Rift’s latest expansion, Starfall Prophecy, is the first time I find myself having run with Trion’s flagship game since around the time of Storm Legion. That said, this expansion’s had its share of bumps and some design choices that seem a bit antiquated. Read on for our review in progress while we work towards a final scored review.
As we spoke about last week on launch day, a comet with the demigod Ahnket is streaking towards Telera, and you and other Ascended must go to it and stop it before it ruins the entire world. In its hurtling through time and space, the comet has picked up shards from the planes of life and fire, and you’ll help denizens of both worlds in surviving life on this comet… what remains to be seen is what happens as the comet actually nears Telara, and what will happen to those poor souls trapped aboard the kamikaze vessel.
Story wise, Starfall Prophecy is decidedly well done. It’s not the cinematic powerhouse of SWTOR or WoW: Legion, but the characters that travel with you often during story quests do a great job of highlighting what’s going on in the world and giving some real character to other races (Veist of the Kobolds is a decided favorite of all Rift players – see below for a taste of his dialog).
I’ve been having a good time playing through the first zone Scatherran Forest, and the Gedlo Badlands. I’ve done all Scatherran twice (once with my Beastmaster, and once with a Gravelord), and I can say that for the most part all the quests are well done and enjoyable even if they’re still kill this, collect that. It’s because of the writing and the levity of some of them that what’s basically a task we’ve done a million times becomes something interesting and often humorous. Convincing the animals of the forest to leave their homes was a simple “Go here” quest, but it was written so well that it doesn’t matter.
I did mention SWTOR and Legion above, and it bears mentioning them because we’re talking about a traditional theme park MMORPG playing in the same arena as other industry veterans. While Rift is no doubt still a gorgeous looking game, it’s fair to say that its budgetary constraints are noticeable. They don’t have the IP and money of EA, nor the immense popularity of Azeroth. I find myself wondering just how much better Starfall Prophecy could be if it had even half the budget of a typical WoW expansion. Imagine what a story scene like the end of Scatherran Forest could be like with one of Terran Gregory’s in-game scenes. A nerd can dream, right?
We get five more levels, loads of new quests, new zones, a handful of new dungeons, and new Instant Adventures, Sieges, and stuff like that are coming in patches shortly. The Legendary skills work well at making some of your class spells feel supremely overpowered, but then the game ups the time-to-kill on mobs by doubling the HP of enemies when compared to endgame zones of Nightmare Tide. I have no problem surviving with my Beastmaster or my Necro, but the length of each fight was so brutally strong that I kvetched about it on the official forums and found I wasn’t the only one. I eventually tried and tweaked my build to be a hybrid heal/Pet/DPS mix of Warlock and Necromancer, but that’s sort of not the point. Rift’s always been about the freedom to play your character any way you want, and right now it feels that open world questing requires a buddy or at least some sacrifices in the way of your favorite builds.
I know, how dare an MMORPG suggest we play together, right? But most people like to solo level these days, and it’s always been welcomed in Rift (open mob tagging, etc). Mobs hit hard as heck in SFP, and that’s good. Surviving isn’t a problem with most builds that plan for it. But 60 seconds to kill a single non-elite mob is just boredom. I’m hoping that HP levels of mobs are brought down about 50% to make it more on par to what we were used to in Nightmare Tide. Save the sponge mobs for bosses, invasions, and dungeons.
I’d love to comment on crafting, Instant Adventure, Fortress Sieges, and so forth. But Crafting is something that’s still not my focus (they got rid of the salvage skills for just about everything, and instead want you to sell items to vendors or AH them), so I can’t comment there. Instant Adventure is currently turned off due to a bug, and Fortress Sieges are not implemented yet either. The first raid as well as the easier mode LFR version are a way off too. In short, a good deal of the expansions features isn’t even active yet. That said, Planar Fragments to add stats to your character, even with its inherent RNG, is a neat little system. It’s one picked up from Trove, if I’m not mistaken, and built upon foundations of other RPGs and ARPGs (Diablo comes to mind).
In all, despite hiccups and bugs, I’m enjoying Starfall Prophecy a lot. How long depends on how quickly new content comes, and how well the new features like Fortress Sieges work. I want to hit 70 on at least one character and see what’s waiting at the cap before I render my verdict. I will say that if you didn’t really enjoy the watery setup of Nightmare Tide, you may indeed love the more terrestrial setting of Starfall Prophecy.
EDIT: As soon as this article went live, Hotfix #3 for SFP went live too and reintroduced Instant Adventures, Planar Adventures, and so forth. Still waiting on sieges to go live.