A Good Weekend

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This past week was the week of seemlingly smooth and fast clears.  Wednesday night we worked on progression content, which mean’t that we spent the majority of the evening wiping to new and exciting things.  However the end result of that evening was that we downed Odyn and made a decent amount of progress on Guarm.  The only negative aspect of that is that it also means that none of us actually saw progress on the quest chain that haunts us.  We kicked around the notion of having an Emerald Nightmare clear night, that I ultimately decided would be Friday.  I set up a calendar invite and hoped, and then was pleasantly surprised at the number of folks that signed up.  In fact we technically had more than our normal raid nights, and other than some starts and stops while waiting on folks or dealing with disconnections…  it was a very smooth evening.  So smooth in fact that I seriously wonder if we could have cleared the entire place in an hour.  I mean because of the various time spent waiting… that was not a thing that happened however it seemed like we might have been on pace for it.  That general smoothness continued on last night with Karazhan, but so did the whole waiting business.  Thalen got sidelined with family stuff, and we had the option of either filling his slot or waiting.  It turned out we ended up getting started roughly an hour and a half late, but once again things went amazingly smoothly.  So much so that I think next week we are going to make a proper attempt at a Nightbane run.  We would have one shot every boss… were it not for the fact that we tried some madness for an achievement on Medivh.

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Another big part of my weekend was roaming around and exploring the Comet of Ahnket in the Rift Starfall Prophecy expansion.  At this point I am sitting around 66 1/3 and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the Scatherran Forest zone.  Firstly I have to say this expansion is charming as hell so far, namely because of the two companions that follow you around at times… but also because it is a great example of environmental storytelling.  Every area is packed full of little things to be scene and experienced much in the same way the zones are built in Guild Wars 2.  Lots of things are happening in the background and all it takes is you sitting still long enough to experience them.  The best of these vignettes has to be the hedgehogs who are stuck in a ball rolling…  until one of them realizes that they can just let go of their feet to stop.  Similarly there is this adorable sequence where you are playing hide and seek with baby unicorns, and you have to go out and find them so that you can lead them back home.  The only negative so far is that I feel woefully undergeared for some of the content, and there is a bit of an uneven difficulty level happening.  There was an area full of spiders… and they seemed literally twice as tough as any of the other equivalent level 66 mobs.  I could take down entire packs of humanoids… but a single spider was a race to see if I could finish them off before they finished me off.  Getting a second spider meant absolute certain death.  All in all though I am really liking the expansion and it feels much more like Storm Legion did as far as content goes.

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Finally I spent a good deal of time playing Destiny this weekend and was able to push my Titan to the 385 barrier.  This is the point where you stop getting upgrades from legendary engrams, and are stuck relying on faction rewards that stop at 390… and exotic engrams that will take you all the way to 400.  This means I am hoping tomorrow starts a small arms week for the heroic strike list because I absolutely need to spend some time farming.  In theory I believe the Archon’s Forge will go up to 400 when it comes to end of event rewards, but not anything coming from an engram.  I spent some time working on my Hunter and Warlock and getting both of them through the Rise of Iron story so I can have three sets of world bounties to work on each week.  I realize they just reward engrams at this point… but if nothing else it can be infusion fodder to help work up additional weapons and armor.  I need to find the free time to try and sign up for one of the machine raids so I can see the content and get some more tasty gear.  However 385 is a completely respectable place to be, and in theory during the next iron banner I should be able to make a decent dent into pushing that number up into the 390s.  It was a great weekend and especially considering we have a short week ahead of me.

Weasel Town

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Last night I was having one of those nights where I needed to just blend into the background, and largely avoid human contact.  That said I needed to schedule an invite for a potential Emerald Nightmare raid tonight, and finish up my Emissary quests that I had hanging out there.  However before long I had done just that and was off to Rift to explore some more of the Starfall Prophecy expansion.  This is the point where I am at a bit of a disadvantage because I never got the opportunity to play through the Comet of Ahnket 10 player raid instance, and learn more about the story of what is going on here.  From what I have been able to glean, Ahnket is this sentient creation engine of sorts that seems hellbent on destroying Telara.  I am sure at this point Captain Cursor is cringing like mad and will pop in and correct me, but like I said having not played that raid I only have impressions to go on.  This expansion we take the fight to the comet, which has grown into a landmass.  It seems like every time Ahnket crashes through a plane on the way to Telara it picks up a chunk of that world and carries it with it.  At this point the comet has traveled through the planes of Fire and Nature and as a result we have two new zones themed after each, and a fifth zone that seems to be a place where everything clashes in conflict.  We as ascended are sent here to try and stop Ahnket once and for all and help the friendly folk who have gotten uprooted as a result of the comet passing near their homes.  All of this is irrelevant however because all I really want to do is hang out with this lovely bunch of weasels.

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The other thing that has changed is this time around we have companions that tend to roam around with us as we complete the quest content pretty regularly.  Firstly there is Shyla Starhearth that you might recognize as being the formerly half naked lady hanging out in the throne room of Sanctum for the Guardians in the room.  This time around she managed to find some proper armor and is apparently now a super tanky badass.  Next up we have Tasuil the Dragon, that we last saw in the Dendrome… and has shrunk down a bit to make adventuring with a little easier.  At some point in the quest line you find someone who can Corgify him at which point he is both hilarious and adorable.  Then during my current sequence of quests I also have Windflower the babby Unicorn hanging out with me.  So I am hanging with a Corgi, a Unicorn, and a heavily armored elf lady…  who could ask for more?  It seems like with the impending doom the Guardians and  the Defiant have set aside their grudges because in the new hub town you can also find Asha Catari leading the offensive, which makes my little Defiant heart crackle to life.  I apologize for the image quality in the above two shots, but at some point during the evening I transitioned from my desktop upstairs to hanging out on the sofa with my laptop…  that cannot run the game in nearly the same graphical fidelity.

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In truth I feel like I have not experienced enough of the new content to give it a proper review at this time.  Overall I like it considerably more than I liked Nightmare Tides, but I think that is because this content brings back familiar landscapes.  Goboro Reef was just a completely foreign and alien looking zone, with its angry technicolor vibrancy.  These zones are similar to what I have been seeing in the game since launch, just subtle variations on the planar themes.  Of not I have only actually ventured very far into Scatherran Forest, as you are presented with two possible choices at first… and I could have similarly gone down the Gedlo Badlands path if I wanted to see a lot of fire themed landscapes.  Even then I feel like I have just barely scratched the surface of the zones, and in the few hours I played I pushed about halfway through my first level.  The leveling is slow, but it feels not quite as slow as it did during Nightmare Tides which is definitely a good thing.  As far as crafting and such…  I have only barely scratched the surface because I am competing with everyone out there for ore pops.  If anything that would be my one complaint so far that the spawn rates maybe need to adjust up a bit to deal with the influx of players.  Completing any of the “kill x” style quests seem to require either a lot of luck or patience.  The best part so far however has been the music, which is more technological in nature… and it comes with an amazing remixed version of the main Rift theme.  If you have been a long time fan of the franchise, I feel like this expansion is already well worth checking out.  That said expect it to still feel more like Storm Legion or Nightmare Tides than the original content.

Starfall Prophecy

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Expansion Teaser

For a little bit now there have been rumors about the impending announcement of Rift 4.0, namely due to some data-mined zone names floating around.  Nightmare Tide and I had a bit of a rocky start and it was only recently that I managed to level through the content and hit the level cap.  Originally I thought that this expansion might be based on the Plane of Fire, given a few of the leaked zone names.  However it seems like this expansion ties directly into the last raid of Nightmare Tides the Comet of Ahnket.  Based on the teaser information on the Starfall Prophecy promotion page, it seems as though the Comet Ahnket has been picking up bits and pieces of the planes as it hurdles towards Telara, and as a result this inhabitable world has been created that we now need to go to in order to find a way to stop it.  This combined with some of the artwork shown on the site makes it seem like this expansion will be an amalgam of elements, or at least Life and Fire.

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I have to say some of the new assets that are seen on the site are really damned cool.  Prime example is that I have zero clue what sort of machine this thing is, other than it seems to be themed with a similar face to the Comet of Ahnket content.  It looks amazing and I will be more than happy to fight it, and I am hoping that this is some sort of zone event boss.  Mostly it seems like this expansion is going to be a huge world with lots and places to explore.  I think one of my big issues with Nightmare Tide is that in the grand scheme of things… the color palette was extremely difficult to get used to.  It isn’t nature to see a landscape of violent purples and oranges everywhere, and trying to read that as something to roam around in.  While places like Goboro Reef eventually grew on me with time, it was a long adjustment period.  This on the other hand seems more familiar, like the same sort of zone treatment we saw in Storm Legion, but this time instead for a much more fire influenced setting rather than death.  Between now and launch however I either need to actually find a group to do Comet of Ahnket raid, or watch a play-through so I can soak up some of the information about what is happening there.  One of the things I love about Rift raids is that they are so full of story, that plays out around you as you move through it.  Unfortunately there is not a “Chronicle of Ahnket” or Intrepid Adventure for it… so that means I will actually have to try and find a pick up group to see the story-line.

New Features

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On the promotion website it lists a whole slew of stuff under the title of “Claim the Power of Ahnket”, and some of them are pretty interesting sounding.

  • Increased Level Cap: 70
  • Legendary Powers
  • New Zones
  • New Dungeons
  • New Raid
  • Planar Assault Adventures
  • Fortress Sieges
  • Looking For Raid
  • Individual Reward System
  • Active Upgrades
  • Eternal Item Rarity
  • Planar Fragments

 

These all sound interesting, but we don’t really have a ton of information to go on yet.  It is my hope that between now and the expansion release, they start showing off various features of the expansion during the Friday streams.  Unfortunately I have other plans today, and the time shift means that it is happening while I will be in the middle of a family dinner.  However I am fully expecting this weeks stream to be epic, showcasing a lot of new features but in limited detail.  Of the above list the two that stand out the most are “Looking For Raid” and “Individual Reward System”.  Now these have caused drama in games that implemented them, but I have to say after having lived with them for awhile…  I’ve become a fan.  There was a time when I was strictly against the whole content of LFR, and probably said some things against it.  That was also a version of me that had a dedicated raid team, and access to the best gear said raiding could provide.  The current version of me however just wants to experience the content and play all of these various games that I want to play.  For example in Rift I don’t really have a large group of friends who happen to be playing the game, or at the very least not in the density that I have elsewhere.  As a result it is extremely hard for me to figure out how to get anything started, and I would absolutely lean on LFR like a crutch the same way I do currently on the Intrepid Adventure system.  Because of this.. the Individual Reward system only makes sense, that way you are not trying to roll against other players but are instead getting your own personalized loot.

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The other things on that list that really interest me are Planar Assault Adventures and Fortress Sieges.  The Planar Assault Adventures sounds like absolutely something that would be down my alley, and I am hoping these are somewhat like chronicles in that they can be completed solo or with a group either one.  I mean I know nothing about it other than the name, but they give me ideas about leading a strike team of NPCs into various planar tears to complete objectives and get back out.  Hopefully the reality is even half as cool as my imagined version  sounds.  Fortress Sieges on the other hand seem like they might be able to go one of two ways.  If they are a PVE siege of a fortified position held by Planar forces, essentially a Planar Stronghold taken to the next level… then they sound completely amazing.  The other direction I could see something named like that going is some sort of open world pvp objective, and that is the point where they would lose me.  I have enjoyed world objective pvp in the past, but generally speaking when a game does this… it almost always degrades into deathmatching and ganking rather than focusing on objectives.  Essentially right now I know next to nothing other than a bunch of names, but regardless I am extremely excited about the prospects of what this expansion might bring.  As you can see from the above image.. I have already proudly put in my pre-order and am now riding around on my very awesome drake mount.