Sixty: Storm Legion Endgame

March 9, 2013 - 4:07 am No Comments

Sixty-Storm Legion Endgame

Reaching the Cap Again

Raptr says I’ve logged 89 hours in the last week. That’s insane – although, in fairness, a lot of that time was spent  staring at the character select screen. Still, it took about 10 days, or about 35 hours, to go from 50 to 60 with a plentiful bounty of rested experience along the way. Of course, I forgot about my veteran pots. The grind was not nearly as bad as I expected; in fact, it was quite fun getting back into the game, using a new soul, and generally plowing my way through hordes of carnage, story, and daily quests.

It wasn’t all kill beasts and find porticulums though. Along the way there were plenty of planar mobs to kill. Invasions seem to be significantly more common than in vanilla RIFT. Footholds are common and rifts are opening all over the place. While carnage quests are the bread and butter of the grind to 60, there is plenty of variety to keep a person busy and engaged. Overall, the experience from 50 to 60 was massively enjoyable and a far car from the “same old, same old” grinds of other MMOG expansions. Read through the cut for more on the grind, dimensions, and what there is to do once you hit sixty.

Reminiscing on the Journey

I’ve mentioned it repeatedly since being back in Telara, but I’ll say it again: Storm Legion content is by far the most enjoyable content expansion I’ve played since The Scars of Velious expanded EverQuest back in 2000. Yes, that good. There is a massive amount of activity all throughout the world now, with rifts, invasions, zone events, scripted NPC combat, and even disguise and subterfuge missions.

Carnage Again?

Granted, the bulk of the quests from level 50 to 60 are made up of carnage quests – your common variety “kill 10 rats” quests. Something about not having to deal with pick-up/turn-in makes them feel far less cumbersome and since you are out following the breadcrumbs of a larger story arc while encountering these kill fests, they just seem natural – not like a replacement for real content. The fact is, you can only create so many unique styles of quests before you just start calling a rose by another name. Kill quests may not be the most exciting quest type but they are an RPG staple and we’ll always have them. Storm Legion has done a great job of minimizing the monotony of “yet another kill quest” by integrating it the exploration of the world.

It boils down to this: where vanilla RIFT failed was in having a real lack of variety in questing. Ember Isle improved it. Storm Legion revolutionized it. It might not be genre changing, but it certainly made it fun again to level in RIFT. Add to that an absolutely beautiful world to explore, complete with creatures to fight that seem to come right out of the environment, there is just so much to enjoy that grind just doesn’t seem to be the right word anymore: the grind has finally become a journey.

Playing with Blocks

For all the different reasons people come up with, player housing is a divisive topic. Some people love being able to play interior decorator in their game world, while others abhor the developer resources being used up on something that brings nothing to their raid squad. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a good player housing system, but I’m always skeptical of them. Lord of the Rings Online‘s system was ok, but mindlessly rigid. Vanguard was great, but Star Wars Galaxies, perhaps more than any other, set the bar for awesome.

Dimensions in RIFT are great but leave a little to be desired. On the downside, individually instanced housing breaks the feel of massively multiplayer and leaves a person longing for the opportunity to create player-built cities. Also, many of the instances are just too small, and while this is to encourage people to sink more platinum into the bigger, more expensive dimensions, all but the 900 platinum Dormant Core feel overly cramped – especially when you can see out past “the wall” at spots that would make just the perfect spot for your self-constructed house. For the most bang for the buck, the 40 platinum Auditorium Carnos Plaza and 300 platinum Stone Flask Tavern are the best bets. Also, the lack of storage in dimensions is a huge disappointment. I’m a bit of a pack rat and I like to keep my old armor sets; having armor mannequins to show them off in my dimension would be great, along with actually usable storage chests. Which brings up the last point: we’ve really got no objects to interact with. No doors or chests to open, no lights to turn on and off, no tubs to soak in. There’s little no to interactivity in dimensions and that really cuts down on what housing’s real strength is in: role-playing.

There are some things to trumpet, however. The building blocks of dimensions are incredible. Objects can be scaled, rotated, and moved along every axis. They bare no heed to gravity: floating platforms are commonplace in most dimensions. While every dimension lacks any amount of interior space (aside from Empyrean Mill and Breach Chamber which are entirely indoors), players are provided with blanks, boards, and poles which which to construct their own massive structures. Like this work-in-progress in my own Auditorium:

dbta-dimension

In any case, dimensions are a good distraction when you want a break from killing things. If you loved playing with blocks as a kid (or still do!), RIFT provides an increasingly fun outlet that doesn’t suffer from having to clean up all the LEGO blocks afterwards. One bit of advice: get the Dimension Toolbox addon and get acclimated with it before jumping into a big project. It will save you a ton of time.

What to do at Sixty

Onslaughts, zone events, dungeons, and achievement hunting. At sixty, there is always something to do.

Now, to be clear, RIFT still has the genre-typical daily grind once you hit 60. Onslaughts, daily raid rifts, and daily crafting quests are the standard. There are a ton of crafting dailies now and regular RIFT players will recognize the daily raid rifts. New to me was the concept of “auctioning” the loot from the DRR. Apparently the thing to do now is the person who buys the lure, which costs quite a bit of planar resources, gets to auction off the loot, collecting platinum in exchange for the loot. Other than that little twist, DRR running is the same as it was before the Legion arrived. You also have the instant adventure daily quest.

Onslaughts have been around since Ember Isle; remember those quests to defend a sourcewell from 20 invasions? Now they are called onslaught quests and you can find them scattered all throughout Dusken and Brevane. This is one of the things that keeps zones feeling alive – they are constantly being bombarded by planar forces. These daily quests provide top tier planar rewards in the top-level zones, making them a likely target for level sixty players seeking to upgrade their gear.

Of course, there is also expert dungeons to do at sixty. Storm Legion dungeons seem for the most part to be a lot more casual friendly. Most of the LFG runs I’ve done have gone smoothly and quickly. Unlike some of the long and annoying dungeons from RIFT of old, the expansion has brought dungeons that can be completed quickly and are relatively engaging, most of them having very little trash to kill and boss encounters requiring a players attention but not having overly technical mechanics. The dungeons, even in a pug, end up being entertaining and fast enough to complete on a lunch break.

General Consensus

At the end of the day, what has Storm Legion done for RIFT? The theme of the expansion seems to have been bringing fun back to the game and, generally speaking, RIFT has it going on again.. It’s an enjoyable ride from 50 to 60, with plenty to do and not too much of any one thing. And as I stand on my pedestal with my shiny level 60 medallion, there is still so much more for me to do. Cairns, achievements, fishing and survivalism (mine were low, I haven’t played since they were introduced), still more story quests, and lots of vanilla dungeons to rapidly assault.

Oh, and finish blowing money on my dimension, of course!

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