Armed with a two-handed staff and a foliage disguise, I set off to check things out now that the expansion has gone live. How well did I weather the storm?
Learn to play
Any time a new update or expansion arrives in an MMO, you usually expect some degree of change to the classes. But RIFT's soul system, combined with the recent class changes in the last update and the arrival of new souls with Storm Legion, has nudged me toward a completely new respec. I went from a melee-focused healer to one who's now pet-based, and it took me time to learn all of the new abilities and casting sequences that go with it. It was a little daunting at first, but even though I've never been a pet person, I got the hang of it fairly quickly. The respec reminds me how nice the soul system is: Any time I begin to feel that my class is getting a little stale, I can change it up without having to re-roll and start over.
Usually, you don't get a personal audience with the main boss of the expansion until you've reached the end of the content, and it usually takes a few dozen other players to get you access. So I love the fact that I got to go face to face with Crucia just minutes into my playtime in the new zones. Usually, we hear lots about the main antagonist from various NPCs as we progress through the content, but seeing her really drove home the storyline. The focus shifts, and our characters are now working through the storyline not because an NPC told us to but because we've made a direct connection with Crucia and it's now a much more personal motivation. It's a subtle difference, but it works really well.
A funny thing happened on the way to Dusken and Brevane. I went in thinking I'd avoid the quest content and just level up through IAs, carnage, onslaughts, and running instances. But as I was out running around slaughtering things, I saw a field full of quest icons hovering over clickable objects, just tempting me to click them. I accepted the task and justified it by the fact that technically it wasn't a quest in a hub given by an NPC. Shortly later, however, I joined an IA with a few others, and as we were taking on the objectives, I was offered a quest by someone in the group. She was sharing all the relevant quests that she had picked up at the hub nearby, and when we combined the quests with the IA experience and carnage tasks, it turned out to be a nice chunk of experience overall. I was a bit worried about getting overloaded with quests, but because RIFT has always had a good quest tracker with everything all mapped out, it really wasn't an issue. So try as I might to get away from questing, I couldn't resist in the end. Just when I thought I was out, Trion pulled me back in!
If there's one thing that Storm Legion reveals, it's that people really do not like to play together! RIFT has about as low a bar to grouping as any MMO out there, with features like public grouping, instant grouping for IAs, and the dungeon finder. But even though two players can be out questing and killing overland mobs with a big "JOIN GROUP" button at the top of the screen, they don't use it. Meanwhile, "tapping" a mob has become much more prevalent, partially because it gives credit for carnage quests and partially because it gives you a chunk of experience. But there's a debate about whether that's proper etiquette or not; running past and doing one cast on a mob, leaving the other person to do all the work, isn't necessarily a nice way of earning experience. Of course, the player can always turn the tables and tap the mobs that the "tapper" ends up fighting, but it seems strange that there are tap wars going on all over the place when there's a simple solution, which is just clicking that group button at the top of the screen and joining forces. The range on shared updates and experience is pretty large, so players don't even need to stick together, but at least it puts an end to the bitter feelings over tapping mobs.
Homes and house decorating is something that I love in an MMO, but for some reason, there's a disconnect between the vision for my house in my head and the reality of what it ends up looking like. Thankfully, I can go visit all of those amazing homes that everyone else has already put together, and it's impressive how quickly the house directory filled up with really well-done homes. One of my favorites contained a hand-made boat, multi-level apartment building, and a series of carefully placed planks, boxes, and barrels that hover overhead and challenge even the best Super Mario expert jumper.
Overall, I'm really enjoying Storm Legion. As I mentioned in my last column, I'm an explorer at heart, and the new content is perfectly tailored for me. The storyline and the new continents bring a certain air of seriousness, and you can't help but get drawn into things. I just wish Crucia would get out of my head and stop taunting me!
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.