Pressing into Cape Jule and Pelladane

Earlier in the month I was moaning about the Storm Legion expansion for Rift.

I had not been actively avoiding the game.  But whenever I was looking for a game to play, I would get to Rift, give a little dejected moan internally, and move on to something else.

I just wasn’t that into it, and I was trying to figure out why.

Whole lot of gray

A lot of unexplored land

Thinking on it, I came up with three possible factors.  They were, put simply, the character/class/soul revamp that went in just before the expansions, the change in how quests and story flow were handled, and the general increase in landmass that came with the expansion.

Nice theories.  They seem reasonable.

And certainly the first one, the class revamp, was a big pain in the ass.  Having to go back and relearn how to play your character… and the multiple roles on your character… was a big deal to me.  I have managed to get healing sorted out on Hillmar, my cleric, and I think I have his DPS soul working.  But my warrior and rogue characters are still pretty opaque and my mage is probably dead to me at this point.

But still, are these the things that were keeping me from logging in?

I decided to push the point, force myself to log in, and get through the first zones and levels just to see what I could see.

What I did after the cut.

Ah, into Storm Legion.

I did not want to take Hillmar out for fear of getting too far ahead of the regular group, so I picked one of my other characters.

I went with Sanperre, my warrior.  I redone his soul after the revamp and brought him into Storm Legion, but he was barely cutting it.  That was probably because I was not playing his new soul choices correctly.  So I decided to cheat.

On my Storm Legion post, pkudude99 commented about several things, including his own warrior build and posted a link to how he had configured it and the macros he was using.  I decided to take that wholesale and use it, in the hope that it would at least get me past the “playing my class” issue.

And it seemed to work.

There is a macro each for single target builder, AOE builder, single target finisher and AOE finisher.  So those four buttons, plus charge, to rush an opponent and that skill that pulls one two you and I was good.

I also went to the auction house and found the best weapon I could for him.  Due to a rather slim selection, that ended up being a one handed mace, so he had that and a shield.  Fortunately as an armor smith one of the things he can make is shield spikes, so the enemy takes damage with each block.

Thus equipped, I headed to the Cape Jule zone.

I chose that zone because my warrior had already worked his way into Pelladane previously and I wanted to start in a fresh zone.  I had initially started my rogue in Cape Jule, where he died horribly and constantly, so I also figured it would be a good ability to play the class.

With a warrior and the build and the equipment upgrades as they came, I was actually able to get through Cape Jule pretty handily.

Key Achievements

Key Achievements

Being done there left me just shy of level 52 and put me on the road to the next zone, City Core.  However, when I arrived at City Core, I found things started off a couple of levels above me.  In Rift, that can be a problem.

So I took the hint and went back and finished off Pelladane as well.

Key Achievements

Key Achievements

That put me just over the level mark into 53 and opened up the next zone, Seratos.

Zone Progress So Far

Zone Progress So Far

Done with that, I have some observations on the Storm Legion expansion so far.

Story

Each of the two zones has their own story and quests that lead you through it.  Each wraps up in a final fight or event that basically finishes things up for the zone, but leave the overall tale of the expansion still going.  For example, Crucia comes along when you defeat her champion, promising more conflict to come.

Meeting Crucia...

Meeting Crucia…

There is an achievement both for finishing a certain number of quests and for finishing the story line.

My problem is that the first time through a zone, unless the story is really strong and told more through what you do than what is written in the quest text, I tend to lose the thread of the story amongst the mechanics of getting things done.  So many “kill this, collect that” shopping list entries later and suddenly I realize that things have come to a head.

Post Cataclysm Redridge in WoW is a zone with a really strong story that forces you to pay attention.  For all of its flaws and reliance on pop-culture references,  I remember what happened there still, and I only went through it once.  Cape Jule and Pelladane are not that strong.  Not even close.

But missing the story is more my flaw than the game’s I suppose.  And generally I have to do a zone twice to pick up the nuances.

Pacing and Progress

The problem with easy and quick progress is that it is addictive and sets expectations.  When I ran my last character through Rift to level 50, the levels seemed to fly by.  That is gone with Storm Legion.

And since I did that run to level 50 just before Storm Legion came out, the change was jarring.  The slow pace was part of what made me feeling like I was doing things wrong.

But slow is not necessarily bad.  I cannot, on one hand, complain about out-leveling zones in one post and then turn around and whine that leveling takes too long in another, and expect to be taken seriously.

So, feeling that I need to choose one over the other, I will take the pacing that Storm Legion offers.  It actually seems to be about right so far if you want to see the whole expansion in one pass.  I had to do Cape Jule and Pelladane in order to be ready for the next zones.  That is probably as it should be.

I admit that it helps that planar attunement levels still come pretty often.  That gives a small sense of advancement while you are watching that main experience bar crawl along.

Carnage Quests

It took me a while to take these in stride.  I went from trying to knock them out as soon as I got them, to avoiding them if I could, to trying to pick them up as soon as I found them but not stressing over getting them done.  Inevitably the story line drags you through the mobs you need to kill.  And the fact that there is an achievement for finishing all such quests in a zone clicked with my OCD nature.

Controls Points, Scattered Quests, and Hunt Rifts

Along with traditional quest lines from NPCs, there are the quests you pick up in the field from objects on the ground.  If carnage quests are on-the-fly kill ten rats quests, then these are their collect ten widgets brethren.  And they are fine as far as they go.  The only thing that bugs me is that until you pick them up, every possible collectible piece for the quest appears on your mini-map as a “quest here!” icon.  So you look like you are wandering into the quest hub from hell.  I get why they chose to do it that way.  Design is often a compromise.  But that means it won’t always sit well.

The other regular activity each zone are what I would call control point battles.  There are daily quests… a few in each zone… to go to a particular point, clear it of bad guys, revive the source stone and defending equipment, and then defend it from bad guys seeking to wipe it out.  20 waves of such will satisfy the quest.

Defending such a point

Defending such a point

The initial problem for me was that you need planar charges in order to revive and power everything up.  Since I did not do much on Ember Island before Storm Legion, the only way I knew to get planar charges was to close rifts.  That is a slow way to build them up.

So I generally avoided those daily quests until I discovered the crystals around the control points which, when slain, recharge planar charges.  A quick jaunt over to one and I could be full up with 9 planar charges and on my way.  And then the control points were much easier.  They were also pretty much the only point at which I interacted with other players.

There were not many other players to be seen in these zones on the Shatterbone server.  A couple now and again, but I mostly felt like I had the zones to myself.  But the daily nature of the quests and the fact that they reward you with source stone currency meant that there were public groups to be found.

And then there were the hunt rifts.  I found out that those… and killing the harbinger that appears… seem to be group activities.  And the lures cost 10K palanarite.  I’ll save those for the right moments.

Equipment and Crafting

Going through the quest chains meant getting equipment upgrades, so I figured I would just skip crafting for the time being.  My warrior does mining as well as armor and weapon smithing.  I gathered ore whenever I could, to level up the mining, but just stored that away.  Gathering professions seemed to advance more slowly than before, so I used every opportunity to mine.  It is a good thing that there were a lot of constructs that could be mined after being slain, as ore nodes alone wouldn

Or I did until I checked on what I could make.  The plate armor items my warrior could craft were noticeably better than what I was picking from quests.  So I started in on that.  However, materials quickly became a bottleneck.  I got up a couple of tiers, but then started needing higher level leather, which was extremely expensive at the auction house.  Likewise, when I looked into weapons, I ended up needing wood from foragers which was simply not available.  And the usual alternative, getting out alts to harvest, seemed like a less than profitable goal, as I would need to get their harvesting level up quite a bit.  That would mean spending time on that rather than pushing through the zones.

So I opted to stick with gear from drops and quests for the most part.

As for the look of the gear, I think the Storm Legion plate armor is pretty decent.

Plate set in a purple area

Plate set in a purple area

It certainly looks better than the chain cleric gear Hillmar has picked up.  That makes him look like a giant lawn gnome.  Fortunately, the wardrobe slots let him hide that.

The Zones Themselves

The most embarrassing thing about the first two zones is that I have trouble telling them apart.  I went to the wrong portal more than once from Meridian or Tempest Bay.  Neither had a character that made them stand out from the other.  Green grass, hills, some mountains, a shoreline… it all sort of melded together into one composite mental image.

Only the mobs distinguish them, and even those are not that different.  Storm Legion soldiers make up a large number in either of the two zones.  And I couldn’t place the zone where a given mob was if asked.  I got out my rogue, as he has the butcher skill that lets him harvest leather, to see how much work it would be to get him up to striped leather.  I had a 50/50 chance of just guessing the right zone, the one with the skinnable rhinos nearby, and I guessed wrong.

Now however, I am through the two initial zones, up to level 53, and facing two new zones.  And one, Seratos, looks as big on the map as the two zones I just finished.

So far, Storm Legion isn’t as bad as I was thinking it was.  But neither is it as exciting or distinctive as I had hoped.  I suppose I will see if the expansion can pick up the pace with the next two zones.

9 thoughts on “Pressing into Cape Jule and Pelladane

  1. bhagpuss

    My biggest gaming regret of last year – only significant one really – was buying Storm Legion with the 12 month “it’s not a sub” sub deal. I guess I have logged in half a dozen times and played maybe a dozen hours in total. I haven’t logged in once this year.

    After the very, very brief initial This Is Something New effect wore off (the second day I logged in that happened) my main impression when I tried to explore was “This really all looks the same and I am quite fed up”. Unlike you I haven’t chosen to push past that to see if it gets any better. Not sure why I would bother given the very wide range of much more immediately (and persistently) more appealing MMOs on offer.

    Reading your excellent, detailed analysis just makes me feel all my original instincts were correct. It may not be as bad as you thought it was but even with you doing your best to give it the benefit of the doubt it still sounds drudgy, dull and tedious.

    I wish I’d just stuck to playing Rift Lite and saved myself the money.

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  2. Green Armadillo

    My level of interest is so low that I’m not convinced it’s worth the bother to sign up for a Raptr account and log into the free “Rift Lite” AFK for the hours required to get the expansion for free. Part of my hold-up is that I almost certainly picked the wrong calling given what I now know about how the game plays in practice. Part of the issue is that time-to-kill for mobs is tuned to make grouping not entirely pointless, which in turn makes soloing painful. But the reality is that this game is technically well executed and reasonably pretty besides but otherwise just doesn’t seem to be doing anything to hold my interest.

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  3. pkudude99

    Seratos is *massive.* It’s also extremely visually different from Pelladane or the Brevan continent. From Seratos on through the rest of the Dusken continent everything is more or less death-rift themed. Lore is that Regulos actually ruled there for a while and brought in all the plane of death stuff with him, or somesuch. TBH, I find it to be rather fugly (especially the hillsides with full sets of teeth and gums embedded in them in the NE corner of the zone) and due to the massive size of the zone, I felt like it was a slog. YMMV. But that’s why I leveled my warrior and my rogue up on Brevane instead, and I think part of why I’m having trouble logging my mage in since I told myself “Dusken for the mage, darnitall!”

    I also didn’t really care for the story on the Dusken side, though the climax of it was fairly cool. I still think I prefer the overall arc on the Brevane side. YMMV. I don’t “get” the supposedly awesome stories in SWTOR either, so… grain of salt, etc.

    Glad to see my warrior build is working out for you!

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  4. pkudude99

    @PvD — I’ll give you my code if you want it, just to dink around with. Otherwise it will go to waste.

    And I forgot… @TAGN — Get a 2nd weapon asap! It will boost your damage by 30% and you block without the shield due to the 11-point warlord skill anyway. The loss of the 3-4% general mitigation from not using a shield is more than made up for by the DPS boost from dual-wielding.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Oh, yeah, the Raptr code. After my ringing endorsement, if anybody wants a full copy of the game, plus the expansion, plus 30 days of game time, drop me an email. Or the silly cosmetic helm and/or spaulders.

    The little Raptr pet though, that is mine!

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  6. silvertemplar

    I think Trion made a mistake with their “landscaper” engine. This is exactly the problem in Defiance right now too. Trion clearly designed an engine that allows you to create these huge open rolling landscapes, but with very little atmosphere when you get down to it.

    If you go to Ember Island (a good lvl 50+ zone) which went in before Trion’s landscaper mode and then return to one of those Storm Legion continents you will understand what i’m talking about. Ember Island has atmosphere, the second you step on that tropical island dock and see the huge Volcano. So you work your way around this volcano with quests and eventually venture into the volcano. There’s so much variance in that relatively small zone that i actually enjoyed the place. I did it before doing Storm Legion just as a means to catch up, and when i hit Storm Legion, i wasn’t feeling any love for their zone design.

    So i even just ran across the storm legion map to see what happens in the followup zones. Very little it seems, they change the color of the textures , but it’s still pretty much these rolling , bland landscapes.

    Defiance, you can immediately feel those exact same zone designs are going there. While initially it’s not bad, but once you realise the entire game have these open rolling landscapes (including the final zone called “San Francisco”, and no, there’s no city), it is rather disappointing. It’s like Fallout without any unique town or house, just one open landscape with roaming enemy mobs.

    Anyway, long story short, i feel it’s the zone design and lack of atmosphere that killed Storm Legion for me. I mean, compare those continents with the pre-50 zones like Gloamwood (the dark, horror looking zone) then you’ll immediately remember the atmosphere that place had.

    I’d say, think of the most boring zone in WoW, Badlands maybe? Everyone has one that they just felt wasn’t very interesting, imagine an entire 2 continents of this, that’s Storm Legion.

    All the other mechanics and gameplay is still pretty fine , i don’t have too much of a problem with the classes and relearning them etc. I do however have an issue with the time to kill those mobs though.

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  7. roguekish

    Yeah I have a love/ hate relationship wth the Carnage quests. Just started on Rift two weeks ago or so and just landed in Storm Legion content.

    Good thing is though that even though I start to get mobs that are 2 or 3 levels above me I am leveling with a group so not too much problems there. I actually like the much slower pace of the game since I got 0 of the story of pre SL where as now I am actually getting it as I am reading thhe quests and such, due to there not being a feeling of it being pointless because you outlevel the zone too quickly (mentoring down helped pre SL ofc).

    Don’t know much about the SL zones, excpet Jungle is not my favourite scenery ever. It’s kind og nice how the Eternal City is slightly different but still fits in as a neighbouring zone (no huge differences like Felwood to Winterspring), but I am not sure f that’s an entirely good thng I guess I’ll have to see.

    I guess what makes me still like Rift overall is that it’s got lots of stuff that give me a TBC feeling and I would love WoW to have kept or worked on…

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  8. pkudude99

    @silvertemplar — What do you consider to be a decent TTK for a mob? I found that if I used one of the soloing builds posted on the forums that my TTK for every class went down rather markedly. Once I had some decent questing greens my TTK’s generally were:

    Rogue — 7-9 seconds — felt insanely fast
    Warrior — 11-13 seconds — felt about right
    Mage — 12-15 seconds — feels faster for some reason, but matches the cleric’s times. Go figure.
    Cleric — 12-15 seconds — feels slow, but does larger single hits at a slower pace, so isn’t really slower overall … it just feels that way.

    As I leveled up and the mobs HP grew, the TTK actually became a bit longer (by about 3-4 seconds for each class more or less), but only the cleric ever really felt like it took a long time due to its longer GCD, and even there it never felt *bad* just … a little slower.

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  9. Solf

    Probably a rather useless comment (given the overall theme) — but still — hunt rifts don’t need lures. They spawn by themselves. You only need rune if you want specific mob to finish off quest/achievement I think.

    Hunt rifts also scale with the number of players nearby. It should be possible (at least for certain builds) to solo them ‘at level’ if nobody interferes to bump the rift ‘scaling’ up.

    You also get decent rewards for closing hunt rifts and I think there’s daily for them too. At any rate, I was closing them quite often.

    P.S. I think I mentioned it before? I too somehow lost my interest in Rift in expansion. I can’t even say why. I guess my best experience in Rift was 3-manning master dungeons at about level 50 (might’ve been 51-52) and also beating the ‘storm queen’ dungeon with 3 or 4 people (don’t remember exactly) at 50.

    Expert dungeons at 60 with 4 people seemed like a brick wall on the other hand. Like 100% “no way no how” and we had close to the best gear available from the non-expert dungeons. Since 4 was all we had (group of friends) that was pretty much it (but really I had little to no interest in playing Rift even before that — like I said, I can’t even say what was the reason that ‘killed’ it for me).

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