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What is it with Me and Storm Legion? April 3, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Rift.
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I think that you could make an objective case that I enjoy… or enjoyed… playing Rift.

The instance group and our semi-weekly adventures in Telara aside, I actually spent enough time playing the game that I ended up with four level 50 characters, one from each of the main classes.  That means I worked on getting a mage up to level cap, and I rarely ever play mage classes.  Clerics, always, warriors often, rogues sometimes, but mages?  A very rare moment indeed!

And it is a truth I have known about myself for a long time, that I may express enthusiasm for something, but the only real test to whether that is true or not is my behavior.  Saying I like Rift is one thing, logging in and getting three characters to level cap, outside of my group character, that is solid proof that it is so.

I also have done a lot of the events.  I ran through the Autumn Harvest festival enough to get a mount for Hillmar, my main.

Another mount!

Hillmar’s mount… and hat!

And also did it enough to get a mount for my mage… because I felt that it completed his “look.”

The spider mount is his "look"

The spider mount is his thing

A simple look at the map from the original pre-expansion world shows that I have been most everywhere.

I am missing some portals on this character

I am missing some portals on this character

So with all of that, I should have been all set to carry on with the Storm Legion expansion.  I subscribed for a year in advance to get the expansion at no additional cost.  I went on the pre-launch Storm Legion tour.  I was riding around on the pre-order mount.  I was there and patching on launch day.

And now, almost five months later, where do I stand?  Let’s see after the cut.

I have one level 52 character and three level 50 characters.

When I look at the map of the Storm Legion areas with my most active character, I see that I haven’t been very far.

Whole lot of gray

Whole lot of gray

That is barely a toe hold in the new lands.  And I haven’t done much of anything with their player housing either.

Dimension by the Sea

Dimensionally Challenged

When I am sitting around on a Sunday afternoon with some free time and I look for a game to play, I hit the Rift icon and then just pass on by.  And that is the sign that something is wrong, that I am not having fun.

And now I am trying to figure out what the problem is.  I have a few theories.

Character Reset

One of the things that happened around Storm Legion was a complete revamp of souls.  Expansions are always when this happens, so it was natural enough that it should occur.  But the changes that went in this time were pretty radical in my opinion.  Maybe I just chose the right (or wrong) souls, but all four of my level 50 characters came out of that revamp playing differently than before.  This lead to some confusion on my part as I essentially had to relearn how to play four characters with their full set of skills.

Doesn't have to be funny if it's true...

My hair isn’t that color, but about right otherwise

There is a reason they don’t just dump all those skills on you when you create a new character.  It takes time to build up the “how to” element of playing.  And Rift is already bad about having too many skills as it is.  So I have to wonder if this change managed to break my connection with my characters.  They all felt changed with the update.  And while I have managed to come up to speed with Hillmar for the most part… healing at least has a simple goal… I still do not feel fully at home with any of my characters any more.

Of course, maybe if I played them more…

Quest Structure

Another change with Storm Legion was how Trion was going to work present quests.  As I learned on the Storm Legion tour, the idea was to make quests more organic.  This was, in part, a deliberate move away from what we now call the classic quest hub structure.

And that sure sounded like a good idea.  Why would I want to have some guy in a settlement or outpost tell me to collect 15 doodads laying around on the ground or to kill 22 of this obviously bad guys stalking about the landscape?  Why can’t I just get the quest by picking them up and/or killing the things in question.

“Bears, bears, bears” right?

So now I am out wandering around looking for quests and some you still get at the local hub, some you pick up in the field, some you get by killing creatures and then some you have to find a person to turn them into and some get resolved right there in the field, all of which ought to be a nice mix.

But it doesn’t seem to be “working” for me.

In the end I seem to be running around a lot more than with the old hub approach.  The hub related quests seem to be dedicated to sending you across the map and back, while the ones you pick up in the field are very localized.  The pattern seems to be designed to make you criss-cross the map multiple times, which I started to find wearisome.  Of course, that is probably related to the next item.

Whole Lotta Space

One of my compliments about early Rift was how they made small maps feel much larger than they actually were.  Freemarch is a prime example.  When running through the quest chain in the zone, it felt like I had traveled quite a distance.  Yet standing at the gates of Meridian, you can see, if you have your graphic settings turned, all the way across the zone.

Freemarch before us

Freemarch laid out before us

And you realize, once you have a mount, that the distances are pretty trivial in the zone.  But it felt so much bigger.  Freemarch is a tightly packed, well structured zone with very little wasted space, a theme that carries on through the 50 levels.  Not all the zones are as dense or make as efficient use of space, but they do tend to follow a similar pattern, which often involves moving in a circle around the zone so that you may travel a ways, but the diameter of the circle remains fairly small.

The ideas about the use of space changed with Storm Legion.

As was stated many times by Trion, as a point of real pride, the land area of each of the two new continents in Storm Legion is larger than the whole of the main land mass in the original game.

So if I feel like I am spending a lot more time just traveling when it comes to quests, it is probably because there is a lot more land over which to travel.  And it is spread over just 10 levels of content, as opposed to the 1-50 spread that the original game.  And that has changed the feel of the game.

It also spreads people out.

Now, I am behind the leveling curve at this point, and I have no idea how the population figures stand on our server, Shatterbone, but when I head out into Storm Legion, I feel pretty lonely out there.

Other Issues?

So that is what comes to mind when I think about what has changed and what might be reducing my fun quotient for Storm Legion.  There might be other things, including a world weariness with virtual worlds I suppose.  And, of course, there is the general curse of MMO expansions and all which goes with that which could be influencing things.

Because even my level 52 character, Hillmar, has gotten that far by largely doing things that were not related to the new Storm Legion content.  There have been the expert dungeon runs and holiday events and instant adventure and such that have contributed.

And, as always, it might just be me.  Maybe getting into a few instances with the group will change things.

How have you done with Storm Legion?

Comments»

1. Warsyde - April 3, 2013

I was pretty excited for Storm Legion, pre-ordered it and was all ready to go on day one. I spent some time getting my two level 50s ready, geared up a bit (but not a lot with a gear reset coming), finished up some crafting, etc.

I played for maybe a week before quitting, didn’t even finish out my month subscription. The huge inflation of mob hit points, combined with all the travel time, made questing take FOREVER. It was slow, and quickly became tedious. I finished the first zone with my Cleric at level 51, moved to the next zone and . . . the mobs were level 53-54, and although he COULD fight them, doing so was entirely un-fun and a single add would ruin my day.

So really I needed to jump over to the other starting Storm Legion zone . . . but that was what my rogue was going to do, and I wanted it to stay fresh.

At that point, it was pretty much game over, and I haven’t been back yet.

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2. couillon - April 3, 2013

I’ve always been an in/out Rift person. I play for a few months then take huge breaks. At SL’s launch, I took my 50 Cleric and ate up the content up until Christmas. I enjoyed the landscape and journey through to level cap. I enjoyed the stories along the way, the questing, and some of the dungeons. Rift challenged me more than my experiences in LOTRO or SWTOR. I especially was happy with Trion’s Chronicles…which allowed someone like me who doesn’t have the time to raid, to see that content. I wish more games had this feature. Now, once I hit 60 and realized the reputation grind and dailies, Hunt rifts, etc..sigh, that is when I lost interest in returning. I took time off for Christmas and I logged in 1 x since then. It’s still a great game imo, I’m just not at a point where’s there’s anything I would enjoy doing.

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3. belghast - April 3, 2013

I think my biggest problem is, that the game feels like a chore to chew through the mob hitpoint numbers. I play a “wow-like” game because I want the feeling of ping ponging back and forth between mobs. Rift is still the best feature set, any of that type of game has. However the storm legion content just feels cumbersome to move through. Right now I am holding at 58, and I just have not been able to gather up the oomph to push over to 60.

All of my characters just feel really weak, and I am in the best gear I can craft at any given level… having long maxed out my armor-smithing. It gets frustrating having to stop and drink every other mob, as I attempt to chew through quests. I want so much to like this game, and love the look and feel of the new areas. The gameplay just keeps getting in the way…. which seems like the opposite of what you might want in a game.

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4. milliebii - April 3, 2013

lol. Read through the article and comments and I am not going to say any of you are wrong. For me though the crunch hit at cap and starting to do experts dungeons. What did not help my enthusiasm at that point was that along the way we lost fifteen guild members, not to other guilds not stomping off in a cloud of angst. Just one by one they stopped logging in at all. Before this they usually had grumped about the grind, the changes to their class, the feel of the game etc but then just not there any more.

After loosing the raid leader that way, a cleric tank, who just could not learn to like the changes, what was left of the guild headed in two directions. As for me I just gently faded away, Rift is now far too tech and not enough magi for me.

I just cant help the feeling that Scot Hartsman got a window seat about August, maybe earlier, and that this is someone elses
expansion.

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5. Vatec - April 3, 2013

I will preface by saying that I haven’t even bought Storm Legion. I expect my expansions to cost less than the original game; sorry.

Secondly, my guild never recovered from the depopulation caused by SWTOR at the end of 2011. This is, quite frankly, the only game where I’ve even attempted to raid; and it was fun. Until my guild died and I couldn’t find a replacement that suited my personality, playstyle, and schedule.

That being said, I still enjoyed the solo and small group content (though Ember Isle never impressed me). Then came the massive pre-SL character reset. And logging in became a chore. Not only would I have to relearn five or six builds for my Rogue main (solo, PvP, raid ranged DPS, group ranged DPS, and tank), but then I’d have to engage in a similar project for my other three characters as well. No, thanks.

Frankly, I think Hartsman’s goodbye letter said it all; if you’re happy with the current direction of the game, then [his] departure shouldn’t affect your enjoyment. The subtle corollary is, if you’re NOT happy with the current direction of the game, [his] departure is absolutely not going to fix that, either. Shame, because I -really- liked Rift at its peak.

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6. pkudude99 - April 3, 2013

I did the “buy a year sub, get the expansion included” deal also. I started SL with a 50 cleric in a mix of T1/T2 Expert gear (no raid gear), a 50 warrior in questing greens, plus a couple of blues from running Charmer’s Caldera a time or 4, a level 46 rogue in level 41/44 crafted greens, but 2 level 42 blue weapons from the Fall of Lantern Hook instance, and finally, bringing up the rear was my level 39 mage in level 35/38 crafted greens.

I liked the idea of the new Harbinger soul for the mage, so that was actually the 1st character I played extensively in order to learn the new soul. I loved it! I didn’t bother crafting gear upgrades for myself, but if I got a drop or a quest reward that was an upgrade I’d use it. Even so, when I got to level 48 and was eligible to actually get quests in SL (I went there at 41 to get to Tempest Bay so I could start getting my crafting higher than 300. . . ), I was still wearing some level 38 gear. Fortunately, the new zones are tuned down pretty far, so it didn’t matter. Kill times were about 16-17 seconds for a single mob (timed based on skills with 15 second cooldowns coming off cooldown a second or 2 before the fight ended), but they didn’t really hit hard and with Chloromancer as my second soul, well…. health below about 98% was quite rare.

I did dink around a bit in both Cape Jule and Pelladane with my cleric and warrior as well, so they both hit 51 about as I was ready to take the mage there. I got the mage to 51 and about 40% of the way in before I finished Cape Jule and went into the City Core. Then I swapped to the rogue and got it to 51 also, becuz some part of me thought it would be funny to have a toon from each archetype at 51.

Finished off the City Core with my mage and she was now almost level 53 (City Core zone is itty bitty), but I got to the Eastern Holdings in the middle of a zone event that I joined and the mobs for the event were 55-56, so they were difficult to impossible to hit. Turned me off of playing the mage then, though I did hit 53 during the event, so at least the level 55’s became hittable.

I decided that the cleric was “my main” so I went to the forums and looked for a decent soloing build, since my attempts at re-creating my old “Shamicar” build weren’t doing so hot. Found that “Druidicar” was the new hotness (Just Seer build), so I spec’d to that and finished off Cape Jule, then decided to swap continents and also did the Kingdom of Pelladane. This got me to upper 53, and Seratos started at 53, so that seemed to work out pretty well. Seratos was HUGE and fugly, so I actually didn’t care much for the zone. 50+ carnage quests too, and spread all over so there was a lot of exploring not for fun but to find new mobs to kill… which ended up kinda fun, I suppose, and I did see parts of the zone I wouldn’t have from the quests.

Finished Seratos at 55. Morban zone seemed to want me to be 56, though, so I went back and did the City core (for which I was over level now), Eastern Holdings (also over level), and then the Ardent Domain. This took me to upper level 58. I swapped continents again and went to Morban and hit 60 there. Hadn’t touched the Steppes of Infinity, Kingsward, or Ashora zones.

Since I tend not to really play the gear grind at level cap game, I moved on to my warrior. Found a guide for “the Perfect Solo build” but found it didn’t feel like it had enough single-target “oomph” to it, so I tweaked it around a bit and found that I liked it a lot “my way” so I made my own guide for it.

On the warrior I did Cape Jule and Pelladane both, but then stuck only to the Brevane continent, since I didn’t really care for Seratos or Morban. I was “above level” whe. I went into Eastern Holdings, but merely “at level” in Ardent Domain, and I was actually 2-3 levels low in Kingsward, but still made it to 58 before finishing that zone. Then I moved on to Ashora for 58-60. It worked quite well.

I moved on to the rogue then, since I’d found that the “Granpa’s” build killed things insanely fast in SL (like 7 seconds fast, as opposed to 11-13 for the warrior and 13-15 for the cleric). Becuz the toon is a triple crafter I’d actually gotten from 52 to 55 on crafting XP alone, so I could get away with following the same leveling path as the warrior and skipping some of the carnage quests and such, but I finished up Kingsward at 57, so I had to do a little bit of carnage grinding in Seratos to hit 58 and then moved to Ashora. Got to 60 and decided to go check out the Steppes of Infinity and I think I prefer that zone to Ashora, actually.

And finally back to the mage. It’s also a triple-crafter and it got from 53 to 55 on crafting xp before the daily crafting xp nerf. It’s level 56 now, and I’ve decided to work it up through the Dusken continent. Still working on Seratos, but found I’m a bit burned out on Rift now, and since I don’t really like to play at level cap, if I finish this mage to 60, then I know a big part of me will say “I’m done with Rift until the next level cap increase” so I’ve also been avoiding logging in to prolong that a bit, I suppose.

So that’s where I am with Rift now too.

TL;DR — find a decent leveling build on the forums (I linked my favorites) and it will help a lot. Expect to either run dungeons, do warfronts or Instant Adventures, or to be doing continent swapping in order to stay “at level” of the mobs you’re fighting. queue up for normal dungeons as you’re leveling too — they’re actually a lot of fun (I only did this on my rogue, and I wish I had on my cleric and warrior now too). There’s a ton to see, and while some zones have long-ish travel distances, for the most part the next carnage quest or next hub is just over that rise, so other than Seratos, I didn’t find any of the zones feeling extremely huge.

Sorry for the wall of text, but… you did ask where I am… Maybe I should have made a blog post of my own and linked it. Oh well.

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7. Guinadrodd - April 4, 2013

I was really into Rift pre-SL and was really looking forward to the expansion. I might have hit half of the way to 51 in Cape Jule, and have not been back. Have to agree with you about the quests, distance and the especially the skills reset.

Before the reset I felt I had a DPS and healer build that I both loved. Wasn’t able to find a Cleric healer build after the reset that I liked. (my preference is something close to Wow Shaman healing in Lich King, before they added the additional complexity)

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8. silvertemplar - April 4, 2013

Yea, i had the exact same experience, all set up for Storm Legion, i even did Ember Isle in preparation and then SL hit and now like 4 months later i’m still lvl 52.

I think what Trion did wrong here was exposing a feeling of “grind” . The time to kill went right up, the speed at leveling went right down and everything that makes an MMO a chore was amplified with the size of the landmass.

It got boring real fast. The other problem with Rift is, there isn’t exactly a compelling story. It’s like GW2, minus all the distractions along the road.

I am however now playing Defiance, another Trion product and i can clearly see the tech/concepts used in Storm Legion has been re-used in Defiance. I wonder whether SL was a test bed for Defiance or vice versa. The catch is, Defiance got fast travel (from anywhere on the map) , easy accessible cars and mobs drop within 1-4 hits. Somehow Defiance is more fun, and it is dawning on me that maybe it is the slow repetitive killing of mobs and the long travel times that killed Rift for me.

I can deal with long travel times if i’m exploring, not if i have been through the place 10 times already. Unfortunately SL , huge landmass and all, does not have a great exploratory experience either. Everything is spaced to make it a PITA to travel, you can’t just walk into a temple or interesting town as you will need to fight hordes of enemies (which takes ages to kill) only to find there’s nothing really there!

I’m comparing this to something like Fallen Earth (post apocs indie MMO) which had huuuge travel times and distances, but there were actually little towns along the way, you could go in there and find a shop or a NPC with a quest or a crafting haven, not so with SL.

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9. Telwyn - April 5, 2013

Not much I can add here but I did feel the same by level 54 on my main character. I just tired of the sense of grind to the leveling, especially with the need to jump between continents – it just breaks up the sense of following a coherent story for me.

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10. Happy Psy-Day and Other Weekend Links - April 12, 2013

[…] at Ancient Gaming Noob wonders why Storm Legion hasn’t really stuck with him. I have to admit I hit 60 (the new level cap) and have barely logged on since then. I loved RIFT so […]

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11. Syl (@Gypsy_Syl) - April 13, 2013

Very interesting analyzis. I was wondering why nobody in my friend circles is playing Rift anymore, despite several Rift fans in there. I haven’t played SL but assumed it would be huge to anyone who stuck with the game for so long. but it seems there were too many changes and that not all of the so-called improvements were actually better for Rift.
it’s tricky to change fundamental mechanics of MMOs mid-term; players get used to certain things when they start a new MMO and it may well be the reason why they take to it. if too much revamp happens later on, even in order to ‘keep up’ with newer games maybe, that can be counter-productive. so, instead of attracting more new players, the likelier scenario is that you antagonize and lose the ones you had.

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12. A Whole New World | Tales of the Aggronaut - April 27, 2013

[…] it is absolutely brilliant.  A few weeks back, I had been reading a blog post by Wilhelm on The Ancient Gaming Noob talking about how he was just having a hard time getting into Storm […]

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13. Vestbootchty - July 4, 2013

Pretty much in a nutshell Storm Legion is garbage. It takes way too long to travel anywhere and takes way too long to kill anything.

Game developers are still living in the 1990s when it comes to MMOs, They havent realized that people are juggling multiple jobs to survive in this engineered financial collapse, and dont have the excessive time to burn as they did from 1995-2009.

Developers need to get with the times before they ruin the entire market for MMOs.

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14. WildBill - June 30, 2014

Storm legion was by far a big way of opening Rift up. But by the time you reached 60. You were burnt out. I only got my rogue to 60. And as of now and working on my cleric. But I feel as though the leveling speed (without paying with credits) should be bumped up a little bit. Just so it doesn’t seem like much of a grind. It got to the point I’d just get on do my dailies and then log. I really hope the next expansion brings us something huge.

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15. HERPDERP - July 12, 2014

Sadly, I have to say all of this is so misunderstood to me. I’ve been playing rift for just over a month – and me and my friend have 2 level 60s, and I’m in almost full T1 raid gear…

SL is easy, if you know what you are doing with your souls, and ahve some decent gear. Your soul should make up all your damage.

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16. Wilhelm Arcturus - July 12, 2014

@HERPDERP – Well, glad you enjoyed it. Storm Legion killed the game for me. I gave it a couple more tries and have since moved on.

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