Six things I’ve loved about returning to RIFT

skyI’ve been back in RIFT for a good week or so now, rocketing up through the first 30 levels.  While the first day back was kind of “meh,” it’s quickly returned to my favorites list — as in, I can’t wait to log in the next time.  So what have I loved about this return so far?

1. It’s still a very pretty game.  Sometimes I hear some hate on RIFT’s visuals for being bland, which puzzles me.  I’ve always thought of it as a good-looking game world that’s fun to poke around in.  The enemy models are especially notable for their details and animations, and every once in a while I can’t help but stop and take screenshots of the local scenery.

2. Fiddling with soul builds is a terrific ongoing minigame.  What the soul system loses in terms of identity and class permanence, it more than makes up for with flexibility and a friendly, welcome attitude toward those who just want to endlessly tinker with new builds and ideas.  Finding little synergies that work and being able to create a build that caters to your playstyle (versus having to adjust your playstyle to a class) are the moments that make me the happiest.

3. The new Rogue Physician soul is terrific.  Now that all of the callings have souls for all roles, you can now do it all.  Rogues have a great healing soul with the Physician, but I like it more for how it complements solo PvE play.  At zero points, you get a fairly potent heal, which is great for pretty much any build.  Then the soul has access to all sorts of heal-over-times and absorb shields (the first of which you get at 4 points).  My Tactician/Riftstalker/Physician build feels incredibly durable as a result.

4. I missed tab-target combat.  With the exception of LOTRO, all of the other MMOs I’ve been playing lately have skewed to the action combat side of things.  I’ve gotten used to it (and Guild Wars 2 remains the gold standard for balancing the old and new types of combat), but going back to RIFT showed me how much value the old tab-targeting combat was.  It’s so much less stressful, especially for when I just want to quest without having to run around like a crazy person for each and every combat encounter.

5. Dimensions are pretty great.  I’ve been working on my dimension a little here and there, and while WildStar gets the edge for housing looks and functionality, RIFT definitely has more user friendly placement tools.  Plus, I’m getting a lot of housing items as normal loot, including a blue-quality Gloomwood house… to put next to my other house.  Didn’t know houses could drop.  That’s kind of cool.

6. There’s always a variety of activities to do.  Mostly I’m just questing, because I do like the zone stories and completing everything, but I have a lot of leeway to take breaks for other activities.  Instant adventures are low-stress group activities, dungeon running is still awesome (I do one or two a night), and I even do pretty much every rift that I encounter.  I forgot about the mentoring system too, which eliminates the worry that I might out-level zone content before I’m ready to leave.

RIFT: I am here to restore the light

nightriftI’ve been inching my way back into RIFT lately, but last night I decided to stop taking half-measures and just dive in.  As with pretty much all my returns to this game, I feel compelled to handicap myself by rolling a new character (to relearn everything, I tell myself) instead of continuing one of my small army of mid- and high-level toons.

Today, starting up a new character in this game is surprisingly involved, especially if I’m trying to give it the best possible beginning by transferring all of my goods from elder characters.  So over the course of two hours, here were the steps I took just to get to a place where I could normally quest:

  1. Roll up a new character, the rogue Deltavee.  Like many of my other characters, she’s a short Dwarf because Dwarves are awesome.
  2. Import my settings from my old characters.  I love this feature in RIFT.
  3. Claim a couple dozen waiting items from the RIFT store interface.  These include mounts, pets, various consumables, veteran rewards, and cosmetics.  They also nearly overflow my poor single starter bag.
  4. Blitz through the tutorial and be happy that it’s considerably shorter than it used to be.
  5. Log into my old characters (about five of them) and mail myself money, cosmetic wardrobe sets, and other various bound-to-account items.  I was really happy to have so many cosmetic sets transferrable — I’m able to deck out my looks from the get-go.
  6. Get Deltavee invited into my old guild (which is still hopping).
  7. Set up my hotbar with skills, items, and pets.  At least initially with my first role I’m going tactician/riftstalker/bladedancer.  Tactician almost seems overpowered, but I love shooting things with some magical flamethrower dealie.
  8. Run around collecting porticulum ports in Silverwood, at least the first three of them.
  9. Ride all of the way to Sanctum, collecting the port there.
  10. Jump off the bridge of Sanctum to get my “So fun, I had to do it once” achievement.
  11. Go to the auction house and purchase four 24-slot bags (~10 plat each) to flesh out my inventory.
  12. Buy four wardrobe slots in total and choose four outfits to put in them.  Place the rest in the bank along with unwanted consumables.
  13. Spent the remaining gems in my account to buy the four new souls in the game (even though I only wanted the new Physician soul, they all come packaged together as far as I can tell).  Yay for heals!
  14. Head into my housing plot to deposit (i.e. quickly set up) the scads of housing items I had.  It’s no WildStar functionality, but it’s certainly nice.  I actually like the placement tools better than WildStar’s.

After those 14 steps, I felt good about heading back to my point of origin in Silverwood to start questing like normal.  It’s a bit of an adjustment getting back to traditional hotbar combat with a global cooldown after having been in so many action-style MMOs, but it’s not bad.  I’m already thinking of different builds, especially involving the Physician.

I did one rift along the way — hey, I used to like these!  Still kinda do.  And even though there’s little chance I’ll even be to the first expansion (or level 40) by the time Nightmare Tide rolls in (see what I did there?), I’m definitely going to be jumping on the new minion system the second it comes out.  Collect ‘em all, I say!

Garage Sale Tuesday: LOTRO, RIFT, and TSW

necroOoh!  A blog garage sale!  Let’s rummage through these boxes and see what discounted topics lay within!

Lord of the Rings Online

Even though I’ve been through the “emerging from Moria blinnking into the warm sunlight” experience before, it still is profoundly affecting.  There’s just this emotional relief of being back under the open sky, kind of like being resurrected from a long stay in the grave.  It doesn’t hurt that Lothlorien is easy on the eyes, either.

My Lore-master has been gamely chewing through the regular quests and the epic book series, and I couldn’t be happier with her.  The combination of a hard-hitting pet and automatic looting makes plowing through mobs just fun with little downtime.  Round ‘em up, throw out some AOEs, and let Mr. Bog-guardian take care of the rest.  I’m so in love with automatic looting that it kind of hurts to play games that don’t have it now.  Ugh, that F key is so far away to loot!  What, I have to click on the sparklies?  What are we, in some fourth world country?

I’ve pretty much maxed out everything on my LM’s pet line that I want, so I’m going to start saving up points to invest into the red line, if nothing else than to hopefully get the super-powered staff strike that does lightning damage.  That sounds pretty awesome.

RIFT

So yeah, I’ve been dabbling with a new Mage in RIFT.  Still a pretty game, still very full-featured, and still enjoyable.  Being able to build the Necromancer build of my dreams with strong pets and an array of DoTs is a big attraction, although I don’t know if I’m being silly starting all over from the beginning again.  I’ve never been able to get a Mage very far up into the game, but I don’t feel a call to go back to my Cleric or Rogue.

I still had a lot of gems or credits or whatever stored up, so I bought myself a nice outfit, transferred all of the plat I’d saved up to my new character, and purchased a nice set of large bags from the auction house.  I’ll continue to dabble and see if it takes hold or if this will just serve as a nice placeholder until WildStar.

Of course, that’s the rub, because I can’t stand to invest my time into a game when I think I might not be playing it long-term.  Maybe that’s something I need to get over, to be okay with brief affairs and get better about picking them back up sporadically.

The Secret World

My main project right now in TSW is to go back and make sure I’ve completed all of the side missions in the game while tackling as many rares as I can find.  I crossed Kingsmouth off of the list (I had only missed two on my first playthrough) and am on to Savage Coast.  While the rewards aren’t huge, it’s a nice tour back through the game, especially now that I’ve got better gear and builds.

I’ve been experimenting with a new blast build using a shotgun/hammer combo.  There aren’t a lot of blast skills in the game so synergies are low, but I’ve got a few going and I’m working on buying my way to a few passive skills that should beef up my build.  It’s never going to be super-strong against one target, but having a very fast cone attack is attractive, especially as I mow down waves of mobs at a time.

This build got put to the test as our group conviened and decided to forgo Nightmare runs this week in favor of a trio of scenarios.  We warmed up with a novice group run through Hotel, which was a breeze, and then dialed the difficulty up for Mansion and Castle.  I think we were all a little hesitent to go harder based on past troubles, but training, better gear, and more experience proved to be a boon.  We got platinum on Mansion and only lost four survivors on Castle, so I think we acquitted ourselves very nicely.

I should run more scenarios, I know.  I’m up to 83 oreos and at 200 I could upgrade my blue shotgun for a nice purple one.  But egads these scenarios feel more like work than fun for the most part.

LOTRO, Trove, RIFT, Deus Ex, and the day of little things

trove1Yesterday was a strange day for gaming in that I didn’t do any one big thing but a lot of small things.

I added to my GOG.com library as I picked up a few titles on sale: Wizardry 6&7 and Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition.  Seriously, Deus Ex for $2 — and it came with the full soundtrack, which I’m discovering is a pretty awesome OST.

I’m making great headway on finishing up my virtue deeds for Moria on my Lore-master in LOTRO.  A few more and I’ll be done with there for good.  I must admit that my kin is a strong motivation for logging in every day, as they’re very friendly and chatty.  It makes riding through the Foundations of Stone a light-hearted experience.

I had intentions of giving RIFT a serious try last night.  I created a new mage and ran her through the streamlined tutorial, but then when I tried to log on to my other characters to transfer funds and the like, the game kept hanging on the loading screen.  I don’t know what that was about, but I got frustrated and logged out since it was getting late.

So instead I moved on to another Trion Worlds title: Trove.  The extreme alpha-ness of this game keeps me from logging in, but I can already see the potential for some serious fun here.  Already my character has pets and some outfit options, and I just ran around checking out what others have done with their cornerstones.  The Knight is a pretty boring class, so I can’t wait until they bring in the next one (Gunslinger), but he was pretty happy to find a player-designed sword during his adventures.  I never did find a place to plant a cornerstone of my own, but I also haven’t accumulated a lot of building materials yet either.

All in all, not a bad day.