Eeny, meeny, miny moe
To start the tour of the new content, Community Manager Peter Kang showed off the new interface that appears after finishing the tutorial. Here, players will get a better introduction to all the schools, including the six new ones, in order to make a decision which to join. Of course, players can also take the new Vagrant path and choose no school at all or disguise themselves in order to join a second one. For the latter option, however, players will still have to meet all the requirements for the second sect; some things -- such as being a eunuch or being female -- can't be disguised.
Not sure which of the new sects you might like to try? Each one has its own special abilities as well as entrance requirements. While the Rootless clan takes measures to ensure that all members are eunuchs (and can even castrate other players), the healers of the Shem Family have the special ability to reattach castrated parts for those who regret their decision. The Villa of Beast adherents can summon legendary creatures to fight alongside them, while those in the evil Peach Blossom Island sect can summon a water mount with the Shark Writing skill. The latter followers also have a unique faction-only ground-based group buff. Similarly, the special ability of the Xu Village sect is to create campfires for players to cook food and create buffs.
For both Xu Village and Palace of Shifting Flowers, players cannot have more than 300 player-initiated kills over their lifetime if they hope to join. In addition to this, the Palace of Shifting Flowers also requires adherents to be single females; their special is to borrow from the strength of others to add to their own.
As interesting as the new factions and their various idiosyncrasies were, the weather events grabbed my attention the most. Although weather effects throughout the game are a really nice (and appreciated) immersive element, the addition of the random events adds a new layer to gameplay. These events, which occur only when the certain weather and location conditions are met, are essentially a raid system that fits well into the theme of AoW. Each event is an instanced version of the area with a unique story and objective.
When available, a system message broadcasts to all players so that they can participate if desired, and players of all ranks and skill levels can participate. Kang noted that it should take 40 to 50 players one to two hours to complete a weather event. He also emphasized that PvP is open during the events; as such, it's expected that some players will focus more on assassinating each other than on completing the objectives. But make no mistake, there must be cooperation and teamwork in order to advance successfully. Luckily, there is no cap on how many players can join the event, so with enough players, it can be completed even with rivalries rearing up.
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