I broke down and bought 15 days of Patron status in Rift. The amount of extra XP gain is very large and noticeable and I would say almost mandatory, at least if you want to keep your sanity while leveling.
Before continuing with my Mage, in a fit of rage over being so under-powered in the new zones, I got out my Primalist and started leveling him. I made a Primalist back when they first came out but only got to level 9. This time, I discovered the Hammerknell Instant Adventures, which I’d never done before.
Man, that place is amazing. I’m really glad they made it accessible for more people to see it. I proceeded to level from 9 all the way to level 50 in two days, taking screenshots all over the place. Then I used my level 65 boost and skipped from 50 to 65 (that’s the really slow part in Rift). I know it was a bit of a waste to go from 9 to 50 but it was a good learning experience. The point is now I have a level 65 Primalist.
Primalists are kind of fun, by the way. The Berserker soul has some crazy AoE damage potential. It’s a bit like the Champion soul.
Anyway, after all the adventures in Hammerknell I went back to my Mage. I thought Starfall Prophecy was going to get easier the more gear I got from quest rewards, but not so much. At the end of the Scatherran Forest, the first zone, I had the full, stylish green-and-yellow-with-antlered-helmet cloth set.
By then it was relatively straightforward to kill level 65 and 66 mobs. But not level 67 mobs, which is what you fight at the start of the Gedlo Badlands, the second zone. When my Mage finally reached level 67, I started getting comfortable with the level 67 mobs. Of course now I’m starting to see level 68 mobs, so I’m back to struggling.
The point is, maybe it’s just me but this expansion seems harder than any previous one. Storm Legion was hard for the first one or two levels, then it got easy. Nightmare Tide was hard for the first level, then it got easy. This expansion seems determined to remain hard for the entire time.
Even my go-to survive-anything-anywhere build, the Elementalist, has issues. These Starfall mobs mow down a tank pet in no time if you’re not careful. I usually have to heal my pet about halfway through every mob encounter, and if I end up against two mobs I spend more time healing than doing damage. With three mobs, forget about it. So yeah I’ve died a lot. Don’t even get me started about that bleepity bleeping “Smash Time” quest in the Gedlo Badlands.
I actually prefer soloing without a pet in Rift (it’s faster, and the pets always ruin screenshots and stand exactly on top of gathering nodes so you can’t click on them), but these Starfall mobs do so much damage that if you go with a faster damage build, you end up having to heal up after every single fight, which is a pain. I like to go from mob to mob to mob one after the other without any down time. I tried my Harbinger/Chloromancer (melee damage + healer) soloing build but it doesn’t have enough self-heals. I tried a Pyromancer/Elementalist build (tank pet plus ranged damage), but it was too squishy. I tried an Arbiter (tank soul) but it takes too long to kill things and you still have to heal afterwards. I tried a pure Chloromancer build but it takes all day to kill anything. I tried a pure Warlock build but it doesn’t have enough self-heals.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with another Harbinger/Chloromancer build with a lot more points in healing. It’s working “okay” but it could be better. I wish the damage output was a little higher.
I’m not sure what I think of the Legendary abilities yet. Some of them seem good, some of them seem like duds.
I’m not too crazy about the Fragment system. It’s just more busy work. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really don’t need another gear layer with every expansion. I would have been fine with plain old higher level gear. Now you need Base Gear plus a Rune/Dream Orb/whatever plus a Fragment for every slot. In addition to the Essences that have always been there.
Anyway, the best part about the expansion so far is the banter between the companions that come with you on the story quests. Unfortunately it breaks up the flow of the game a bit because you have to stand there and watch them play out the scenes. (It’s hard to watch the dialog while you’re traveling because they’re behind you, unless you watch the chat window, but that isn’t as fun.) I think they go too far into jokey territory, but I figure that’s a sign of the game’s age. They’ve run out of new fantasy material so they’ve gone into self-parody. (My recollection of Vanilla Rift is that all the quests and NPCs were dead serious. Humor only crept into the game later, I want to say after Storm Legion.)
By the way, whatever happened to Nightmare Rifts? Those things were fun, but I guess they don’t exist in Starfall Prophecy, or nobody summons them anymore.