Massively's exclusive sneak peek of RIFT 2.6: Dreamweaving, Fae Yule, and the state of the game

While we're descending into the insanity and fun of the holiday season, Trion Worlds is looking ahead to 2014 and its road to RIFT's 3.0. We hopped on the phone with RIFT's team earlier today for a sneak peek (sneak listen?) of the game's 2.6 content update and how it will tie into the expansion later next year.

RIFT 2.6 -- there is no official title as of yet -- is a ways out still. Trion is targeting early February for its release, primarily because so many employees are taking time off for the holidays to be with friends and family. That said, 2.6 should arrive on the public test server in January, and the devs promise that it will be well worth the wait.

So what's coming with 2.6? Dreams, crafts, and conclusions, my friends! Let's dig into it.

Dreamweaver, I believe you can get me through the night

Because 2.6 is still a couple of months away, the devs were purposefully vague about specific details about this sneak peek. However, what they did reveal was pretty captivating. For starters, 2.6 will add a completely new crafting profession to the game: Dreamweaving.

Dreamweaving? What's... OK. Explain, please.

Because the team is starting to lead up to 3.0 (beginning with some of the content in Update 2.5), Dreamweaving will tie in closely with RIFT's second expansion as 3.0 is about "dreams, nightmares, and water." It's a crafting profession for people who love dimensions and artifacts, creating "all you can dream up" for dimensions. This includes not just items and special effects but also the creation of entire dimensions themselves.

The team has observed that players are absolutely nuts for artifact collecting, which is why the devs have worked to create a crafting profession based around it. They weren't saying how dreamweavers will interact with artifacts, just that those interested would do well to start stocking up on artifacts now.

RIFT 2.6 won't be about just dreamweaving, of course. New raid rifts will show up as a prelude to the upcoming events of 3.0. And if you were wondering what happened to a couple of the story arcs from Iron Pines Peak that got removed with the zone revamp, then here's the scoop for you: The tales of the Icewatch weapon and Chekeroth will be coming back (in a modified form) along with a completely new third mission chain to conclude the Crucia storyline and build up to the air saga.

Merry Fae Yule!

When Fae Yule returns this month, it will be bigger and better than before. Trion took a few hits last year from those upset that Storm Legion zones were left out of the celebration, and so the devs have made sure to decorate those areas and include them in the festivities.

The big addition to Fae Yule this year is six new artifact sets themed around the dragon cults giving gifts to each other. These artifacts won't show up until bosses are killed in instant adventures. When that happens, the new shinies will be available for discovery for a limited time. Collect all the sets for a meta title of "Regifter" as well as lots of other Fae Yule gifts.

Taking the pulse of RIFT's health

With the bumpy road that Trion's been on, there's been some uncertainty regarding RIFT's health in the larger MMO community. I asked about this, specifically concerning the server merges and perceived population decline. Without giving any specific numbers, the devs said that RIFT is still going gangbusters in its free-to-play state. In fact, the population of the game is staying pretty balanced between the high levels and the low because so many folks are returning to RIFT or trying it for the first time.

The devs urged us to take the server merges with a grain of salt, as the biggest reason for these actions was to consolidate players onto as few server clusters as possible so that more people could play together. Trion is constantly working to enlarge server capacity in this regard. The team said that it had merged down to a single cluster in Europe, but expanding population forced it to un-merge into multiple clusters until the tech could accommodate the influx of players.

I also asked about how players level in modern RIFT: Are most people simply using instant adventures to fast-track to level 60? Apparently the team sees players spread across a wide variety of activities, from IAs to questing to PvP, for their leveling; no one path is dominant.

Trion said that it will continue to be aggressive with its partnerships and promotions for the game, especially considering how beneficial Steam has been for RIFT. Look forward to a gifting promotion and special boss drops this month, as well as a new referral program for 2014. More details on these promotions will be forthcoming shortly.

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This article was originally published on Massively.