Rejoice, RIFT fans! This week heralds the arrival of a brand new patch filled to the brim with free new content. Several members of the press were treated to an exclusive preview of all that patch 2.6 has to offer. There are some surprises in store and some deeper systems than we first expected and almost all of it ties into dimension and artifacts. Follow us after the break to find out why now is the perfect time to give RIFT a re-visit, especially if you want to be prepared for 3.0. Read on for more.
The Dream Weaver
The first thing the developers wanted to show off was the new Dream Weaving profession. We’ve heard about this before and even wrote about it last week but Trion really blew the doors off showing us all that the Dream Weaver will have to offer.
Design Director, Simon Finch, was quick to point out that this is an entire new crafting class being provided for free to all players. With a quick stop to a profession trainer in Tempest Bay, ascended will be able to become a Dream Weavers and begin breaking down artifacts to make new goodies for use both inside, and in some cases outside, dimensions.
Next Generation Dimensions
It didn’t take long before the fun started. Minutes after starting the live stream, the developers were showing us some of the new VFX items coming into dimensions. It is hard to do these items justice with still screenshots. First we saw a couple green motes, which hover in the air and sparkle in a noxious cloud. Maybe it’s magic, maybe it’s poison, but, either way, you probably shouldn’t walk through it.
Next came the waterfall. When I heard about this, I had always imagined land coming with the falls. I was wrong. When they say a waterfall, they mean a waterfall: a torrential downpour of H2O bordered by nothing, plus a nice little base of a misty pool. To be honest, my mind immediately went to every other way the waterfall could be used. Easily, you could make your dimension look like it was in the throes of a monsoon. Turn it upside down and you have a flowing wall of water to guard your home. Add in the swirling lightning effect they showed us next and it’s hurricane season. The potential is so thick in the air you can almost taste it.
There are more than 50 VFX items being introduced with patch 2.6 alongside another 50 normal dimension items, along with weather blockers to keep it from raining in your house.
All of this took place in the Cape Jule dimension, one of 15 new additions to be made by Dream Weavers. I joined the livestream just a few minutes late and at first I thought the developers had just begun in the zone. But no. These new dimensions are huge. To put it in perspective, the newbie Shimmersand dimension could be fit in multiple times over. In sheer space alone, the Dream Weaver dimensions are a cut above anything else on the market.
The next thing the developers were eager to show us were terrain paints and usable items. Terrain paints allow the dimension crafter to pick a texture -- say the ground effect from a fire rift -- and paint it on any surface. You can change the opacity, but even cooler, anything you place on that space while editing it can take on the texture for itself.
Dream Weavers will also be able to craft Dream Orbs, which are random enchantments that stack with existing rune-enchanted gear. Trion seems confident that Dream Orbs are going to play a huge role in preparing players for PvE and I tend to agree. Dream Orbs give players a way to “double enchant” their items but the random chance to receive a particular stat orb may make it difficult for Dream Weavers to churn out particular enchants.
Unstable Artifacts, Events, and Super Fun Fluff
In January’s column, I questioned how Trion would provide enough artifacts to power this new crafting class. The answer is not, as I worried, increasing their spawn rate. The developers stressed not once but twice that they expect artifact prices to skyrocket. Instead, they will be introducing a whole new kind of artifact along with a set of brand new zone events for every zone in the game: Unstable Events.
While they didn’t say much on what Unstable Events actually are or how they differ from the many normal zone events but we do know that every zone in the game is getting at least one with brand new missions and bosses. More reasons to group together and fight of invasions is a good thing, right? For the Dream Weaver, or just the player looking to make some quick cash, Unstable Events will allow Unstable Artifacts to spawn. These can be rare, but if you find one you can sell it for a hefty profit or add it to a collection towards neat rewards.
Players have been clamoring for more usable items and completing Unstable Artifact collections is the way to get them. Many of these can only be used in dimensions but quite a few can be used in the outside world on a loose cooldown timer. The first one they showed us was a ringable bell that causes a host of ghostly bats to swarm the area. Another was a lightning attracting tesla coil. My personal favorite, though, was a cannon which starts a four-bunny race and launches fireworks to celebrate the winner.
Some of these items have different effects when you use them outside of dimensions. For example, using a beehive in Sanctum will swarm your character in a cloud of stingers. My favorite open world item, however, transforms the player into a frog and gives you a mini-herd of hoppers to follow you around. PvP players need not fear: none of these will be usable in Warfronts.
Introducing the Bounty System
Patch 2.6 also introduces the Bounty System to RIFT. This system tasks the player with hunting down rare mobs and earn even rarer artifacts -- “And I mean extremely rare” says Simon Finch -- and rewards for their effort. Using this system, players can earn heads to be mount on their dimension walls, new titles, achievements, capes, and animal calls. Like so much in RIFT, bounties appear to be a fun diversion to earn rewards in your own way.
Epic Saga Continues
Of course, with each new content update comes a new push in the main storyline, but this is one you won’t want to miss. DREAM WEAVER is returning to the Crucia storyline -- the very same driving us through the expansion’s main arc -- and brings us right to the tipping point. The developers were cagey when I asked them if this was the end for Crucia but gave some pretty promising hints that we’re headed into 3.0 territory sooner rather than later. We heard mention of Patch 2.7 but I’m left to wonder if that might be it before our next full expansion hits store shelves.
Combat Pet Skins
The last thing they showed us is probably the most controversial on this list: combat pet skins. Since RIFT launched, players have asked for ways to customize their combat pets and Trion is delivering… for a cost. Bill “Daglar” Fisher explained that these new skins came about from a handful of developers and that they hope they can make players happy while also earning a little extra profit.
This is the kind of cash shop purchase which is completely optional and super cool if you buy in, not unlike the model seen in many MOBAs. Still, I can’t help but feel players will be upset that there is no in-game way to acquire these skins. Bill assured us that the team is looking at ways to make this possible for, for now at least, combat pet skins will remain just above $5 each.
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about Patch 2.6: DREAM WEAVER! What’s that? We forgot the two new raid rifts, even more new zone events, and unstable books?! Well color us red. Join us again in two weeks for even more RIFT goodness. Until then, let us know what you think of the patch in the comments below!
Christopher Coke / Chris has been a RIFT player since launch. Hailing from the reaches of Azeroth, he is proud to say that Telara has become his virtual home away from home. Follow him on Twitter: @gamebynight