Unlike my previous reports on the easy button invasion that were post-production reviews, this one is a sneak preview. And joining us to reveal this new Aion blockbuster is Associate Product Manager Sean Orlikowski, who provided a coming soon trailer filled with highlights to help get you ready for the main attraction. Return of the Easy Button releases next Wednesday, November 6th, on a game client near you.
Two weeks ago, NCsoft ran a weekend promotion that delivered incentives to level 65 Daevas in an effort to boost interest and participation in the Sauro Supply Base dungeon. Players received a scroll to remove the lockout timer and a gift pack once they entered the dungeon. Even getting to the instance was made easier with a special portal. Why all the effort? Because Sauro Supply Base is just not the go-to dungeon destination. This is a real shame because the instance itself is just breathtaking! Just check out the images in the gallery. And not even the lure of easy access and goodies appeared to be enough to draw in the crowds as hoped.
You see, Sauro Supply Base is not what many players would consider a good investment of time. Sure, the instance offers another mythical set of armor, weapons, and accessories that Daevas can collect, but the effort to farm for them was too brutal for most. The mobs were so tough and the instance took so very long to complete that the reward to time investment ratio was too steep. And those four-key and five-key bosses were quite difficult. As Orlikowski pointed out, "People weren't farming it for gear because it was quite a long instance if you fought all the bosses." In all the time since Dark Betrayal released, he explained, only a handful of groups have even been able to kill Sheba, the hardest boss.
So in actuality, the easy button performance this time around is less about making the place a piece of cake for Daevas to breeze through while snoozing and more about making the place more appealing. What's the good of having a gorgeous dungeon with epic loot if no one wants to run it?
In order to make the instance more worthwhile, NCsoft is nerfing the difficulty level of the dungeon. Instead of just flat out making the monsters weaker by lowering their hit points, the game will ensure that players inflict 30% more damage on all creatures within the dungeon. Simultaneously, players will receive 10% less damage from mob attacks. "The mobs will all go down quicker, and it'll be a much faster run." Orlikowski told us, "and Sheba will be much easier for non-expert groups to take down."
Additionally, the lockout timer scrolls for Sauro Supply Base that were previously available only during that event weekend will now be stocked on the shelves of the Black Cloud Marketplace for an indefinite period of time.
Now for an important question before you start your gear-farming activities: Since it's an easier (and now, even easier) dungeon, is the gear from Sauro Supply Base comparable to the other sets? I'd say it is worth the time. True, the gear doesn't have the set bonus for multiple items like one from the Infinity Shard, but the gear from the Base can be retuned for better individual stats. Plus, it's end-game Mythical gear -- that's nothing to sneeze at!
The easy button performance, however, doesn't end with just the one max-level dungeon. One of the only two dungeons introduced in Dark Betrayal that Daevas below level 65 could enter is also getting a once-over with the nerf bat. Yes, the pirate ship Steel Rose will also be seeing some adjustments to the difficulty level.
All three levels of Steel Rose -- Deck, Quarters, and Cargo -- will see players dishing out 40% more damage while taking 20% less damage themselves. So players using this dungeons series as a way to soak up XP from level 61 on in either the solo or group versions will be able to fight their way through even more quickly than before. Not that we really need more reasons to jump in and slaughter rooms full of evil Shulak pirates, but we'll take it!
"With this revamp, we've made our main 4.0 leveling instance easier and made it easier for players to acquire end-game Mythic gear and accessories," Orlikowski told me. Although I am usually pretty skeptical of installing easy buttons all over my favorite games, I actually have to give this show a thumbs up. Honestly, I find it sad when beautifully designed content gets ignored, and Sauro Supply Base has stunning visuals that all Daevas should experience. These changes will encourage more Daevas to experience that content instead of bypassing it. We'll have to wait until after release to see how the changes really play out, but until then, I am looking forward to a few trips to the Base myself.
Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down biweekly 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.