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Wings Over Atreia: 1.9 impressions

Jef Reahard

So, the big day has come and gone, and Aion's North American players are now basking in the post-patch glow of the much ballyhooed 1.9 update. With such an extensive list of tweaks, its hard to get a good gauge on what works well and what doesn't given the short gestation period. Nevertheless, your humble columnist is here to make the attempt.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be examining all of the patch additions in much finer detail, but for now I'd like to use this edition of our weekly look at the Aionsphere to examine a few of the smaller nuggets from this week's update. In no particular order, we'll try out a few things that you may have missed, given that the vast majority of the update's hype focused on the larger issues such as the Armsfusion system, the new quests, and the stun (or is that Assassin) nerf.

Socketing Supplements

Lost amid much of the hoopla were a number of tweaks to the game's equipment system, most notably some welcome adjustments to socketing. Socket failures have long been one of the game's more exasperating mechanics, and the newly added socketing supplements, designed to increase the success rates for both enchantment and manastone attempts, are a step in the right direction.

I say a step because the failure rates are still noticeable (speculation from the test server has been that the lesser supplements only give you a 10% boost chance). Also, even though there are three types of supplements (lesser, regular, and greater, each of which gives increasing rate bonuses), only the lesser variety made it into 1.9, so we'll have to wait for a future patch to determine the full usefulness of this new system.

If you want to try out the lesser supplements for yourself, you can pick them up from the Item Remodeller and Medicine Merchants in Sanctum, Pandaemonium, Eltnen, Heiron, Morheim, and Belusian. You must have the supplements in your inventory cube when attempting to socket your equipment equipment. You'll see a selection screen on which you can choose the stone and supplement.

Resource Dismantling

Another smaller add that may have escaped your attention is the ability to dismantle your various resource stacks. High level gathered materials (basically anything prefaced with Greater, Pure, or Brilliant) can be dismantled to form several low level resources. As an example, when I double click on a stack of Greater Aether in my inventory cube, I'm rewarded with three regular Aether resources. Similarly, clicking a pile of Brilliant Aether will net you three Pure Aether resources, and so on.

Rested XP

In addition to the larger XP payouts evident in many of the games quests (both repeatable and otherwise), Daevas are now privy to a form of rested experience analogous to the systems found in many other MMORPGs. This new bonus takes two forms: Energy of Repose (which existed prior to the patch and now has increased effects between levels 30 and 45) and Energy of Salvation.

Energy of Salvation allows players to accrue points at set time intervals. These points are then automatically used during crafting, PvE quests, gathering, and PvP, and boost XP by 30% when active. Points are accumulated in a manner that is not altogether clear, as NCsoft has said only that "characters who have progressed slowly from level 15 despite long connection times and continuous in-game activity will now obtain bonus EXP through the Energy of Salvation." Wings Over Atreia will bring you more info regarding this new mechanic as soon as we've had a chance to thoroughly test it.

User Interface

Changes to the user interface are slight, and somewhat underwhelming. NCsoft has finally added a proper Looking for Group tool, and while it's nothing revolutionary, it will make you wonder how you managed to find groups in Aion without it. There are also two additional hotbars, a godsend for a game that has a silly amount of skills, spells, and associated icons. These new hotbars can be dragged and resized anywhere on your screen, but annoyingly the same cannot be said for the rest of the game's static UI. Want to move your radar from right side to left, or your target info box from the top center of the screen to a more traditional position? You're out of luck, short of hacking your game client and attempting to do it yourself.

Sure, the lack of a custom UI isn't a game-breaker, but Aion is one of the very few AAA MMORPGs that refuses to allow you any sort of personalization on your interface, and I'm continually scratching my head as to why.

New zones?

Finally, an interesting if cryptic addition to the game world takes the form of new temple instances accessible off the beaten path of each faction's capitol city. In Sanctum, hanging a left when you first teleport into the city's southern end (near the Exalted Path) will bring you face to face with a new teleport statue. Clicking it transports your Daeva to the Cloister of Kaisinel, a secluded temple that doesn't appear on your map and features a couple of unhelpful NPCs in addition to its breathtaking architecture. I'm assuming that these guys give out quests (but not to my 43 Sorceror), and NCsoft has hinted at additional regular and campaign quests coming to this area in future updates.

Pandemonium features a counterpart zone known as the Convent of Marchutan. For now, these areas offer a brief bit of diversionary exploration as well as a new roleplay locale.

That's all we've got time for this week (after all, we're too busy sucking up all that juicy repeatable quest XP that is crowding the landscape over in Heiron). Join us next week and beyond for further looks at all of the changes wrought by 1.9, and until then, keep the blue side up.

Look! Up in the air! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a snarky Daeva! Join Jef Reahard every Monday for news and views from the world of Aion. Whether he's soaring over the battlefield or hunkered down in the trenches, Jef is your combat correspondent in the world of Atreia.

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