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.
And also did it enough to get a mount for my mage… because I felt that it completed his “look.”
A simple look at the map from the original pre-expansion world shows that I have been most everywhere.
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.
That is barely a toe hold in the new lands. And I haven’t done much of anything with their player housing either.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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?