But before the storm comes the calm, and before the expansion comes one last game update. RIFT launched about a year and a half ago and is closing in on its 10th update, a nice round number leading into the first expansion. That's an aggressive schedule by any MMO standard, but it's particularly impressive when you dig into the patch notes and see exactly what's changed each time. With the imminent arrival of the last update before the first expansion, I made my way back over to the test server to get a glimpse of some of the changes. Some of them are coming any day now with update 1.10, while others hint at what's coming in the lead-up to the expansion.
The biggest change is that many of the faction differences are melting away on PvE servers, and the Guardians and Defiants will be a lot more social as they work together against the coming of Crucia. Guilds can now invite players of both factions, and the two factions will now be able to join Instant Adventure parties, instanced groups, and friends lists, and they can even get married to one another. Chat will be even more lively now also, since it's open to both sides (although World Defense isn't included in that for obvious reasons). Some things never change, though, and even though the two factions are closer, players still aren't welcome in the opposing side's city, nor are they able to unlock porticulums that are located in faction hubs and cities of the opposite side.
For roleplayers, it might be difficult to explain away the sudden change, and they might not be too thrilled with having the enemy fighting alongside them. But I think the benefit helps make it a palatable change because it helps more groups get off the ground, helps guilds recruit from a much larger pool, and helps the lonesome Guardian be able to join up with the party of Defiants during a zone event.
Black Garden gets a seasonal makeover
There's a new look coming to the Black Garden Warfront with update 1.10, and it's got a Halloween feel to it. It's called Monster Mash, and the main difference is that the players take on appearances that tie in with the theme (Guardians are Werewolves, while Defiants are Skeletons). It might not seem like a huge change, but given the fact that we're between the arrival of Conquest with 1.9 and the upcoming expansion, I think a little autumn makeover to the Black Garden Warfront is a nice addition.
New instant adventures
The low-level IAs seemed to be a hit, not only with new players but with high-level players who mentored down to join them. Only four zones ended up launching with IAs, but there were others in the mid-level zones on PTS prior to 1.9 who did have them as well. With update 1.10, Scarwood Reach will join the club and feature its own Instant Adventures. Assuming that the IAs will match the level range of the zone, we can say that players in their low to mid 30s will have a nice spot to run Instant Adventures once they get past Gloamwood and Stonefield. As for future IAs, a recent forum post from Senior Content Designer Tacitus said that this will be the last zone to get new IAs before the expansion, but that doesn't mean the end, and there are plans to continue adding them after Storm Legion launches.
While I was running IAs on test on my Defiant, I stumbled upon a new one that made me jump for joy. It was located in Meridian. No, not Freemarch -- Meridian -- and the goal was to stave off an attack of invading Air Griffons and then disarm bombs that were planted around the city. I was thrilled to finally see some the planar invaders infiltrate the city, and the mobs seemed to scale to level because their level was listed as ???, but it took me about as long to kill them as to kill a level 50 mob. I stuck with the IA for a while, defending against attacks in different parts of the capital and eventually even protecting a wardstone that sprung up inside the Manufactory. I was solo and couldn't hold off the waves of vespids that joined in during the fight, but I wondered whether success would have triggered a boss afterward.
In any event, I don't know whether this is part of 1.10 because I didn't see it listed in the notes. It might be part of a later stage in the Storm Legion precursor event.
I'm pretty sure this isn't part of 1.10, but it's too cool not to mention. On PTS, in the waters between Freemarch and Silverwood, there is a large boat that appears to be shipwrecked. It's called the Endeavor, and it's surrounded by some pointy airships that are part of Crucia's legion. Right now, PTS is testing Phase 3 of the upcoming world event, so I'm guessing it's related to that, but the wreck of the Endeavor marks the arrival of several new changes to RIFT. Visually, it hammers home the fact that there's a new, unexplored world out there, but it also reveals the urgent threat to Telara from Crucia and her army.
Also, on board are questgivers and crew members, but alongside them are four curious NPCs: Chief Medic Cyska, a Defiler; Chief Gunner Valadaf, a Tempest; Chief Officer Betiona, a Harbinger; and Chief Engineer Tryxil, a Tactician. Take from that what you will.
And lastly, the wreck of the Endeavor brings another nice change: Players can now swim across to the other side without the fatigue and the barriers that held them back before.
Overall, update 1.10 is arguably one of the lightest in terms of new content or game changes, but then again, the expansion is just a little over a month away, and it's impressive to see the team stick to a regular schedule of updates from launch day on. Longtime gamers are used to delays and patches that end up a bit short of what was expected, but that really hasn't been the case with RIFT so far.
Check out the longer, more detailed list of patch notes for 1.10, and remember: There's another play-for-free promotion coming up this weekend, and if the update lands this week, it means you can get a chance to preview it if you aren't currently playing.
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.