I’m not a raider.
Not because I don’t want to be, but because I just don’t have the time anymore. That’s a real shame because some of the best content, the most layered and engaging sort for group play, is tied directly to “raids”. The coordination, time, and general investment needed create something I won’t get to see most of the time. Thankfully, Trion realizes that I’m not alone in my time-limited woes and is seeking to do something about it come Update 1.5.
For those who haven’t been keeping tabs, The Chronicles of Telara are Trion’s casual answer to helping folks like me see more of the big epic boss-fights and dungeons that they would otherwise miss. At PAX Prime this year I caught up with Design Director Simon Ffinch to talk about the newest content addition to Rift, which we also delved into during Gamescom. Simon logged into the development server and built himself a level 50 Defiant Marksman right there on the show floor (note: I wish I had the /level command and /spawn_gearmerchant command at my disposal).
The first edition of “Chronicles of Telara” takes place inside of Hammerknell, a raid dungeon that previously would require 24 players to survive. Now? It takes two, or even one really decked out player. And the Hammerknell Chronicle isn’t just a copy and paste of the fights from the raid either. This is a completely new and unique story and set of encounters. The idea is that Trion believes not only solo and duo folks will be interested in this dungeon, but raiders as well since everyone will likely want to see this part of the story unfold too.
“It’s not dumbed down from the raid,” Simon said. “It’s a completely new tale inside of our existing dungeon. It’s for two people, but if you’re already geared up, you could conceivably do this solo. Some of our guys already have.” When I asked about the gear rewards you’d receive from these Chronicles, Simon told me it’s about Tier 1 equivalent, and that of course will change as more Chronicles are released and the gear skews upward. This was good news to me, because I never really thought I’d see anything near raid equivalent gear.
I got to see a fight with Murdantix, the Hammerknell Raid’s first giant evil dog of a boss, and for the purpose of the Chronicle, the devs have built in some dwarven helpers and also taken advantage of the technology that made Hammerknell into such a terrible place. For those unfamiliar with the story, the dwarves that first inhabited Hammerknell discovered a technology where they could trap the spirits from the world’s six planes and use them for power and other purposes. As you can imagine this went pretty badly quite quickly and now Hammerknell is the horrifying and dangerous place the world of Telara knows it as. But the tech still remains, and there are glowing lights on the floor spread throughout the dungeon: the spirits of the planes lie in these, and the player must stand on them to become powerful enough to take on Murdantix. It’s a pretty neat mechanic, and also a great way to explain how you and a few dwarf NPCs are able to fight a boss that previously has taken 24 fully-decked players.
The Chronicles themselves are built to be about a twenty to forty minute experiences and within that timeframe you’ll fight two to three bosses. Comparing this to a raid that takes anywhere from two to four hours, you can see why folks with a lot less time will be happy when these dungeons make it into the game. They can be joined via the UI, and Trion expects the queue times to be next to zero. As more and more Chronicles are added, they even hope to make them have daily awards and the like attached as well. When I asked how often Simon and the rest of the team expect to get these added to the game, he offered that the goal is for one per month (or with each update) but that primarily the goal is always going to be quality over quantity.
Along with gear, Simon told me there are some high level crafting recipes that can only be obtained inside of the Chronicle, as well as a bunch of notoriety and other rewards so that there’s plenty of reason to visit and revisit the dungeon for everyone. He then ushered me into the Library of the Runemasters inside of Hammerknell, where the team has built the next Warfront. He could go into too many details, but sufficed to say, it looks like the kind of place built for a great game of King of the Hill.
Before I left Trion’s booth, Simon and I chatted a bit about what will be coming down the line for Rift’s inevitable expansion. Sadly, I can’t share any of the details here, but he did say I should let our readers know that they’ve been working on it since launch and they can’t wait to reveal the plan for it all to the fans. I can only say that long-time fans of Rift won’t be disappointed, and in the meantime we have lots of new content to explore in the coming months to hold us over.