Well the "big patch" for Neverwinter came a week earlier than I expected. Guess what? No changes in queueing – it still takes forever. So I’ve basically given up on Neverwinter, so it’s all Rift all the time for me!
My mage reached level 60, so now I’m a "fresh 60." I’m not sure how long the total journey from 50 to 60 took, but it took a little over a week to get from 55 to 60. I’m now remembering just how much stuff there is to do in Rift, with dailies and crafting and fishing and so forth, and how much fun it is. Zone Events are tons and tons of addictive fun. There’s a World Event going on now that I haven’t even seen yet. There are not one, not two, but *three* level 60 zones to run around in!
Harbinger is a great leveling and soloing soul, by the way. So great in fact that almost every Mage you encounter in Storm Legion zones is running it. At first I did Harbinger/Chloro which works a lot like the Justicar soul and basically makes it impossible to die. When I hit 60 I switched to a more pure Harbinger soul with Elementalist thrown in for the big Lightning Strike ability, so my DPS improved considerably at the cost of self-healing.
Still, Harbinger is not a group soul. I’m going with your basic Pyromancer build for dungeons and such. Before SL, I think Pyro/Warlock or Pyro/Stormcaller and a tricky rotation was the FotM top DPS build, now I’m not sure what it is. I’m using a modification of my previous macro and a fairly plain Pyro rotation, but it’s hard to tell how I’m doing. I get about 7,500 dps in zone events while others are doing like 20,000+ dps, but they could be showing off in uber raid gear and using planar charges to double their damage. In the two expert dungeons I’ve done, I came in a solid third place, but the other two guys looked overgeared. (I’m just glad the tank and healer didn’t do more damage than I did.)
Speaking of dungeons, I’ve done four SL dungeons so far. Well, three and a half. I tried two Normals while leveling up. First I did the Unhallowed Boneforge, in which we normals wiped a few times, but we eventually got through it. Then I did Archive of Flesh, in which I died a lot because it turned out that the healer wasn’t really healing. (Perhaps he was expecting us to drink potions, a la Neverwinter.) That group fell apart before the last boss. Then after sitting in Normal queues for hours it became abundantly clear that nobody ever queues for Normal dungeons, so I stopped trying after that.
When I hit 60 I found out you need 1200 Intelligence and 300 Hit to get into expert SL dungeons. I was only up to 200 Hit, so I used Infinity Stones to buy half of the world event gear, then F2P Credits to buy the other half (so yeah, I "paid to win," big deal, wanna fight about it?). I made a couple of +18 Hit runes and ended up at about 325 Hit. Then I jumped into the Expert queue. And waited. And waited. Apparently, all queues are really slow when you’re DPS only, which isn’t that surprising. I only managed to get into two dungeons: Empyrean Core and Storm Breaker Protocol, and did not get a single item drop. (Later, when I have more gear and confidence, I’ll start queuing as DPS and Support, and maybe even Healing. I’m not doing Support right now because the person who queues as Support typically does the best DPS in the group.)
P.S. I can now make a much better comparison of Rift boss mechanics to Neverwinter boss mechanics. Neverwinter definitely does it better, no doubt about it. In Rift, if you don’t read about the mechanics beforehand, or have someone explain it to you, you’re probably going to wipe until you do it enough times to figure out where to stand, when to run, when to hide, when to push buttons, when to burn adds, etc. It’s a memorization game in Rift, whereas in Neverwinter all you need to know is how to play your class.