas the Dredgions allow teams of Elyos and Asmodians to come together to fight in some PvPvE, there is no such reliance on teammates here in either arena. The Arena of Chaos will allow up to 10 players (regardless of race) in a completely free-for-all battle. The Arena of Solitude will be a true 1v1 fight. Players can also request duels with different people based on their character levels.

Also like the Dredgions, these arenas will only be accessible at certain times. Luckily though, these are not silly two-hour spurts! On weekdays, entrance will be open during two eight-hour shifts, and on weekends they will be open for 16 hours straight. To enter the arenas, Daevas will need a pass (obtained through quests), which expires after seven days. Depending on the points earned within the arenas, Daevas will earn crucible insignia, courageous crucible insignia, or even AP. Two other similarities to the Dredgions are it appears that there is no loss of AP when you're defeated and you receive nothing if you leave early.

For those who want to utilize these new arenas more often, there are training grounds versions of both that have neither the entrance restrictions (meaning you can enter any time of the day and without any pass) nor the rewards for winning. The re-entry timer is only 15 minutes.

I could go on, but there is so much more to cover. I promise we will revisit all the intricacies of this crucible at another time.

Aion screenshotPadmarashka's Cave: Ironically, the taking down of Sematariux came from developers instead of servers -- Sematariux is being removed, and both factions will have just the one remaining mega world boss to trounce, good ol' Paddy. All Sematariux keys will be changed over to ones for the remaining Dramata; Padmarashka itself will be sporting a spiffy new look as well as greater strength.

The entrance to the instance will be the same as the existing Dramata's Hideout entrance. An alliance must be formed to gain access to this zone, and no more than 48 players (level 55 and above only) will be able to participate. This instance will have a seven-day cooldown timer.

One of the most interesting (and by interesting I actually mean kinda scary) aspects of this instance is the rules for leaving: Everyone will be teleported outside of the instance one minute after the alliance disbands, after anyone leaves the alliance, or after any player is kicked from the alliance. Talk about a harsh penalty! It isn't exactly clear whether all remaining members will be locked out, but it looks that way. Personally, this makes me worry about the abuse that can happen from one single griefer.

Mad skillz

Making changes to skills can be a good or a bad thing... usually drawn along the lines of good changes for my class = good while good changes for the enemy's = bad! Of course, nerfing the enemy is always a good thing. Just kidding folks! Two of the main changes are coming in the form of reductions to the DP cost for one skill for each class and a reduction in cooldown timers for some other skills.

Here are DP reductions (from 3000 DP to 2000 DP):
  • Gladiator: Daevic Fury I.
  • Templar: Hand of Healing I.
  • Ranger: Destruction Trap I-III.
  • Assassin: Wind Walk I.
  • Sorcerer: Tranquilizing Cloud I.
  • Spiritmaster: Disenchant I.

The cooldown timers for the following skills are being reduced:

  • Ranger: Nature's Resolve I (from 10 minutes to five minutes).
  • Assassin: Apply Poison I-IV (from two minutes to 10 seconds).
  • Assassin: Apply Deadly Poison I-IV (from two minutes to 10 seconds).
  • Assassin: Blinding Burst I (from 10 minutes to three minutes).
  • Assassin: Quickening Doom I (from one minute 30 seconds to one minute).
  • Spiritmaster: Armor Spirit I (from five minutes to one minute).
  • Chanter: Blessing of Wind I-V (from one second to instant cast).

From this glance, it looks like Assassins get the most lovin'. (Yay! I mean... awww, how unfair?) There are certainly a number of other little tweaks coming; you can read about these in the initial Korean patch notes.

Aion screenshotQuests, fixes, and other tidbits

While there are certainly more to the patch notes than I can conceivably fit in one article, the following are a few of the little odds and ends that caught my eye.

There was yet another announcement of "Kisks can no longer be placed in certain areas in Inggison and Gelkmaros." Hmmm. I am curious... with areas that kisks can be placed reduced again and again and again, does this mean that soon the only places left will be out in the open in front of a fortress?

Daevas can choose to enter the Empyrean Crucible at stage seven (thereby saving oodles of time), but they forfeit all insignia rewards from levels one through six.

The Beshmundir Temple quest will be modified so that the rift orb can be activated even without completing the quest.

Lemme hear a HALLELUJAH!! The Balaura daily/group quests that reward platinum medals will be modified so that everyone in the group can acquire the quest items dropped by monsters. The Seraphim Lords have heard our prayers!

In an attempt to thwart some of those insta-loggers who used an exploit to avoid death and defeat, closing down the client via the close button (x) on upper right-hand corner will no longer be instant but rather will show a timer that counts down from 10 seconds (much like the existing Quit option). Take that!

The list really does go on, but I am afraid I am out of time (as you may be as well if this is your coffee break!). I don't know about you, but it is heartening to see more content coming at a quicker pace; as one who isn't very good at the grind-the-same-thing-day-in-and-day-out crowd, I am excited to see more options coming to game as well as some needed fixes. And don't forget an easier time getting plats! So even while I enjoy the festivities going on now, I am going to be looking forward to this next patch. How about you? Is there anything you will be looking forward to? Share in the comments below!

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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