Perfect World Entertainment is serious about making an impact on the western MMO market and with the changes coming to its mythic fantasy game Jade Dynasty it’s hard not to be impressed. Imported from the east, Jade Dynasty features five magic wielding factions all taking different paths on the road to immortality. The new expansion, Ascension, throws a knot in the silk path to enlightenment and everlasting life thanks to the gods of the universe interfering with the natural path of humanity to attain divinity.
Worried by the unnatural number of humans seeking to evolve beyond their intended station, the immortals send their minions -- demigods called “Athan” to the earthly realms to stop the ascended and keep their fading grip over humanity.
The war between the heavens and mankind explodes and characters who once believed themselves the pinnacle of human skill and mastery find themselves returned to a formative stage only to climb the ladder toward ascension anew using new powers and abilities until now unknown in the mortal lands.
Jade Dynasty: Ascension continues the story of its original and expands the free-to-play experience with some new options and abilities for players who previously attained their full 135 levels of development.
Players already playing Jade Dynasty will find that once 300 players on their preferred server reach level 135 the Ascension options become available. Those human characters who choose to Ascend will be reborn at level 15 but with much greater stats and access than initial level 15 characters.
Moving back up the level scale is the goal as players earn some new abilities and the Human players can band together to defend against the demigods or players can create new toons. These new characters can also choose to play a new class and expand the options originally presented. While advancing in this ascended class you lose access to your original skills but the choice made earlier in the characters’ development figure into the powers you develop after ascension.
The Athan race becomes available and its two sub-races include the Arden – archers who can summon battle pets to aid them along with automated turrents and the Balo – barbarian warriors focused on massive direct-damage attacks. The Arden also eventually gain an ability to transform into various creatures and can use unique attacks and abilities while in a transformed state and also gain automated turrets that aid in their attack options.
Along with these new races the game is also expanding into Realm vs Realm or Race vs. Race combat pitting humanity against the Arden in RvR zones. Players who choose to enter these zones become part of the greater war for the future of humanity.
New content also appears in the form of additional instances. These instances, according to the games’ American product manager Andrew Brown, differ from the original content in that it encompasses a more collaborative and puzzle-centric approach. Players need to work together to solve environmental challenges or overcome enemies to change the world and time travel plays a part in changing the game around them.
Flying mounts also getting an upgrade , transforming from merely a travel system to combat capable mounts usable during both player vs. player and mob combat.
Jade Dynasty is a game that in the past faced some pretty harsh criticism for allowing players to buy leveling items that basically act as legal game bots, leveling your character automatically as you go about your normal life. The Ascension content will not disallow this practice for those who choose to buy their way up the ladder but Brown estimates that even a casual player can reach the point of ascending with only a month of play invested if they take advantage of the daily events and ignore much of the expanded content around the core quest.
Measuring the length of a game by how long it takes to reach max level is a bad metric for any MMO and with the new instances and player vs. player battlegrounds as well as the realm vs. realm combat introduced in Ascension there looks like plenty for players new or old to explore.