Enter at Your Own Rift: Weathering the tempest

Enter at Your Own Rift Weathering the tempest
The countdown is on like Donkey Kong, yo, although not as gorilla-y and barrel-y. With two weeks to go until Storm Legion thunders down on our heads like the big awesome expansion that we wanted, RIFT is positively buzzing with anticipation. Over the past week or so, Trion Worlds triggered the world event that will lead us into the expansion's content, and I've been on the ground doing all manner of responsible journalistic research with aplomb.

That is to say, I've been running around in circles yelling, "GUYZ! WHERE IS QUEST-GIVEY PERSON?" to my guildies, taking loads of screenshots to test the storage capacity of my hard drive, and occasionally trolling general chat by inviting people to my "personal dimension." It's what I do best.

While it's not quite over -- as of the time of this writing, it's just moved into phase three of four -- Tempest Rising is unique in RIFT's canon of world events. It's the first and only one that's served as a direct prologue to the single biggest content addition to the game, and it has to be spot-on with introducing the lore and conflict coming to the world. How's it going so far? Let's take a look.

Enter at Your Own Rift Weathering the tempest
Phase One: You're gonna need a bigger boat. Oh wait, you got one already.

You've probably noticed by now that your prime beachfront view of the ocean off of Silverwood and Freemarch is littered by one big honking sea vessel that's crashed upon some shoals. Apart from littering the water with plenty of seal-killing cargo, it's the first destination for the Storm Legion-bound.

I won't embarrass myself by telling you how long it took me to find the way onto the boat (10 minutes because I thought it was a jumping puzzle thing), so let's just skip ahead to being on the top deck and meeting these fine new folk from exotic lands that we hope to plunder shortly. Apart from being envious that these NPCs got a hold of the new souls before I did, I was given a couple of simple quests to complete because that's what MMOs have you do instead of shake hands. You meet a complete stranger, do two or three chores for them right away, and then they talk to you. It's a ritual.

I really did enjoy the quest that had me going between three different types of guns in order to shoot down these weird air vehicles and not-as-weird boats. Shooting gallery quests are among my personal favorite, although I do like them used sparingly.

Following that, I was asked to trot over to Iron Pine Peak, where an envoy from the good guys overseas appeared in fetish gear to tell us that we were pretty screwed. But at least we did good so far, she said, and we're invited to see if we can forestall the inevitable apocalypse. I'm game, I told her.

So far, nothing too involving or difficult, and the rewards (Storm Legion-style costume set pieces) were worth it.

Enter at Your Own Rift Weathering the tempest
Interlude: The end of the world

The next time I logged in, two days later, I was literally the only person in the world. Confused and alone, I stumbled about looking for another soul to tell me what happened. A plague? The rapture? Trion hates me and is imprisoning me in a one-man server?

Well, as you probably know -- but I didn't, because I'm always the last to find out these things -- Trion went and did a huge server merge this past week. Considering that I work in the news business and play RIFT on a semi-regular basis, I was honestly surprised that I had no advance warning that this was happening.

OK, I don't want to make a huge stink out of this, because I should've been a little more in tune with the forum... but you know what? Trion didn't exactly go out of its way to inform us, either. It certainly wasn't posted on the front page, nor did any press releases get sent out that I know of. Nothing ticks me off more than studios who have the attitude of "well it's in the forums, so 100% of players now know about it and we don't have to say it anywhere else." I avoid forums, even RIFT's, because of the overly negative culture they create, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Was Trion trying to keep this merge on the down-low? I know merges are never good PR, even in this case where it was an increase in server capacity and a desire to get wargroups on the same hemispheres, but the quiet surrounding this was incredibly odd.

My other point of contention with this is because my server became a trial one, my guild was gone. The game helpfully stated that "Your guild has been transferred to UNKNOWN server." A friend told me that this was a glitch, and I had to go hunt down an officer outside of the game to find out where the heck we were. So that was awesome.

Enter at Your Own Rift Weathering the tempest
Phase two: Nobody steps on a church in my town!

That unpleasantness aside, phase two of Tempest Rising proved to be a lot more captivating than the first. A while back, I complained that for all of RIFT's "dynamic events" posturing, the cities were always kept safe from any conflict -- and I hated that. I know it's a headache to try to figure out level balance and denial of basic services for this sort of thing, but it needed to happen or else the entire house of cards came tumbling down.

Imagine my delight to see that this was (sort of) what happened with phase two. I logged in to see Sanctum in the middle of a fierce battle, as golems and griffyns invaded through portals, set up camps and front lines, and threw the city into chaos. The instant adventure button called out to me and I answered, joining the defense of our quaint seaside retreat.

I'm a huge fan of instant adventures already, but there was something special about doing one in my own capital. Even though it was scripted and nothing was truly at stake other than a little FPS irritation, it felt imminent and important. I screamed and dashed into combat with my fellow Guardians, cutting through the enemy like a hot butter through a knife. That is to say, I got killed right away, but then I respecced the knife/butter ratio and it got better.

All in all, it's been a great way to pass the time as the clock winds down to the expansion. I think it gives bored players a good reason to log back in and reconnect with their guilds while providing entertainment for the rest of us.

Next month is going to be off the hook, yo. I promise to stop talking like this by then.

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.