Doing the dungeon dive
The new Mistsong Summit dungeon, located smack dab in the middle of Auroria’s Mistmarrow battlefield, is meant for well-geared level 55 players. Kwai noted that “it is definitely the most difficult five-man dungeon that we have seen so far.” Of course, that won’t stop some folks — like yours truly — from popping in to check things out as well, but at least when things go a bit south and carnage rains down you can’t say as you weren’t warned!
Knowing how much I love good screenshots, I very much appreciated the beauty of this dungeon. The serene looks are quite deceiving however, as the boss and her compadres pack some very nasty punches. And lasers… and spikes… and music. Yes, there is death by music and dance here, which is quite fitting actually. The lore behind the dungeon is that Aria, the forgotten child of Kyrios (the god of destruction) and Naima (the dancer goddess), created this little pocket dimension as her own personal paradise — that she happens to be trapped in. However, she requires the souls of humans to keep it going. What better way to harvest a few souls than by luring folks in with a concert? At least they are drained happy, right?
Unlike most dungeons where you start at the beginning and then work your way to the end boss, groups will actually get to choose which path they take and which boss they face when. Players zone into a center area and select one of the three paths to head to either Aria herself or one of her companions, Dochul and Sojung. Kwai explained that there aren’t too many trash mobs, but players will still have to actually travel the path and deal with any traps that line the way; no one will be able to bypass this content by skirting past it because players who leave the path get a debuff that basically turns them into tissue paper.
Besides selecting whom they face and in what order, players get to select the difficulty of each boss. Instead of making an entire dungeon either easy or normal, groups can tailor the experience to fit their abilities. Of course, saying easy mode doesn’t mean the boss is a pushover: According to Kwai, players need an equipment point score of approximately 4,000 for the easy-level encounter. The normal mode requires approximately 5,000. Hard mode, which will be added to the game in the February update, will need even more than that.
Each battle is quite distinct, as is the type of armor that is dropped. In Dochul’s training grounds, players will have to manage adds, dodge lasers from the walls, and avoid spikes shooting up from the floor. You’ll basically fight his surroundings as well as him! Those who want the plate version of the new armor will find it on his dead body. With Sojung, who embodies the beautiful-yet-dangerous theme of the dungeon, groups will be managing buffs and debuffs by shooting lanterns. Oh, and she transforms into a giant snake when you knock her first health bar down. Those who get her health all the way down might walk away with the leather armor.
The main boss of the dungeon is Aria herself. You don’t want to ask Aria to sing you the song of her people, but she will anyway. And it is a more of an electric dirge playing for your funeral! Here’s a hint: Be very mindful of the runes on the banners and the corresponding ones on the floor, and don’t despair if you start dancing — unless you happen to be standing on the wrong rune. Defeating Aria can net the cloth armor set. Besides the armor and other loot, all three bosses can also drop any of eight new luna gems found exclusively in this dungeon.
Making the music
Speaking of the music, Fry explained that the background music was custom made for this region. As a part of the localization, it was decided to use something more fitting than the original track. At first this meant that the song would be recorded with English lyrics, so a call was put out for auditions. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the actual audition of a local artist that caught devs ears but rather a song that she did with her band, Invocation Array. Trion contacted the band to both license that song and to commission a new one for the 2.5 update. The band actually performed live on the studio’s recent livestream, and Fry said that plans are underway for the group to possibly perform at other ArcheAge events.
Although my favorite new housing is by far the treehouse, there are other ones that come with Bloodsong as well. There’s a 1,000 gilda star Hirani mansion, Harani-styled workbenches and fences, and the tier two fellowship plaza (which has seed vendors and a portal to Mirage Isle).
As for the treehouses, there are four separate versions. Three versions cost 500 merit badges each, and the last one can be bought in the store. While most of the differences are cosmetic (bark and leaf color), there’s one very notable difference. Fry stated that while the one house can be purchased, it does not have the special features of the ones that must be earned with merit badges. Are those features worth all the effort to collect that many merit badges? That depends on how much you value the chance of one of your tree branches becoming thunderstruck!
On the topic of trees, there’s a smaller version of the world boss that sometimes stomps around outside of the City of Towers that players can get s a pet in the new welcome back promotional packs. And it is adorable! Just like the previous welcome home promotion, all players will receive a chest that can be opened daily for rewards. The big difference this time, besides some of the items, is that the chest can be opened 14 days instead of just seven. There are two different bundles — one for new and returning players and one for current players. The one meant to entice players to come back is filled with consumables and special buffs to make it desirable for vets to group up with you. The one for current players focuses more on things like loyalty tokens (175 total if you open the chest every day) and labor. Both versions have a special temporary costume and pet that can both be made permanent if the chest is opened 14 times before it expires in 30 days. Also included is a photograph of Aria for your house that plays the new music.
Although unrelated to the welcome home promotion, there are also two new mounts being added to the game. One is a large black horse in battle barding that you can get from the cash shop chests; the other is a white panther that can be bought in the guild prestige shop for 2K prestige.
PvP arenas and other features
The final topics we discussed was the changes to the PvP arenas and the ability to save skill sets. Kwai acknowledged that there has been mixed opinions about how arenas have been fought in the past, when a newly minted level-50 player could be matched up with (and totally decimated by) a fully-kitted vet who imbibes potions nonstop. To balance the arena better, two new modes are being introduced; on top of the older versions, players can select a balanced 1v1 sparring match or a 3v3 skirmish match. These are different than the other matches because it focuses only on what skills you have and how well you use them. Kwai noted, “It’s highly restrictive, favoring skill over any other aspect that may have given you an advantage before.” All stats are stripped from gear; instead, “gear” is defined by one of the eight set buffs that players select. Additionally, potions and pets are prohibited.
Another very useful feature (that I will certainly make good use of!) is the new skill saver. This allows players to save up to three different specs, or even more if a skill-saver pendant is used. Changing specs this way will automatically redistribute your points and populate your hotbar with your pre-designed set up.