Maybe it's that my favorite holiday, Halloween, lies smack-dab in the middle of it. Perhaps it's the fragrant smells and gorgeous sights of leaves turning. Definitely it has something to do with bonfires, hot apple cider, hayrides, and fleece jackets.
So even while the last vestiges of 80-degree weather clings to my state, I'm already eager to dive head-first into a pile of leaves. Barring that, I'm more than content to revel in RIFT's newest festival, Autumn Harvest. Now with 100% more MEAD!
The Realm of the Fae remains my favorite dungeon, even after all this time. It's cool to progress through seasons -- from spring to summer to fall to winter -- through themed areas, but most of all, I am always tickled by Atrophinius. Atrophinius is the boss of the autumn area and is best known for his hilarious pre-fight speech in which he attacks you because you happened to kill the guys who were throwing his party.
So I was overjoyed to see Atrophinius back for the festival as a strange sort of ally. RIFT's Autumn Harvest takes place about half in the game world and half in a modified instance of Atrophinius' realm. The whole conceit is that you're helping supply him and his guests with the goodies they need, perhaps making up for your boorish behavior on past dungeon runs.
Once you access the area through one of the many faerie rings located around the game world (which are helpfully noted on your map), you can accept several quests from Atrophinius and his minions. The main instanced quest is to pitch in by "helping out," although the quest objective isn't as defined as we're used to seeing. There are a few actions you can take here to meet your quota, such as finding sparklies on the ground and kicking crawling critters.
Because most everyone in the instance is trying to do the same thing, everyone benefits by just forming up a raid. This method allows you to complete the quest within a minute or so (if everyone's on the ball), and since it's an infinitely repeatable quest, you can accept it again and again to stock up on gold, festival currency, and XP.
The problem I found is that it's kind of easy to AFK and let others do the quest for you, which is a thought that seems to cross the mind of about half of the raid participants I've seen. So you'll have a chunk of people just leeching off the efforts of the workers. That's not an ideal situation.
The other quests are a little more tedious than I'd like. There's one to close a couple of specific rifts that give experience, which is a lot easier now that you can just mentor down to the level of that rift. There's a daily quest to get pumpkins, which is just as exciting as one might expect. They're... pumpkins. They don't do a whole lot of anything. Finally, there are a few quests that ask you to find Autumncap Fungus, which is an exercise in riding around forested areas and spamming a macro (/target Autumncap Fungus).
There's an additional option for those looking to stock up on the event currency, which is to open up the RIFT mobile app and check out the brand-new lootable that's specific for the event. It's not going to make you rich overnight, but hey, every little bit helps, right?
So this is as good a time as any to talk about my personal philosophy when it comes to any MMO's in-game celebrations. I always judge them in three areas: enjoyability, easiness, and swag. Hitting high in all of those categories is the ideal, although I'm willing to participate if it's high in at least two. An enjoyable and easy to do festival? Sure, I'll do it for its own sake. Great loot that's easy -- but tedious -- to do? No problem; I'll suck it up. Even if it's really fun and has tempting carrots on the end of the stick, you'll be amazed as to what I'd put up with.
The worst-case scenario, in my book, is when there are really great rewards but the festival itself is just annoying and dull. Autumn Harvest has fairly good rewards (more on that in a bit) and isn't too hard to do but isn't that enjoyable, either. It's a lot of mediocre chores that have no interesting visual or interactive components.
Even if Trion skimped a bit on festival mechanics, I can't complain at putting up with them because the rewards are quite worth the trouble. At the top tier are four new mounts -- well, sort of new. They're "spectral" versions of standard mounts, which means they're black and white with a light glaze of fog. I think they're pretty cool, and since I've always wanted a spider mount, I'm hoping to finally nab one.
There are plenty of other options on which to spend your hard-earned currency. There are a couple of new pets (I'm partial to the crow) and the return of several older festival ones. If you like titles, high-level rings and essences, cosmetics, or good food buffs, you'll be pleased at your choices.
If you're an artifact-hunter, then this festival is right up your alley. Many quests will reward you with potions that give you very limited-time faerie sight in the autumnal realm. Once you quaff one of these potions, you're going to see artifacts all over the place, and you're constrained only by the time limit on how many you can pick up in a go. Oddly enough, this has become my favorite part of the festival, since it's like a minigame and a shopping spree all rolled up in one.
In short, it's an acceptable base for what could become a really great festival. As it is, the Autumn Harvest feels a little rushed out the door in order to fill the need for a seasonal event. Of course, this is all just phase one -- perhaps the real fun is yet to come, and I'll be eating crow.
Just not my pet crow. He's my only friend now.
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.