Fae Yule is Coming!

With Fae Yule coming up soon in Rift, this weekend was time to start getting into the spirit.  With the addition of player dimensions (housing) this year, that means just like in RL, decorating for the season.  For this year’s Fae Yule celebration, Rift has a number of pre-celebration gifts available.  All the details here.

For the price of a Facebook like, this year Rift gave away a Fae Yule Gift Pile, literally.  The Gift Pile is a dimension items that is, you guessed, a pile of gifts.  As I found out, once the code is applied to your account, each of your alts will receive the item which is not soulbound, so I used two piles in decorating my Fae Yule tree in my newbie Warden’s Point basic Defiant dimension

Charlie Brown, eat your heart out.
Charlie Brown, eat your heart out.

Rather pleased with my Charlie Brown-esque attempts at seasonality, I invited Mrs. P to come check it out.  Hence our first opportunity for a Rift Fae Yule family screenshot, companion pets included (a bit too much of art imitating life).

Happy Fae Yule from the Potshots
Happy Fae Yule from the Potshots

Of course, with the wife visiting the man-cave came decorating suggestions.  I had left off with a fairly austere series of floating platforms connected by ramps before I sort of drifted away.  I had managed to create something of a brazier effect in the sole building the dimension has using a torch and the blue vase that comes with completing the newbie dimensions quest.

Of course to her, it looked like a sauna in the making.  So, with the winter weather and Fae Yule imminent we set out to build the sauna.  Taking a lesson from EQ2 where often the backside of something is more useful that the front, a set of bookcases quickly became wood paneling for the sauna (with the added value of the parts protruding outside adding some much needed architectural features to the stone building).  Bear rug, water bucket, birch leaves and voila!  One instant sauna.

Cozy.  Too cozy.
Cozy. Too cozy.

Once complete, I of course had to inaugurate it which immediately reminded Mrs. P of why we don’t (and wont) have a sauna in our home…

Is it hot in here, or is it just me?
Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

Ahh, winter, yes, winter.

The Storm Arrives…and Off Come My Pants

No posts for months and then two in two days? I know…

So, Rift’s first expansion, Storm Legion, launched this evening.  I managed to hop on after dinner and got patched in about an hour, more or less.  With the streaming patcher, the game was “playable” in probably 5-10 minutes, but with two accounts in the house, I decided to preserve bandwidth and let it finish before I hopped in.

Mrs. P couldn’t wait and experienced some laggish issues.  Whether that was the client chugging with the patch on-going or just catching the tail end of U.S. primetime by logging on about 8pm west coast time, who knows.  By the time I got in about 45 minutes later, everything seemed fine with no issues.

With cape installed, I headed off for Iron Pine Peaks and the portal to explore the new lands in the Kingdom of Pelladane, on one of the two new continents.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Pelladane!

Mrs. P and I were only level 47, so we were really just poking around to see what we could see and more or less could manage +3 level mobs together with her tanking pet and me doing the healing support with my cleric.  With no intention of actually focusing on quests, we just explored and managed to knock off a few world event related quests along the way.

We also managed to find and finish off one of the first gear reward quests, so I got a new set of legs.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Pelladane!

Yup, its an expansion.  On the left is the first set of green quest reward pants compared with my lowbie transplanar pants which were purchased with planarite and sourcestones.  For level 45 in the old country, they were pretty darned good for easily accessible gear, and better than most nonexpert dungeon drops.  Well, at least I had the satisfaction of completing the set before it was completely obsoleted.  Same as it ever was.

Still I got to see enough to whet my appetite for more.  Two complete continents each as large or larger than the original game is an explorer’s dream.

King for a Day

Well, I managed to actually get a character to the level cap in Rift scarcely 24 hours before the Storm Legion expansion releases tomorrow. Like Wilhelm, I went with the full year subscription option which gave you the expansion “free” with some goodies like the “Landslide” mount.

After the great pre-expansion patch soul reset, I was a bit daunted about relearning how to play my main and my stable of alts. After a few weekends with my instance group character, I think I’ve gotten the hang of my support/dps cleric but State, my warrior, had languished in the high 30s.

Kudos to Trion for solving a number of challenges with one solution–the main city Storm Legion instant Adventure. If you were checking back in to the game before the expansion, the constantly running event in town begged you to join the action. Likewise if you were relearning to play due to the patch changes to souls, here was a great, quick and painless way to do it. And, if you were looking to catch up to the level cap, the raid experience and planarite rewards rained down fast and furious.

Suffice it to say, three days later and voila, ten levels under my belt. I must have known this but forgotten it–once you hit 50, there is an instanced ceremony event to celebrate your, ahem, ascendancy. I’m sure countless thousands have described it, so if you haven’t read about it or experienced it, I wont give spoilers, but I must say its a cool way to recognize the accomplishment. Much better than a mere ding or broadcast achievement. Nicely done.

Level 50 Fireworks in my own private Meridian

So after wondering whether Rift would survive for me after the fall onslaught of releases, I’ve doubled down for the expansion. Bring on the storm.

Around the virtual world, again

Haven’t had much to say of late, because, well, I haven’t had much to say.  Seems most of the sentient universe is spending some time in Rift.  As I noted before, I’ve decided to pass on Rift for now, though I’m not getting into the Rift/Not-Rift flame wars.

I beta-ed Rift and like it quite a bit.  But for some reason, it just didn’t quite grab me though I have nothing but good things to say about its production quality.  Given what we’ve seen in recent years, it restores my hope that the industry can actually produce a game that is worth buying on day one.  Unfortunately, that is saying a lot.

Likewise, after an initial bout of new MMO expansion enthusiasm, the obvious flaws of Cataclysm have left me little enthusiasm to spend much time there.  I got my non-instance group “solo” character to the cap in the middle of Twilight Highlands and stalled.  The linearity and the excessive phasing sucked out any enthusiasm I had for feeding my alt-itis.

I like to explore.  I like to explore the game world, I like to explore what other classes play like and I like to explore how virtual economies work, etc., etc.  Gating off parts of the world behind quest phase walls is the antithesis of a virtual world to me.  If there is a far off, dangerous and exotic place to visit, I want to be able to make my adventure getting there whether I’m a level one noob, level capped or anywhere in between.  Playing with friends or guildies, even in the same zone, is nearly impossible.

Returning to EQ on the time locked Fippy Darkpaw progression server has been a breath of 12 year old fresh air.  Experiment has turned into a bit of an obsession as Wilhelm and I have re-immersed ourselves into the EQ of old.  As a concession to our play budgets and the game mechanics, we are both dual boxing the game which adds its own new experiences.

Its a worldly world.  It takes time to progress.  Combat is slow enough and unpredictable enough to require you to make interesting choices.  Including the choice to run like hell to the zone line.  Death hurts and fear is a powerful motivator.  While on Fippy Darkpaw the death penalty is not the 1999 naked corpse run version, loss of XP and respawning at your bind point makes you more thoughtful.

There are dozens of places I can go to explore and go hunting.  The general freedom from quest driven content has actually been liberating.  Its been a while, but I’m finally beginning to understand what folks like Saylah and Tipa and others have been talking about for the past few years.  Group experiences are still fun, tactics matter and you get to see and experience the world as a living place– with your friends.

A number of explorer types are reporting good experiences with Rift, especially at the higher levels, but I’m still curious whether that will hold up longer than the three-month windows folks have been discussing in the blogosphere.

I hope so, because at this point, there is very little in the MMO space that looks like it can offer the kind of experience I’ve been craving.   I’ve got high hopes for Guildwars 2 and am cautiously pessimistic about SW:TOR since it will likely be fourth-pilloried on its story heavy construction.  But for now, I feel like I’ve been all the way around the MMO-sphere and ended up right where I started 12 years ago.