December 13, 2010

Cabal Episode 5: Mercenaries Discussed

The update takes its title from their existence, and it is clear that EST sees them as an important addition to the game. Mercenaries come in three basic types: Covenant, Faith, and Dazzlement. Each of those three types have different Mercenaries in them, and each specific Mercenary can come in 4 levels, from Basic, Rare, Epic and Unique, and each higher grade improves the abilities of the Mercenary.

I think it might be best to give an example. The first Mercenaries that are available are from the Covenant class. These are the most basic type, and there are six different Mercenaries, one for each of the six classes. You receive them from the Instructor in Bloody Ice, and can upgrade them through a quest chain that takes you through a couple of dungeons and a boss from an open map. These basic Mercenaries have the appearance of the mobs from the Volcanic Citadel, and they do not have access to the more interesting/useful buffs that the higher types have.

The Faith class of Mercenary comes from the NPCs you encounter in the game’s story quests, and the Dazzlement class consist of versions of the various bosses in the game. There are not that many of these last ones implemented with this update, but it is fairly clear that EST plans to keep on adding them through later updates.

The process of obtaining a Mercenary is fairly simple. You find the Mercenary card, which is a tradable item, and right-click on it to register it to the new Mercenary UI. Once registered the card item vanishes, and you now have permanent access to the Mercenary. Every upgraded version of a Mercenary will require a new Mercenary card, so for the four types (Basic, Rare, Epic, Unique) you will need four cards. Once you have a Mercenary registered you need a second item to be able to actually summon one. These consumable items are called Gems, and you can simply purchase them from any NPC grocer. The Gems also come in four grades, one for each grade of Mercenary, and one summoning Gem is equal to one Mercenary summons. You buy stacks of 10 of them at a time, and they range from 250,000 for the Normal summons to 2,500,000 for a stack of the Unique ones.

Mercenaries only work inside dungeons - either DX, Quest, or Mission dungeons - and they last for 20 minutes, or until their summoner dies. Each summons requires a new Summoning Gem, so best to make sure you have enough of these if you are planning on using Mercenaries often. If it is just you and a Mercenary, all by your lonesome, you will not be able to cast party buffs or use the Mercenary’s Passive or Active party skills. Yes, these skills require you to actually be in a party, and a party is considered to be two or more human players. On a related topic you will find the button to active the Mercenary party skill under the ‘Special’ tab of your skills menu (accessed by pressing ‘K’ inside the game). And yes, before this question invariably comes up in the comments the Arionell mercenary does have a increase SP regain +200 party skill, but it only lasts for 30 seconds, and yes, you can use this in combination with the wizards’ SP buff to get a huge +500 SP regain for 30 seconds. The lower versions of Arionell has a less effective version of the buff, for rather obvious reasons.

They will also attack any monster that their Summoner attacks, or is attacked by (it varies between the different types, the Arionell mercenary for example has no attack capabilities) but their damage is not overpowered. It is not insignificant either, if you use the level-appropriate ones - yes, we know that you have amazing attack as a level 170+ character, so perhaps the lowest levels of Mercenary will not help you quite as much as a level 105 player.

Unique Covenant Mercenary slots

Let us move on to the new Pet Expansion System.

I know it will not stop the outraged questions asking what ESTsoft was thinking to allow you to have two pets, but let me state it yet again. Only the bonuses from the first pet is applied to your character. The second pet only levels, safe in the little expanded slot. Both of them are visible, however, so it should make the Bloody Ice town a bit more lively. They both gain EXP at the same rate as well, and I think this is a very nice addition to allow people to level a second pet. Of course, you do need the Pet Slot Extender from the cash shop to be able to equip two pets, but the convenience is worth it.

Two pets and A Mercenary

The two additional Runes are very decent indeed, especially the one that increases your maximum critical rate. The increased number of slots for Essence Runes - up to 15 now - and the increase in the total AP you can have at any one time - from 500 to 700 now - makes for a good addition to the whole Soul system.

Max Critical Rate Rune

The View Equipment option is fairly controversial, but this is nothing to get too outraged about as you can simply disable this option. If you do choose to enable it you will see a window pop up that is the duplicate of the character’s equipped inventory screen, which will allow you to mouse over and see the stats of the various items.

ESTsoft obviously also took a good hard look at the dungeons, and set out to improve the whole experience. The first and most obvious improvement is the drop rate, by allowing a much bigger variety of epic drops - not just max-craft, but all crafting levels - this will certainly increase the motivation to run some dungeons. Just a brief overview of the items we have been finding in the last week of testing makes it quite obvious that the droprate is hugely improved, and will allow for some much better gear, especially SIGMetal grade. Making the bosses harder, with more HP regen and higher attack, should also keep things interesting. The other functions are pure convenience, such as being able to pause a dungeon (solo dungeon runs only) and being able to leave a dungeon at any time without relogging. I think the dungeon pause function will be of great use to the members of the Advisor teams especially.

The mailing system is a long-awaited feature as well, and works exactly as advertised. You can send a mail to any character, attaching items or Alz if you want to. A small fee of 10k Alz is charged if there is anything with the mail (items or Alz, or both), which is nothing too extravagant.

I must admit I like the idea of using the new WEXP exchange officers in the Mission War lobbies. More options for using WEXP other than just honour, or the occasional EXP exchange, is a good thing. I especially like the Essence Rune cubes, since I have long been of the opinion that Runes are too rare, especially when it comes to Blended Runes which almost no one uses. This should hopefully change that, depending on the final droprate and how many people choose to use their precious WEXP for Essence Runes instead of honor, of course!

Credits: GM Viral of Cabal EU

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1 comment:

  1. good update despite the bugs and glitches in NA. cant wait to try out the new game.