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Wings Over Atreia: The top 19 ways to get your dungeon crawl on, continued

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Ahhh. There's nothing like the feeling of facing down a formidable foe, beating it into submission, then finally conquering it and pulling from its lifeless corpse some rare and valuable treasure to hold above your head as a trophy of your victory. Of course, this feeling cannot be found in the PvP portion of Aion's PvPvE formula; sadly, neither Asmodians nor Elyos drop loot of any kind upon defeat, rare or otherwise (though I have to say adding in the ability to pluck a feather from your vanquished foe would be cool). So that leaves only one way to experience this rush, and that's through the PvE side of the game, and not just any PvE at that: While there is a possibility of valuable drops out in the world, your best chances lie within the instanced dungeons.

Dungeons are a great way to get away from the masses and all the accompanying interruptions that come with sharing the world with others, such as KSing, unwanted PvP ambushes, and mob trains pulled by some idiot next to you. Think of it as an Atreian vacation! And Aion has 19 PvE instanced dungeons ready to whisk you away for a brief respite from the world while simultaneously giving you the chance at some great loot and XP.

Last week we covered dungeons available to Daevas under level 40 as well as solo instances. Of course, in most cases, Daevas don't remain under 40 forever (or even for long if whole months of double-XP weekends crop up!), so there is a need for more places to scratch that dungeon crawl itch. This time around, Wings Over Atreia focuses on the gamut of choices for those advancing in their levels.

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Over the hill

Instanced dungeons aren't just for the younger Daevas. Although the listing for the 30-something crowd sports seven different instances, the list of dungeons you can crawl through expands by five more once you reach your (level) 40s: Alquimia Research Center, Steel Rake, Indratu Fortress, Theobomos Labs, and Adma Stronghold.

SR: If you like to skin Shugos, Steel Rake is the place for you! OK, so they are actually evil pirate Shulaks who kidnap and enslave Shugos, but they are closely related to them! Hopping aboard at each race's capital city, Daevas level 40+ can slash and cast their way through three separate levels -- mid, lower, and upper. Fabled weapons can drop, but Daevas can also enjoy a spiffy pirate hat good for skinning onto current gear. Don't really feel like being cooped up on a ship full of "ackackackack"? Better plan on going without your first and second greater stigma slots, then. You also miss out on the chance of being shot from a cannon!

Aion screenshotAlquimia: As this one's in Beluslan, Elyos actually have to go to Alquimia Research Center to complete their Xenophon Weapon Quest. Now, however, you don't actually have to go inside and find the book in the library; it also spawns on the ground outside the door. Why not explore a new dungeon while you're there? Daevas level 41 can poke their heads in here and crawl to their hearts' content. Just be careful of the pathing in that first room -- one bad pull will literally bring a horde down upon you.

Indratu: Located in Heiron, Indratu Fortress is open to Elyos at level 41 and beyond, whereas Asmodians can enter only at levels 42-50 (at 51 they can no longer enter Heiron). This dungeon is sparsely used except by those finishing the final Heiron campaign quest (probably because it is a real pain to get to!), so chances are it might be a new and refreshing place to visit.

T-Labs: The only instance that is Elyos-only, Theobomos Labs (in, unsurprisingly, Theobomos) can be entered beginning at level 46 after an entrance quest tied into the campaign quests. A main draw of this instance (besides getting XP to reach 50) is extendable weapons. Asmodians who wish to check this dungeon out must slough off their dark feathers and be reborn as Elyos.

Adma: Adma Stronghold in Brusthonin is the Asmodian mirror of T-Labs, meaning it also opens up at level 46 through a campaign quest and drops extendable weapons. Any Elyos who want to check out the lore of this place need to roll and level an Asmodian! Forewarning: None of the Adma vampires sparkles.

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To 50 and beyond

You finally made it to 50! Now that you are in the home-stretch to max-level, you gain entrance to Balaurea along with five new dungeons to explore.

DP: The max-level dungeon prior the release of Assault on Balaurea, Dark Poeta is the only instance that determines the final boss by how you perform throughout the rest of the dungeon. Faster and more points means a higher-grade boss (with better loot). Both races can enter via the portal the core by completing a quick quest consisting of bringing a rift stone (bought from the general goods merchants in New Heiron Gate, Beluslan Fortress, Teminon Landing, or Primum Landing) and five blue balaur scales. For Elyos and Asmodians to enter the safer portals in their respective lands of Heiron and Beluslan, the quest requires 25 scales. In DP, you unlock the third greater stigma slot and can also obtain fabled weapons, armor and accessories. Among the possible weapons is a coveted spell book with casting speed. Although few players actually use the DP armor anymore, many still like to get it for the skins. It is also a great place to farm balic crafting materials.

Aion screenshotEC: Introduced in Empyrean Calling, the Empyrean Crucible gives Daevas a challenge to complete 10 different stages each with multiple rounds. Crucible insignias that can be exchanged for weapons, armor, pets, and fluff outfits are earned for each level you complete, so even those who cannot make it to the end boss receive rewards. Since patch 2.7, groups can skip the earlier stages and start at stage seven. While this saves time (this instance can get long), it also eliminates the insignias from those earlier rounds. Important features to note are that resurrection skills are impossible in this instance and there are only six worthiness tickets (offered after the first round) allowing players to renter upon death. Therefore, Daevas must plan and play carefully, lest they are left facing a tough opponent sans healer and tank.

Udas: Consisting of two different but related dungeons, Upper and Lower, Udas Temple is why Daevas want to reach level 51. You can really haul in the XP in Upper, especially if you just solo, duo, or trio it; grab a good Cleric or Sorcerer and have at it. Clerics are also known to solo Lower to farm equipment to share with friends or sell. Both instances drop a full set of gear between them, with gloves and shoulders in Upper and boots, legs, and chest in Lower. If you want the leather belly dancing outfit, this is it. Debilkarum, the final boss in Lower, is also prized for his weapons, earrings, and chestpieces that make great skins.

Besh: The only 55+ single-group dungeon, Beshmundir Temple is where the big Daevas go to play. It has two different settings: Normal mode (often referred to as easy) and Difficult (hard). Besh is the home of Stormwing, the once-mighty-but-now-easier-to-tame boss that can drop eternal weapons, armor, and accessories. Stormwing gear, dropped only in hard mode, is still the top PvE armor. Besh is also where Daevas unlock their fifth and final greater stigma slot. For a detailed run-through, check out this guide.

Padma: Padmarashka's Cave is the only league-based 48-Daeva dungeon in Aion. The cooldown timer is seven days, so this isn't one to pussyfoot around in. You also need to be careful whom you invite to go with you because if any player leaves or is kicked out of the league, the entire league will be teleported outside of the instance. Each Daeva in the league needs a key to enter (bought in the Balaurean Fortresses when owned by your faction or obtained as a random drop from from Balaur in the area). There is an entrance to the cave in both Inggison and Gelkmaros.

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Still feel like there is nothing to do in Aion? If this isn't enough for you, on top of the fortress and PvP instances, quests, spy quests, campaigns, crafting and more... well, there are six more dungeons coming in 3.0! And those, my friends, we will explore next week.

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.