Ashes of History Impressions
Last week, Trion released the “Ashes of History” or v1.5 update which brings a lot of new activities for level 50 players. Some have called it the “Endgame for All” patch and, indeed, it seems that this contains a nugget of truth. The Chronicles dungeons allow one ultra-buffed player or two level 50 players to take on some of the content that only those who participate in raids had seen before. In addition, Ashes brought in some great veteran’s rewards, a new warfront, the Planar Attunement system and more.
Admittedly, I have not experienced a lot of what Ashes brings to Rift but I wanted to offer a few thoughts about the things that I have seen in the first few days of the new patch. This is in no way considered a ‘review’ of Ashes of History, merely a collection of some of my thoughts about what I’ve seen so far.
The most interesting and exciting part of the update is the personal Chronicle that players have to go through in order to be introduced to some of the other new features. The default key for finding Chronicles is “J” and I happily pushed it and headed into my own experience.
It’s a pretty heady feeling when the scene opens with your character standing on the bridge outside of Sanctum with literally a horde of people clapping and cheering in honor of the visit. There are honor guards who bow as you walk by, fireworks exploding in the air, people fawning at you as you pass. The whole experience makes you feel heroic and it’s worth pausing for a moment and reflecting on all your character has been through in Telara leading up to this point. I know I was thinking, “You’re damn straight, people. It has been tough and I deserve this!” Once inside, the celebration continues with your character finally being granted “fully Ascended” status.
But no party is complete without at least one crasher and this one is no different. Before your character can start kissing babies and contemplating a run at Cyril Kalmar’s job, hordes of undead invade Sanctum, forcing your character to show off prowess in battle. And these are no pushover fights either. All of the monsters faced are full level 50s and generally players face two or three at a time.
Eventually, and after you’ve helped just about everyone in the joint, you head outside to take down the boss… and then in true heroic fashion, another boss. And this is one big bad dragon skeleton. He’s tough and it takes a long time to bring him down. But thanks to the fact that he telegraphs his every move with handy dandy red circles and such, it’s easy to avoid his attacks. One hint, however, and that is to make sure you take down all of the enemies in the plaza BEFORE the final battle begins so that you don’t have them on your back at the same time.
Once you’ve finished him off, it’s time for another celebration, this time with cake. The NPCs once again laud your magnificence which is good for one’s ego, before sending you off on small quests to talk to several NPCs in Sanctum once you’ve left the instance. Once those are completed, you’re ready to hit some of the other new features which I’ll touch on briefly.
Planar Attunment, Duo Chronicles & General Thoughts
During your solo Chronicle, you will learn a bit about Planar Attunement and will receive some incredible amount of XP that allows you to spend your first two points in the new system. You can choose either to unlock two of the six Planar Achievement trees or unlock one and spend the other point in that tree. From there, it’s a matter of heading back into the world or into the duo Chronicles to gain more XP.
It is very clear, however, that Planar Achievement is not a fast process and can easily be seen as another “grind” to level up. Of course, players gain a lot of XP from daily quests, raids and the Chronicles, but the PA experience seems pretty slow and will require doing those same things over and over… and over ad nauseum. Whether or not the grind will be worth it in the end remains to be seen and will become clearer over time as more skills in the PA trees are revealed.
Not being in a guild, I rarely participate in raids so I get no advantage XP-wise any more than I did before Ashes arrived. Sure there are the duos but I still have problems there too as my character certainly isn’t buff enough to take them on alone (yeah, I know, my character probably sucks) and again, not being in a guild, I have no one trusted to try them out with on a regular basis.
From all reports, Duo Chronicles are fun but a lot of veteran players are complaining that they’re too easy. Though I suspect they’re missing the point that these are specifically designed with “new level 50s” in mind and as an introduction to the larger five-player dungeons. The other complaint from long time 50s is that the gear is “junk” and that except for the Plaques of Achievement, Duos aren’t worth doing. Again, I suspect they missed the point of Chronicles and the larger scheme of things to come.
All in all, Ashes brings some intriguing features into the game and has definitely gotten the attention of high level players again at least in the short term. My server was packed at the top end on the days I managed to get in and play. I am, however, mildly concerned for the long-term effect of Ashes. Will it continue to hold the attention of high level players? As much as I hate to say it, I don’t think so. The points in the trees seem to be hard to get, particularly for those solo players it’s designed to benefit. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes, it comes but a lot of players are grumbling and grinding.
I hate to admit this but nothing has really changed all that much on the top end once the shininess of the Solo Chronicle and the first few experiences in the other two new Chronicles wears off. I’m sure that hardcore dungeon-ites will love Master Dungeons but for how long? Planar Attunement is great but, at least with a first impression, seems to be just another grind for XP… and a long one at that.
The bottom line is that I’m still doing the same dailies. I’m still killing the same critters all over Stillmoor. I’m sure that this patch is designed to lay the foundation for more Duos, more hardcore Master dungeons, more Warfront maps, etc. I really hope so as I’ll be watching and waiting. The groundwork is there. Let’s see where they run with it.