RIFT: Magic 101 and Opie-um

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It’s been 50 days since I preordered Starfall Prophecy (already?), which means that I finally was able to buy the highly desired Opie squirrel mount. He’s definitely adorable — it’s a squirrel, how could it not be? — and the Christmas lights all over him give him a seasonal flair (oh I know they’re artifacts, but they totally look Christmasy).

Yet my joy quickly turned sour as I realized some of the drawbacks:

  1. The mount shrinks you when you get on, which isn’t always desired.
  2. It’s not treated as a normal mount, so you can’t use your abilities and hop off or use the same dismount key. This is highly inconvenient if you’re trying to use Opie as a regular steed.
  3. Opie’s famed artifact hunting abilities require pellets to activate, which I don’t even have, so you can’t use them all of the time.
  4. It’s bind to character, not to account, so you can only get one. Whaaat.

Sigh. Buyer’s regret. Wish I could’ve spent those 50 tokens on something else.

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Feeling like I’m hitting a roadblock with my Cleric, as I’m not finding a reliable avenue for gearing up enough for Planetouched Wilds, I threw caution to the wind and rolled up a new mage so that I might enjoy some questing and leveling instead of just sitting in Sanctum and sulking over not being able to go where I want to go.

Plus, more and more I’ve been wanting to go back to this archetype and resurrect — pun intended — my necromancer build. It’s like playing an old-school World of Warcraft Warlock, and I mean that in the best of ways. DoTs, pets, maniacal laughter, etc.

It took me about a half-hour to get her fully set up with the UI, mail items, and wardrobe, during which I participated once more in our guild’s trivia night. The theme was “serial killers,” and for better or worse, I cleaned house. Think I only got two questions wrong, because I might not be able to reliably shout my kids’ names, but I can pull out dumb trivia like nobody’s business. My grand reward was a spooky skeleton ghost pet, which I thought would compliment my necro theme.

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No, I am not going to throw a beach party here. First rule of beach parties, host them away from the giant water tentacles. We lost an entire branch of the family tree last year.

I gave my mage a Victorian steampunk look, complete with bowler hat, and then was off to the races. I have no particular leveling plan in mind, just to quest like old times and then maybe get back into the IA/dungeon track. Seriously, I’m in no rush, because that whole PTW wall took the wind out of my sails in regard to the endgame — and the expansion is coming. When that happens, I can just use my boost to bring her up to 65 and start fresh in a new land.

In the meantime, why not have fun and hunt down some costume pieces? RIFT’s early questing might not be edge-of-your-seat thrilling, but it is relaxing and rewarding. I hit level 12 before logging off, and I’m excited to see how her build develops over time. Plus, new dimension to decorate!

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New goal in MMOs: to try to take more close-up pictures of enemy mobs. Sometimes the detail, expression, and animation on these faces can be pretty enthralling — and yet I almost never see them with the camera pulled back.

RIFT: Trivial pursuits

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Believe it or not, right now my MMO gaming time has pretty much been whittled down to just two titles, which may be an all-year low for me. It’s about 70% Legion and 30% RIFT these days, with Star Trek Online, SWTOR, and even The Secret World heading to the backburner (although release a new issue for the last one and I’ll be all over it). I am considering some other titles for replacements, but… why rush? I have one expansion to prep for and one to explore.

Today, let’s talk RIFT then.

When last we spoke, I was having some frustrating issues with trying to head into Planetouched Wilds. Namely, I was dying left and right, couldn’t figure out a build, couldn’t get my gear good enough, etc. A little whining in a blog post and a mention on twitter and…

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One of the things I’ve always loved about RIFT is that it’s one of the most engaging teams on social media. Not many MMOs at all respond to my blog posts, but RIFT often does, and in this case, the devs handed out some helpful advice.

I obviously didn’t realize that Planetouched Wilds was Ember Isle 2.0, so yeah, I’m not ready for it. And that’s a shame, as I would like to get back to traditional questing here at some point. But for now, it’s all about gearing up, and since my stats are too low for Nightmare Tide experts (sigh), I’m resigned to queuing up for normal dungeons while moonlighting in Intrepid Adventures. I did get one solid upgrade so far, but it’s been slow going.

I mean, if they released Starfall Prophecy today? I wouldn’t be complaining too much.

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I did have a great night last night with my new guild. Apparently every Wednesday evening they get together for a trivia night, which I found to be half game and half let’s-all-post-silly-replies. Perfect for me! I tied for second place and won some money and a new vanity pet, but the real prize was the growing friendships.

No, just kidding, it was all about the pet.

I also ran a new dungeon (for me), Citadel of Insanity. We kind of blitzed through it, so I didn’t get a lot of screenshots, but I loved the scenery and the voice work. RIFT’s boss conversations always amuse me for some reason. And I find healing to be rather soothing as gameplay — at least until everything starts falling apart and I panic and hit every key at once. I imagine my character exploding like a water balloon full of heal juice when this happens.

Struggling in RIFT

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Guys, it’s not been the best of times in RIFT as of late.

I’ve been neglecting my adventures in Telara to some degree due to Legion’s launch, but truth be told, it’s also been avoiding a harsh truth: I might have hit a hard wall in the game.

I started to realize this problem when I graduated to level 65 and started on my Planetouched Wilds intro quests. I was getting smacked down left and right, and at one point, couldn’t advance any further because a boss mob was eating my Dwarf tushie for breakfast. After calling in a guildie to help me past that particular hump, I realized my problem: My gear was incredibly sub-par.

Because I leveled up in experts, I was getting on-level XP while the gear was no better than level 50 or so. Well, that’s no problem, right? I hit the auction house and went bargain shopping for level 63-65 gear to get me competitive.

Yet that doesn’t seem to be enough. More than one mob and I go down like a sack of sadtatoes, even with a healing faerie out and a tanking build activated. Something’s very wrong here.

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I’m going to go back to the AH and spring for better 65 gear, but my big fear is that this zone was created for players who had really, really good endgame gear already. If that’s the case, then I’m going to have to hit some Nightmare Tide dungeons for a while, and that’s a bummer when I want to just enter the zone and see what there is to see. I feel that if I get into those quests and start earning gear rewards, then my character will find some sort of questing equilibrium.

Advice?

 

RIFT: Nesting instincts

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Isn’t that the most amazing MMO skybox ever? And it’s mine, all mine, in my pocket dimension.

One of my goals in returning to RIFT is that I wasn’t going to allow myself to get snowed under with all of the dimension items coming into me through the minions system. Instead, I’ve been fairly faithful in using these items almost as soon as I get them, adding a bit here and there to my budding housing area. It’s by no means done, but I thought I’d share some of the progress I’ve been making with it.

So I decided to settle in Stonefield Tavern, since it’s a homey place with a big central building that’s perfect for decorating. Plus, there’s some adjacent land and even an empty barn for furutre development. I used a time item to make it 10pm perpetually so that all of the lights would come on.

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It’s an interesting challenge to use only what I get, not what I go out and purposefully find or make. I have a little hill in the front on which I’ve been putting these particular trees to make a Dr. Seuss-looking copse.

I have a LOT of street lights and lanterns outside. Would love to get some Christmas lights sooner or later.

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Front entryway of my house. As you can see, it’s mostly empty and very much a work in progress. Under construction, as 1997-era Geocities websites would say. Still, I have the runner out, the kitchen area partially done, a few items here and there, and a second floor under construction.

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The fireplace is a fixed centerpiece of the tavern and I’m trying to make it as inviting and cozy as possible. I added a coat of arms up top and then took a stuffed bear-panther thing and threw it halfway into the wall so it looks a bit like it’s mounted. Should probably fake a plaque behind it.

The pedestal to the right is holding this urn in which I resized and placed some alien-tentacle flowers. I like how it ended up looking.

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Kitchen/eating area next to the fireplace. I think I just figured out that it’s pretty easy to change the floor by resizing these tiles — in this case, black marble — and then sinking them down so they just barely overlay the real floor. Helps to differentiate the living spaces when you’re not putting up a lot of walls.

Haven’t gotten any food yet, so that table looks kind of bare. Some day, table. Some day.

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I love WildStar’s housing, but let me tell you, the placement and manipulation tools in RIFT are about 50 times better than Carbine’s version. Just so, so, so much easier to work with and allow me to create what I want without too much fuss.

I had a lot of fun fiddling around with these stairs to see what I could do to create a second story. Turns out, it isn’t too hard. I’m trying to blend the stairs in with the house, hence the bookshelf doing double-duty as a support pillar (and also because stairs hanging in mid-air with no visible support looks odd). Second floor has about half of the flooring down. I used a pillar to hide the hanging chandelier’s chain.

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Love this view in the back of the tavern! I only added a stone outcropping and that cherry tree so far, as I don’t want to clutter up the vista.

RIFT: I can drive sixty-five

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Lately I’ve been devoting my weekend gaming time to accomplishing bigger goals than what I gradually pursue during the week. A while back it was speed-leveling my World of Warcraft Druid to the cap for Legion, and last weekend it was the pursuit of level 65 in RIFT.

I might have had a level-capped character in vanilla RIFT (is that a phrase?) but since the expansions I don’t recall hitting the cap as it’s been raised. I definitely know that I’ve never had a level 65 anything, and with the expansion coming and the recent-ish addition of Planetouched Wilds (which requires a 65), I’ve felt the urge to get a move on and get ‘er done.

I had a great starting point: My Cleric, which I created who knows how many months (years?) ago, was already 57 when I picked her back up in mid-August. After a little research, I saw that the level 60-65 journey would be best accomplished — time-wise — by nothing more or less than expert dungeon runs. Fine by me, I like healing, and if I get a few more cosmetic pieces for my wardrobe? So much the better.

The alternatives were just not that viable. The amount of XP it takes to go from 60 to 65 is truly staggering and can be a shock when you come from the shallower leveling curve of 1-60. IAs — even intrepid adventures — weren’t paying out much XP, and questing would simply take too long. Fortunately, experts feed the XP monster quite well, especially if you have a tank and healer who can juggle huge packs of mobs without faltering. For the most part, I did quite well keeping my party alive and ended up feeling vindicated with my Warden/Druid build.

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It was late Saturday night that I found my groove. The final level looked incredibly long, but one of my guild officers took me through a few and vowed that I would get 65 before bed. She had to take off, however, and I found another group that was willing to chain-run dungeons. I think we did five in a row, pow pow pow pow pow, and Realm of the Fae — right at the end! — put me over the top to 65.

Let me tell you, it’s just so satisfying to have a level capped character in an MMO. It just is. It makes you feel like your options are wide open and you’re not “behind,” even though your gear score may differ on that point.

Now to Planetouched Wilds and the future!

RIFT: Clerical work

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One of the greater joys of RIFT is being able to dream up your own classes, within limits, thanks to the soul system. So the other day when I switched back to my Cleric, I was pondering what kind of healer to make for dungeon runs. So far this year I have greatly enjoyed my HoT-happy Druid in World of Warcraft and Scholar’s healing pet in FFXIV.

I thought… why not try to have them both?

From concept to reality took about five minutes. I started with a blank slate on the soul tree and then invested enough points into the Druid to get the greater faerie healer (who can be toggled for single/multiple target heals). The rest went into the Warden soul, which is abundant with heal-over-time spells. It looked solid enough, even if it probably wasn’t a min-maxer type of build. It was what I wanted to play and I was allowed to make it. Makes me grateful to RIFT for that opportunity.

I took my new healer into an expert dungeon and held my own just fine. Spike damage was a little more tricky, but I’m overflowing (a water-related Warden pun) with extra heals, so I can just jam on number keys and usually save the day. The only trick is to keep one particular heal up, as you can stack that HoT up to four times and keep refreshing it every 15 seconds without having to re-apply all four stacks.

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For a DPS counterpart, I made a Cabalist/Druid build, this time with an evil damage-dealing faerie. Lots of good AoE DPS with that mix, and it worked well when I joined my guild for some rifts the other night.

Thanks to the expert dungeons, I got my Cleric from 57 to 60 in practically no time at all (and even got a few new cosmetic pieces). I forgot how brutal the climb is from 60 to 65, but if I am willing to heal, I suppose I won’t have problems finding dungeons to run for the XP.

It’s been a slow and enjoyable reentry into RIFT as of late. I’m not playing it hardcore, but what time I’ve gotten, I’ve had a great experience. It’s made me genuinely want to log in every day, if even for a quick dungeon run, some more tweaking to my dimension, an instant adventure, managimg my minions, or the other five hundred things this game keeps throwing at you. Probably won’t be doing the Unicornalia event, however.

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Going around Sanctum, I stumbled on a kind of really disturbing sight that I think most people just run right by. A “bounty hunter” with various goblin corpses and body parts, some still sticking in bear traps. What do they need these bodies for? WHAT MADNESS IS THIS.