NCSOFT Talks Revenants, Player Needs, and 2.7 Update Balance

AION Classic—NCSOFT’s revitalized MMORPG featuring winged heroes known as Daeva—receives a new class and a host of other exciting upgrades in its 2.7 update. The new class, known as Revenants, are vengeful mid-range fighters wielding a new weapon class: chain blades. Other improvements to the MMORPG include new instances, leveling tweaks, and a new starting zone.

The 2.7 Update is available now in AION Classic Europe, a version of the game published by Gameforge.

Game Rant recently spoke with Ahn Jinho, NCSOFT’s game design director of AION Classic, about this new content in Atrea. The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

The Revenant Reawakens

Q: It’s always a big deal when an MMO introduces a new class. Can you talk about what the process was like taking the Revenant from an idea to reality?

AJH: AION Classic started its journey from version 2.5, and we wanted to add a class that was unique to AION Classic, which meets the needs of AION Classic players. We put a lot of effort into analyzing the battle patterns and battle styles of users by monitoring Fortress sieges and arena battles in the game. After that, we settled on the initial concept for the new class, focusing on providing a whole new battle style than the existing new classes such as Aethertech, Songweaver, Vandal, and Gunner. We’ve had tons of concept variations and discussions with various teams about everything from weapons to completely new design ideas to finalize the Revenant that we introduced.

Q: Can you talk about the Revenant’s abilities, playstyle, and how it stacks up against the other classes in terms of strengths and weaknesses?

AJH: We envisioned a fresh style for the Revenant with the needs of a melee class wielding extended melee weapons as default equipment. Differentiating the Revenant’s basic combat style from other classes, players need to control their distance to the target, causing various abnormal statuses to the target. We didn’t want the Revenant to be a class that has a one-sided advantage at a distance, but rather a class that controls and coordinates the distance between their targets during the fight. Revenants will gain distance advantages against the plated armored classes with high defense and attack, and Revenant’s performance stands out in group fights when there are more abnormal status dealers in the group. The Revenant’s low defense, because they have leather armor, could be considered the class’s weakness. And the class requires a lot of skill to play, which may make its performance vary.

Q: What do you think was the greatest challenge involved in developing the Revenant class?

AJH: We focused on the uniqueness of the new class, but that also caused us some trouble, since they are dissimilar to the old classes, and we had to consider what the Revenant’s role in the party would be. Since there are more dealer classes than healer or supporter classes, we had to think about how a new dealer class would affect party synergy. In addition, the representation of the new chained-sword weapon type was a challenge. Since AION damage gets calculated before the animation of action gets done, we spent a lot of time resolving artistic issues such as the weapon not coordinating correctly with the target, or excessive distortions in the upper or lower body while moving.

Q: What do you feel is important when it comes to designing a class for AION? Are there certain things you want to be sure to include, or things that you seek to avoid?

AJH: This applies to all MMORPGs, and we always highly prioritize the value of what “roles” our users play, especially during combat, since the core of the game is battle. So, we’ve been focusing a lot on how combat changes when we drop a new class into the current gameplay. We also pay extra attention when we design new skills, like how the skill will contribute to win and loss rates against or with other classes. We avoid making a simple winning skill.

An integral and essential part we enforce when we come up with a new class is the instantly recognizable personality and identity of the class. The chained sword that extends and the red aura when their gauge fully charges represent the identity and characteristics of the Revenant. We aim to introduce an attractive class to all users but always pay extra attention to keep distance away from making a simple OP class.

Q: The Revenant also gets its own special starting region, Telos. Can you talk about what is going on in Telos, narratively?

AJH: The world of AION Classic is set in an alternate timeline universe where Tiamat foresaw the Origins (Legacy) universe and created an alternate branch of the universe with Siel’s Artifact. Telos is an area where Tiamat tracks down a girl named Sienora, the girl who was essential for harnessing the power of Siel.

Revenant gets introduced into the world as a Tiamat soldier dispatched to capture Sienora. However, his past and Tiamat’s secret are revealed during the operation in Telos. Revenant discovers the truth that he was also a Daeva who was brainwashed by Tiamat, and in the course of his operations in Telos, he reawakens as a Daeva.

New Instances, Legion Changes, and Artifact Landings

Aion Faction Select

Q: 2.7 is introducing two new instances, Sunken Telos and The Red Throne: Telos. What was your approach to designing these instances? Were there certain boss mechanics or themes you wanted to explore? How do you feel these instances stand out from other content?

AJH: The two instances have an epic interconnected story that begins in Telos Fields.

Tales of Sunken Telos is about the Revenant’s reawakening as a Daeva. It follows their advance on the fortified Red Throne, which is protected by the Legions of Tiamatand the Revenant’s old comrades who are still in Tiamat’s control. The Red Throne introduces the story of Tiamat’s past, which Tiamat wished to keep hidden. He slayed his mentor, Aphth, to take the throne. Players go through the tale facing off against the illusions from the past.

In the beginning, these two instances were designed as one, but we split them up to provide instances with different difficulties so both hardcore and softcore audiences can step into this tale. We designed Fallen Telos to be a more accessible instance for a wider audience and the Red Throne to be positioned as a super-challenging dungeon with the presence of the Dragon Lord.

We emphasized the majesty of Tiamat as a powerful being, with patterns that require players to effectively react to status attacks and wide area attacks, rather than just dealing hard damage until it falls.

Q: There have been some significant changes to Legions in this update. What were your goals when updating the Legion system? How do you feel these changes will affect how players interact with Legions?

AJH:AION’s legions have always been a very social community, and we are hoping that this update advances the legion to become a more supportive community with common goals and rewards. Players can still enjoy AION without a legion, but we’re hoping that existing legions will be encouraged to invite newcomers to join theirs and that interactions between users will be more alive than before.

Q: Can you talk about the new Artifact Landing Sites and how these differ from other landing sites?

AJH: Artifact Strongholds are a new system we’ve prepared to improve the field from the Draconian realm, which have been a mainstay in the game. Players should defeat the Draconian at an Artifact Stronghold to spawn an ally NPC that hands out daily quests. Completing these daily quests rewards players with some exclusive currency, which can be traded for discounted Abyss items and new wings. We hope this new, rewarding system will allow players to plan their farming plan more efficiently.

Evolving to Meet Players’ Needs and Expectations

Aion Character

Q: AION is a massive game. How do you decide what to prioritize when working on a major update like this?

AJH: Competing for limited rewards has always been a tradition in the MMORPG genre, where many people come together to have fun. However, the needs and trends have changed, and the perceived value of a game’s huddle has evolved. So rather than adopting the same standards as in the past, we’re making sure that the process of acquiring items is not boring, while the greatbut not the bestrewards go to those with consistent effort and participation on RvR and Raid. Our top priority is tuning rewarding systems for a wider audience, while we also focus on maintaining the tradition of AION.

Q: Has player feedback factored into this update? Were there any changes or additions that were particularly inspired by what players were saying?

AJH: The very first Revenant update was implemented in the Korean server, and we had lots of feedback about the struggles and difficulties with the Revenant class progression in the new field. The newly designed field was not tuned flawlessly, and a progression issue was reported. There was lots of feedback about the Revenant’s skills and players’ struggles with controlling the character. This feedback has been handled by the updates, and all fixed versions are being introduced to AION Classic Europe. Many players have said that the tale we provide with the Revenant is enjoyable but a sizable portion of feedback that we’ve considered is that new Revenant classes want to level up quickly, so they can merge into the existing community where their friends and other classes get together.

Q: Aside from the exciting new class, what do you feel is the most impactful change arriving with 2.7?

AJH: Very exciting new content includes new skills for each class that will drop in new instances. These new skills add new value to each class, and they are skills that utilize the characteristics and strengths of each class, so players can feel a great sense of powering up. Unlike equipment, there is no need to replace these gains: they will retain their high value rather than needing to be enhanced or be discarded in future updates. We’ve also significantly lowered the difficulty of leveling a character with the introduction of a new class, making it much easier to develop a new class or sub-character. We think this will be the perfect time for those who are considering returning or starting AION for the first time.


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