There comes a time in every adventurer’s career when an evil corrupted unicorn is barfing all manner of rainbows on him or her, causing a moment of inner crisis. “Is this who I am?” the adventurer ponders. “Is this what I’ve become? A target for a disgruntled Trapper Keeper employee?”
Rainbows take FOREVER to wash out of clothing. I should know: I grew up in the ’80s. Care Bears wouldn’t stop “care staring” at our fashion lines.
I can’t take full blame for my slow pace through Starfall Prophecy so far. Several nights have seen excess lag or even server downtime, and that coupled with a few days of physical exhaustion have left me far in the dust. I’m still in the first zone, still level 65, and still, apparently, getting puked on by jerk unicorns.
Let’s back up a minute and talk about an aspect of RIFT that Starfall Prophecy has made me realize, which is that this MMO that some deride as being a little too clone-y and too bland in the storytelling department has kind of taken a subversive turn over the past couple of years.
It’s not a flat-out weird game that calls attention to its wacky nature, but instead RIFT wraps itself up in very traditional high fantasy trappings that anyone would recognize. And then, just when your eyes start to glaze over with how safe and familiar all this is, RIFT goes to very weird, often dark places with these things. Again, the game isn’t doing jumping jacks to get you to notice this, but if you’re even half-paying attention to the quest text, companion dialogue, and the like, you’ll start to see that there’s an undercurrent of oddity and a kind of unabashed and unashamed dorky humor just about everywhere.
So in the first forest zone, there are these unicorns that are going missing, and when you start to investigate you realize that they’re being abducted for rituals and generally Not Good Things. This is compounded by encounters with the aforementioned Skittles-barfing corrupted unicorns that I totally don’t feel bad killing. It made me think of how many fantasy MMOs tend to veer away from unicorns entirely, as if they’re just a little TOO traditional and ridiculous high fantasy to exist alongside giant spiders, 637 breeds of Elves, and so many dragons that they have to carpool to make it to the raids on time.
Here? You’re thrust into the middle of Unicorn Central, where you have to gain their trust by — yes — hugging and dancing with packs of skittish mares. Nothing strips away my masculinity as quickly as having to type “/hug” to a teen girl’s greatest dream (prior to vampires). Then I had to play hide-and-go seek with unicorn foals, ingest mind-altering mushrooms, and become the savior of the entire unicorn species just to make sure that my face was fully rubbed in all of this glittery nightmare. Yet I almost can’t be too mad at the game because it’s weird and not something I do every day and I’m kind of laughing at it as much as with it. Plus, we’re long past being critical when I’ve spent a quest convincing hedgehogs to go on a pilgrimage to a critter city.
Also, there’s a dragon. The LAST dragon of Telara, although I didn’t get the memo that the rest are dead. Could Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft enjoy this same dragon drought, I wonder? I picture meeting rooms with stymied developers trying to brainstorm the next content patch for their MMO when one snaps up her head and goes, “I know! Let’s add another dragon!” and everyone shouts “hurrah!” and breaks for an early lunch.
I’m starting to get a better idea as to the whole story of this expansion, thanks to some fellow bloggers, the quest text, and conversations that my NPC companions are having. You’ll have to forgive me, as I didn’t actually complete Nightmare Tide and am a little hazy on what let up to all of this.
Apparently, there’s this giant sentient tower called Ahnket who is no nice being and has some sort of huge master plan going on involving warring factions of the life and fire planes. Ahnket is also in control of a comet that’s been smashing through dimensions, picking up parts of each, and is now bearing down on Telara itself. So we as players are going up to the comet to figure all of this out and hopefully stop this mega-machine from doing whatever it’s trying to do.
Last night I first heard someone in the game mention the titular Starfall Prophecy, which I guess has to do with an Ascended (me) and the last dragon. I’d like more details on this, but again, I’m only a very little way into the expansion proper. By jove, the unicorns will be saved and Lisa Frank will summon me to her kingdom to knight me as its protector supreme!