RIFT's expansion has a lot of exciting content, but I think what will surprise people is the sheer scope of the world. I journeyed through every zone (except for The Dendrome, which was still closed) and put together a brief guide of what I saw, which hopefully will make it easier to get started in the new areas.
General travel information
First off, there are a few things that should make your journey a little easier. To get to the new continents, head to Iron Pine Peak, Chancel of Labors, and you'll find the green teleporter out on the ice in a toppled tower. There are two NPCs there, and each takes you to the beginning zones for the two continents. One takes you to Cape Jule on the continent of Brevane, and the other to the Kingdom of Pelladane on the continent of Dusken.
As you're making your way through the zones, keep a lookout for two types of teleporters to unlock: the green ones that look like the one in Iron Pine Peak and blue ones that resemble those on Ember Isle. The new zones are much larger than the original ones, not just in size but also in height. The cities, mountains, and landscape seem to reach for miles, and you actually can get to those peaks. Of course, that also means it's a long way down, so switchbacks are your friends. If you've been mastering your jumping skills in Guild Wars 2, you'll be in great shape to take on Storm Legion's terrain.
Another unlikely ally is the planar invaders. Roads and paths are usually marked with lights, but it's not always obvious which way to go. Luckily, planar invaders tend to stick to paths, so if you are lost and run into one, you can tag along from a safe distance and let them be your guide. The added benefit is that they'll also help clear the way for you too (just don't get too close!) Lastly, each zone has plenty of instant adventures, and they're great not only because of the experience but also because they're a nice way of leapfrogging around the zone as you teleport from adventure to adventure.
Where, oh where, is Tempest Bay?
This is one of the trickier areas to reach because it's an island far off shore, and you can't reach it by swimming. Tempest Bay is a huge city that will surely be the new hub of activity for high-level players, so you'll want to unlock the portal as soon as you can. To do that, head to the city of Tulan, which is in the southeast corner of Cape Jule. Once there, make your way to the docks and you'll find the NPC that will send you to Tempest Bay. When you unlock the portal, you'll be able to travel directly there from any portal, including your home city. There are NPCs there that sell dimension items (including rare ones that require faction), hunt rift lures, and even new glowing dyes. But the one that really caught my eye was the Conspiracy Theorist sitting against a wall. Hovering over his sign reveals a strange message. Perhaps he's a refugee from The Secret World!
Level 50-53 zones
The first zones you'll hit when you begin leveling to 60 are Cape Jule and the Kingdom of Pelladane. There's plenty to do on both, so it's basically a question of whether you want to level in more of a rain forest jungle setting in Cape Jule or the dark, storm ravaged and under-siege lands of Pelladane. There are story quests in each zone, but there are also carnage quests for pretty much every type of mob in the game, and they're basically "kill X number" missions. What stood out for me was the lighthouse right near the portal when you arrive in Pelladane. You can't help but begin to run toward it, but the ominous blare of the horn signals that this isn't a beacon of safety. There are actually several of these lighthouses throughout the world, and each time I saw one I had the urge to mouse wheel into first person viewpoint, walk really slowly, and run the Dear Esther soundtrack.
If you're working through Cape Jule and you have a few levels under your belt, you'll probably want to move on to City Core. It's one of the smaller zones in the expansion, but it's a nice transition into the mid-level areas.
When you reach the mid-50s in Brevane, the next area to seek out is Eastern Holdings. Storm Legion definitely seems as if it's distancing itself from the traditional high-fantasy setting, going instead with a more magitech theme that we've seen with the Defiants. But if there's one zone that feels more traditional, it's Eastern Holdings.
To the west of City Core in Brevane is a great zone for players 57+, and to me it's the most visually stunning. It's called Ardent Domain, and the entire zone looks like it's covered in soot. Everything, from the white flowers to the trees has a dusty, lacy quality to it. Equally striking is the giant city built right into a tree. This tree-city is technically in Kingsward, but it's so large that you can see it often while traveling through the zone.
Dusken is a little more straightfoward as far as zone layout, so after Seratos, players will head to Morban to work on levels 58 and up. Both Seratos and Morban are immense zones, but while Seratos is dark and full of death, Morban is a bit brighter and open (although still full of destruction).
In Brevane, Kingsward and Ashora have plenty of level 59 and 60 content, and The Dendrome, while sealed off in beta, is supposed to be for level 60s only when the expansion launches. Meanwhile, I did make my way into The Steppes of Infinity in Dusken, but I think I parkoured into a location that I probably shouldn't have entered. My first glimpse of Steppes of Infinity was at the Vengeful Sky, and I could barely turn around without getting attacked by whirlwinds on the ground and cloud chasers flying above. The death was worth it, though, to get a chance to see the gigantic fracture of stone hovering overhead. The nearby cavern just screams for a boss, and I'm guessing it will have more than just whirlwinds when it launches.
In general, the new zones are stunning, and everywhere you go there's something going on that draws you to it. Several times, I'd run toward an interesting landmark and wonder why I was doing it when it obviously was too dangerous for me to explore. Even "save havens" aren't safe, and there are usually invaders tussling with outer guards or an active onslaught right near the center of things. There are the usual story questlines, but as on Ember Isle, there are plenty of other things to do so that you don't feel as if you're grinding your levels. There are instant adventures, zone events, and tons of carnage quests, plus I believe I even stumbled on a puzzle or two, although I can't confirm that for sure. Or if you just want to run around and explore (like I did), there's plenty to see that will leave you satisfied.
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.