As any MMO player knows, getting a full grasp on a new game or an expansion is an arduous task. Now imagine doing a full-blown review of it. Not any easier is it?
Reviewing an MMO is something we here at Gamer Limit take very seriously. For example, Rift wasn’t reviewed until I hit max level, played dozens of hours of PvP, leveled professions, and experienced a large majority of what end-game had to offer – totaling approximately 350 hours of gameplay.
With that in mind, a Storm Legion review will more than likely take roughly a month to complete. But until then, please enjoy a diary containing experiences and impressions for each day played of Rift‘s new expansion.
Friday November 30th, 2012
Content covered: Questing
Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving. I was on vacation for quite a bit and have been busy with other things so tonight was the first night I found time to dive back into Rift. Honestly haven’t found myself missing it too much but I am hopeful things start looking up.
Logged back in and came to the quick realization that I was in the middle of low level quests. Low level quests that I have been forced to do in order to actually do quests at my level. I am now coming to the realization that I will need to bounce between islands after the completion of a zone. Something the game does not explain to you at all but instead makes you find out the hard way.
I had the opportunity to ask Trion’s Community Manager Elrar if this is the way it was designed. He informed me that it is expected that players do Instant Adventures, dungeons, and zone events alongside questing. I have been doing exactly that but still find myself behind. He said that if you do find yourself behind then it is recommended to go to the other island to find quests.
So, trying to stay positive about what I am experiencing and further understanding the best way to level, I will be changing up how I make my way through the content. Be sure to come back each night and see how that approach turns out.
Sunday November 18th, 2012
Content covered: Instant Adventures, gathering professions
Sunday television. There really is nothing like it. Anywhere from three to four hours of my Sundays are spent sitting in front of my television.
Given this bit of information about myself it will come as no surprise to you that tonight was more about leveling while I was focused on other things – mindless leveling if you will. This is really where Instant Adventures shines. We all have those gaming sessions where we wish to accomplish as much as we can in-game while our minds are elsewhere and Instant Adventures is the perfect solution for this very situation.
If you missed my previous discussion on Instant Adventures, put simply it is a feature that will group you with other players and guide you through various quests in a zone. The completion of these quests is shared amongst the group. Meaning if you would like to gather for a bit while the rest of your group completes the objectives, you will still be rewarded the experience for them completing the quest.
As I made my way through Instant Adventures I did exactly that – quest and gather. But I was faced with another issue that has plagued Rift since launch. This is the fact that nodes are scaled horribly and also poorly balanced. Node requirements are spread so far apart in leveling that you will find yourself gathering five or more nodes just to obtain a level. Or even worse run into a node that is higher level than you – even if you are in a low level area.
It is gathering professions that actually end up being more of a grind than leveling. Never in my 53 levels on my Mage have I been able to seamlessly level my gathering professions as I quest. I always need to set time aside to specifically level my gathering professions. This REALLY needs to be looked at and I am absolutely amazed this issue still exists in Storm Legion.
Nonetheless, despite my gripes with gathering I enjoyed my time in Instant Adventures immensely. I found it so rewarding that I have already started playing my Warrior alt through Instant Adventures. From what I hear you can level 10-50 in approximately 24 hours of gameplay through Instant Adventures. I will surely be putting that to the test slowly but surely. Though my main focus will remain my Mage of course.
Saturday November 17th, 2012
Content covered: Dungeons, questing
Two days and complete extremes. Yesterday I was in awe of what Storm Legion was offering. Today, a much different impression.
The first thing I set out to do was run through the two dungeons that were available to my level: Exodus of the Storm Queen and Storm Breaker Protocol. While I have been playing mostly DPS I decided to mix things up and go heals. It was also in my best interest to play a class that resulted in a quicker queue for Looking for Group.
Exodus of the Storm Queen was a very solid experience. Each boss had unique mechanics that were both challenging and a ton of fun. It was, in simplest terms, what I expect from Rift dungeons.
Storm Breaker Protocol was a break from the norm to say the least. To start, you control a mech for the first half of the instance. While this was a lot of fun at first it quickly became very repetitive given the few skills at your disposal. Even worse though is that your gear isn’t taken into account at all. So even if you wanted to, you can’t speed your way through the first half of the instance by going in overgeared – an issue that will surely come up in expert mode.
The latter half of the instance was a real challenge. Not a challenge that was too frustrating but a challenge that made me realize why I enjoy Rift so much – dungeons and raids. The latter fights had me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time. I really had to be at the top of my game to heal the fights.
However, this challenge for some might be a bit much. As with most dungeons in any MMO your mileage may vary as it is very dependent on various factors. Make sure you go into the instance knowing the strats and are playing alongside competent players and you should be fine.
After some dungeon runs I was back to questing. Something that I was looking forward to given my time with it yesterday. Unfortunately I came across a baffling issue with the leveling and questing path – or lack thereof – in Storm Legion.
Sitting at level 52 I found myself on quests that were two levels above me. At first I wasn’t too worried given my overpowered Harbinger/Chloro spec. But as time went on I kept finding myself on quests that I was two to three levels and rising under the recommended level for.
I was confused. Is it expected that I do roughly two levels worth of dungeons, Instant Adventures, and/or PvP? Maybe? I am honestly not sure. It then dawned on me that there is this whole other island that I haven’t explored. An island that I was given the chance to go to but chose Palladane instead.
From what I can tell thus far this other island is the same level breakdown as the island I was already playing on. At first glance I can see what Trion was trying to do. They want to give the player options as to where they wish to level. That way, should the time ever come where the player wants to level an alt it still feels like a new, fresh experience. Unfortunately their execution here is WAY off.
I now come to find out that I should be bouncing back and forth between islands. Not because the game is telling me but because I had to find this out the hard way by finding myself under-leveled. The game is now forcing me to run through content that I am roughly two levels higher for. I can’t win.
Sure I can skip the lower level areas on the other island but that causes, to put it bluntly, a disjointed mess. I will find myself creating a complete experience for myself on one island and think of the other island as nothing more than a “filler” area. That isn’t how I wish to make my way through an MMO.
I have a strong suspicion that I will be fighting with the game to try and find some kind of equilibrium and do nothing but play catch up to quests I already found but am not high enough for. It is because of this that what Trion was trying to do with giving the player choice as to how and where to level is ultimately a failure from what I can see thus far. And while I applaud the idea of giving the player choice, there still has to be some semblance of structure – or even the illusion of choice such that pulling the player through a given path isn’t noticeable.
I can honestly say that I hope this is just a hiccup in the first few levels. Maybe I’ll fall back inline and everything will be smooth sailing soon. We shall see. But until then I am left with this lingering bad taste in my mouth.
Friday November 16th, 2012
Content covered: Questing, zone events, capes
While I have certainly been enjoying my time with Storm Legion it wasn’t until tonight that I found myself so enthralled with leveling. Eight hours straight spent leveling. Each hour better than the last.
I spent a majority of my time playing with a Warrior friend of mine. As we made our way through the Pelladane zone we were flowing from quest to quest not by the story quests but the quests we picked up naturally by killing things or interacting with areas of the environment. Yes, this is in fact what I mentioned on Monday but it wasn’t until today that I saw just how well this works.
I liken the flow of Storm Legion leveling to that of Guild Wars 2. The natural pickup of quests gives the feel that you aren’t being pulled along a specific path. Also, for better or worse, it strikes that completionist in me. I could not bring myself to move on until I completed every quest – something I in no way felt in Rift until now.
While a lot of the quests are in fact what are called Carnage (aka kill) quests, there are enough quests that break that monotony that some may be worried about. For times that myself and my Warrior friend wanted to forcefully break any monotony we would take part in zone events. After all, dynamic events are one of the largest appealing features in Rift.
The zone events in Pelladane were an absolute blast. As we made our way through the zone quests we would also be completing random Carnage quests as well. Once the zone quests were complete we fought a handful of large bosses that dozens of people took part in. Man I missed events like this.
After Pelladane we made our way into the next zone. It was here that my friend and I decided to change our specs up and try and speed up our questing. My Warrior friend went with a tank spec and I came up with a really neat Harbinger/Chloromancer build that allowed me to do great DPS and heal my friend and I at the same time.
Changing up our specs around halfway through our eight hour session brought something new and fresh that kept us going. With our combination we were able to pull 5+ enemies at a time and just AoE them down. I forgot just how much I love having up to six roles at my disposal at any time.
I also received my first cape tonight. That’s right, capes have been added to Storm Legion – complete with cape physics! I know it’s not a huge deal but the cape physics aren’t as good as Star Wars: The Old Republic but still good. Also, capes can’t be dyed! This is actually a bigger deal than you would think for me. Really hoping they add this later.
It was after completing Pelladane zone that I was rewarded a cape. The stats on it are actually pretty impressive. Not to mention it introduced the ability to upgrade the same item.
Upgradeable items are a new feature in Rift that gives not only another carrot on a stick but also more customization to the player. Component pieces can be acquired through crafting, purchasing, and/or drops and are used to take your item down an upgrade path. I am not sure if upgrade paths get more complicated than what you see above but as you can see I was able to upgrade a green cape into a blue cape. Really like this concept and hope to see a lot more of it as I level.
So, I can honestly say that tonight marks the rekindling of my long lost addiction to Rift. Tomorrow I’m thinking it is about time to jump into some of the new dungeons. If you can think of anything you’d like me to check out this weekend just let me know in the comments below.
Thursday November 15th, 2012
Content covered: Dimensions
Busy day for me today. Only got about an hour or two with Rift tonight but all of it was spent playing Dimensions. The amount of time I foresee spending in my Dimensions is now starting to concern me. Where am I going to find the time!?
Dimensions are Rift’s solution to player housing. While player housing is something older MMOs have seen, it has been lost on newer generation MMOs unfortunately. A Minecraft like experience within an MMO that can be shared with friends sounds like a ton of fun to me. Why haven’t more MMOs invested their time in player housing?
While I can explain for paragraph after paragraph what Dimensions offers, how deep it is, and what I’d like to see from it in the future it is probably best described by just showing you.
Wednesday November 14th, 2012
Content covered: Server status, Instant Adventures
Today for me was trying to understand whether or not being on a PvP server was actually a good thing or not. After reading through the forums and playing another two hours on Rift’s only PvP server I decided that it would be a much better experience for me if I joined a high population server. So, I now reside on Deepwood.
For those that are into world PvP you will be disappointed to know that not only is this expansion not very well tuned with world PvP in mind but Rift’s PvP server is one of the lowest population servers. There are six PvE servers, one PvE-RP server, and one PvP server. A majority of the servers have good population though which is the most important thing in my opinion.
Once I was on Deepwood my enjoyment grew exponentially. The chat is lively, the world is spawning event after event, and the Instant Adventures actually have people in them!
So I spent a majority of my night taking part in these well orchestrated set of quests that took me all over the Pelladane zone. Now keep in mind that Instant Adventures aren’t actually new to Storm Legion – although they are new to me. It is a bit mindless at times but is a ton of fun and is something I definitely plan to take advantage of while I’m watching some TV or grinding an alt.
So much content though from what I’ve seen so far and I still haven’t touched the new dungeons or PvP. These will most likely be later this weekend though if I had to guess. Tomorrow I think I’m going to focus on hitting level 52 and spending some quality time in Dimensions – Rift’s player housing.
Tuesday November 13th, 2012
Content covered: Launch, new Mage soul, questing, world PvP, Instant Adventures
Launch day! Servers went down around 11AM Eastern and around 2PM Eastern Storm Legion went live. Rift‘s launch last year was hands down the smoothest launch I have ever seen for any MMO and Storm Legion was no different today. Hats off to the team over at Trion, they really should run a clinic on how to launch an MMO.
My first few hours were spent cleaning out my bags and bank, organizing my UI, getting my specs setup, etc. One thing I was extremely impressed with was how easy Trion has made setting up specs thanks to providing templates complete with an explanation and tips. While this was something that was delivered prior to patch 2.0 it is a very welcome feature and one that newcomers will surely appreciate. It especially helped me set up my Mage’s new soul made available in Storm Legion: Harbinger.
So far I have thoroughly enjoyed this new melee soul in Harbinger. It took a bit of getting used to at first because I am so used to being a caster but I really like what this soul offers. With my macro setup for my main cooldown abilities I am able to spam that, apply my dots when they aren’t up, and cast an instant Fireball spell thanks to my Eldritch Armor buff which gives me a 50% chance to reduce my next ability by 2.5 seconds.
With combat keeping me thoroughly engaged it is a bonus that the first dozen or so quests are a ton of fun. I have found myself actually reading quest logs and getting into the story thanks to one of the opening quests that introduce you to Crucia – dragon goddess of the Blood Storm. Epic doesn’t quite describe this opening quest.
Quests seem to be laid out much better than the past as the more grindy – kill x number of these – quests are picked up automatically after having killed certain enemies or interacted with a certain piece of environment. Roughly a third of the quests I did today were these seamlessly provided quests and they were more of an afterthought than anything which was nice.
One thing I quickly noticed while questing is how thus far the zones and quests are not at all tuned with PvP servers in mind. I constantly found myself clashing with the Defiant not because I wanted to but because there were large scale fights that they just so happen to be taking part in as well and I ended up attacking them by accident. Everything seems to be shared between factions and I am really hoping that isn’t the case throughout the expansion as this is much different than what I am used to in not only Rift but really any MMO.
After getting about half of a level I ended up in Tempest Bay – Storm Legion‘s main city – which is absolutely gorgeous. It actually feels like a lived in, believable city unlike the cities we have seen from Rift in the past. And it was from here that I explored what the city had to offer, played with my professions a bit, and did some end of the night cleanup of the bags.
I also got a chance to see what Instant Adventures was all about but there were only two other people in it when I joined. The idea behind Instant Adventures is that you are grouped up with a raid of up to 20 people and the game guides you along a path of various quests within a zone. Sounds like fun to me. Hopefully tomorrow has better results.
While I didn’t get as much time as I had hoped to with the game today I can honestly say I am looking forward to playing more.