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Published on August 17th, 2010 | by prime

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Aion 2.0: Assault on Balaurea

Released to much critical and public acclaim in September of last year, Aion has been quietly building on that initial success with a series of smaller events and updates. Now though, things are all about to change with the imminent release of NCsoft’s largest and greatest expansion yet, Aion 2.0 –which is now commonly referred to as Assault on Balaurea. Clearly the thinking behind this significant expansion is the hope from NCsoft that there’s enough here to keep Aion going well into 2011 and beyond, but will it be enough? Taking a closer look at 2.0’s feature list seems to indicate that it could well be.

For starters, the level cap has been increased from 50 to 55, which should keep higher level players busy for a while, and along with that comes new zones, weapons, instances and skills. This means that players will have both updated versions of existing skills to compliment the level increase, and there’s also a new range of 43 Stigma skills, too.

If you think that you’ve explored all the lands that Aion has to offer, then you’ll be delighted to hear that the expansion will include new areas and instances. Ingisson and Gelkmaros are the new areas, and can be explored by members of both races – although Ingrisson is an Elyos area, while Gelkmaros belongs to the Asmodians.

There are a total of eight new instances too, which should please a lot of people, as they’re massively popular in the game. There are two solo ones (at levels 18 and 37) that lock out players above a certain level, plus six further ones that have been designed for the higher-level characters (50-plus).

Players can also look forward to now having a companion to keep them company on their adventures, as – like World of Warcraft before it – Aion is to introduce pets in the update. If you want the pet to just run around and look cute then you can do that, but they have more uses than that. You can store up to 100 pets, although you’re only actually able to summon one at a time. The special skill of your pet is purely dependant on the one you choose, as some have the ability to alert you to any danger nearby, while others can provide you with items or increase your storage facilities. Assault on Balaurea comes with a single pet that adds a very useful 12 item slots, but there are also bonus pets available if you buy the retail version of the game – which goes on sale on the 10th of September.

Another neat new feature comes in the shape of windstreams, which help with flying. These are basically exactly what they sound like: streams of wind that can carry you vast instances but without losing any of your precious flight timers. The streams come in various shapes and sizes, and while some will let you hop out at any point, others insist that you stay with them until the end of the ride.

It’s clear that NCsoft have high hopes for Assault on Balaurea and, therefore, the future of Aion, too. As it’s a free update, its popularity is assured, and early signs seem very positive, pointing to an expansion that should keep fans of the game hooked for months to come – and even possibly drag back a few that moved onto newer titles.

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