Wings Over Atreia: Awakened Legacy is Aion’s NGE gut punch

    
40

Woah! WOA is back! It’s only fitting: Wings Over Atreia debuted when Aion launched as a new game, and now it is back for the launch of a new Aion. And let me tell you, it is new! A revival of the column is perfect for the revival of the game. The question is, will the latest expansion Awakened Legacy be a revival for the PvPvE title, or will it only be another painful NGE? Time will tell, but my very first impressions tell me it’s the latter. Luckily, we get to continue to explore the changes over time and can reevaluate as needed. Today’s article may be more about bringing up the questions then answering them all. Some, I may not be able to answer personally at all; we already know I just don’t seem to fit a typical gamer mold.

Before it launched, I thought some of Awakened Legacy’s changes sounded optimistic to help Aion’s future. You can hear that positivity in this week’s podcast. A return of rifting? Right on! And then… I logged in. Woah, gut punch! You can hear things start to go down hill in my first look livestream on OPTV. But the full implications of it all kept seeping in until a rant boiled over. So here’s what I think after getting to log back into the new Atreia, a world I loved so much and the one that brought me here to MOP.

Gutted lands was a gut punch

Ouch. NCsoft definitely has the chance to redeem itself as I explore the changes in depth,  but right now, Awakened Legacy is a huge punch to my gut. The Atreia I knew definitely does not exist any more. My game that I loved so much for so long has been gutted. I mean, gutted! Most zones are gone, and so many dungeons are gone it’s unreal. The game as I knew it no longer exists. I knew some of those would be out, but could I fathom it would be practically everything?

The loss of so many of those gorgeous zones that had so many fond memories — I admit, it was a shock to my system. I’ve heard gamers (including me) say how they are sick of static worlds and want to see changes that happen and matter. Do we really? I don’t think I do. Because seeing that drastic change in Aion’s landscape just about killed my desire to come back. There was no desire to go play, I was mourning what was lost. I was even feeling such remorse for not having more screenshots and more videos of the lands.

I should have suspected this: I didn’t like when I learned I couldn’t experience things that were now past in Guild Wars 2. In fact, it completely turned me off to the game as a player coming in later. I thought that maybe if I’d been there all along (or a long, long time), I ‘d have been excited for a game world that changes dynamically, like in a tabletop Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I guess there are just times when you can’t go back again. I think this Aion thing is showing me that no, no I do not want my MMOs to make those radical changes that I accept so readily in my offline campaigns. I have problems not being able to go back. It may be exciting to think that I could miss something, but it is unbearable when I actually do miss it!

Lands weren’t the only thing gutted in the update, either. Plenty of items were invalidated by the streamlining. Upon logging in you are greeted with a window showing all the invalid things in your bank and inventory and are offered the chance to sell them for cash. (By the way, this is an awesome mechanic to save you from having to deal with all the loose ends one by one.) Even seeing that screen of all those items was a small twinge in some respects, but at least it was a relief to not have to think about what to do with them. Sadly it seems items were missed in my account warehouse, and finding my inventory itself was now at 188 items but with only 117 slots has created a huge nightmare I don’t even want to deal with.

I’ve also lost a number of spells, the ability to wear some of my best armor — I’ve lost choice.

Aion’s NGE

Aion NGE. Yes, I said it. Gaming veterans don’t have to have played Star Wars Galaxies to know what the dreaded NGE was. It was an attempt to change a game to appeal to a different style of player, hopefully more players. Boy, did it ever change the game — and not in many good ways. It feels like Aion has just had its very own NGE. Could it possibly be positive, a saving grace that bolsters the game and keeps it moving forward? Yes, possible. I was so unhappy about how SWG was destroyed, but some folks who came later liked it. And I will say that later on, things were brought in that helped make SWG better. That said, the NGE really hurt SWG. A key reason for that was stripping away choice.

DON’T REMOVE CHOICE FROM ME!

I hate that. I hate it. I hate it here, I hate it there, I hate it everywhere. I hate, hate, hate when games take away my ability to make choices for my character, especially choices I already had. It rubs me so incredible wrong that I was just about foaming at the mouth during my first-look stream. We already know that so many choices of zones and dungeons to go to (14 zones and 55, respectively!) were stripped out, but NCsoft also removed my ability to wear other armors of tiers below me. In my Cleric’s case, she is now forbidden from wearing cloth. This took away a special set of armor I used as my offensive power set, a set I worked long and hard for back when manastones and enchantments still blew up. Almost all my RP outfits are also gone.

So am I stuck using only cash shop outfits? Do I have anything in the way of compensation for losing my armor? Nope. Oh, but I guess I won’t be needing that power set: NCsoft also removed a number (most?) of my offensive spells, which feels like stripping me down to healer-bot mode only. I’d had the choice before to be a decent enough solo class, and now I am not sure I can play without a group. Even as someone who prefers to group, I find this changes my role in the groups I was used to playing with. Time will tell on this one.

Anytime you invalidate all the hard work of people, it will be a gut punch. All that time and energy that players put into things… wasted. I understand that moving on is growing pains, but where’s the line between growing pains you can move on from and being beaten to a pulp? At what point can players not recover from it?

Streamlining

You might be asking, why all the drastic changes? It’s all in the name of streamlining. The game is nine years old, so it’s understandable that some systems would be outdated, bloated, and in need of work. Some change is expected, and some change is obviously good. But this feels less streamlining and more like gutting to me. So much is gone… and for what? Oh, it is so much easier to get to max level now! Sigh. The emphasis seems to be on getting to max level and then starting the game. But the game was always in the journey for me. The game had story, flavor, so many beautiful areas. But those areas now gone, sacrificed in the name of streamlining. Where are all the stories from the destroyed lands? No matter, you can now skip that playing nonsense and just get to where the real action is at: endgame!

Now, I am sure there are many players who have stuck with Aion throughout who do only care about endgame. I mean, that’s where they are. But is that all there is to the game? Should that be all there is to the game?  Me, I don’t care one whit about getting to be top level (which, let’s be honest, is truly mostly a gear grind). Nope. Don’t. Care. Never have. And I am not the only gamer who feels this way. Don’t think this is anti-siege and PvP sentiment, either; I enjoyed those aspects quite a bit. But Aion had so much more to it than just sieges and end game PvP. Now, it feels like all that was stripped away. Even Reshanta and all those fortresses to siege are completely obliterated. See? Gutted.

Will these growing pains/gut punches in the short term result in gains and a better experience in the long run? Maybe. Maybe not for me. Maybe even for me. We need time to tell this. That’s why WOA will be back for a while, exploring this change.

Be sure to tune in next time discuss whether Awakened Legacy is not an NGE but actually Aion’s rebirth.

40
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Thales Neves

You’re completely wrong about clerics losing its offensive powerhouse on Awakened Legacy patch. Clerics are really nice damage dealers on this patch. LOL They can easily outdps most classes right now

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Man…I’ve wanted to check this out but am waiting for them to fix the xign issues but the more I’m reading from folks who have played the more I’m kinda not wanting to…Some of the improvements look nice, and while I can’t say I have strong fond memories of a lot of older zones etc. I do have some good memories from long ago, and I really hate seeing content either outright removed (inexcusable) or essentially invalidated in the name of “streamlining”. So much work went into that, and it’s a “slap in the face” to the hard working teams that built them : (

Reader
Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
kgptzac

I remembered when Lineage 2 went f2p I checked out the game, only found the devs made every race to have the same beginner town, which not only caused great fps drops due to the game’s aged engine, but also removed a lot of flavors that made each race unique back stories. Sure it’s not ideal for new players spend extended amount of time in each races’ beginner area when there aren’t many new players, but removing stuff is never the answer, and runs the same logic as making new friends by betraying old friends.

Reader
Carebear

But the game was always in the journey for me. The game had story, flavor, so many beautiful areas.

Are we talking about Aion here? Aion is the MMO with the least zones of all MMOs I have played… there where literally 3 zones for my faction to level all up to 50… and then it was the Abyss… With 3 leveling zones you cant really describe leveling as a “Journey”… Journey was Vanilla wow and Lotro… Aion was just beautiful characters and great combat animations.

EDIT: Keep in mind I have to play Aion for many many years.. so I dont know if the expansions added a lot more…

Reader
Thales Neves

The first patches of Aion used to bring a really good sense of journey on its playtime. I feel a lot of nostalgia when I remember those days.

Vexia
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Vexia

I haven’t followed Aion regularly, so I’m wondering how well telegraphed the contents of this patch were. The vibe I get from reading the article as well as the comments is not very well. People seem surprised at the wholescale removal of zones and gear they can no longer equip, which they were apparently using not long ago. If all of these changes were made without some kind of heads-up to the player base, that strikes me as disrespectful.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
imayb1

They were vague about the upcoming changes. They did say they were removing zones and ASFAIK mentioned two (per faction) that would definitely be gone.

They were very forthright about gear that was going away and how players could prepare by maxing their current gear ($$$) to earn the new gear.

They said that buff scrolls would be gone. Then, two days before the big patch they gave specifics about how some scrolls would be converted to new potions and others would just vanish. There were various tidbit useful items that they said would be gone: temporal stones, power shards, buff food… And many of those did simply vanish, but many stayed. It seemed capricious to me.

I’m pretty sure the wholesale slaughter of zones, items, and systems took many by surprise. Most people don’t read forums or patch notes and such– and Aion info is pretty sparse, like the player base. There were a lot of questions in the forums and reddit communities that seemingly no one could answer prior to the patch. I read what details I could and I was stunned by the changes.

Still, it’s hard to say how prepared the hardcore players were because the patch landed on KR servers a while ago, then EU servers about two weeks before it hit NA … but KR and EU each do things a little differently than NA so it’s always a bit of a game of telephone (with language barriers) to see how something started in KR and how/what it became later.

Reader
Thales Neves

They were very forthright about gear that was going away and how players could prepare by maxing their current gear ($$$) to earn the new gear.

Money wasn’t a requisite to gear up and prepare to 6.2
They did the last event in a very generous way. You could easily (i mean VERY easilu) farm 10+ omegas and 10+ tempering solutions in a single day with as many charaters you wanted because the drop rates was ridiculously high and the prices went down fast. It means you could very easily gear up to receive new gear at the start of the game.

Vexia
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Vexia

I don’t know about that. Sometimes life gets busy and you can’t keep certain stuff on your plate. That doesn’t mean you don’t care or won’t make your way back in the future.

Reader
Mallus

They wanted to streamline the leveling in order to get everyone to end game faster where they will have to open their wallets and spend a ton of money if they want a chance to be even remotely competitive. They really had a chance to re-release the game and bring it back to life, instead they have probably put the final nail in the coffin…

Reader
Mallus

Have you started end game gearing/enchanting? Its pay to win in the worst sort of way.

Reader
Robert Mann

Change is one thing, but it’s the approach to change that matters. With the normally static MMOs like this, change at all is a very big deal, and sweeping change is a jarring experience of loss. Where, instead, what many of us have expressed wanting is something more realistic with continual changes over time… which might be jarring if you leave for years, but which most likely would be far smaller and not land-mass redefining.

I mean, you don’t expect Daggerfall to change position from the southern coastal area in the middle of it’s local area to the western coastal area in something that is not even close to the same shape… but it did. It was across different games, true. It was a long tome between, true. However, there’s no lore, no story, just that same jarring (to me) experience as somebody who played the old ‘Daggerfall’ game and then saw the area in ESO.

If, instead, it matched locations better but had other changes based on the differences in time, then that would be more what most of us seem to have said we want. For example, maybe it was much smaller in the past of ESO, and maybe even there’s a different capital city in the area at the time? It’s not a huge stretch to have something like that as a story component, and it give the feeling that the world isn’t static as much. For example of in game ‘non-static’ stuff, we could even see the course of government changing locations over several years as in game things happen. That doesn’t mean that zones have to look completely different, and thus it doesn’t have to be such a negative to fond memories.

It feels, to me, like you took one of the examples of the exact worst part of static MMOs (updates after more than 5 years to an area and it jars with the long-term static area that is then ingrained in our memories) and applied it to a much more reasonable thing by association. This wasn’t the desire many of us expressed, and equating them is not even acceptable.

Alyn
Reader
Alyn

Any mmo that takes away any type of player choice fails to remain an mmo in my mind.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
GamingSF

This kind of stuff really annoys me, I didn’t get that far into Aion so it’s not personal but I can empathise with this still. Why remove content? With more modern approaches to “changing worlds” such as phasing or instancing I do not feel simply destroying zones or cities is that necessary. Especially if you don’t even get to play through that destruction as part of the gameplay – if it’s just a cutscene and done, that surely just leads to frustration. Excising levelling content from a game really makes me mad – sure give players optional means to speed up or bypass such content if they’re that obsessed with the mythical endgame, but do not take the journey away entirely!

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
imayb1

I wholeheartedly agree with you, MJ. I’m poking around, but it’s like I’m poking a freshly bandaged wound. It hurts. I’m sad my templar won’t get to wear the cloth skirt that looks so good with her armor chestplate, sad my cleric can no longer wear those cloth gloves with the awesome casting speed, etc.. The loss of certain skills hurt, too. I think those would be bearable, if it wasn’t yet another (subjectively) terrible change among probably thousands of things.

Even the zones that stayed were remodeled, causing me to look around and see where and what things were appropriated from the destroyed zones.

Aion used to be all about the journey. It could take several weeks to reach a leveling milestone. Players really got to know the zones and their skills. Now, a single quest can net you four levels. Not kidding. It wasn’t even a dangerous quest. It feels wrong. I’m not sure why they didn’t just insta-level everyone rather than make this token gesture toward a leveling system that’s so fast it doesn’t matter at all.

I look forward to your next article about this.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
imayb1

Lol noob!
Ladies and gentlemen, we have an Aion troll defender in our midst!