Enter at Your Own Rift  Why Summerfest is the best
Over the past few weeks, I've been over on RIFT's test shard to preview some of the changes arriving with update 1.9, like Summerfest. So now that it's live, it was fun to spend some time on the live servers to see it launch. And since I didn't get the chance to spend a lot of time with the Summerfest event, I decided to roll up my sleeves, break out my fishing pole and cooking pan, and try a few of the events and scavenger hunts.

I mentioned in a previous column that I thought 1.9 would be the biggest one yet and that it would bring some really important game changes, but my recent adventures in game this past week were even more eye-opening than I expected. Read on!

Fishing and rifting

First, I decided to head out of Sanctum to tackle some Summerfest quests. I tried the bug stomp quest first, but there were a dozen people outside of the city, all trying to stomp the five or six bugs that spawn there, so I moved on to the Scavenger hunt. I was tasked with hugging Prince Hylas, who apparently has the weight of the world on his shoulders as leader of the Aelfwar (who knew?). It took me a bit of time to find him because I got a little lost in the maze, which brought back special memories of when I was just a newblet and was getting lost with a train of a dozen mobs chasing after me. I was on a roll so I considered going for a second one in another zone when I saw the message that there was a zone event starting in Silverwood. I was eager to try out mentoring, so I shifted gears and headed over.

Enter at Your Own Rift  Why Summerfest is the best
Low-level fun

"You know, mentoring is pretty cool," I overheard in the chat channel. And considering the activity in low-level zones, I think mentoring is really making a difference. The Summerfest events lured in many high-level players who were working on bug stomping and fishing, and it seemed like quite a few had dropped down in level to join in the zone event. I was close to Argent Glade and noticed on the map that the nearby wardstone was about to be attacked, plus there were several players there already. I headed there to buff up the wardstone and join the raid. Once again, I found myself on a nostalgia trip, holding off several invading forces outside Argent and then taking on good old Cinderon in the end. After a nice and tidy victory, I decided to stick around the lower-level zones a bit more and give the new instant adventures a try.

It didn't take long for me to get put into an IA, and this one was right in Silverwood, so I was ported not far from where I already was. The IA took our party through the treant area, down to the marsh, and eventually to the coast, where we slaughtered redcaps to trigger the last battle against the boss. I was tempted to continue with the next IA but reminded myself that I had intended to do the Summerfest events, so I took a rain check and perused the map for a good fishing hole so I could scrounge up some Summer Sunfish and Sunplant leaves.

Enter at Your Own Rift  Why Summerfest is the best
The watering hole

I spotted a blue fish icon, signaling a summer plant watering hole, and there were several players already casting their hooks into the area. We had ourselves a nice little fishing party, and even though there wasn't much chat (it's hard to type when at any moment you have to reel in your line), several of us joined the public group and hung out together as we moved from fishing spot to fishing spot, and I eventually fished up enough to make my Po'boys, my lures, and turn in my quests for merit badges. The fishing and survival quests are a great way of introducing new and returning players to these two relatively new skills, plus the quests go perfectly with the summer theme. Of course, I couldn't resist sealing up a couple of rifts along the way, so my trip back to town took a little longer than I had planned.

Enter at Your Own Rift  Why Summerfest is the best
I arrived in town, happy that the Summerfest hedge maze was trimmed back a bit (I'm not saying I got lost in it, just that I might have taken a wrong turn or three when trying to find the NPCs). The corgi stage show caught my attention, partially because it looked adorable and partially because I was looking for the bank. As it turns out, you have to "Ascend-a-friend" in order to receive the corgi pet and participate in the show, which rewards you with a friendship badge and a title. It's a clever way of encouraging players to pull some friends into RIFT; well played, Trion! As I headed back out, I decided to continue tackling the Scavenger Hunt quests, but as I was looking over my quest list, I saw a message that the Defiants had opened a planar extraction rift in Stillmoor, a signal that a PvP rift was about to begin. It was difficult to resist temptation, but I was determined to stay on track with what I had originally planned to do, which was Summerfest.

Enter at Your Own Rift  Why Summerfest is the best
Creepy crawlies

Droughtlands was my next target, and after working through the zone, I made it to the ant tunnel to look for some creepy crawlies. Just as I reached the spot, I saw the message that there was a zone event in Ember Isle. I scrambled to get the update and high-tailed it to the zone, where I found dozens of players working on the last part of the event to release Scerrion. I followed the trail of players up toward Ember Watch but got a bit sidetracked as we passed by an onslaught. I had a few planar charges and just couldn't resist the urge to buff up the arch and a couple of turrets. Luckily, I made it back to the raid in time to finish off Scerrion and walk away with a few Inscribed Sourcestone. As I was wrapping up, a message popped across the screen telling me that Conquest was about to begin, but I felt it was better to wrap up on a high note rather than go in and become bait for the other two factions.

All in all, my time in RIFT this week has pretty much followed this same pattern, which is log in, choose an activity to do, and then get sidetracked by a dozen other activities that I just can't resist. Games work best when they provide a horizon to players. It can be a quest objective, a long-term progression path, or even a location in game that beckons players to travel to it. With update 1.9, and particularly with the arrival of mentoring, lower-level IAs, and Conquest PvP, it often feels like you're surrounded by "horizons," and that leads to plenty of unexpected adventures with players both high- and low-level. What's even better is that each activity is relatively short, so if you're on for only a bit, you can do one or two activities, but if you're on for longer, they all transition nicely so that you can move from one to another. It's made Telara an active world, and the map does a great job of telling you what's going on, in what zone, and even how many players are participating at any given location. Even though it's made it hard for me to get through the Summerfest quests, I can't say I mind having so many activities competing for my attention. Now if you'll excuse me, I see that I have six chances at shinies in RIFT Mobile, and I'm a few Lucky Coins away from a Bogling Surprise!

Whether they're keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan and Justin Olivetti save Telara on a weekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT, from solo play to guild raids, their column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen and Justin for questions, comments, and adulation.

This article was originally published on Massively.