Updated Thu, Nov 29, 2012 by jeffprime
RIFT has been quietly chugging away since its initial launch, a proud standard-bearer of subscription-based gaming. Their first official expansion, Storm Legion, has just launched with loads of new content. Storm Legion adds a level increase, two new continents that triple the size of the current game world, player housing, and more. Will Storm Legion excite RIFT players and expand the game? Ten Ton Hammer ventured into the world of Telara to find out.
There is nothing objectionable in Rift: Storm Legion. As is usual for most MMOs, you'll encounter violence (but nothing graphic) as the player fights his way through the game world.
Trion packed quite a bit into Storm Legion. The level cap has increased from 50 to 60, and most of the new content is geared toward capped players. Telara's two new continents, Brevane and Dusken, provide vast new areas for the players to explore. Additional content includes a new war front, seven new dungeons, new creatures, and four new souls. Player housing, called Dimensions, also makes its introduction in RIFT.
Overall, where gameplay is concerned, Storm Legion stays true to its well-tended roots, which means returning players will find more of the same stuff they enjoyed in RIFT, with some new additions to make it shiny.
There are four new souls in RIFT: Storm Legion and they are not over-powered, nor do they seem to invalidate earlier builds or make any existing souls obsolete. The four new souls are:
Questing is tweaked a bit with the introduction of two new types of quests: Onslaught and Carnage. Onslaught quests require the player to help defend an area in which they'll have to beat off waves of invaders, with the standard amount of waves numbering around twenty. You might find yourself facing off against waves of higher level than the area you're in, providing a fun challenge.
Carnage quests occur when the player kills specific a creature in an area, which triggers an automatic quest to kill a certain number of the same type of creatures. For example, killing a mutated razorbeast in the Citizen's Library zone in Brevane launches a quest to kill a total if sixteen mutated razorbeasts. Carnage quests are easy to fulfill--you'll definitely be thinning out the local population as you quest--and you'll automatically turn them in when you finish.
Trion seems to be making an effort with Storm Legion to reduce the time players spend running back to turn in quests--a welcome change. There are additional local quests that players will pick up as they travel, which are also automatically turned in at completion. While adventuring, you might come across a scouting force's lost supplies. You'll then be tasked with scouring the local area (marked on your map) to recover a total of ten supplies. Or you could encounter a broken down merchant wagon with the contents scattered. You'll then be tasked with following the trail of scattered goods to find those responsible for looting the wagon.
Despite the number of quests that you automatically turn in when they're completed, NPCs for the main storyline quests are still going to want you to pay them a visit after you've done their bidding..
The biggest change to RIFT with Storm Legion is player housing, known as Dimensions. I must admit that Trion really hit a home run (see what I did there), with this robust new feature. There are a number of different dimensions for the players to purchase, each with their own unique look. They vary in size and appearance, and larger dimensions are naturally more expensive. Imagine EverQuest II's beloved housing system coupled with a high-rez sort of Minecraft "anything goes" buildability. You'll have an outdoor space, and tons of ways to modify it as you see fit. A small dimension, such as Warden's Point, has a small shrine located atop a hill. A larger dimension such as Dolcega Valley comes with a small house and a fancy swimming pool. What the player decides to do with the basics in a dimension is between them and their in-game bank account.
You can purchase or craft items that are placed in a dimension, and those objects can be manipulated through rotation and scale. You can also move items along an X, Y and Z axis through a simple click-drag interface. This flexibility means that you can do more than just build a quaint cottage. Players have the option to create things like platforms for things like jumping puzzles, or complicated walls for mazes, as well as other fun items for other players to enjoy.
Not only can you relax in your personal dimension, you can invite other players in to look around or, if you really trust them, pick up and move objects. Players can set permissions related to who can enter the dimension, as well as determine what they can do once they're inside. Conversely, you can wander through other players' dimensions to see what they've created. So far, I've seen a bar located inside a dimension and come across another with diving boards set up for some high diving.
The main negative I have for gameplay in Storm Legion is that most of your high end level 50 gear will be obsolete rather quickly. By the time I hit 51, I had replaced most of my tier 2 purples with standard quest rewards. The other negative is that there is no real direction given to the player as to which continent they should go. You'll eventually realize that both continents range in level from 50 to 60 and you can jump back and forth between them. However, when you first embark to the new zones, there can be some confusion initially.
The new continents and creatures are rendered beautifully with an eye towards detail. From decaying temples infested with corrupted creatures to the highly technical relics of Empryrean power, the settings are lush and vibrant. Storm Legion continues the seamless fusion of magic and technology that is the hallmark of RIFT. The two continents have their own unique style. Dusken is twisted and shrouded in a palette of purple, blue, and grey. Brevane is practically choked with jungle plant life, emphasized in a more natural color scheme of greens and yellows.
The monsters in Storm Legion look amazing. From the mottled wildness of the mutated razorbeasts to the willowy lankness of the ironbark defender (a tree man) to the sleek but deadly foot soldiers of the Storm Legion, Trion has put considerable effort into the look and design of the various creatures. One of the monsters I liked best was the tartary tree, which I first encountered in the Hiberna Rainforest on Brevane. This walking tree fit so well into the surrounding jungle landscape that I assumed it was part of the background and was surprised when I rode past them only to realize the trees were actually chasing me down.
That said, the one knock against the graphics in Storm Legion is that they require quite a bit of memory to display. If you don't have a top end machine, you will get some lag in certain areas if your settings are maxed and there are lots of other players in the vicinity or heavy combat is occurring.
The various mood music themes of Storm Legion are well done and solid enough, but not exactly awe-inspiring. The same can be said for combat themes--the music serves its purpose, but it's not particularly memorable as a means to get you pumped up for smiting foes. Combat sounds are accurate and do flesh out the experience, but the generic combat music, unfortunately, doesn't add much to the mix. Whether intentional or not, most of the music in Storm Legion comes across as rather passive and laid back. Personally, I was hoping for a more dynamic soundtrack.
There is a lot more of voice acting in Storm Legion and that is handled extremely well. However, stay in an area long enough and you will hear certain conversations and announcements repeating. My personal favorite is the town crier who talks in an old-timey newsreel voice. (Younger players might not understand, but fellow old geezers will.)