Last week, randomly selected participants in the Storm Legion beta were emailed a survey about their experiences. The questions were pretty standard, such as asking what the player thought of each new feature and checking how likely they are to recommend the game to friends. There was one question, though, that stood out as being particularly relevant.
RIFT is often accused of being derivative of World of Warcraft, and their original marketing slogan of “we’re not in Azeroth anymore” certainly didn’t help with that perception. At its launch in March of 2011, the UI seemed directly lifted from WoW right down to the special hotkeys and exclamation points to mark questgivers. While rifts themselves were a new concept with new graphics, dwarves and elves fighting fantasy creatures with magic had already been done a million times in a million different games.
Fortunately, Trion listened to their players and between their amazing content patch schedule and the imminent expansion the game is remarkably different from what it was at launch. So the next time one of your friends asks, “What’s so unique about RIFT and Storm Legion?” here are five things you can tell them.
Storm Legion is certainly not the first game to introduce player and guild housing, and not even the first to introduce incredibly detailed housing. However, it’s extremely rare for a AAA title to give players such total control over their space. How much control? Whitelady’s amazing redesign of the Stone Flask Tavern was featured on the official Dimensions livestream, but it’s worth checking out the detailed screenshots of how they created their dream home. Adding a second floor, creating a garden out front, even putting in a fashion show runway — the possibilities are almost endless.
2. Different Ways to Level
While RIFT has a more traditional MMO design where the bulk of the activity takes place once a character has hit the level cap, Storm Legion introduces even more paths to get to 60. While there are still standard quest hubs in each zone, the story quests have been marked for players who are more interested in seeing the lore than engaging in battles. On the other hand, players who prefer combat can simply run around killing anything in their path and complete new Carnage Quests. Explorers will enjoy the flexible quests that can be picked up on the fly. And of course players will still have the current options of leveling through Warfronts or Instant Adventures.
3. Magitech Art Style
It was mentioned at the beginning of this post that RIFT started with a pretty common fantasy world, and while that’s true it seems to be changing in Storm Legion. The Trion buzzword for the new art design is “magitech”, and it’s evident all across the new continents from living mechanical mobs to giant clockwork towers. RIFT has always held the promise of breaking away from standard fantasy tropes with the technology-driven Defiant in particular, and it’s great to see them capitalize on this in Storm Legion. An emphasis on technology over high fantasy definitely makes the expansion stand out from the crowd.
4. The Soul Trees
While other games are radically streamlining the character building process, Storm Legion continues RIFT’s tradition of elaborate soul trees. Combined with the new, more detailed character templates now available in patch 1.11, the souls are an excellent example of the old design adage “easy to pick up, hard to master”. The art (and math) of perfect soul synergy can appeal to players who enjoy optimizing, while others can simply pick a template or build their own character to maximize fun over output. Storm Legion has certainly changed how souls work, particularly by de-emphasizing macros, but there are still enough options and spells to let players customize how they play as much or as little as they wish.
5. Getting Out Into the World
As some other AAA MMO titles get older, they seem to gain lobby-based gaming styles. Players hang out in their city of choice and wait for queues to pop, and much of the outside world goes unused except for leveling alts. RIFT, on the other hand, essentially demands that players get out into the world. There are daily rift quests to complete, crafting rifts to destroy, and zone invasions to repel. World events tend to feature activities that get the player back into every zone, whether you’re looking for a quest item or trying to feed some corgi royalty. In RIFT, and continuing in Storm Legion, the world is full of adventure at any level.