Rift's 3.4 update "Into the Wilds" isn't that far off and I got the opportunity to sit down with Simon Ffinch, Senior Design Director, to take a tour of the new Planetouched Wilds zone and experience the new Primalist calling that the update will add into the free to play MMORPG from Trion Worlds.
If you've been playing Rift for a while (i.e. from launch) then the Planetouched Wilds isn't technically a new zone for you. It's been on your map for quite some time...you just couldn't get there. Once in 3.4 though, you'll notice that the zone is quite a bit bigger than previously portrayed on the map. Why? Let's just say that this new zone (roughly triple the size of previous zones) has had a rough go of it being sucked into voids, fractured, expanded, and returning from the trip with some odd features.
Portions of the new zone don't even have the same gravity as others. While it takes a moment to get used to, players will use this to their advantage to jump much higher than normal and access other areas of the map. In all, the new zone really feels more at home in Rift than some previous zones. The vastness and the ability to explore almost every single area make the zone fun to explore.
And explore you'll do, particularly if you like finding "shinies" and solving puzzles. The Planetouched Wilds not only introduces new shinies for players to collect, but will also expand on this exploration feature by providing various buffs that reveal OTHER shinies to collect but only to players that have the buff required to even see them. Yeah...this alone would cause me to spend AMPLE time simply wandering around the vastness that is Planetouched Wilds.
Being a fan of Rift's previous puzzles (you know, those peg puzzles and such that are scattered to the far corners of Telara?), I was delighted when Simon took me to check out a new puzzle on our tour. The example he showed me was one that reminded me of a puzzle I had as a child. The basic premise was to fit all the provided Tetris-like pieces onto a rectangular floor covering the entire floor in the process (imagine the picture below). With literally thousands of possible solutions, and some VERY awesome rewards for the super dedicated, these puzzles will keep players like me VERY busy. Don't worry about getting frustrated...there's a "Dead Simon" target dummy by the puzzle you can vent on if needed!
Along with the new raid, dungeon, and crafting content being added in 3.4 (we didn't get to preview these), 3.4's biggest addition to Rift is undoubtedly the Primalist calling. Being the first new calling added to Rift since launch, all eyes are on how this new calling is implemented. Right out of the gate, the Primalist has 6 different souls available (4 more coming after the update's launch) and they encompass all roles (tank, DPS, and Heals):
The Primalist is the only thing players will actually have to pay for (either with real cash or with manipulation of Rift's systems for obtaining credits with in game currency) once 3.4 is released. The new calling is available in the "Wilds Pack" currently on pre-order for $99 or can be bought separately with 5,250 credits (about $40 USD). That price is likely to be a point on contention among players as $40 for "one" item could be perceived as pretty steep. With 6 souls being offered at that price though, pricing is pretty consistent with the previously sold "Dream Souls" pack which contained 4 souls for a price of $34.99...that doesn't mean players are going to like it though. Especially since the previous souls packs didn't require you to level a new character if you already had the calling you wanted to use leveled. Primalists will start at level 1 although they can be subject to XP boosts just like other callings.
Gameplay wise though, the Primalist is an interesting beast. The primary new mechanic is the Fury/Cunning bar. This bar slides side to side based on abilities you use and when skewed to a certain side, abilities in that same vein provide increased results. Primal Avatars (the 21 point primary soul ability) become important to Primalists since they provide a remarkable buff to your soul of choice and give your character the head of your chosen beast. Playing around with the combat and questing, I found the Primalist much easier to learn than I anticipated. Granted, I was a few levels ahead of most of my foes during the tour. I still think the overall ebb and flow of the Fury/Cunning meter adds an interesting dynamic but maybe I adapted a bit easier to it since I'm used to playing a Mage which relies on stack management as a similar mechanic, just without the meter.
Image Courtesy of Riftgrate
All in all, 3.4 looks to be a good thing in my opinion. It's certainly setting the game up for some great additional content down the road...particularly in the next expansion, and caters to almost every type of Rift player out there. Is it worth coming back to if you've been away a while? Probably, but if you still have to level through the water zones of the previous expansion (which I have to do still because of my personal Trion Worlds boycott...viewers can that end yet??) set aside some time now to get started...you won't want to do that leveling in large doses.
My thanks to Simon and the Trion Worlds team for taking the time out to provide us with a preview.
About the Author
Mike “Magicman” Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site’s current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous gaming websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.More Stories by Michael Byrne
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