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E3 2012: RIFT 1.9, Storm Legion, and beyond

Andrew Ross

RIFT players, Trion loves you. You thought you knew that, but you haven't seen developers champing at the bit trying to figure out whether marketing will allow them to spill all the cool beans that are in store for you. Trion works very hard to crank out quality content at a quick pace, and RIFT players are going to see it in spades.

At E3 this week,we got some information not only on 1.9 but also on RIFT's first full expansion, Storm Legion.

Patch 1.9

You already know that RIFT's patch 1.9 may be the best content patch yet. Still, for those who don't play RIFT or are a little behind on the news, there are a few things to note. The first is the mentoring system. This allows players to de-level and participate with friends in low-level content while still earning experience (which will continue into Storm Legion). Sadly, mentoring only works when you go from a high level to a low level, so to anyone who thought he'd be able to bring his newbie friends in to kill the life dragon: apologies for crushing your dreams. Maybe a haircut will make up for it, though.

Yes, barber shops are coming to Telara. While Trion admits it could have held the feature back, it decided that barber shops were a cool feature more easily implemented than other features. One of the things we were told is that features that take a lot time, consume a lot of resources, or need new technology developed are seen more as expansion features than patch features. Think about that for a moment: RIFT players have gotten an appearance tab, fishing, world PvP dailies and rifts, and three-faction PvP just in monthly updates, while other games tend to save this sort of thing for expansions. So what exactly is coming with Storm Legion?

Storm Legion

Why's this expansion called Storm Legion? Because the Master of Storms got his hands on some new technology you'll be seeing, and even Regulos has to watch his back.

First, let's discuss what's staying in the expansion. We all know that developers tend to forget a few things from their old content when they update things. However, just to make sure, we asked Trion about some of the features we love about pre-expansion RIFT.

Rifts, naturally, will be part of the new content, and not just new normal rifts but invasions, raids, and PvP rifts. Artifacts? Yup, lots of new artifacts. One of our presenters specifically mentioned artifacts by name as well as his love of exploration before confirming that there will be new cairns as well. Of course we'll also see some new achievements and titles, but, well, we all figured those would be included, right?

Now for some fun stuff. Levels 50-60 will take place on two new continents, each about the size of the current landmass. Yes, Trion's tripling the current landmass! The developers honestly believe they can't add anything more to the current landmass, which was why Ember Isle was created (and subsequently filled). Not only is the landmass tripling, but our presenter enigmatically noted that there will be options for people to level based on their playstyles. What that means is anyone's guess, since almost as soon as it was said, our presenter added that the comment may be a bit more than marketing wants to have shared. Hopefully, this has something to do with the ability to level through crafting. Fishing XP? Yes, please.

If that isn't enough, then maybe the raid rift preview we saw will be a bit more exciting. One of the new bosses is... well, let's just say that "large" doesn't nearly describe this thing. It's the Statue of Liberty's daddy, decked out in armor with a laser canon on its chest. And this isn't just any armor and laser canon. It's the Storm Master's newfound technology. This thing is so enormous and so epic that it gets its own cut-scene when it comes out!

We were told immediately that tanks won't be down there "whacking away at toes." However, players are able to attack multiple parts of the body to remove the boss' armor. The order in which the armor is removed will dictate which abilities the boss uses. From time to time, that laser canon we mentioned will get a little hot, and it might fire at you and your friends; let's just say it won't tickle. Oh, and did I mention that the rift boss is running? Yeah, there's sort of a giant city he wants to go Godzilla on. You'll need to use special power-ups on his path to not only catch up to him but jump on him at the right time to disable his laser canon. People worried about griefers need not fear, though! We were assured that people can't abuse the power-ups to create a wipe. The idea is that the encounters are supposed to be fun and doable, so Trion won't make a public fight harder than it needs to be. The studio wants you to call friends in to take down rift raids.

Oh, and that monster's death? Not sure how it'll happen. Trion's saving that for later, but the team did leave us on a good cliffhanger: Just when it looks like you have things under control, the giant breaks down one of the walls to the city. This city spans three whole zones, and the wall that comes down isn't just for looks. When that wall is down, players can come inside for special quests, artifacts, etc.

Finally, for those of you wondering about the guild and player housing known as dimensions, unfortunately, there's just no new information! Marketing must be made up of linebackers, since it was very clear we wouldn't get any details on this yet. Still, players are getting capes (which add stats and can be wardrobed), four new souls, old souls updated to interact with the new souls and getting new additions, new raids... we're getting a good amount of information, so I suppose holding back on a few specifics for the moment is OK. The expansion's still in alpha, so keep checking back with Massively to see what information Trion's marketing department unleashes!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 4-7, bringing you all the best news from E3 2012. We're covering everything from PlanetSide 2 and SWTOR and ArcheAge to RIFT's and LotRO's upcoming expansions, so stay tuned!

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