RIFT: Instant adventures in babysitting

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I’m still settling into my new RIFT mage, bit by bit. With Fae Yule coming up this week, I’m making sure to stock up on minion currency for the anticipated minion missions (in this, I can thank my old self for having dutifully socked away a ton of extra currency in the event of such a promotion).

Baby was magnanimous enough to allow me to run a few instant adventures last evening as well. While IAs can be frantic — run run to the next area, try to tag mobs and items before everyone else does, rinse and repeat — they’re also a weird sort of relaxing. Just chained together missions that offer up variety and a sight-seeing tour of different zones.

I think that’s perhaps what I like best about IAs: They keep the scenery changing and interesting. I’m revisiting old favorite zones and getting to sample a few high-level ones without feeling as though I’m overstaying my welcome.

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There’s apparently a higher level of IA difficulty that was added since I played last. I haven’t worked up the courage to try it yet — my gear and levels need to improve somewhat before I’ll feel comfortable taking on a higher challenge. But still, it’s pretty cool that it’s there to keep things interesting.

I did whack out a few levels, going from 13 to 16, all while killing werewolves, torching houses, putting down beefy constructs, and defending a wardstone. The necromancer build is really simple, so I spend battles slapping DoTs on anything near while letting my skeleton rogue run wild.

I am transferring servers to go back to Faeblight. That way I can consolidate my wealth and perhaps check out what guilds are active on that shard these days. The guild finder is nice and all, but sometimes I wish it had more information to help you decide which guilds are worth applying to.

I didn’t get as much gaming time as I’d like because I was running a benchmark on my system to try to nail down why it seems that MMOs are actually running slower on this machine than my old one. I’ve noticed that for a while now and it’s frustrating — my frame rate is way down in most games despite having a somewhat decent graphics card and the latest drivers. I have a suspicion I didn’t quite put this all together the right way but I don’t know how to track down what I did wrong. The benchmark test looked fine in most respects, although the CPU was a little below par. I am hoping for a new graphics card for Christmas, so that might help out somewhat.

RIFT: My dream team

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Last night saw my grand return to RIFT after many months of absence. It’s been in the works for a while, too, as I’ve had this desire to set up a new character that would only run instant adventures and dungeons as a more casual alternative to questing.

So with the little baby finally — finally — going to sleep (respect game time, son!), I logged on and created Crickety, a quirky mage who’s as much into necromancy as she is into hideous fashion. The wardrobe looks like it got another upgrade since I saw it last, and I really appreciated how it had all of my previous purchases and acquisitions sitting there in the window.

Of course, before I could enjoy running around and showing off my ugly sweater and oven mitts to the world, I had to contend with the avalanche of starter gifts that I’ve somehow accumulated on this account. I don’t know what made RIFT this special, but it is by far the biggest MMO in terms of flooding me with stuff when I roll a new character. I think I had 27 packages in the store and about 20 mail items on top of that — pets, costumes, housing items, boosts, mounts, and the like. I also had my minions to tend to. All in all, it took about a half-hour to get fully set up so I could get going.

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I wasn’t anticipating being hit with such a huge dose of the feels when I started playing, but there I was, feel-dosing like crazy. I guess RIFT has become one of those MMOs that’s graduated to the most important games I’ve played. I’d also forgotten how really pretty this game could be.

I built Crickety as a straight-forward summoner who enjoys a DoT or two. Main Necromancy soul with Warlock on the side for another DoT and Elementalist for more pet buffs. With a skeletal knight and my trusty Ducklar at my side, I felt like the dream team had come home to dominate.

My main goal of the night was to get her to level 10 and refamiliarize myself with the game and combat system. Very smooth all around, and by the end of the evening I had made my way to Sanctum to set up shop for my upcoming adventures. I even joined up with a guild for a bit of socialization and started planning my new dimension. Really excited to be back and to play the game a bit of a different way than before. Excelsior!

6 things that bug me about MMOs that I like

bugmeI think we’re always loathe to outright criticize MMOs that we really like in fear that it will push players away from games that are otherwise terrific. But if you are too scared to do so, then you gain blinders and lose perspective.

Thus, this is my small Monday morning measure of attaining balance by admitting to six things that kind of really bug me about MMOs that I like.

WildStar: For a game that has made such a big, big deal about customization (and excels in this in many areas), the fact that classes can wield one and only one type of weapon (set) vastly annoys me. In most MMOs you can choose from different weapon types and experience different visual flair and animations, but here? What you got at level 1 is the same at level 50.

The Secret World: This game’s wonderful storytelling and nuanced body language is sometimes undercut by faces that are ugly and border on the uncanny valley. The facial art style doesn’t gel for me the way that it should and serves as an irritant when I’m trying to get into the tale.

Marvel Heroes: This game’s social tools are really lacking, I’ve found. There needs to be support to join multiple supergroups, better supergroup tools, and a proper LFG tool. Fast track these, Gazillion!

Star Wars: The Old Republic: I do love that the game has housing, but coming from other MMOs like RIFT and WildStar, it can’t help but fail to live up to the industry standard. I am not a fan of the clumsy hooks and placement interface that makes sorting through one’s decor far more tedious than it should be.

RIFT: Such ugly armor. Such ugly. It makes the awesome wardrobe system weep in frustration. What is up with the armor artists in this game? Why must we all look like first drafts of a ninth grader’s fantasy portfolio?

Neverwinter: Cryptic not only failed to live up to the insanely high standard it set for character creation in City of Heroes, but failed to live up to the industry medium in this respect. I am stunned how hard it is to make good or interesting-looking characters in this game with the sub-par customization options on display. Do they even know how hair looks?

RIFT shows MMOs how cosmetic wardrobes are done

wardroberightYesterday RIFT launched Update 3.2, making it the first of three MMOs that are recently revamping their wardrobe systems (the other two being WildStar and SWTOR). I hate to call it before the other two get to show off their stuff, but I have to say that RIFT did it right. Seriously, I can hardly think of a way that this new system can be improved.

It’s not as though the old wardrobe was horrible, just a little inconvenient in that you had to handle actual pieces of gear. But there was plenty of room for costume slots and it served its purpose well. However, I’m not complaining at this new wardrobe, because it’s a giant step up from what we used to have.

It seems that RIFT took a look at other popular systems and combined them to make the most accessible, painless wardrobe possible. The biggest change is that the new wardrobe no longer requires any physical gear; cosmetic variants are saved the second a player loots a new art template (much like Guild Wars 2’s newer wardrobe). Once obtained, a player can go into the wardrobe interface and simply click on the gear slot to choose a piece to wear.

Oh, did I mention that characters can use any type of gear — cloth, leather, chain, or plate — as cosmetics? I love that there are no restrictions on this, so if you wanted to make a heavily armored mage, you can make that happen.

The new wardrobe also allows you to dye pieces (in two tones per piece) on the go, which is something that LOTRO doesn’t do. You have a selection of unlocked dyes and can add more that you either acquire or purchase from the store.

It’s better than Guild Wars 2’s system by far: RIFT lets you save multiple outfits and doesn’t limit you with a microtransactiony token cost. Really, the only downside is that I am not a fan of 80% of RIFT’s armor art style, but at least now I have a lot more from which to choose.

It will be neat going forward in the game, since any piece of loot has the potential now to expand the wardrobe selection automatically. Good job, RIFT. The ball’s in your court now, other MMOs. I dare you to do better.

(Don’t miss Belghast’s take on the 3.2 wardrobe as well!)

Battle Bards Episode 49: RIFT

riftposterFrom the mind of Inon Zur to the ears of the Battle Bards comes the soundtrack to RIFT. And while the Bards may have a positive past with the game, their reaction to the score is a rocky ride indeed. What treasures and traps will they pull out of this music? Find out as they welcome Steff back into the fold after her long absence!

Episode 49 show notes

  • Intro (featuring “Defiant Theme” and “Iron Pine Peak”)
  • “Main Theme”
  • “Moonshade Highlands”
  • “Scarlet Gorge”
  • “Silverwood”
  • “Shimmersand”
  • “Atagarian Well”
  • “Stonefield”
  • What did we like best?
  • Mail from Josh
  • Outro (featuring “Siren Song”)

Listen to episode 49 now!

RIFT: A rogue and her duck

gob2My gaming focus has shifted (not exclusively) to RIFT over the last couple of days, as I attempt to at least get out of Goboro Reef, if not get through the expansion. Part of my current frustration is in the higher health pools of enemies and how long it’s taking to burn through them. There’s a delicate balance between making a mob too easy and too frustrating with the whole time-to-kill, and I do not envy devs in trying to strike that balance while considering the enormous range of builds and gear load-outs.

Anyway, since this is RIFT, I was experimenting a lot with alternative builds. It’s still one of the most brilliant aspects of the game. I was using a hybrid Ranger/Sabo build so that I had a good tanky pet while tossing bombs and charges at foes, but while that worked to keep me safe, my DPS was lacking big-time.

I shifted to a full saboteur build and was looking at how to place those last 15 talent points to get some heals and survivability going on. A 10/5 split between riftstalker and tactician gave me a few nice options, but even so I was throwing 10 straight bombs and charge bundles at enemies — and that wasn’t enough to get them even past 40%.

However, this experimenting did shine a light on a lovely level 61 talent which took the riftstalker’s DPS penalty away for using the guardian mode. With that talent and just a few points into riftstalker, any of my characters would have vastly improved survivability. So I took that idea and applied it to my bladedancer build and have been loving it. The bladedancer does have enough DPS to get quicker kills, constant means of health regeneration, and now a higher health pool and more armor thanks to guardian mode.

I’m definitely looking forward to Update 3.2 for many reasons. The wardrobe improvements are a huge blessing for this game, and I’ll look forward to unlocking more pieces and spending more time putting together outfits.

I’m even more intrigued by the improvements to Instant Adventures. I don’t do a lot of IAs right now, but my thinking is that whenever the new calling comes out this year, I’ll probably level a character exclusively through IAs now that I’ve seen the quest content. Getting to play around in Hammerknell in IA mode sounds pretty cool!

I was slightly tempted to buy the new squirrelicorn mount from April Fool’s Day — which is really just a squirrel mount with an ice cream cone stuck on its head — but the 4500 credits price tag quickly shied me away. I’m almost at the point where I can buy another package of REX with my money, which will bring me up to 1900 credits for a small spending spree.

Anyway, here’s to hoping I can bust out of Goboro tonight!