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Previewing RIFT: Storm Legion's Dimensions and dungeons


We're less than a month from the release of RIFT's first official expansion, Storm Legion. The content add-on promises to dramatically expand on RIFT's existing universe, both in terms of mechanics and story and in terms of the raw size of the game world. With beta in full force and the NDA officially lifted, we hopped on the Storm Legion test server to catch a glimpse of what's on the way for dedicated RIFT fans.

What we discovered was a massive expansion packed with potential and more than enough new content to keep even the most hardcore of RIFT players busy for a while to come.

Here's what you need to know.

Storm Legion is huge

Like most MMO expansions, RIFT: Storm Legion adds a certain amount of physical space to the game. But Trion isn't simply adding a few islands or an offshoot landmass; Storm Legion brings two new continents to RIFT that triple the size of the existing game world. Each continent is driven by a visceral and unique art style, with piles of new quests, monsters, and rifts to enjoy. The best part? Everything you see in Storm Legion runs on the very same system specs as the original game. Trion told us it let its art team "go wild" in designing the new zones, and the result is a visually stunning tapestry of work that barely resembles the original launch version of RIFT.

RIFT Environments
The new content skews heavily toward high-level players. In our dev tour, we didn't encounter any enemies below 55 and were regularly obliterated by level 60 elite monsters. A Colossus wander the hills daring players to take him on, and two new rift types are present to dump enemies into zones without warning. Trion is adding seven new dungeons, which feature both normal and hard modes, and three new raids for players willing to take on the challenge. In the dungeons we explored, we saw terrifying shades, an enormous beating heart, and one angry dragon, and we were able to experience only a fraction of Storm Legion's new group-based content.

RIFT Heart
In short, RIFT: Storm Legion is overflowing with new content, despite the fact that Trion claims to have left the two continents open for further expansion following the update's release.

Storm Legion is feedback-based

Trion has a reputation for listening to its userbase, and Storm Legion is a shining example of a dev team working responsively to respond to player demands. The studio told us that nearly every addition in Storm Legion is the result of player feedback and that it will be paying careful attention to the way players experience the new content in order to plan future updates and expansions. Essentially, Storm Legion is a "most wanted" list of player requests, implemented and pushed live.

RIFT Dimensions
The biggest of these additions is, without a doubt, Dimensions. RIFT's take on player-run housing, Dimensions are instanced zones that allow individuals to build and customize their own living spaces. What's truly unique about Dimensions is that players are able to choose from over 250 items (which are obtained in a manner of ways) and arrange those items however they want in their Dimension. Dimensions can be public, guild-based, or private, and it's entirely up to the player to determine who can visit or edit that space. The end result is similar to Halo's Forge mode and other level editors in that there's tons of flexibility for enterprising players looking to build something beyond a simple hang-out zone. For instance, some of the most popular public Dimensions we saw on the test server were player-built jumping puzzles and minigames. Trion noted that the tools are similar to what it uses in-house when building game environments, and that the end goal is providing as much power as possible to players to build the home/zone of their dreams.

Other additions driven by player feedback include the addition of capes and dozens of tiny tweaks designed to make characters more interesting, more effective in groups, and better balanced. There's even an enormous new cross-faction capital city for players who enjoy flashing their mounts and playing the RIFT economy.

Storm Legion is deep

The changes made in Storm Legion aren't just add-ons and pretty locations. Trion is making deep changes to the mechanics of the game. Every Calling is getting a new Soul, further expanding the Ascended system and giving veteran players more ways to customize their experience. An overhauled Soul interface also helps lessen the learning curve by providing pre-built role paths designed by the game's developers. There's also the now-standard level cap raise (from 50 to 60), but thanks to the size of the expansion and its top-heavy design, players will find plenty to do even after crashing to level 60 in the weeks following its release.

RIFT Dungeon
Storm Legion is story-driven and fits directly into the main lore of Telara. The Infinity Gate, featured heavily in RIFT's cinematics, finally makes an in-game appearance and brings with it the threatening power of the dark gods. A new enemy by the name of Crucia promises to bring a raging army into Telara, and her power is such that she's sent the god of death running for the hills. As players work their way through Storm Legion's new content, they'll unwind the intricate plan of these warring superpowers and struggle to preserve Telara in the face of untold horrors. Those who pre-order the game can actually get a taste of Storm Legion's lore thanks to early access to the Exodus of the Storm Queen dungeon, which helps set the stage for the coming invasion and goes live October 30th.

Storm Legion Zones
All in all, RIFT: Storm Legion is an ambitious and astoundingly big expansion from a team known for its dedication to its fans. Storm Legion is stuffed with slick new features, compelling new lore and tons of exciting new environments to explore, all of which should keep RIFT subscribers engaged through the coming holiday months. We've experienced a tiny fraction of the new content so far, but what we've seen has been well-designed, polished, and extremely impressive.

We're excited to see what happens when the greater RIFT community leaps into the fray on November 13.

Massively's not big on scored reviews -- what use are those to ever-changing MMOs? That's why we bring you first impressions, previews, hands-on experiences, and even follow-up impressions for nearly every game we stumble across. First impressions count for a lot, but games evolve, so why shouldn't our opinions?

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