Memories of Other Times
This weekend saw me succumbing to nostalgia, but not in the method you might think. With all the talk of the Warcraft movie, one would assume that I spent my entire weekend playing that game. However instead I wound up spending nearly the entire weekend playing the game that ultimately first took me away from World of Warcraft in a significant way. There were some events that happened this past week, and I ended up finding out that a friend of mine had passed away suddenly. That friend is someone I first met during the launch of Rift when they were part of the community team, and from that point on we kept in contact through the other games we both moved to. Of note… I am never too far from Rift, and I am rarely more than a patch behind when I inevitably fire up Glyph to peek my head in. I’ve subscribed to the game more time than I have not since it launched back in 2011, and I’ve watched the game evolved through expansions and the shift to free to play and have remained one of the few of my friends that carries a heavy torch for the game. The problem being that in order to do a lot of the things I want to do with the game… I need a body of active players. While we have had several resurgences into playing Rift, the last of which seeing the forming of House Stalwart on Faeblight during July or 2013. The only problem being this lasted a few blissful months and then once again we were all fading away from the game to play other things… myself included.
Something shifted as well with the way content was structured in the old world versus content in both Storm Legion and Nightmare Tide. In the original game I managed to level three classes to 50 happily before finally running out of steam. In Storm Legion I managed to push my warrior up to 60, and a significant time later managed to barely push up my rogue up just before the release of Nightmare Tide. The latest expansion however… for whatever reason I just hit high center and never quite managed to near the level cap. When I logged in this weekend I was sitting at level 62 and had been there for quite awhile. There was something about the way the zones were designed, that firstly greatly increased my inborn tendency to wander off aimlessly. This exacerbated another problem that I have had in the newer content… and that is I seem to be able to completely lose the quest chains in the mix and fail to follow them ultimately finding out I am entire zones behind in trying to follow any semblance of a leveling path. So instead I would wander about and grind mobs, mostly doing carnage quests… which are these kill X quests that appear in the wild as you well… will mobs. This is an extremely slow way to level and after a few hours of doing this… and not really seeing the level bar move terribly much I would wander away like a bored child into some other game.
Now a little over a year after the launch of the game, the good folks at Trion introduced a system called Instant Adventures. This was single-handedly the best re-purposing of content I have experienced in a game. There are a number of things that happen while you quest your way through a zone, and instant adventures is essentially taking all of these tasks and placing them end to end… and aiding the flow by offering the occasional teleport to the next area and the next set of objectives. The result is this mindless train that you can hop on and just focus on the mission at hand, and in the process getting a bunch of planar currency and the occasional gear filled chest in the process. I’ve always found these an extremely fun way to level at low levels, because you can just literally hit a button and start getting fed small bite sized objectives to focus on, which is the perfect manner to grind alts. The only negative however is that the gear chests are nowhere near as plentiful as they come be… and you often times wind up significantly behind the curve in equip-able items. Over the weekend while recording the AggroChat podcast for example I started a character on the EU server Zaviel and started leveling through Instant Adventure. I shot up the twenty in no time flat… however I am still largely wearing sub level 10 gear other than a handful of really amazing items that I happened to went through the adventures. That said… this is a fun way to level a character and so long as you are riding the train the gear disparities are largely not that bit of an issue thanks to a bit of a bolstering system in place.
Last year they extended this Instant Adventure system to raids, and released Hammerknell as what they called an “Intrepid Adventure”. The result is something halfway between World of Warcraft LFR, and an Instant Adventure that involves going through the raid and its trash packs… that have been chopped up and fed back to you in neat bite sized chunks. The thing that I find interesting is just how many mechanics have managed to make it into the Intrepid adventures, and that the saving grace seems to be that you can simply zerg your way back to the boss after every death instead of needing to wait for a rez. Roughly a month ago they released the second raid as an intrepid adventure based on the Mind of Madness raid. While I had a blast doing Hammerknell on a whim a year ago, I never wound up sticking around for long. This time around however I had a mission in mind… figure out a way to level from 62 to 65. I’ve felt like a failure for quite a while that I never managed to hit the level cap this time around. So Friday night when I hopped into game I headed straight for the queue for Mind of Madness and found myself enjoying both the content I was participating in and the speed at which I found myself leveling. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings I wound up sitting in one spot for a couple of hours and finally convinced myself to use some of those patron boosts that I had been sitting on for ages. Sure enough when you add in a +160% experience boost to the already good experience of Intrepid Adventures… the levels quite literally fly by. Sunday morning about noon I found myself with a newly minted level 65 character…. wearing a mismash of gear I picked up through the weekly patron crates… but somehow managing to qualify for expert dungeons.
Now at some point during the weekend I had installed a dps meter because I was curious if I was actually doing okay… or if I was somehow struggling. When it comes to Intrepid adventures I seemed to be doing just fine with my dps usually running around third place or at least within a contentious pack hanging around that spot. I leveled for the most part with a high survival dps build 44 warlord, 32 champion, 0 paragon. This worked great for uptime and the ability to never need to really heal myself, however apparently it is a less than amazing build when it comes to running “end game” content. Being dumb however I just hit the queue button and hoped everything would be just fine. The end result was myself lagging so far behind the rest of the dps that I got called out on it almost immediately. We wiped over and over because we lacked the dps to tackle the encounters the manner in which folks in experts apparently are used to running them… namely in an ignore all mechanics push the boss as fast as you can and always get the speed run bonus manner. I dropped from the party and wished them luck… and in truth in spite of calling me out on the dps they managed to do so in a far more polite manner than would have happened in other communities. From there I went back to the drawing board and found my way once again to the warrior guides section of the Rift forums. Here I cobbled together a 61 Paragon 10 Warlord build that seemed to work okay… out in the world I can burst down most things before they really have a chance to damage me, but if you put me in an extended fight or a multi target fight I struggle. So I will probably continue to swap between it and my “Solo” build just for my own sanity.
The result was immediate and evident that the bulk of my problems in experts were spec. Granted I still grossly under gear the tier 3 raiders that are regularly running experts these days, however this time around I was able to out dps the tanks and healers. Over the course of yesterday I ran five for six experts and managed to cobble together some upgrades. I am still wearing several pieces of otherwise crap gear… but my hope is through running a bunch of experts I will either be able to mitigate that through spending currency or through getting lucky drops. In my very first expert I managed to complete I ended up getting a really nice purple two-handed axe so it seems like the loot gods have been smiling on me. This is not at all how I intended to spend my weekend, but I enjoyed it greatly regardless. Coming back to Rift felt like going to lunch with an old friend that you had not seen in a long time. I am not sure how long I will be around, especially given that there are other things in other games that I also want to accomplish. However for the time being I am really enjoying myself in my renewed resurgence in the game. I’ve always had a soft spot for my Bahmi and it feels good to be flexing those muscles once more. With the multi-core support the game runs amazingly well on my laptop, but unfortunately still struggles quite a bit on my AMD based desktop. The guild in Faeblight is empty, and I was alone for almost the entire weekend so that alone makes me wonder if this is sustainable. However I have the Rift discord channel to keep me company, and if I wind up staying I might end up needing to move Belghast elsewhere to find the support of a more active guild. Regardless it was an enjoyable weekend and I managed to mark one goal that had been bugging me for quite some time off that list in the back of my head.