Tag Archives: Storm Legion

Images from the Rift Storm Legion Tour

Like some other bloggers, I was invited by Trion to go on a tour of the Storm Legion expansion.  Keen and SynCaine (can you imagine?) both have posts up about the tour already, and I expect more will pop up soon.  I will link them here when I find them. (Keen has his Part 2 up now, and MMO Gamer Chick has her tour reports under way as well.)

So for 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon, ending when it was about time to get ready for the Giants/Cards game, James
“Elrar” Nichols from the Rift community team showed me around the Storm Legion expansion.

And at the end of that, I have to ask myself, “What do I say?”

How do I sum up or expand upon what I was shown and what has already been announced?

“More” is probably the best word, because there is more of everything.  More souls, more levels, more dungeons, more raids, and more places to explore (each of the two new island has more landmass than the original game).

Quests are supposed to be “more” organic to the environment.  They are trying to step away from the hub to hub approach and put more out the field for players to find.

And there is “more” to keep you occupied when not adventuring, mostly in the form of Dimensions.

Dimensions are Rift’s version of housing.   Rift Junkies has a good intro to them.  You can have your own chunk of the world to call your own and decorate.  The level of freedom to do this is very broad.  You have EverQuest II levels of freedom (and more) to manipulated items in your dimension, as well as being able to open it up to the public for visitors.

And while the initial dimension you get… and you are handed a dimension pretty much as soon as you are done with the initial tutorial stage of the game, which is a great move and part of what made EQII housing so big… is pretty small, there are some huge ones out there.  We were in one that was basically all of the town of Granite Falls.

I think the only thing they are missing is a carpenter-like furniture crafting trade skill.

Anyway, while I could dribble on for a while about details that have been better documented elsewhere, I am just going to go with visuals.  The visuals are great, and my screen shots do not do them justice, but they will give you a taste.  Some of the places, like the raid instances, I will probably never see in game.  There are also some of the interesting Dimensions we visited among the shots.

I am including thumbnails of all the pictures after the cut so you can pick out and examine individual screen shots at your leisure.

Continue reading

Rift – It’s a Soul New World

One of the pains about roaming from MMO to MMO is that every time you come back to an old haunt, you have to remember how to play again.

And that can plague you at several levels.

There is the overall structure of how the game works, the individual conventions that probably do not align completely with the last game you were playing, and simple quirks of user interface that can trip you up.

And then there is actually playing your character.  And what do all those skills do?  And what has changed since I have been in this game last?

What weight each level has can vary from game to game.

In EverQuest the character classes were generally straightforward, with a pretty rational and focused set of skills.  But the UI conventions used to be from another planet compared to the post-WoW world.  That has changed a lot, and fighting the UI when I go back to old Norrath is no longer my biggest struggle, but it is on the top 5.

Meanwhile, EverQuest II seems quite conventional in interface… at least until you get to the oddities hiding below the surface… but the character classes… wow.  The class design objectives had to include the line “Skills. Lots of skills.”

So any return to post cataclysm Norrath includes a good amount of time figuring out what those four hot bars full of skills actually do.  This is usually compounded by my racial traits or AA’s having been reset as well somewhere along the way.

This builds up its own barrier to entry… or re-entry… into a game.  It sometimes feels easier just to start a new character than to figure all of that out.  Of course, then you are at the bottom of the level hill again, which in itself represents a whole new disincentive.

But that is the price of the nomadic MMO player.  If you roam from world to world, you had best plan to stop and figure out what has changed.  You will be the person out of time, the person woken up from a long cryogenic sleep, the Philip J. Fry in the 30th century to which your game has advanced. (Time is figurative, not literal.  Your game may be well beyond the 30th century, stuck back in the 12th, or in some alternate reality altogether.)

Of course people will say that if you just stick to one game for a while, you won’t have to put up with that sort of thing.

To those people, I introduce Rift patch 1.11, which has managed to simulate the whole “having been away” experience for people who haven’t actually been away.

I have played Rift for a year straight now.  I have gone through changes, played with souls, and ended up opting for their soul “pre-sets” that give a decent, workable soul build for a specific role.  We got those back in February.  And in the time since then all my characters have ended up using them.  They simply end up being better than anything I manage to roll on my own.

The last to go was my cleric Hillmar, who plays the healer in our regular group.  He opted for the Flame Keeper pre-set.

Old Cleric Pre-sets

And over the last couple of weeks I have learned the basics of that setup, to the point that I was able to heal pretty well in our man short run at The Fall of Lantern Hook.

And then came the big patch.  The ground work for the Storm Legion expansion was being laid.  And the changes have been so big that the general segment of the patch notes start with the line:

The patch notes for 1.11 are super incredibly long, so some sections have been linked to the appropriate forum thread rather than displayed in the patcher, particularly Calling and Crafting changes.

Oh my.  So there is a whole forum section devoted to the changes to cleric souls.  And it isn’t short.  None of the groups are short.  And the changes are quite dramatic in some ways.

Not that it is all bad.  There are some nice things in the 1.11 patch.  And, good news everybody, there are more pre-set soul types, which will open up new play styles to people who do not want to spend time researching and experimenting with souls and point allocation.  I think the goal was to make one pre-set that focused on each of the possible souls.  Which mean we should be getting another pre-set with Storm Legion, as it is going to have a new soul for each class.

New Cleric Pre-sets

Just on general principles I might have to try out the Steam Punk role.  The name alone intrigues.

But in looking at the two images in this post, which happen to show the old and new version of the Flame Keeper pre-set, you can see that the changes are not trivial.  This was no mere tuning of abilities.  And it has lead me to some confusing moments.

Doesn’t have to be funny if it’s true…

So there will be another relearning hill to climb.  With all four of my characters.  With all of the characters in our regular group.

It will be like we woke up after being in a long cryogenic sleep.

It will be like we have been away from the game for an extended period.

But, I suppose if you have been away from the game for an extended period, it might be as good a time as any to come back.  There is the new expansion coming out, there is a free returning players weekend coming up, and you will be as lost in your class abilities as a lot of people who have been playing for the last year.

Myself included.

Now who ordered this pizza?

Moving Forward and Looking Forward in Rift

As I noted last week, a decision needed to be made.   Should my healer in our regular group, Hillmar, who was already two levels ahead of our target level of 42, hold where he was in the absence of a “lock exp” option (and thus forgo a holiday mount!), or push ahead at least to level 47 so he was at the +5 level mark and then mentor down to 42 for our next instance run?

Well, I can tell you what won out.

Another mount!

I was mostly moved by the comments that basically said, “who cares what level you are, you’re the healer FFS.”

So, he is now up to level 47.  I finished up the Autumn Harvest Festival quests with him to get the 15 signets for the mount.  Though that turned out to be a bit odd.

The quest for the mount only requires you to acquire 15 signets.  When you turn in the quest you get to keep them.  And, as it so happens, the festival vendor has three titles for sale, each of which costs 100 sap and 5 signets.  So Hillmar has all three titles as well, though I am reliable informed that the third title is, in fact, “Mead Drinker” and not that French word I was saying in guild chat.

And, of course, he also has the hat.  And two pets.  And a pile of artifacts for collections, though I have to say in vacuuming up over 100 such artifacts, Hillmar managed to complete exactly 1 collection.  It was at the point where I was happy if artifacts I picked up would simply add to a collection I already had as opposed to revealing yet another collection.

Rift has a lot of collections.  Seriously.  I don’t know how people complete these things without a burning obsession in their hearts.

Well, I know how I completed a few.  I went to the auction house, as the glut of artifacts on the market brought prices down even on our sparsely populated server.  That got me to at least the 10 collection complete achievement.

Only like another 90 left undone

And then I went and finished up the signet quest with Solyndro, my mage, so now he has a new mount as well.

The spider mount is part of his “look”

I have also collected a ton of artifacts with him as well, and have kept the Rift mail database humming by sending artifacts back and forth between characters in the ongoing vain hope that I might actually complete a collection on my own.  Not going to happen, auction house all the way.

Solyndro actually made it to level 50 as well, making it well within the 68 day window he had when I started out.  He was out in Shimmersand doing instant adventures with a disconnected partner when it happened.

Another level 50!

I find the NPC comment to be quite amusing.

That gives me a level 50 in three of the four basic Rift classes, and Hillmar is clearly within striking distance of 50.

Nehru clearly must go

All of which gets me about as ready as I have ever been for an expansion.  And the Storm Legion expansion for Rift is just about a month away.  And there is much to look forward to not only there, but along the way.

Trion has test server patch notes up in its forums that give a look at what they are planning for the last big pre-Storm Legion patch.  These are literally too dense for me to read.  Lots of changes going in for individual souls and such.  But there were a couple of interesting items in the general patch notes list.

The one that answered questions for me was regarding Planar Attunement.  These are levels you can gain after you hit the adventure level cap which enhance your character.  You could spend a long, long time maxing out your attunement.  And I have been wondering if my not having worked on this would leave some of my characters at a serious disadvantage come Storm Legion.

But it looks like in the next revamp, planar attunement levels will apply to all of your characters.  So while I went a bit nuts with my rogue earning attunement points, it looks like that will end up helping Hillmar out eventually, even though he hasn’t hit 50 yet.

So that was a big one.

I still have questions.  For example, the rest of the instance group will likely have no attunement points come the expansion.  Will they be at a serious disadvantage?  I suppose we will find out.

And then, another huge issue in the forums looks like it will be addressed.  The Farmer’s Hat from Autumn Harvest Festival… players will be able to dye that after the patch.

But why would you want to dye this?

So we will have that going for us.


And then there is Storm Legion itself where we will see what Trion learned in its first year about levels, zone design, and group content.  Plus we get their own take on player housing.

Much to look forward to indeed!

Just 68 Days to Get My Mage to Level 50

Meet Solyndro.  He is my mage.

Solyndro and Companion

Early on in playing Rift I made one character of each of the major classes, warrior, cleric, rogue, and mage.  At the time I had heard that pyromancer… fire mage… was a good path to follow and named him after the wreck of the solar power company just up the highway from me which now stands as yet another monument to government waste and stupidity.  I made the name a little more masculine by substituting an “o” in for the “a” at the end.

I played Solyndro through the tutorial and then left him sitting in the corner of Freemarch where you first enter the main section of the game, the right timeline, the past world you have been sent back to save… along with so many other people.  Personal storylines are tough in MMOs.

I did play him a bit when we had to move servers.  You have to be at least level 8 to do a server transfer it seems.  But that was back in January.  I haven’t done much with him since.  I sent him some surplus cosmetic items.  There was an extra Santa hat I had around, and somewhere I came up with an Ancient Kelari robe, which ironically occupies the chest equipment slot yet does not actually cover the players chest. (Not an issue limited to Rift.  I wonder how it looks on a female Kelari? I’m guessing they don’t wear it so low.)  I decided that this would be his look.  Nipples free in Telara.

And so he sat for months, until last week.  Last week I noted in my month in review post that I had a level 50 rogue and a level 50 warrior and that Hillmar, my instance group cleric, was close enough to level 50 that it would not be a big deal to get him there.  The instance group will get him there.   All that I was missing was a level 50 mage.

And so this past weekend I got Solyndro out again.  I respec’d him in one of the pre-defined soul plans that Trion put into the game back in February. Despite his name, I went with the Gravelord plan.

Sympathy for the Gravelord

It seemed like the best choice for me.  I have never been good at mage types.  I have tended to avoid them since the days of Bard’s Tale.  But Gizalia has been using this plan and it seems to have some nice extras… good pets, self heals, and even feign death.

So there he was in his Ancient Kelari robe, Santa hat, and a pair of industrial strength gloves (because he hates digging through icky stuff with his bare hands) ready for action.  I played him a lot over the three day weekend.  He has gone from level 8 and just starting in on Freemarch to closing in on level 26 and into the north end of Stonefield, having made the residents miserable along the way.

Mage without pity

The climb to 50 was on.  And then last night it became a race.

Trion finally announced the ship date for Storm Legion, the first Rift expansion.  It will be showing up on November 13th of this year.

The Storm Comes in November!

This actually surprised me.  Trion has borrowed so many winning plays from Blizzard (and I don’t blame them for doing so one bit) that I naturally assumed that when they did their “Subscribe for a year and get Storm Legion for free” offer, that meant Storm Legion was way out in the mid-2013.

I mean, that was the Blizzard method.  They offered a one year deal and then deliver the panda expansion 11 months later.  But no, just three months will elapse between the offer and the expansion launch.

Storm’s coming!

The Storm Legion page has been updated, they have a new video, and things seem to be set for November.  That puts it at the far end of the launch marathon, with Guild Wars 2, Torchlight II, Mists of Panderia, and Riders of Rohan all going live in the gap before Thanksgiving and the launch of the Holiday Shopping Season(tm).

And so the race for 50 is well and truly on.

At this point, given my progress and the help that I know instant adventures will give, I am feeling pretty good about hitting level 50 before Storm Legion launches.  It is a good, solid goal.

Of course, the early part is also the easy part.  Somewhere after Scarlet Gorge, the game gets kind of blurry to me until I get to Stillmore.  There is a chance I will lose momentum and get distracted.  I mean, Torchlight II is coming out pretty soon here.  Still, I remain resolute.

The spider mount is also his thing

Solyndro the nature boy, the topless Kelari of Telara, is on his way to level 50.  We shall see if he gets there.

He might be my first mage type character at level cap ever.

The Storm Legion Mount

You kind of have to be a Bahmi to pull off the “Landslide” mount they are offering.  Normal human sized characters get sort of lost on its back.  And don’t get me started on how a dwarf might look.

Big Mount for a Big Bahmi

And you get the title right away too, though that isn’t quite as much fun…

Wait, you’re who now?

Unless you just like making your name extra long.  You also seem to get bumped up in your veteran status when you buy in.

That means a few more goodies.  Not sure I need another 10 experience buff potions and such. (5 each for 18 and 24 month achievements)

And I am kind of bummed that they only stack to 20.  Can somebody fix that?

Anyway, have fun playing Guild Wars 2 the weekend after next.  I am committed to this for a while.

No Blizzard Trick Left Untouched – Subscribe to Rift for a Year, Get Storm Legion for Free

As Rift continues to evolve more quickly that World of Warcraft could ever hope to, Trion has not been shy about borrowing from the number one subscription MMO in the west.

In their role as understudy to the master, they have borrowed some of WoW’s successes, like achievements in all sizes for all players, battlegrounds, and cash shop cosmetic mounts.  Oh and the five player instanced dungeon game on which our Saturday night group loves to focus.  That is what brought us to Telara after Cataclysm quickly grew stale.

But they also play the nimble opponent, reaching out to all sources for ways in which to differentiate themselves from the Azerothian behemoth in an attempt to become all the best things in the DIKU MMO world.

So they have instant adventures, mentoring, a mix-and-match talent tree system like no other (with pre-set crutches for those of us who don’t like that sort of thing), zone events, easy appearance slots (which they kinda need), maybe the best fishing game in any MMO, area looting, and of course the open group/public quest events from which the game draws its name, those rifts.

And so it should be no surprise that Trion has again decided to run with another successful Blizzard idea and offer up a free copy of the first Rift expansion, Storm Legion if you opt to subscribe to the game for year.

Commit for Free Stuff

You get the Storm Legion expansion, a mount, and a special title if you sign up for a one year subscription to the game.  Details on the expansion and such are on Rift’s Storm Legion page, which is where I stole that graphic.  You can “Buy Now” from there.

The Package Price

During beta I dismissed Rift as yet another WoW inspired fantasy MMORPG without much to differentiate it.  I had enough fantasy MMORPG on my plate, I did not need any more.  My enthusiasm for the game came long after launch when so many people were making moon eyes at the game.  As time has gone on, Trion has worked very hard, and quite successfully, to break free of my initial impression.  It became the game on my 2011 MMO Outlook that I ended up playing.

Now if they would just do something about the Guardian starter area.  I found that to be the most tedious aspect of the game, which isn’t a good way to bring people into the game.

Panda-monium Breaks Loose September 25th

The date has been set.  Blizzard has announced that the Mists of Panderia expansion for World of Warcraft will launch on September 25, 2012.

Digital pre-orders are available now in both standard and deluxe versions.

Choose your panda poison

I am sure there will also be a physical collector’s edition with the usual making of art book, music tracks CD, and other extras.

One of the biggest reactions I have seen to the digital deluxe edition is because it does not include a pet.  A special pet… or three special pets… has been one of the traditional bonuses for collector’s editions.

It does however include a special mount.  Mounts go for $25 at the Blizzard store, and the deluxe edition is only $20 more than the standard edition, so you could view it as a discounted mount purchase I suppose.  The other items, more sigil fluff in Diablo III and some StarCraft II portraits seem, well… pretty meaningless to me.

But that kind of sums up my feelings about Mists of Panderia at the moment.  The expansion is adding a new race, a new class, five more levels, pet battles, and some new lands to explore.

Welcome to Panda Island!

But nothing about it has me very excited.  For starters, creating a panda character means 10 new levels of content, then 50 level of solo focused Cataclysm, 10 levels of Burning Crusade, 10 levels of Lich King, and 5 levels of Cataclysm until you get back to the new content.

Or you could just take one of your probably already at level cap characters and try out the new high level content.

Pet battles interests me mildly.  Not enough to actually download the beta now that they are finally in, but enough that I will certainly poke my nose in to see what it is about at launch.  I will still be in the last 30 days of my 1 year subscription commitment when this goes live.

But otherwise I am just not feeling it.

Of course, that might be a good thing.

If you are a long time reader you might have noticed a correlation between games about which I have been excited… Warhammer Online, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Replublic (now officially Tortanic), and the Cataclysm expansion… and games which have disappointed me.  The higher my spirits, the further they fall.

A sad commentary on life I suppose.

Meanwhile, I have often ended up enjoying things that I was initially unexcited about.  Rift, Wrath of the Lich King, EverQuest II Extended… I was skeptical of these, yet ended up enjoying them quite a bit.

It is sort of a variation on the Oscar the Grouch “happy when I am angry, angry when I am happy” thing.  Sort of.

Anyway, it is going to be an interesting third quarter this year.  Guild Wars 2 goes live on August 28, the LOTRO Expansion Riders of Rohan shows up on September 5 last I checked, and Torchlight II is threatening to ship in September as well, though nothing is official there so it might change.

Meanwhile, I am still playing Rift and EVE Online.  The instance group, once the summer hiatus comes to an end, still have a few dungeons to do before hitting level cap in Rift, at which point there might be an official date for the Storm Legion expansion.  It was previously slated for “Fall 2012.”

And EVE Online… well, they release all sorts of stuff all the time there.

So there will be pandemonium in just the number of like games launching or launching new content.

What else is going to launch between now and Christmas?

Fifty – Not Just Another Level in Telara

With the announcement of the upcoming Rift expansion, Storm Legion, I thought it might be time to get a character to level cap in the game so that should I buy it and want to play, I would be ready… unlike with all those LOTRO expansions I own.  I’ve only ever been to Moria.  But that is a subject for another post.

Fortunately this was a pretty easy task to accomplish.  I have had a rogue sitting at level 49.8 for a few months.  I never could quite build up the enthusiasm to push him that last 20% of a level to get to 50.  I have hit level cap in enough games for there mere act of getting there not to be much of a thrill, and end-game pursuits have never really been my cup of tea.

But, with an expansion coming, the balance was tipped.  I figured it would be my only chance to see what one can do at level 50, since once you tack on another 10 levels, all that previously end-game content gets bypassed.  Such content becomes Wintergrasp after Cataclysm; once a popular event, now a distraction pursued by a few die hards and the curious.

So I ran out to Stillmore, the last zone I had been working on with my rogue Teresten (I “still” had “more” to do… who names these zones?), to find a zone event just kicking off.  That was a good thing, since it saved me the trouble of trying to pick up where I had left off.  I joined the first public group I could find, which became the main raid group, and we ran around stomping out rifts and slaying bad guys.

Along the way, the moment came, and I hit level 50.

The moment!

Now if you don’t play Rift, that “Level Up” message might look pretty impressive.  To put that in perspective, I get a similar size message, only in green, when I grab a quest which says, “Quest Accepted.”  So I have seen the big text 48 times already, it is the achievement at the bottom that is the difference… in that is says 50, rather that 40, 30, 20, or 10.

Rift is big on celebrating every moment, which is a good thing.  I remember in LOTRO when it used to just say something like “your level has changed” in you chat window.

I went on with the event, which was a success.  Since Stillmore events are for level 50s, it draws a crowd from the top heavy player base.  I got a pile of things that added 10,000 points to my planar attunement, which I noticed advanced my still visible and working experience bar when I used them.

I also had an in-game mail waiting for me.  “Probably some congratulations message from the faction leader,” I thought.  It was, sort of, though it was a little garbled at the end.

Since this might spoil things for you if you have not made it to level 50 in Rift, I am going to put this all after a cut, so you’ll only have yourself to blame if I ruin the surprise.

Continue reading

Storm Legion, Expansions, and Measures of Success

You have probably already seen Trion Worlds’ announcement about their expansion to Rift.  Titled Storm Legion, it appears to be a pretty standard expansion, while the video that goes with it makes it clear that we are in for some precipitation with this expansion.

Someone left the Rift out in the rain…

Storm Legion has:

  • Two new continents
  • 10 more levels
  • More crafting levels
  • A New home town shared by Guardians and Defiants called Tempest Bay
  • More dungeons and more raids
  • Another soul to worry about for each of the base classes
  • A new equipment slots – Capes are the true mark of the nerd
  • Some sort of home/guild hall type of personal space in game
  • Generally more of the same, only bigger, stronger, faster, etc.

All pretty standard stuff for an MMO expansion.  I mean, if you took out the “personal space” thing (and boy, are people projecting their dreams onto that line item… watch out Trion, you toy with emotions on that front at your peril) and blurred the details a bit then it starts to sound a lot like Burning Crusade.  Or Wrath of the Lich King.  Or Ruins of Kunark.  Or Rise of Kunark!

Is Tempest Bay the new Shattrath?

And I do not mean to sound dismissive, but it is hard for me to build up any big wave of enthusiasm for this expansion, very much the way I have been unable to build up such for the game itself.

Rift is a very good MMO, but Trion’s approach has been to combine all that is good in the post-WoW world into one shiny, well-oiled machine of a package so that some of us can try and fill that empty space within us that the long timeline between WoW expansions… or WoW expansions that do not thrill us… leaves.

And Trion does that so well that my only worry is that they will go evil and turn their work into a mocking parody… and that I won’t notice.

So while I enjoy the game and appreciate all the work that has made it so smooth, it has never created the level of passion in me that EverQuest or World of Warcraft have in the past.

And thus my response to this expansion was not “Hurray! More Rift to play!” but a much more calm “I am glad to see that they are doing so well.”  How very nice for you!

Because, in my mind, releasing expansions to your MMO means success.  It is part of the cycle that I have come to expect having been trained early by EverQuest.

And MMOs that do not release expansions… well… they tend to be viewed as failures to one degree or another.  Think of that list.  Here is what springs to mind for me.

  • Vanguard
  • Warhammer Online
  • The Matrix Online
  • Chronicles of Spellborn

The stink of failure, games languishing or closed, which saw no expansions.

And, of course, success brings more success with expansions.  There are box sales (real or virtual along with the now standard junk collector’s edition) that bring in funds along with a boost in the subscription rate as those who have wandered off return to see what, if anything, is new and exciting in the world.

Even games like EVE Online which offer up free expansions (which I suspect are free in part because I wouldn’t pay for a lot of the stuff they offer and because so much of these expansions are really fixing or upgrading things that you couldn’t limit to a subset of players) tend to see jumps in subscription rates as they offer up new goodies.

So expansions spell success, while a lack of expansions appears to mean stagnation and closure.

Or so says my surface level bias.  But is it necessarily so?

Are there surviving and thriving MMORPGs out there that have never offered anything like an expansion?  (And how does one define an expansion? At what point does something count as an expansion?)

Or, on the flip side, has there been an MMORPG that expansioned itself to death? (No, Cataclysm doesn’t count SynCaine, but you can make the case for Trammel I suppose.)

How important are expansion to the genre?  Are expansion becoming old school thinking in the industry move to free to play, or are they still a viable measure of success?