Rift has been out on the market for just over a year now and the team behind its development continues to fly in the face of convention MMO wisdom by consistently adding new content and in refining the game for all players. The team has just deployed the eighth update to the public test server. The "Infernal Dawn" update will be bringing a lot of changes to Rift, most notably in the form of so-called Survival Skills.
Here's what the Rift site says about Survival Skills:
As Ascended you lead thrilling, immortal lives full of combat and adventure, but sometimes, you just want to get away from it all. You want to immerse yourself in the wonder of this unique, plane-touched world, search for hidden treasures, and seek calm from the din of war. Now, Telara’s defenders can heed the call of nature and trek out into the great outdoors with two all-new, bonus trade skills: Fishing and Survival.
The team wanted to give players something additional to do outside the normal questing and killing that normally occupies player's time. In fact, according to the team, Survival Skills are aimed squarely at players who, for one reason or another, need a short break from the normal run of quest to do things like take care of the kids or eat dinner. Survival skills are designed to give players a break while simultaneously keeping them engaged in the game.
Watching TV? No problem! Cast your fishing line, watch a few minutes of TV and check back during commercials. See what you've brought in.
The team felt that, after a year, it was important to add some casual content to the game. Obviously weddings were first but as the team went down the list of requests from players, they found that fishing bubbled to the top every time. Thinking, "why not?", the team went ahead and brought a terrific and interesting mechanic into the game with some unique ideas.
Not only will players be able to catch fish but will also be able to reel in things like pets. We were told that several multicolored versions of frogs will make it in. These pets are persistent and some can even be traded with other players. Most of the other types of pets will be aquatic-based (DUH!) and the team has plans to add a lot more over time.
Another cool feature of the fishing system is that players will be able to level up their skill at fishing and will be able to construct new rods. From what we were told, every rod that a player constructs will be better than anything sold at a vendor so it's a worthwhile skill to increase. Each level's rod is stronger, casts further and can use more 'powerful' lures.
Players will also be able to take advantage of bedrolls and campfires with the arrival of the Survival Skills mechanic. While not giving the same level of rest boost that traveling back to a city will bring, players will be able to find a "relatively safe spot" near where they've been adventure and set camp. While the camp is active, and these are designed for short-term use, players will be able to rest. This will save time traveling to the city and back again to pick up where questing was left off. This is sure to be a popular new addition for players.
It's also worth noting that Infernal Dawn is a new 20-player raid that will be making its debut in v1.8 where players will "Battle past deadly guardians—including Pirate Queen Rusila Dreadblade aboard her lava-going ship—and destroy two Blood Storm dragons before they reduce Telara to molten gold!"
The guild finder, as the name implies, will allow players to sift through the hundreds of guilds avaiable in Rift and sort them according to all sorts of criteria in an effort to find just the right guild home.
One of the more interesting tidbits the team let us know about is the upcoming Mentoring and Instant Adventures Everywhere features. While details were scant, we were told that Instant Adventures are so popular in higher level areas of the game that the team felt lower level areas could benefit from them as well. Tie in bringing mentors into lower areas and all players will benefit from a higher population which will then trigger some of the rarer zone events. It sounds like a win-win proposition all around.
Lastly, the team said to be on the lookout for more promotions, announcements and marketing opportunities which should give players a lot to think and talk about. From E3 onward, things are gonna get hot in Telara! Keep your eyes peeled!
Rift's update 1.8: Infernal Dawn is expected to hit live servers sometime the week of April 16th.