Earlier this week a brutal war broke out on the internets, where brother turned against brother and blood ran in the comment sections. On one side are the Guild Wars 2 fanatics, declaring it a new generation of MMOs because of the total lack of question marks over a quest giver’s head. On the other side, World of Warcraft fanatics are shouting that their game is still really really really relevant and not at all chronically short on content. On August 28 two games will enter and … millions of people will play both of them. Hmm. That’s anticlimactic.
I admit I’ve kind of been enjoying the comment section battles going on right now between the most ardent fans of GW2 and WoW, in large part because I don’t have a dog in that fight. My attention, unsurprisingly, is still on RIFT’s Storm Legion expansion. Thus far Trion has been silent on a launch date beyond “Fall”, and given the fracas going on right now personally I think that’s a smart move. If I had to guess I’d say the end of October or early November seems like a pretty solid time to launch.
As a relatively new level 50 I still have a lot of things I could do, but I’m starting to mentally parse out my “Storm Legion Bucket List”, or tasks I feel I absolutely should complete by the time the expansion hits.
1. Finish levelling my professions! I had tunnel vision while leveling Mercredi and pretty much ignored anything that didn’t give me XP. As a result I only have 2 of my 3 available optional profession spots filled (Foraging and Mining), and those along with the standard Fishing and Survival are only around level 75. Basically, I gather like a level 20. For SHAME! I should also take a third profession, probably a crafting one so I can provide some utility to the guild. (Artificing, which is jewelry and caster weapons, looks like the best bet for me.)
2. Run all the dungeons and chronicles once on normal and expert mode! I’ve been a little scared of pugging after WoW, but I leaped into it last night and it went pretty well! Our tank was pretty obviously the “go go go” type, but he never actually said that and also didn’t get shirty when a few of us died because I didn’t know the encounter. If silent but competent disappointment is the worst I can expect, then look out LFG! (Does anyone else feel sheepish when you finish a random group activity and get the achievement for completing it the first time?)
3. Go through a list of faction rewards and target the best cosmetic gear! Some of this I can probably work on post-Storm Legion, but who wants to go back to the old world to kill 18,000 goblins when there are new challenges to meet!? Top of this list is the Mountaineer’s Fur Hood from the Iron Pine Peak zone currency. It looks like a giant fluffy zipped up parka hood, which is awesome.
4. Finish the Saga questlines! RIFT has a number of element-themed “Sagas”, which are long sprawling questlines that usually involve some 5-man dungeons, solo quests, reputation grinds, small world bosses, and whatever else they can think of. I love giant epic quests! I assume Trion does too because they keep makin’ them, so I want to get the “old world” ones off my list before new ones hit and fewer people are running the level 50 instances.
5. Make some plat! I haven’t quite figured out how to do this yet, but expansions are notoriously expensive for characters with training, leveling professions, new mounts, and so on, so more gold in the bank is always better. I might focus on gathering high level raw materials and sell them. I could try and find niches in runecrafting (on my alt) or artificing, although to be honest RIFT doesn’t seem to have a really strong commodities market.
Run the Hammerknell Chronicle until I get one of those lizard-rat mount thingies. Yesterday Trion announced a deal where one pays for a year of subscription up front (at $10 per month) and gets a new title, a mount named “Landslide”, and a free copy of Storm Legion. Would Landslide be suitable to fill the lizard-rat-shaped hole in my gamer heart?
Why yes. Yes it would.
Mercredi the cleric hit 50 on Monday in the middle of a Library of the Runemasters warzone. She is now my second level 50 in RIFT, although my original main has been relegated to the role of auction house mule and crafting bot. I liked being a bard, but it’s a role with limited use and I deeply missed being a “real healer”.
One of the opportunities that opens up for new 50s is the ability to run the “Ceremony of Attunement” Chronicle (small solo instance). I think I wrote briefly about this when it originally launched, but this was my first time trying it as part of the intended brand new level 50 audience and I appreciated it even more! The Ceremony of Attunement takes place in an instanced version of your major city and starts out as essentially a celebration of how awesome your character is now… until an unexpected and evil guest arrives!
The incoming mobs are of the right strength for a character who is probably still in level 35 quest greens. The final boss is a masterpiece of “don’t stand here” beams and auras, and was clearly intended to get newbies thinking about the challenges of higher level encounters. After it’s all over you get a weapon and breadcrumb quests for various level 50 features, and then your NPC friends gather around you and clap and cheer and bow.
It’s pretty silly and slightly overwrought as a whole, but I genuinely enjoyed taking a few minutes to celebrate the fact that Mercredi is at the level cap. It reminded me of two of my favorite quests in WoW: The Unwritten Prophecy at the end of the Exodar questline, and the quest in the Ogri’la chain (I can’t remember the name!) where you become the King/Queen of the Ogres. What can I say: I’m a huge sap who likes a little scripted applause now and again.
Of course a big part of hitting 50 is upgrading one’s gear and I filled my boots at the PvP Favor Quartermaster and the Summerfest holiday vendor. Goals for the coming weeks include more Summerfest quests, working on Unseen rep (ugh!), and starting Merc’s Water Saga questline.
Less than 24 hours after hitting level cap I totally irresponsibly volunteered to be a main healer for my guild’s first forray back into 10-man RIFT raiding. As it turns out we blew through five bosses in 2 hours, netting a lot of neat achievements along the way. I’m sure it was a combination of buffed gear and nerfed encounters from when we last raided six months ago, but it was a nice way to get back in the groove.
There is a certain amount of liberation when one’s guild is well behind the line of progression content, such as we are now in RIFT and were once in The Burning Crusade. I don’t feel the need to rush, and things have been nerfed over time so we can generally bumble through them without worrying too much about that last difficult 5%-10% of optimization. We have pretty good builds and pretty good gear and pretty good spatial awareness, and that’s just about perfect for what we’re trying to do.
Speaking of builds, right now I’m rocking this popular Senticar spec and it’s a lot of fun. I am kind of terrifying in PvP with instant DPS and AoE heals, but it was slightly less convenient in my raid. I’m hoping more gear helps, and I’ll probably prepare with a more HoT-oriented Warden spec for next time. Build flexibility is another great part of RIFT, and we exploited it last night to the fullest with people flipping in and out of ranged and melee, support and dps, and special buffs whenever they thought it might be useful.
I think the time immediately after hitting a level cap is my favorite in MMOs. There are endless opportunities for activities and character progression and many things to learn about my class. Now I can just relax, pace my enthusiasm, and do whatever seems fun.
PS: Returning to RIFT and looking for a bunch of casual screwballs to hang out with while you remember what your buttons do? We’re Catari Honour Guard on Defiant Deepwood, and you should join us. :)
I have to confess that while I had heard plenty of folks speak highly of a “mentoring” or “sidekicking” system in an MMO over the years, I had never really understood why. I mean yes, you could level down to match your friend if you played more than she did, but that seems like a pretty specific problem with a pretty specific solution. Generally, though, would most people use a mentoring system? Pssh. I think not!
So let me (yet again) admit defeat: I was wrong, downlevellers! So very wrong. I have now tried such a system for myself and it is in fact a delightful feature that I will look for in future games!
RIFT introduced what they call Mentoring in last week’s content patch. At almost any time any player can downrank to almost any level. It has to be at least 5 levels less than your actual level, but otherwise you can pick any number you fancy. This has some immediate benefits to how I play the game:
Mentoring makes it much easier to play together
The other night we had five people online: a level 50, a level 44, a level 35, and two level 28s. What to do? Easy! The higher levels all mentored down to 28 to join the other two, and we ran level-appropriate dungeons. The level 28s got gear, the mid-level folks got precious XP, and the level 50 accrued points for Planar Attunement (like Alternative Advancement in EQII). Everyone could play together, and much fun and character progression was had.
Mentoring gives me much more to do while solo
As regular readers will have probably gathered, I am the type of player who likes many different activities. I can be easily bored and subject to whims, which means the more options I have for content the happier I am. After the arrival of Mentoring, the amount of fun content available to me increased dramatically. Sure, I could always go back and slam my way through low level quests or dungeons that I missed on the way up, but it’s a lot more meaningful to me if I can make it a challenge. Suddenly I went from having a dungeon or two in my level range to being able to group and earn XP from almost every instance in the game.
Wanna go finish some low level questlines? Mentor down! See an event start in a low level zone? Down level I go! Suddenly everything under my actual level is exactly as much of a challenge as I feel like experiencing.
Mentoring makes it easy for me to be nice to lowbies
One of the fundamental features in RIFT is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the rifts and invasions that happen in the world that essentially create a giant public quest system. Generally one gets rewards from these quests in relation to how much you contributed to the overall effort. That system is fine in theory, but in practice level-capped 50s looking for particular quest items or resources would zoom into the lowbie zones and squash any rifts or events before the actual low level folks could contribute sufficiently to be rewarded.
This is no longer an issue due to mentoring! I can farm life rifts for Summerfest badges right outside the doors of Meridian or finally finish that level 20-ish “close four death rifts in Freemarch” quest I’ve had forever, and all while earning XP and not depriving others of their fun.
Honestly, now that I’ve experienced it for myself I’m amazed that that a down-level system wasn’t included in World of Warcraft, where ease of play appeared to be the design guide. (I will grudgingly admit at this point that my nemesis, Guild Wars 2, does include a downranking system.) A system to downlevel for your fellow players or for the content has made such a huge quality of life improvement for me, and it’s definitely something I’ll look for in future games.
Oh hello! I am a little busy this week with work and real life things but earlier today a guildie asked me “What’s new in RIFT and why are a ton of people joining up again?” and I wrote a teensie little 500 word treatise in response. Clearly I have something to contribute on the matter, and I figured I’d share it here, too. Just to be clear, this post is in response to folks who are curious about RIFT or played and quit at some point and are thinking about going back, and is totally not intended as any kind of “my MMO is better than your MMO” posturing.
Trion does have a “welcome back” bullet point list of everything that’s changed since beta on their official forums, but while it’s comprehensive it’s pretty easy to get lost in all the details.
Some old stuff that is still good
The biggest reason I went back to RIFT as my primary MMO is Trion, the company that runs it. Given that I generally enjoy the themepark MMO genre, Trion is the only company that actually releases content in a way that warrants my paying a monthly fee. Yes that firehose of content means that some stuff becomes a beloved fundamental feature and some falls by the wayside but every 2-3 months something has changed in the land of Telara, and that means a lot to my subscription dollars.
RIFT also has the same “dynamic content” that they had at launch. Nothing is permanently changed, but repeating events pop up relatively unexpectedly as you travel around the world. So often I run out into Stonefield to level my gathering skills, bump head first into a major zone invasion or a rift, and suddenly it’s 90 minutes later and I forgot all about harvesting yew branches or whatever. I love the feeling of logging on and not knowing exactly what I’ll encounter.
Finally, I have to continue to give props to the soul (class) system. As you probably already know RIFT is extremely flexible with creating class builds and switching between different ones, and also has a great macro system to help you manage all those crazy spells. If you are a person who enjoys theorycrafting, particularly in relation to abilities and mechanics, there is a huge amount of depth here.
As someone who is very much into healing, I love being able to decide exactly how I heal. For example, right now my level 38 cleric is toting a full ranged DPS spec (Inquisitor), a dungeon healing spec that focuses on HoTs (Warden), and a more hybrid, PvP-friendly healing spec where I turn damage-based combo points into gigantic AoE heals (Senticar). Non-theorycrafters who just want a lot of character flexibility should also enjoy themselves with the new official build templates.
Stuff from the last six months and the next six months that is good
Bullet points because I am lazy!
- Fishing and Survivalist (cooking) professions for all classes. Yes, I like having the option to just chill out, chat with guildies, and fish for a while.
- A huge array of structured level 50 solo or small group activities have been added, including master and expert mode dungeons, Chronicles (solo instances), Instant Adventures (invasions you queue for), new warfronts (instanced PvP), Conquest (3-faction huge zone pvp), the level 50 quest hubs on Ember Isle.
- Mentoring: got 5 friends or guildies online, but everyone is at very different levels? No problem! Everyone can mentor down to the lowest level and then run something together while getting rewards appropriate for your real level.
- Planar Attunement: much like AA points in EQ and EQ2, these provide additional grinding and character improvement after 50.
- PvP rifts: Oh Mister Guarrrrrdiaaaaan, I believe that’s my sourcestone you’re carrying. Temporary PvP matches set in the open world.
- OODLES more wardrobe options: Trion has been great about adding in fluff like more outfits, costume weapons, mounts, and pets. For example, the new festival that arrives tomorrow puts 11 new pets in the game!
- The content is older and more of it is under the current progression tier, which means pugging older 10 or 20 man raids is entirely doable and happens frequently.
- The expansion (coming this Fall) will have personal and guild housing, huge outdoor bosses that can open up new zones for the server depending on how you fight them, and add triple the current land mass. And cloaks. CLOAKS.
Things you might not like
Clearly I am pretty pro-RIFT, but I don’t think the game is for everyone.
If you are totally so very very over old school WoW, then I’m not sure you’ll enjoy this game at all. As I recall it, once you finished levelling in Vanilla and TBC WoW the game became about running stuff with small groups of friends and grinding your way through personal projects, whether it’s for crafting or reputation or festival points for a pet or whatever. I remember spending two hours killing worms in East Plaguelands for mats for my first epic (Hide of the Wild!), and although the environment and technology and the gear has moved along considerably that kind of attitude is very much alive and well in RIFT.
And I, for one, am pretty okay with that.
Do you have a podcast on MMOs, RPGs, or PC games? Want to trade 30 second promo spots? Email me!
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have recently rededicated myself to RIFT and part of that will involve writing more regularly about gameplay and not just yelling at the industry in general. Mostly. Well look, I’ll try. The point is, this is the first of a regular RIFT Roundup feature!
Server Transfers are Easy
It had been clear for some time that our original server, Byriel, was low population. After some discussion, we decided to transfer the guild to Deepwood, the most populated PvE server. Characters in RIFT can transfer for free every 7 days, and guild leaders can tote their guild around with them.
The transfer procedure is laughably easy:
- Make sure you qualify: Your character must be over level 15. Characters between levels 1-40 can only carry 3 platinum per level on them. You cannot have transferred in the last 7 days. Your mailbox must be empty.
- Log out to the character selection screen. Hit the “Transfer” button. Select your new shard and click “Transfer”.
- Type “transfer” to confirm the switch at the prompt.
- Wait 5 seconds or so. Done! Do a little “new server” dance.
If you have to change your name, you can select a new one the next time you log in. (January the cleric is now Mercredi.)
So what if you have a guild? You’ll be asked during the transfer process if you want to bring your guild with you. The guild bank must be empty, including the coins, so if you have an active guild make sure you spec out of Tithe first!
The next time you log in your guild will be there and you’ll be leader. Any guildies who log on to the old server will be notified about the move and told where they can find the guild now. Upon transferring, the character will automatically appear in the guild, although at the “Recruit” rank. Because Trion is awesome, if a guildie had to change their character name during the transfer the old name will appear in the “Officer Notes” field.
As for the results of our shard change? Total success! To quote a Cat, “I was in Meridian on Byriel and there were five people in the city, counting me. I transferred to Deepwood, logged in, and there were at least five people standing on me!” High level players are a lot happier to have more pug action, and lowbies like me are running around to all the zone events being triggered. If you are wondering if you should take the plunge, I cannot recommend it enough.
Tricks and Tips for Levelling through PvP
The next RIFT patch, which is rumored to drop on Wednesday, will include Instant Adventures for folks under level 45. Although I haven’t done an IA myself yet, my understanding is that it’s sort of like queueing for a zone event. You get teleported into an Adventure with other random folks, kill things and accomplish goals, and in about 45 minutes it’s all over and you can queue again. The rewards include planarite and other planar things, XP/PA points, and reputation with various zones. I’ve heard nothing but awesomeness about IAs and I can’t wait to try them myself after Wednesday.
Part of my excitement stems from the fact that as usual I dislike questing to level. If I had to identify a weakness of RIFT it’s that their standard quests are pretty boring and definitely uninspired. Get 10 bear ears. Kill 8 evil goblins. Escort this incredibly stupid NPC across the map. You know the ones. Thanks, but no thanks.
Thus far I’ve leveled almost entirely through PvP, and while it’s more fun for me this way it does take a bit of planning so I won’t end up with a weird character at level 50. A few things I’d recommend are:
- Planarite and Sourcestones: These are great for gear upgrades now and of course you’ll need a mountain of them at level 50 for various things. If you can, play the Planar Invasion lootable from the RIFT Mobile app for ~200 planarite a day and random sourcestones.
- Porticulums: My advice is to go get at least one portal in each zone as early as possible. Yes, it is a pain in the butt and yes you might have to corpse hop to some of them, but it helps a lot with…
- High Level Zone Events: Of course you should be doing zone events in equal level zones when they pop up for planar rewards and XP, but I would also recommend checking out events in the high level zones too. You won’t be able to contribute a lot of course, but join the event raid and throw around some baby heals or DPS. You’ll get a LOT of XP.
- Triage your reputations: Non-PvP reputations are tough to get right now, but will be a lot easier using low level Instant Adventures. Figure out which ones have serious gear upgrades for you now or which will be more important to you at 50, and focus on those.
- Buy or make gear: Upgrades are pretty few and far between for sub-50s in PvP, and you’re going to have to suppliment it. If you have crafting guildies, you can always talk to them. Otherwise I recommend picking up 3 gathering skills (and gather in between queues) so you can make some plat and buy your upgrades. You definitely shouldn’t do what I did and realise at level 33 that you’re still wearing your starting zone belt and a level 3 +dodge ring (on my healer).
- Favor: There’s not a lot to spend it on until 50, but you should buy the mecha-pony (edit: or valmera for Guardians) at level 25. It’s faster than other starting mounts and looks rad.
I’m still going to have more things to do at 50 than someone who did the standard questing path, but at least I will never be short of projects!
The Cat Context Podcast #3 is on track for a Monday release! Topics include Diablo 3 (natch), tips on mastering the hat market in Team Fortress 2, and Liore will tell the sad story of how she lost a weekend to Tropico 4.
Late last year I wrote a post titled “Why aren’t you playing RIFT?” in which I wondered why, despite all the things I ostensibly love about RIFT and Trion, the game just didn’t hold my interest beyond a couple of months. The comments were filled with folks who felt the same: the game was well-made and well-run but not different enough from WoW to keep the burnouts (myself included) entertained. And that was that. Until yesterday.
Yesterday Trion officially announced their first expanion for RIFT, Storm Legion, and in the space of a press release I went from not having anything to look forward to on the MMO horizon to demanding a release date and planning my alts. Trion has been infamous for turning out out well made patch-based content at a rapid pace since RIFT launched and admittedly much of my anticipation for this expansion is based on the good will their development team has built up, but get a look at some of these advertised features:
- A new soul (aka a new role/spec) for each calling (rogue, mage, warrior, cleric)
- New continents that will triple the size of the current world, including a new cross-faction capital city
- 7 dungeons, 3 raids, and a new Chronicle (solo instance)
- “New rift gameplay” — a little vague, but okay
- Capes! (This seemed like an odd selling point but the official forums are full of people thrilled about capes so good on them.)
- “Customizable spaces allow players and guilds to own a sliver of Telara”
Wait, what? Let’s look at that last one again:
- “Customizable spaces allow players and guilds to own a sliver of Telara”
Oh, be still my heart. Is this.. player housing? Can I decorate it? The internet is, unsurprisingly, low on details about this development but it sounds like players/guilds will be able to create their own home instance. Found a good location at a city inn? Create a copy of it in your own Dimension and “customize” it. I am going to be keeping a very close eye on this feature, but it sounds very promising. (Bookshelves, Trion. Give me bookshelves. Oh, and a giant fur “Rob Stark”-style cloak, while you’re at it.)
Also, the concept art is weird and awesome. Also also, three faction open world PvP just hit the Player Test Servers! Trion has proven themselves to be awesome at liberating all the best features of other MMOs for their own game.
So why am I not playing RIFT? I’m … not sure anymore. I’ll probably wait until a little closer to the expansion’s Fall release date to resubscribe and finish levelling up my cleric, but the initial details about Storm Legion has definitely earned the game a top spot on my anticipated games list.