Massively Exclusive: Simon Ffinch on RIFT's game update

Just one month after launch, Trion is set to unveil its first major game update for RIFT. One of the biggest parts of the update is the launch of the new 20-man raid zone, The River of Souls, and there is a week-long in-game event that highlights the storyline and kicks things off. Also included in the update are several adjustments to the souls and even some changes to the way rift loot is awarded.

To chat about these goodies and more, Massively sat down with Simon Ffinch, Design Director for RIFT. Read on to hear him discuss some details about the in-game event as well as the new raid zone, an update on security, and a hint at what's planned down the road.

With the launch of Update 1.1, war will arrive in Telara. Alsbeth the Discordant has taken control of the Soulstream and has been selecting the strongest and most formidable souls to serve under Regulos. Those not selected are sent to Telara through a massive invasion of death rifts. If they are not stopped, Telara will be overrun by Alsbeth's army and the Endless Court.

Our first question for Simon Ffinch was about the in-game event. Players did have a chance to see the final phase of the world event on the Alpha server, but how does the event unfold overall? Simon told us that there will be several phases of the event lasting about a week overall. Phase one will be the longest, and it will involve defending Telara from Alsbeth's special invasions. In addition, there will be new merchants and new quest-givers that offer items and quests unique to the event. There is also a special currency that will be awarded during the invasions; it can be used to purchase items that will only be offered during the world event.

He then spent some time talking about the in-game items, noting that in addition to being able to purchase items, players will have a chance to receive some items as world drops. Many of the items have no level requirement, but he did say that some of the world-drop items are based on the level of the rift invasion.

Some of the items include in-game illusions, including one that changes the player into one of the living dead, as well as a spectral mount.

We shifted to talk about the new 20-man instance, the River of Souls. Those who are strong enough can take the fight to Alsbeth herself and battle her most powerful minions. Simon said that this raid zone is the climax to the storyline, and it's the last hold-out for Alsbeth and the Endless Court. It's the next step in progression for those who have been gearing up through expert dungeons and the 10-man raid rifts, and it gives players a chance to come face to face with a recurring character in the story of Telara. Those who faced the corrupted hag in Gloamwood or endured the invasion of Freemarch will recognize her from very early on, and the new raid zone continues that storyline.

As to whether players will get a glimpse of Regulos himself during the event, Ffinch said he can neither confirm nor deny it, although he did add that Regulos is a rather elusive character.

As we talked about some of the illusion items from the world event as well as the appearance items that are offered on the lucky coin artifact merchant, a question about whether players might eventually see an appearance tab in game arose. Simon said that the team has discussed adding one, but it's still in the planning stages. But he added that players should expect to see the addition of a guild bank in the near future.

Another change will come in the way rift loot is awarded. According to the update notes, "Rift events no longer track player contribution against other players. You are checked for participation in the event and given rewards appropriately. It's still important to participate in as many stages of a Rift or event as possible to receive the best rewards."

Ffinch elaborated on this game change, saying that the team at Trion wanted to "make sure that players feel rewarded for effort they feel they put into it." He added that because of the changes, the participation gauge in the rift window will be removed.

This update also brought some adjustments to many of the souls, so we asked about what sorts of factors go into decisions on balance. While he couldn't get into too much detail, he did say that there would be a large post on the forums soon regarding soul balance and why certain changes were made. He added that, overall, the question "Is it fun?" is one that guides many of the decisions the devs make regarding RIFT.

Given the recent addition of Coin Locking, Ffinch updated us on how things are going with security. He said that the number of hacked accounts has gone down and that even though only a percent of a percent of accounts were affected, addressing the issue is still something Trion considers a top priority. He went on to say that the customer service team worked hard to catch up on restoring hacked accounts and that the backlog should be clear this week.

Lastly, now that we're a month into RIFT, we asked whether Trion is ready to share any numbers with the community. He said that the team is close and that within the next couple of weeks, the company will be releasing some of that information to everyone.

Undoubtedly, players and fans alike will be eager to see those numbers. In the meantime, Trion continues to keep the momentum going in RIFT with Update 1.1. We thank Design Director Simon Ffinch for taking the time to share some details with Massively!

This article was originally published on Massively.