Patch 3.6 is here and the team at Trion Worlds has dropped a plethora of new items into their free-to-play MMORPG, Rift. New souls, a new event, even multicore support are just a part of the game’s plan and I got a chance to catch up with Simon Ffinch, Senior Design Director, and Chris Meyer, Systems Designer, to get a sneak peek at what today’s update has in store for players. Some of the things I love and (to be honest) some things are not that great in my book but we’ll get to each of them in due course.
Bring On the Soul!
Yes, Patch 3.6 brings a lot more than just new souls but I’d be remiss if I didn’t start there. First and foremost, 5 new souls have been added into Rift. The Primalist gets the Maelstrom soul. In my walk through, this soul absolutely punishes foes. Imagine standing still, dishing out damage, reacting to buffs and those ever elusive procs and piling on the damage. One ability, Excoriate, is particularly brutal in that each tick of this DoT ability has damage basically doubling. In my demo, the last tick did almost 200k damage. Do NOT clip this DoT or you’ll be giving up huge damage potential. It also doesn’t hurt that the Maelstrom has the Molten Thresher Spirit Animal. Enjoy your flaming shark head.
DPS Rogues will have the option of picking up the Shadeborn soul in the new Ascended Pack. While primarily a single target DPS machine, the Shadeborn soul does give the Rogue some great abilities to deal with a few side targets at the same time. This soul’s “Bond of Night” debuff can be placed on a secondary target and any damage the rogue does to its primary target means a portion of that damage is applied to the secondary target. Quite a useful feature for those fights that get a little dicey with multiple targets.
Playing your Cleric and finding you aren’t playing the ranged game quite as well as you would like? Check out the new Runeshaper soul. This was probably my favorite soul in my demo. While the primary focus of the soul is single target ranged damage, the Runeshaper has some awesome secondary abilities that will make it quite useful (particularly in raid groups.) The Runeshaper can assist groups by dropping AoE buffs and debuffs on the field of play. Slowing enemies, restoring party members’ mana, and dishing out damage all at once make the Runeshaper a versatile soul.
Mages do damage right? Well, I rather enjoy Mage tanking with my Arbiter soul, and NOW I can heal with my mage with the new Frostkeeper soul. Hey, it may not have been super sexy to watch in the demo, but keeping tanks alive and having a rather nifty “oh shit” healing button to defray lethal damage can be sexy to the right person…right?
Last but not least, Warriors are also getting a healing soul of their own in the Warchanter soul. Don’t be afraid to overheal a bit with this soul as the ability “Turn the Tide” converts overhealing into a protective shield…just make sure the ability isn’t on cooldown.
In addition to the new souls, some existing souls (like Chloromancer, for example) are being polished a bit. Why? Well, the dev team honestly said they were more tedious than fun and they wanted to update that a bit for players.
More diversity and options? Obviously good things. The bad? Well, of course, many of us don’t like the way these soul packs are being sold. The Ascended Soul Pack is being sold as DLC for $34.99 or as an in-game store item for 5250 credits. That’s a bit on the pricey side for something that isn’t really an “expansion” but more a new way to hack your way through existing content. Yes, I hear you that with Carnival and the upcoming update in May that includes a new 10-player raid new content is on the way, but as we get more and more of these packs what’s a new player to do? There is certainly a feeling of “I am so behind on things I need to buy.” I took this question to the team and they said they’ve already started discussions on this very topic. While they don’t have any details to release at this moment, things like making older souls available to buy singly and some other options are all on the table. With the obvious push to gain subscribers though, (see the recent year long subscriber offer) it makes one wonder if Rift isn’t celebrating its 5th Anniversary publicly, but being worried about its future behind the scenes.
But Wait, There’s More
Carnival is back and with it comes the stunning costumes, pets, mounts, and more. New games this year are sure to amuse (the frog catching game shown off in my demo was particularly amusing) and hell, a flaming racing snail mount that looks like it was straight out of “The Neverending Story” is a huge asset in my book.
Multicore support is no small matter either. Yes, it may be “about time” but this boost to performance is certainly welcome and, according to the dev team, isn’t over yet as the system gets boosted over the coming months…we will also see a 64 bit version of Rift in the future…no exact details on that one though. Apparently “Mum” is the word.
Need a few more reasons to login in? How about another daily login reward system? This one works a bit differently, though. Logging in 21 time per month nets you actually useful rewards. It’s nice to not HAVE to log in every single day to get your freebies, but based on today’s launch date no one will be able to get to 21 this month.
For those of you that have “done it all” and even maxed out your Planar Attunment, a new tier has been added AND you’re getting a nifty open world buff that will save your life…I won’t spoil it for you here though.
All in all I love the update and the upcoming May content, but I worry about the future. Cash shop wise, Rift is becoming one of the most expensive free-to-play titles out there…yeah there are worse, but it’s getting there. The team is going to have to find a way to make the perceived barrier of entry for new players smaller and give lapsed players a reason to come back that doesn’t involve a fee. “Haven’t played Rift in a while and a new soul caught your eye? Don’t come back unless you intend to pay”…that’s a notion that certainly doesn’t bode well for a game’s longevity and I hope to see Trion work around it soon.