Wings Over Atreia: Easy button strikes again!

Wings Over Atreia

Way back when, when Daevas first started flapping their wings around Balaurea, I broached the subject of the new easy button installed in Aion. Trust me, I was as excited as the next Daeva about the reduction in the level grind (not all change is bad after all!), but I had my concerns as well. I raised a cautionary flag about the trend of over-simplifying the game. Call it my personal pet peeve, but I seriously dislike the instant-gratification crowd, and I certainly don't want my game catering to it!

Now fast-forward almost two full years, and another easy button has crept into Aion, this time relating to dungeons. Just two weeks ago I reported on the 3.1 update changes in instances, from lowering the minimum-level entrance requirements to swinging the nerf bat at some Balaur heads. Words, however, are still just words; how do the changes play out in-game? I grabbed myself a Beshmundir Temple group to check it out.

While the changes affected numerous dungeons, this report is based only on the experiences in Besh. So was Besh easier? In a word -- yes. But a word does not an article make! (At least not one I can get past inspection!). Besides, where is the fun in that? You know I like chatting with you folks, and that has nothing to do with your being a captive audience. I just like your company, really! So join me on my first post-nerf excursion to Beshmundir Temple and see what I mean by an easier, gentler Besh.

Aion screenshot

Easy is as easy does

I will readily admit that not all of my data are quantifiable, but after running Besh so many times, I do feel duly qualified to notice when things are different. And trust me, I could tell things were different! You might argue that because people were mainly higher level with better gear in this group, that alone could account for the dungeon going easier. Let me assure you, it was much more than that.

First off, let's just say that even after Stormwing was first nerfed and made easier a while back, you still needed a competent tank to get you through the rest of the temple. Using shields at the right time was a staple for surviving the first boss (Captain Lakhara) and the horse boss (Taros Lifebane). Well, the group I joined to venture into the "new and improved" Besh didn't have a competent tank -- at least as far as this instance was concerned -- and we still made it through in less than 90 minutes.

You might ask, how did I know he wasn't too competent? The first clue was that as a level 58, he didn't even know how to get to Beshmundir Temple. That right there used to be enough to make other group members run for the hills! However, this group was even willing to have a Gladiator tank the zone, so that's got to tell you something, especially since Glads don't have any of the shields. I was a bit skeptical, personally. But apparently I needn't have worried too much; the only deaths the group really suffered came when the tank really pulled a few rookie moves, like sprinting around the first room like a Qooqoo with its head cut off and running out of range of the party and breaking line-of-sight repeatedly. By the time Certain Doom was set to be cast, I was crossing my fingers that the DPS would be able to make quick work of Lakhara. To my surprise, the Templar didn't drop like a sack of potatoes, even without using his shield. In the end, we defeated Lakhara without a party wipe. Previously, that was unheard of without a tank that had at least part of a clue!

Turns out the tank didn't really have to know what he was doing on Taros Lifebane either, but we got through that fight without the tank dying once despite his not knowing the ropes. Yah, Beshmundir is definitely easier if you don't need a practiced tank.

What's another reason I can say the run was easier? As a Cleric, I never had to use my DP healing skills. Previously, I might get away with using only one, but I almost always used one on at least Taros Lifebane (especially with a tank who didn't use shields right). However, there was no need to use any on either Taros or Isbariya or anywhere. Fact is, I left Besh with a full DP bar. I honestly can't remember that happening before.

Aion screenshot


Of course, some changes are quantifiable. The first obvious in-your-face change that stunned me involved the room behind Ahbana the Wicked. You all know that room -- the one where the campaign quest It's Better! It's an Obelisk! required you to retrieve the core from the Aetheric Field Generator while a horde of practically invincible Balaur ravaged your party. The one where you could count on death as some party members tried to lure all the Balaur out long enough for those with the quest to kill the generator and retrieve the core before his or her own death. Everyone tried to plan that run so that no one wasted DP needed for later. Well, now there aren't any Balaur waiting to pound you into a pulp, and the few that finally spawn after you have the generator partially defeated are so wimpy you can wipe them out in just a couple of hits... from a Cleric! Tell me that's not dousing it with easy-sauce!

Another very noticeable difference was the absence of Dorakiki the Bold's companions: Chopper, Fixit, and Sorcerer Hakiki. No longer do groups have to sacrifice one member in order to pull this boss off by herself; no longer must you send one person to kite Chopper while everyone else focuses on the remaining three. Nope, now it is just a straight up waltz in and pow! The task is made even quicker by the fact that groups no longer even need to clear that entire area in order to run around. Kill one mob, maybe two, and you have full access to the boss.

By the time we reached Isbariya, you'd have thought it would have sunk in that things were indeed different, right? Well, maybe not. I caught myself explaining the boss fight to someone who'd never been there before realizing that hey, I might not even have a clue as to what will happen now! Turns out, the fight itself seemed to follow the normal run; however, I did notice a severe dearth of skeletons in the second stage and fewer blue balls in the third.

As for Stormwing, I do believe there were fewer tornadoes, but I cannot be sure. I will have to delve in a few more times and watch closely (perhaps when I am not healing and staring so intently at health bars!). With or without tornadoes, he died more easily and quickly.

Aion screenshot

In all, I'd almost go so far as to rename the modes of Beshmundir Temple easy and easier instead of hard (called difficult in-game) and easy (called normal). All of the bosses went down noticeably faster, and even an iffy tank could get the group through in a decent amount of time. I can just imagine how fast a run would be with a skilled veteran of the place!

Is easier better? I can't find too many arguments to argue against this. But I still mourn the loss of those memories of when groups really had to work together and put in their best effort to succeed. If you want to stroll back down memory lane and reminisce about the good old days when Besh wiped the floor with you, scroll through Massively's exclusive guide to Beshmundir Temple hard mode. Then jump in and relish getting your Stormwing armor set with less fuss. Now, if only we could fix that evil RNG...

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