Rift – Nightmare Tide

I’ve been playing nothing but Rift since the expansion came out.* If you even remotely like the game, you should definitely check out Nightmare Tide. I’m a little biased though, since I think Rift is the best themepark MMO out there, far surpassing WoW in every possible way. (Except in the amount of available content and player population.)

Just thought this was a nice vista in Goboro Reef.
A nice vista in Goboro Reef.

Good things about Nightmare Tide:

Ridiculously Plentiful Gathering Nodes. In Storm Legion, mining and foraging nodes are pretty few and far between. In Nightmare Tide, you trip over them every two steps. My mage started with Foraging at 375 but Mining at only around 50. (I had decided much earlier that I was going to add all of the gathering skills to my main, but hadn’t gotten around to leveling them.) So I went back and leveled up Mining before I spent too much time in the Plane of Water. It only took a couple of hours to get from 50 to 300 in the “old” zones. But then I hit the Storm Legion zones and progress ground to halt. It took most of the day wandering around to get from 300 to 350, because suddenly you couldn’t find any mining nodes, and on those occasions when you did, you only got like 1/3 of a point! Once I got to 350 it was easy to get to 375 by grinding on some mobs up in Dendrome. I also leveled up Butchering and ran into the same problem. Huge dead zone between 300 and 350. Then you go into Nightmare Tide and you can’t move an inch without hitting a plant or a mining node or something to butcher. This is what I call a good adjustment by Trion. (It would be nice if they could go back to Storm Legion and double or triple the number of nodes.)

Carnage Quests A-OK Now. In Storm Legion, I became pretty irritated by all the Carnage quests. It got so that I actively tried to avoid killing things so another stupid quest wouldn’t attach itself to my already-huge list. I guess it’s not that I didn’t like the quest objectives, it’s that you could never finish one before two new ones popped up. In Nightmare Tide, I’m not seeing that anymore. The Carnage quests seem to be just right. (Or maybe I’ve just gotten used to them.)

Zones Appropriately Sized. In Storm Legion, the zones are enormous and they seem mostly empty. Except for the accursed Carnage Quests. In Nightmare Tide, the zones seem to be just the right size. Or rather, they are still enormous, but there is stuff in them all over the place.

Gyel Fortress, the location of a new dungeon in Nightmare Tide.
Gyel Fortress, the location of a new dungeon in Nightmare Tide.

Leveling Pace Exactly Right. Unlike Storm Legion, where leveling from 50 to 60 was a rather daunting grind-fest, leveling through these three new zones seems just right. I have not yet gotten Patron status, and I don’t feel any need to do so. Without any bonuses (other than the 25% bonus they gave because of the outage) I’m still plugging along at a decent clip, even out-pacing the zone quests a little bit. So if you end up using a lot of bonuses, you’ll probably zoom to 65 in no time. So 5 levels in 3 zones seems like the right call. Good expansion size. Now if we could get one of these every six months instead of every year, it would be even more awesome.

Minions. At first I was befuddled by the minion system. I didn’t really know what it was good for. But then a weird thing happened. I kept sending out minions on adventures even though I didn’t fully understand the appeal, and then I still kept doing it, and then later, I still kept going back and sending out more minions on adventures. I don’t exactly love it, but there is something really compelling and interesting about it that keeps me coming back. I even bought two more slots. It seems to be the only way to get Artifacts in Nightmare Tide zones, because I haven’t run across a single Artifact out in the wild yet. Also you get just crap tons of Dimension Items, if you’re into that. I’m not particularly into that, so I just keep dumping them into my trash heap of a dimension to get them out of my inventory.

76 stages in a Silverwood Nightmare Rift is the best I've done so far.
76 stages in a Silverwood Nightmare Rift is the best I’ve seen so far.

Nightmare Rifts. These things are awesome. The only problem is that some jerk wad will inevitably try to sabotage the group’s progress by pulling mobs away from the center. (Public Service Announcment: Make sure everyone is on board with pulling the mobs to the center so everyone can AoE them down faster. If you’re a DPS and you get aggro, run to the center and stand there, don’t run away like a dufus.) If you’re in a big guild or whatever, I think you can open private Nightmare Rifts so you can avoid that.

By the way, if you’re afraid that the expansion is all about swimming, don’t worry. You only have to swim for about the first 15 minutes. Then it’s mostly land again. (Which also means you mostly wasted your money if you bought that shark mount.) There was much, much more swimming in the Song of Dreams mini-expansion last year. (Last year?!? Good lord I didn’t realize it was that long ago.)

* I almost killed off my geese in ArcheAge.. I logged in to find them starving and half of my fruit trees had already died off. By the way, I have heard people say they think ArcheAge is somehow similar to the look and feel of Rift. I just can’t see it. They are totally different to me.

Rift – Tempest For The Win

I spent most of a whole weekend playing … Rift! Man that game is awesome. Have I mentioned that? It’s the best WoW-clone of all the WoW-clones. Definitely more better than WoW itself.

I leveled my Warrior from 53 to 57, using a combination of quests and Instant Adventures. Mostly IAs. I used up three 160% Experience potions that I had from some Trion gift or another, and then I got a 30-day Patron status so I could use the daily 40% Experience bonuses for the rest of the trip to 60, which will probably occur during the week.

The biggest problem with Rift is that, tragically, nobody is playing it. It’s really quite sad. I only managed to get into a single normal dungeon as DPS over the entire weekend. And just my luck, it was Storm Breaker Protocol, which is the weirdest, most hated dungeon in all of Rift. (You run around half of it in mech suits. Sort of like the Praetorium instance in FFXIV, only way more obnoxious.) Even the Instant Adventures rarely had more than three or four people in them. And these are all cross-server tools.

Anyway, one reason I made so much progress is that I found a Warrior build that works well for soloing. My theory was correct: As the Storm Legion Harbinger is a great soloing soul for Mages, so too the Storm Legion Tempest is a great soloing soul for Warriors. It does decent damage and has fantastic survivability and self-healing so that you can run from mob to mob without any down time in between. It is not good for packs of mobs, though. During IAs I switched to a Champion build.

The other thing I did in Rift was finish the Dendrome quests with my 60 Mage. Of course then I had to go into the Queen’s Gambit Chronicle and exact bloody revenge upon those evil Architects. It takes a while to solo, but I got through it without dying. The loot was worthless to me, but I got some achievements out of it, and spawned some other quest to find things in other Chronicles.

All-in-all, a fun time was had by all.

Rift – Re-thinking the Solo 53 Warrior

I thought maybe I could use this time before ESO launches to level another character in Rift up to 60. The lucky winner of my attention is a Dwarf Warrior, who is currently at 53 and wandering around the depressing, sickly, bruised blue-and-purple landscapes of Seratos.

It seemed like a great idea until I remembered that almost every single encounter ended with my health nearly depleted. I read once that the Storm Legion zones had been nerfed, but they don’t seem all that much easier to me. If I run a DPS build, I take so much damage that I have to stop after every encounter to heal. If I run a tank build, the encounters take so long that I still lose most of my health from being exposed for so long. The point is that I really miss soloing with the Harbinger-Chloromancer build which self-healed so much that I never had to stop – I could go from mob to mob at a dead run.

Of course, I still have a pre-Storm Legion attitude about playing Warrior. I have done little or nothing to re-optimize my Warrior souls or rotations since I came back after Storm Legion. When I came back to my Mage, I built a Harbinger and never looked back. Perhaps I need to go full Tempest to see if it has a corresponding awesomeness compared to the other Warrior souls.

Also, I think I need to do more Instant Adventures and pop a bunch of XP potions. Questing around the Storm Legion zones is a little dry. (One of the only bad things about Rift.)

Rift – What’s It Going To Take?

I read a fluff article on MMORPG.com about 5 Things Rift Must Do In 2014, which got me thinking. What would it take to get me to play Rift again on a daily basis again in 2014?

Well, the answer is pretty simple: Give me an expansion with new zones and more levels.

(Alternately, if I totally ran out of stuff to do in other MMOs I’m playing, I would probably play Rift.)

First of all, let me say that in my mind, Rift is the best WoW-clone out there by a long shot. If you take everything you love about WoW, throw out all the things you hate about WoW, and add in an awesome class system, you end up with Rift. It’s a really great MMO. (I expect to see something similar to that formula from WildStar, although the classes don’t look nearly as interesting as Rift’s.)

So why am I playing FFXIV right now instead of Rift?

Basically, because FFXIV feels new and interesting, whereas I feel like I’ve done everything there is to do in Rift. I have one character at 60 and three others at 51+. I would love to get my three other dwarves to 60, but going through Storm Legion is pretty tedious and that whole process would probably take a month or more.

Rift 3.0 is supposed to give us a new level cap and new souls, and that will be a must-play for me. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder if Trion will even be around long enough to get Rift 3.0 out the door. It was a bit shaky for them in 2013, although from what I can tell the game itself is perfectly fine. I would love to an expansion in 2014, but when I look back at articles talking about what’s going to be in 3.0, I start to wonder if they can fit all of that in before the end of the year. (Combat pets, new souls, level cap increases, PvP dimensions, and you would assume a bunch of new zones.) If this was the Trion of two years ago I’d say sure, no problem, but Trion today is not the Trion of two years ago, unfortunately. They aren’t putting out Rift patches nearly as fast as they once were. And they’ve got a bunch of different games to manage now, not just one.

So sadly, without an expansion, I don’t see myself doing much in Rift except popping in for holiday events now and then. I’d like to level more alts to 60, but it’s not very high on my priority list right now. By the time I finish with the games I’m playing now, ESO and/or WildStar will almost certainly be out, and that will probably supercede leveling those alts again, for at least a couple of months.

Perhaps after the shininess of ESO and WildStar wears off, Rift 3.0 and my quartet of dwarves will be there waiting for me.

Rift Is Too Easy

Since there are a lot of new people flooding into Rift, there have been complaints on the forums from the usual suspects about how easy it is to level. I can confirm that yes, it’s really easy to get from 1 to 50, and it’s now easier than ever. It used to be harder, but even back when it was hard, it was still pretty easy for a veteran gamer to get to 50. If the last MMO you played was EQ1 or vanilla WoW, you’re not going to be challenged. But if you’re coming from almost any other modern MMO, it’s about the same.

Unfortunately sales numbers don’t lie – the majority of people like leveling to be easy. MMOs – and in fact, most games in general – have grown in popularity because they are getting easier. Most MMO players seem to want immersion, costumes, collecting, and achievements. And houses, for some reason. (Raiders and PKs, the so-called elitist jerks of MMOs, don’t want any leveling process – they just want to go straight to the end game.) So the people who want leveling to be difficult like it was in the old days are out of luck. (Personally I think Rift compensates by providing a lot of different leveling paths, and a lot of different soul combinations to play with.)

You might think (and people certainly post about it) that a difficult MMO would be wildly popular if someone would just make one, but sadly, people do make hard MMOs, and they are not popular (Darkfall and Mortal Online are two). They only attract one kind of gamer – the hardcore kind, who don’t so much want to play a game as they want to dominate and destroy.

On the bright side, leveling from 50-60 in the Rift expansion areas is considerably more difficult, although it’s still not super difficult. The hardest part is probably from 50-52 when you are still collecting Storm Legion-appropriate gear. You might get facerolled when you make that initial jump from Ember Isle to Pelladane or Cape Jule. And god help you if you go directly from Stillmoor into Storm Legion. (I don’t know what that experience is like because all of my 50s were adequately geared before SL came out.) But after you get acclimated and setup with a good build it’s just a matter of cranking through the quests until you get to 60. (It took me perhaps two weeks of casual playing to get from 50 to 60 on my mage, using a very durable Harbinger/Chloro build.)

They say the Storm Legion normal dungeons are a lot harder than the old world normal dungeons, but I haven’t had a chance to observe that yet. I’ve only experienced the SL Expert dungeons, and in those I have definitely seen more wipes than I ever did in the old world experts. I would say 1/3 of all the groups I played in wiped and couldn’t finish the run. I personally didn’t find them excessively hard – after you learn the correct dance steps to succeed.

Rift Mage Maxed Out

Hrm. Over the weekend I started to realize that Rift is actually not as much fun as I thought. My mage is 60 and has a bunch of expert dungeon gear, so the only way left to advance that character is raiding with the guild, but the thought of setting up ventrillo and signing up for schedules and all that crap is not very appealing. Even the expert dungeons are kind of painful. It takes so long to get into a dungeon queue as DPS that by the time it pops, I have no interest in playing anymore. I only got into two dungeons. One was Storm Breaker Protocol, and everyone left before the first boss because nobody likes that dungeon. The second was the Tower of something or another, which I’ve only done once before, and I was so irritated at having to navigate those stupid jump pads at the beginning that I just left. (They wouldn’t have had trouble getting another DPS.) While waiting for queues, the only meaningful thing to do is Zone Events, and those happen infrequently in the 60 zones. Other than that, all I can do is quest in the Dendrome, which provides no real rewards for my character. Most of the time, I get bored long before the queue pops and switch to another character.

So I spent most of my time leveling my dwarf warrior to level 53. I spent a little time playing my Bahmi tank, but tanking RotF is not very fun, and I didn’t feel like tackling Iron Tombs. I did a lot of Instant Adventures, but I don’t see why people like them more than questing. They get repetitive very quickly.

Stranger Guildies

It was a light, ordinary evening in Rift. I did a blissfully un-dramatic random expert SL dungeon (Archive of Flesh) with a good tank/healer duo and ended up with a nice purple mage dagger at the end, which is probably the best I will ever see until or unless I start raiding.

So I’m in this guild, right? But it’s one of those guilds that basically takes anyone, no-questions-asked, so it’s got thousands of random people in it, so I see a lot of fellow guildies out in the wild even though I don’t know any of them. It makes it somewhat awkward. Sometimes I’m grouped with a guildie in a dungeon but I don’t know if I’m supposed to say anything or not. Like, “Hey guildie who is a complete stranger that I’ve never seen before, what’s up?” Am I supposed to greet them? I usually opt for silence when in doubt.

I spent some time last night working on optimizing my Pyromancer rotation. I could read a guide – and I have – but it sticks in my head better if I work things out on my own. I added a separate key just for Fireballs when Extinguish procs so I don’t waste them (my spam macro throws Flamebolts before Fireballs). Then I did something I should have done long ago: Setup KaruulAlert.

I only use three Addons for Rift: One is a damage meter of course, and the second is the King Boss Mod which everyone used to expect you to have for raiding.

The third is this thing called KaruulAlert, which is a very complicated Addon to setup and use, but I’m starting to fall in love with it. It appeals to my programmer nature. It lets you setup “alerts” that trigger when your abilities are ready, buffs are expiring, or just about anything else you can think of. The “alert” is just a picture or text that shows up on the screen to notify you. The idea is get a reminder to tell you when to hit certain abilities so you can maximize your effectiveness.

No, it’s not cheating. Shut up.

For example, I setup one to alert me when my Charge is over 100, so I know when to trigger the Internalize Charge ability, which increases damage. Previously, I had to glance up at my charge meter periodically, and most of the time, I forgot to do that. I setup another alert to tell me when I have 5 stacks of Combust on the target, so I know when it’s safe to use Fusillade. And I setup alerts for when a bunch of abilities come off of cooldown.

(Incidentally, I just noticed last night that Heatwave resets all your cooldowns. Doh! Now I need to remember never to trigger Heatwave without hitting Fusillade first, because then I can throw two Fusillades almost back to back. Fusillade-Heatwave-Fusillade. Big damage there. Other than that nifty trick, it doesn’t look like Heatwave is nearly as effective as it used to be.)

http://community.riftgame.com/en/2013/06/25/freemarch-silverwood-under-siege/ I tried out the Silverwood/Freemarch Invasion event thingy. I mentored my 60 down to 14 and went to Silverwood for a couple of invasions. It brought back memories of beta and launch. Ah, those were the good old days, when there were invasions all the time and nobody knew what they were doing. This event is clearly a ploy by Trion to populate lowbie areas and get us high-levels to interact more with F2P players, but it was still kind of fun. I don’t understand the gift boxes though. I can only assume there’s some kind of achievement to be gained by throwing gifts at NPCs.

I’m glad to see that they now nerf high-level people in low-level zones so they can’t one-shot the event bosses and ruin everyone’s fun like they used to. Still, I once saw a 50+ run in to tank an event boss that was scattering people left and right in Freemarch a while back. He may not have been doing any damage, but he was sure generating plenty of threat. (I know this because I was on my lowbie tank at the time and kept getting swatted like a fly because nobody was healing.)

Drama Queen Tanks

So I tried to get in a random expert with my mage, something I try to do at least once a day. It was Archive of Flesh, and right away the support guy says it’s his first time. No problem, it’s the right thing to say that up front and actually pretty ballsy because most people don’t admit it. :) For a while, he did basically no DPS so he was actually trying to play a support role – normally not required unless the healer requests it, but no big deal to me. As long as we clear the dungeon in a reasonable time frame (which to me is maybe less than 45 min), I don’t really care how it’s done.

(As a side note here, I’m noticing that the failure rate of random SL expert dungeons is way higher than it was for random classic expert dungeons back in the day. It could just be that there are a lot of returning players and fresh 60s now because of the f2p conversion, though. Or maybe it’s because SL dungeons require some kind of participation from every single player, whereas with the old dungeons you could get away with one or two people not knowing anything.)

Anyway, back to the PUG, when we got to the first boss Tzul I expected the tank to say something about the fight, which is not difficult for ranged DPS but you definitely have to stay ranged, and you have to cross the bridge at one point. (I knew this from the first time I ran Archive of Flesh, where the tank was nice enough to explain that.) But this tank charged in without saying a word. (At least he did a ready check.) We got through it and the second boss, but then we ran into trouble on the third boss, the crustacean chick who floods the hall.

I thought I was doing fine, but then I got clobbered by one of Emphalea’s unavoidable tridents and died. (At least I think they’re unavoidable.) I didn’t stand in any bubbles, none of the sparkly orbs hit me, I got on the pedastal at the right time. Unavoidable damage pretty much means it’s up to the healer to keep you alive, and sometimes you get a random crit that kills you no matter what, which is what I think happened. My health isn’t exactly spectacular, you know, ’cause I’m a mage. The healer (who was awesome, btw) combat rezzed me right away but I couldn’t get oriented in time to get on a pedastal before the next flood, and soon after the whole group wiped.

(In retrospect, I don’t see why they couldn’t have finished that boss one man short. Or even two men short, because the support guy wasn’t doing much damage. I’ve seen plenty of bosses finished with three people in experts before. I suspect that the tank couldn’t maintain his tanking long enough to compensate for the slower DPS.)

Well then the tank starts talking about how bad my DPS is and how his pyromancer pulls 8k dps without even trying and whatnot. I’m like wtf. In that fight I had done around 6k and that was after getting killed. Usually I’m closer to 7k. Which I know full well is nowhere near optimal but I’m still learning SL rotations and gearing up and honestly I’m more concerned with memorizing the fights anyway. I said something to that effect, but then he goes into a whole “learn in normal dungeons” and “I don’t even need to do this” and “I only need raid gear” tirade like I should have been grateful that he came down from on high to tank for us low-lifes. I’m like wtf again. I’m the problem here? Are you kidding? Has this guy ever played a PUG dungeon before? Tons of people are way worse than me. The support guy in our own party was doing like 2k even after switching to DPS! Anyway, the rest of the party jumped in to defend me, which was pretty awesome. I wanted to put him on my ignore list right away, but I didn’t want to risk missing any crucial information in the rest of the dungeon. (The tank traditionally directs the battles.)

It took us two more tries to finish that boss. I admit part of that was my fault because I didn’t really care to help anymore. :) When we were done the tank got a shield drop (a blue one!) that he said he could use! Only needs raid gear, indeed. I mean wtf. Anyway the next boss was that one in the small room with the orange circles on the ground you have to avoid. We kept getting killed there, and to make a long story short, the tank left.

There’s two things about that episode that bother me. It doesn’t really bother me that the tank was a tool, because those kind of “elitist jerks” are fairly common in MMOs (though usually you can avoid/ignore them). It doesn’t even bother me that I got called out for sub-par DPS, because obviously my DPS is going to be sub-par until I learn all the rotations and fights by heart. Also, to be honest, I’m not nearly as committed to gaming perfectionism as I once was. (Oh and to be clear, I should point out that my stats were well above the minimum requirements for an expert dungeon – ~425 Hit, ~1500 Int, ~3300 SP, so it’s not like I was just scraping by the requirements.)

The biggest thing that bothered me is that it annoyed me enough to affect my playing! I mean after that I wanted to actively reduce my DPS just to annoy him, and I’m positive I died the next time because I just wasn’t paying enough attention. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I woke up two hours before my alarm went off and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was still annoyed about it! What’s that about? It’s just some random jerk in a game. After he left, I put him on ignore, so I’ll never see him again. And he is literally the only person who has ever called me out like that for sub-par performance in a PUG dungeon since I started playing in them, like over a year ago. So I know from experience that this kind of tank is rare overall, and particularly rare in Rift. The vast majority of tanks are fine upstanding citizens, and a lot of them are actually helpful and nice. (The healer in this group, who said he was also a tank, would have been an awesome one.)

I think the other thing that really bothered me is that I didn’t have a suitably biting, sarcastic response at hand. :) So I’m now going to brainstorm and write down some of the things I could have said.

“Okay, well, thanks for sharing.”

“Sorry, I didn’t realize we needed raid gear to do expert dungeons.”

“Sorry, I didn’t realize your tank was so squishy.”

“Sorry, I didn’t realize so much was at stake for you.”

“Sorry, I’ll switch to my Elementalist spec.” (I love this one. I can imagine a tank going purple with rage after he sees me summon a rock pet.)

So this doesn’t happen again, I think in the future I will avoid playing any kind of PUG before bed, so I’ll stay out of queues after 8 pm. That way I’ll always be able to do something relaxing like fishing or crafting dailies before bed.