RIFT: Ghosts and goblins

r1Things are moving fast now in the land of RIFT now that I’ve passed 50.  Jumping into Storm Legion content has been a significant boon to my character, not only in the quality of story, but in terms of gear upgrades.  I guess I forgot how much of a large increase it was from the vanilla game, but egads, practically everything I have has doubled from mere quest rewards.

On top of that, I finally have access to planar attunement (and had a few hundred PA points waiting for me when that happened), took a detour to grab Bernie from the Ember Isles, and can start running Storm Legion dungeons and assorted experts.

However, what’s making me the happiest is that Storm Legion has gotten a lot more leveling friendly since last I tread these grounds.  Story quest XP has been significantly increased, which lessens the need to grind out every last little carnage mission.  In fact, with that XP increase, XP vials that I’ve saved up, and various dungeon runs, I don’t think I’ll be doing anything BUT the main story to get through this expansion.  So far, I’ve gotten up to level 52 without breaking a sweat, and I’m actually tracking the story a lot better now that it’s not being broken up by tons of distracting tasks.

I decided to go the Brevane path for this character, as I recall enjoying these lands and quests a lot more than Dusken.  Navigating is a little annoying at times — jungle zones are typically some of the most obstacle-happy places in MMOs, and here is no different — but I’ll put up with it to explore a land of ancient technology that’s been abandoned.  Well, mostly abandoned if you factor in the ghosts hanging out.

For the most part I’m sticking with Bladedancer for most of my adventures, although I’ve been warming up to a full Ranger build as a long-distance alternative.  Sometimes I just don’t want to be running up to everything to attack, but would like the luxury of pointing at something 50 meters away and making it die.  My blood raptor, Jimmy, is invaluable in this regard.

I did feel vaguely guilty last night when a quest had me putting on a big boot to stealth-kick a fisherman into the mouth of a giant crocodile.  I guess he was an evil fisherman?  I didn’t really catch that, but his anguished screams and the subsequent way that the quest played it for laughs made me feel a little like a monster.  Ha ha, he died horribly from a sucker punch.  Aren’t I the hero.

RIFT: Best. Weekend. Ever.

level50Even though I’m still too low of a level to get into the new expansion zones, this past weekend was absolutely tremendous in RIFT.  My main goal was to get from level 46 to 50, which as you can see above, I accomplished that quite handily.  But that wasn’t all; the entire weekend was a series of great experiences attempting to top each other:

  • On Friday night, our guild invited me to run some raid rifts with them, and with the new sidekicking system, my level wasn’t an issue.  We did two raid rifts which netted about 3/4ths of a level for me plus a boatload of various rewards.
  • Then we saw and tackled one of the new nightmare rifts, which was an absolute blast.  The goal with these is to beat every wave within a time limit while not wiping — and every new stage gets progressively harder.  The faster we went, the higher our potential bonus got, which turned it into a frantic melee of fun.  We only got to about level 13 or so before these mobs used some sort of washing machine spin cycle to thrash us about and practically wipe the entire team, but it was still a hoot.
  • The minion system?  Oh my stars, it’s so addicting.  I’ve gotten more dimension items from that than anywhere else in the game, and I probably spent more plat than I’m willing to admit to buy a few more minions from the auction house.  I’m up to 13 or so right now, although I haven’t seen any dropped or from missions.  I assume when I get higher in level.
  • Among my minion rewards, I got a purple-quality dimension (Infinity Gate).  Wow.  Thanks, minions!
  • The whole Faeblight debacle (the server had to be rolled back 24 hours) didn’t hurt me, as I’ve been on Deepwood, but because I have characters on there, Trion gave me 750 credits as compensation.  That was more than enough for a 5th minion adventure slot (as I said, addicted).
  • As I quested, I kept queuing up for dungeons and ended up running about four or five of them.  I don’t know what it is about RIFT, but I love dungeon diving in this game.  It’s so low-stress and relatively quick (20-25 min each), and the rewards are generally good.  I got a purple ring called Precious that made me smile for multiple reasons.
  • After hitting level 50, I got the Blade and Parity skill for my Bladedancer, which makes me into a crit-dealing powerhouse for 24 seconds.  It’s so beautiful that it makes my eyes leak water every time I use it.
  • And Sunday morning, when I logged in to get my daily gift, I saw that I got a lockbox key.  I’m not going to buy lockbox keys, but if they give them to me?  That’s fine.  I had a box lying around, and when I opened it I got an orange lesser planar essence with incredible stats.

As for my plans, I’m trying to finish up the Shimmersand storyline (I’m almost done), after which I’ll take a detour to Ember Isles to pick up my favorite companion pet, and then it’s to Storm Legion zones!

RIFT: Minion mastery

minionsIt’s a strange place to be in when you’re all excited about an expansion releasing for your current MMO but you’re not in a position to experience most of that content.  That’s my choice with RIFT, as I really am focusing on my Rogue (level 47 as of last night!) and content with the knowledge that Nightmare Tide will be there in a few weeks when I finally get to it.

In the meantime, only a few drips and dribbles of the expansion impacted me.  For starters, my health — everyone’s health — practically doubled overnight.  I’m not quite sure what the reasoning for this is, but I’m not necessarily complaining.  I theoretically have access to the new nightmare rifts (although I couldn’t find one) and the sidekicking (but no offers/reasons to do it).  So pretty much the whole of what Nightmare Tide is offering me right now is access to the minion system.

This makes Syp happy.

It’s a small, silly, side system, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that I love to do in MMOs.  The minion system combines basic strategy, collecting, and time mechanics to bring in some extra rewards.  I had two minion slots to start with and purchased two more, then loaded up with the default minion, one from the cash shop (with leftover gems), one from the collector’s edition, and four others that were at the vendor.  That was enough to start having fun sending them out on missions and getting a few rewards back.

Mostly I’ve just been leveling up my minions, which — as far as I can tell — only increases their potential stamina.  Missions cost stamina, and once that’s depleted you have to wait to regen it (24 hours from zero to full, or so Trion tells us).  Some missions cost aventurine, which Darkfall’s masters are undoubtedly irate over, although it’s not clear how one gets more aventurine.  Successful missions, presumably, although I haven’t seen it on any reward lists.

The “strategy” comes with matching up the best minion for the best job, according to symbols.  If only real life was this clear-cut.  A really good match can propel a mission into a five-star success, which brings out the bling.

So far I’ve gotten a few odds and ends, like crafting mats, a dimension item, and some noteriety.  But it’s an enjoyable little system that takes only seconds to interact with.  I probably won’t be seeing minions as quest rewards any time soon, so I’m hoping to find a few via drops.  In the meantime, I have my small army to work with.  Go forth, my minions, and do my bidding!

RIFT: Dancing with blades

bladeIncreasingly my favorite soul as a Rogue in RIFT isn’t the Tactician, but the Bladedancer.  I got convinced to give it a serious try thanks to a post on the official forums outlining all of its virtues.  After having played it as my primary build for the past week or so, I have to say that it lives up to that post’s hype.

There’s something exhilarating about being a whirling dervish of death, a fighter who’s more focused on precision, speed, and agility than brute force and sneak attacks.  The Bladedancer’s greatest strength is her extreme flexibility that allows for on-the-spot adjustment to different battle situations thanks to a set of powerful 24-second buffs.  She can pour out strong single-target DPS, shift into more of a defensive posture for tough fights, or activate one of a pair of AOE attacks for groups of mobs.  The life leech from the Assassin line helps to keep me from dying too quickly.

Probably the biggest downside to this build is that I don’t have a lot of “oh crap” buttons — no emergency shields or heals or anything like that.  I try to keep some health potions around, but usually it comes down to a DPS race between me and a lot of very disgruntled mobs.

I’ve been tearing through the Droughtlands in my early 40s, hoovering up quests left and right to do.  It’s not the most visually dynamic of zones — it’s kind of an Arizona-looking place — but it’s well laid out so that I don’t have much running to do to get to the quests.

As I’ve been striking blows for justice left and right, I’ve enjoyed (at least in my head) the feeling of being valiant.  We toss around “hero” as some sort of player/developer aspiration in games, but that’s too generic and non-specific for my liking.  Heroism comes in many shades and flavors.  Some days I don’t want to save the world, I just want to perform acts of service for those in need.  Escorting refugees and helping a widow get justice aren’t going to shift the geo-political balance of power, but it will make those lives better.  Or, it would if those were real.  But hey, it’s part of fantasy to play-pretend at being valiant.

I did get a little Skrit hellbug pet from one of those Defiance crossover rifts, which made me pretty happy.  I’ve also upgraded my planar focus to the full version (2 greater/4 lesser essences) which is allowing for more customization.  So slowly but surely I’m charging toward the threshold of Storm Legion, and after that, Nightmare Tide.

RIFT: Pile up on the poor Dwarf, why don’t you

ironEven though RIFT utilizes the older tab-targeting, global cooldown combat system, I’ve been enjoying it as though having a long conversation with an old friend.  Action combat is well and good, but sometimes you want to think during combat and not be simply slamming a whole ton of keys at once just to activate everything.

EV-REY-THIIIIING

And even though RIFT’s combat is a little slower pace, it can get really exhilerating.  One thing I’ve been doing a lot of lately is seeing how my at-level mobs I can pull at once and take down.  The tactician’s flamethrower (and icethrower… and deaththrower…) is perfect for this, since it has a wide cone with a long distance that spits out a string of damage.

Of course, with the mass pulling game, sometimes I get overconfident or I misjudge the mobs’ strength and end up in a world of trouble.  I’ve had more than a few fights where it comes down to the wire — I have no “oh crap” emergency buttons left and it’s simply a matter of DPSing them down before they do the same to me.  And I’ve had several encounters that ends up with me taking a jog back to my corpse.

As of late I’ve been trying out a Bladedancer build with a little bit of Assassin (which gives me a health leech).  For a melee class, it’s kind of outstanding.  I have a huge amount of flexibility with a set of 24-second buffs to apply, single- and multiple-target attacks, and pretty decent survivability (dodge + some health regen).

Iron Pines Peak took longer than I had anticipated to wrap up, as there are several different storylines going on in that zone.  Since this zone was reworked to be a mid-level questing area a while back so that players could get an earlier introduction into the Storm Legion content, I was definitely interested to see how the changes sat.  It’s not bad, in retrospect, although I’m wondering if the level 30-40 corridor is a little too cluttered with zones.  I liked how the quests slowly built up to the mystery of the necklaces and didn’t try to resolve that within one or two completions.  At least I got to spend some quality time in a nice snowy zone, beating up bandits, wolves, and swirly whirly air elementals.

Now it’s on to Moonshade Highlands, one of my favorite old world locations due to its beauty (it’s like spring right before/after a heavy rainstorm) and to connect back up with Scotty the Dwarf.  We’ll see how many fae I can get to pile on me here before I break out my blades like a teed-off porcupine.

Friday Fluff: WildStar, RIFT, and TSW

mordeshMy new graphics card should be arriving today, and not a moment too soon!  I’m not overly thrilled having to use my laptop for everything, although it’s performed admirably well in the meantime.  If I can get it up and running today, I can continue with my Secret World series, which has sadly languished due to real life this week.

RIFT

After hinting heavily about it during the livestream earlier this week, Trion announced yesterday that RIFT’s Nightmare Tide expansion is not quite ready for prime time and will be pushed from October 8th to the 22nd.  While that should be a downer, I’m fairly okay with the news.  For one thing, I’m nowhere near the level cap nor through all of the content (at my pace, it’ll probably be at least two more months), so the expansion wasn’t going to be a major game-changer for me in what I’m doing.  For another thing, it did sound like the beta’s been rough and that it needed some more work.  Trion does not need another rocky launch so soon after ArcheAge.

Last night I plowed through a large chunk of Iron Pines Peak.  Some of my quests there have to do with the Cult Saga, of which I’m largely ignorant.  I vaguely know that there are these large mission chains with the “saga” label, but past that I haven’t done much research.  Actually, I feel as though there is so much about RIFT that I don’t know, especially with all of its changes and additions since I left it during the early Storm Legion period.  I’m going to need to carve out some time to read up, I guess.

WildStar

My laptop ran WildStar surprisingly well, and last night was the first time this week I was able to get in some time.  I didn’t do anything super-special, just chatted with guildies, tended to my garden, and worked on a few quests in Bio-Dome 3.  I’m actually toying with the idea of pulling my spellslinger out of retirement for another go, just for some class variety sake.  Perhaps my subconscious is plotting against my ever hitting the level cap.  Oh well, no rush nor reason to rush — it’s not as if I’m going to be attuning for raids or anything.

I do want to be better about engaging in more guild activities.  We’ve got an active leadership that has several events planned each week, and I haven’t been the best at participating in those.  That should change.

The Secret World

Now that we’re in October, we’re starting to head into the best MMO holiday season there is: Halloween!  And this is where The Secret World shines, since it’s already a very Halloweeny game (especially in Kingsmouth, where it’s always October).

It was great to get the new TSW newsletter yesterday and hear about a new mission being added to the two existing ones for Halloween.  My goal is to do all of these missions with my new playthrough character, so I’m going to have to work hard to get her to the point that she can at least run through Blue Mountain without being insta-gibbed.  At least there’s a double-AP weekend next week, so maybe a marathon should be planned.  Yes.  Yes, that will do nicely.

RIFT: The many lives of Deltavee

deltaveeWith my main computer (hopefully) temporarily out of commission, I’ve been resorting to using my laptop at night.  It’s not as much of a powerhorse, so I pretty much just played RIFT last night and finished up Scarwood Reach while getting to level 35.

I actually have a lot of options in terms of where to go next, with the newly revamped Iron Pikes Peak, Moonshade Highlands, and that other place down to the south.  I’d actually like to do all of the quests through these areas, so I’m leaning more on the mentoring system to artifically lower and fix my level so that I’m getting XP from these areas.

So today I’d like to share what builds I’m working on for my Rogue Deltavee:

Role 1: Healbot

I haven’t really used this at all; it’s primarily a Physician build in the event that I’m needed to step in as a healer in a group run.  I should check out its solo viability some day, although I’m pretty sure it’ll be a lot slower than the others by virtue of its healing-ness.

Role 2: Flametank

This is the role that I use the most.  It’s primarily Tactician focused on torrents, Physician for self-shields, and a splash of Bladedancer for the +50% dodge skill.  It’s so insanely good and easy to use that I have a hard time not defaulting to it.  I pretty much just slam down a few cores, round up a group of mobs, and then take turns freezing them and roasting them with torrents.  For groups it’s just a dream, and my survivability is very high with self-heals and -shields, plus a few panic buttons.

Role 3: Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight

I’m trying to get a good mix between the Saboteur and Ranger here, mostly to just throw out bombs instead of charges because I like the one-and-done attitude.  The piggy is a good tank, although against a group of mobs I struggle a bit to keep alive and take down a group of mobs fast.  Still, tossing out explosives is wicked fun and it’s the second-most played role I have.

Role 4: Invincitank

The idea here was just to see how tough I could make my character as a melee fighter.  She starts out with most of her points in Riftstalker for that type of play, and then tosses in Tactician and Physician in equal measures for those shields and self-heals that I love so much.  It actually works really well; she has high health and armor, and can wade right into a crowd and start chopping them up one at a time.  The one downside is that she’s not very strong on AoE abilities — I only have the necro torrent for that.  It’s a good build to have for tough fights, tho.

Role 5: Experimental

I have no idea what this is going to end up being.  Right now I’m trying out the Nightblade soul, which looks kind of cool but I really lack survivability.  I might try to do a balanced hybrid between Nightblade and Bladedancer to correct that.  Or perhaps I’ll scrap it entirely and go full-on Ranger with a different angle than my sabo build.