The Storm Beckons

Too often, MMOs paint themselves into a corner.

Here’s this vast and open world, beautiful to behold and a joy to explore – for the first few days. Eventually, the repetitive grind of leveling sets in, only to be replaced by the more repetitive grind of dungeons, lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s no wonder that games go to so many pains to speed up the leveling process, from rest or bonus XP to “double XP weekends” to boosts in cash shops. It’s like they know it’s a pointless, drab time sink but aren’t really willing to do anything about it on a larger scale.

When it first came out, Rift wasn’t much different. For all the hooplah surrounding rifts and “dynamic content,” it was still a pretty rigid theme park following the standard progression of “go to quest giver, do stuff, go back to quest giver – and occasionally some rift-y stuff happens.”

If you’re just interested in turbo-ing to max level so you could gear yourself up in dungeons or raids, that was fine, but I’m someone who likes to think that the first 50 or so hours you play a game shouldn’t be boring.

And Storm Legion is not boring.

rift mmorpg mmorpg     The Storm Beckons

It starts innocuously enough. I went to Iron Pine Peak, where a portal transported me to Pelladane, ruled ostensibly by Queen Miela, whom players might have first encountered on the wreck of the Endeavor near Shoreward Island in Telara.

However, Pelladane was once ruled by the Air Dragon Crucia, and she’s sent her troops back to reclaim it. Epic catfight ensues.

You’ll get a story mission to start you on your way, and maybe pick up another quest or two from NPCs in the area, but as soon as you leave your first safe haven is when things get interesting.

There’s stuff happening all around, and not just your garden-variety rift invasions, which are almost mundane by comparison. Exclamation points hover not over NPCs, but over mobs and clickable items, auto-bestowing quests when you kill or activate them. When complete, you get a pop-up that lets you claim your rewards.

On the first night of the beta, I hopped in with Quintlyn, Gary, and Stephen to run around and experience the new zone, and we got lost very quickly – but in a good way. There was so much going on that we separated early and only occasionally found ourselves back together.

That doesn’t mean groups are pointless in this new Rift. When you have to kill 20 of something, it still helps to have friends along to do some of the heavy lifting.

But going it solo, as I did for most of the rest of the beta, is still as easy as ever. You’ll get buttons to let you join raid groups or instant adventures, as always, and you’ll almost have to work hard to not find something going on in your area.

At one point, I was headed off from my quest semi-hub, out to kill something, when I clicked a glowy in front of me – new quest! Then I killed a mob in my way – new quest! Then, I clicked on the “Join Adventure” button at the top of my screen – new quest, and I was teleported to its location as I joined a raid group.

And this was all just in the first area of Pelladane. Starting at 50, I only made it to level 51 in the beta, and there was a lot more land to discover.

rift mmorpg mmorpg     The Storm Beckons

This is like candy to a compulsive quester like myself, and it finally breaks us free of what I thought was Rift‘s biggest flaw: that for a game that touted itself as full of dynamic content and open-world exploration, it was still bound too closely to the conventions of old, as if almost afraid to truly open up and try something truly new and different.

Storm Legion changes that. Granted, it’s a step that some other games have already taken, so it was only natural that the game that put dynamic events on the map learn from others and adapt to meet the changing environment.

Admittedly, the quests are still pretty much along the lines of “Kill X things” or “Click on Y things,” spiced up by the occasional roving mobs of rift denizens. The objectives do tend to blend together, but my advice would be to not worry too much about it and just have fun with the wholesale genocide of Crucia’s minions.

If you were disappointed by Rift‘s linearity before, Storm Legion will change all that. It’s a non-stop action ride from the opening gun that will keep you entertained even if you never set foot in a dungeon or raid.

Jason Winter has held several positions in the tabletop and video-gaming industry since 1996, including writer, editor, marketing coordinator, and game designer. He's the former editor of Beckett Massive Online Gamer and almost considers himself competent in PvP. In addition to his work with Gamebreaker.tv, he also blogs about video games at http://jasonwinter.wordpress.com.
  • Chris Martin

    Sorry,
    I’m having too much fun in GW2 to return to a sub to play game. As
    for playing “Wendy House” in an mmo, I can log into Second
    Life and build to do that (and more) for free. As for the community
    that is left in Rift – after my last visit, unless you are in the
    “Every other mmo out there is substandard to Rift” cult,
    you just don’t feel like you can fit in or open a dialogue in
    chat. If it went to micro-transaction or free-to-play, I’d go
    back to it on occasion as a good side-game from my main mmo.

    Pros:
    Good amount of updates. Raiding. Awesome LFG system. Crafting.
    Seasonal events. Mounts, Pets, Artifacts. Fishing.

    Cons:
    World feels empty of players. None of my friends are convinced to
    return to it (even on free to play weekends!), New or returning
    players are treated as a sub species when asking questions in chat.
    Enemy NPC’s are copy pasted for use in almost every part of the
    world! Boss Battle’s are boring. Resource ninjas.

    • http://twitter.com/kirzanSix Michael Coulombe

      World feels empty of players.
      Population’s fine. I’d rather have less people that all contribute than half a raid AFK’ing a dragon (and get as much as me). You can’t deny that.

      New or returning players are treated as a sub species when asking questions in chat.
      It seems like you have issues finding a guild. There’s a whole new UI for that and forums are still active.

      Boss Battle’s are boring.
      Are you seriously having “fun” doing GW2 dragons? Really? Just stand there, move from side to side once in a while, phase 2, repeat…? Even instanced fights aren’t much better because of the semi-aggro-less system and no trinity. Players have barely any tools to control fights, therefore they can’t make cool mechanics. GW2 PvE is 80% visuals, 20% ability spamming.

      Remove blindfold, please.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Lia/57201115 Bill Lia

         You obviously have a very narrow view of “mechanics” and “controlling the fight”. If by “semi-aggro-less system” you mean you cant just stand in front of boss, get hit in face repeatedly while someone spams heals on you then you’re correct… that doesn’t exists in GW2.

        There is an aggro table and ways to control/”Tank” the fight. But its about positioning, dodging, kiting,  CC rather then “I hit my taunt button… lt me stand here… hope someone heals me”.

        I get it… if you like the trinity system that’s cool. I did for years and loved tanking. I also play a Tanky/support build in guild wars 2 and find it MUCH more interesting to hold aggro and defend my allies then I have in any other game in a long time.

        Also that bit about AFK’ing and getting the same rewards. Im sure that was a stab at GW2 as well. You DONT get the same rewards. Sure if you do some damage to the boss or mob and then leave you will get some kind of reward. Although it is much less then a player that put in the time and downed the boss/mob. The system was put into place for people who either get to an event late, DC’d or HAD to leave. Ensuring that they will atleast get a bit of something for there effort.

    • http://twitter.com/MrMarcusBailey Marcus Bailey

      Rift is great but i have to agree that I find that GW2 business model better.  Trion could have my 40 bucks (plus any extras i might buy) or get 0 because of the sub.

  • http://www.facebook.com/williame526 William Elam

    I would love to join you guys in your live stream. What shard are you going to be to preforming it on?