Storm Legion is a Winner
Early last year Trion Worlds burst out onto the MMO scene with their freshman debut Rift. Rift was arguably the best MMO to come out in a limited class of 2011. Rift would overwhelmingly be considered a theme park MMO in the same vein as Everquest and World of Warcraft; but has enough of a twist to it, with the addition of the namesake rifts, to make its mark on the MMO landscape. Trion has also released content for Rift at a voracious pace defining new standards for how fast a developer can publish new updates for their game. Late last month Trion released their first full expansion for Rift, Storm Legion. Storm Legion has brought with it a number of new features to the game as well as giving the players more of what they loved about the original game to begin with.
The new environments added in Storm Legion at times are nothing short of stunning: from the forests of Cape Jule, to the never ending valley of death in Seratos and Morban. These zones are expansive and varied in their presentation. Trion has also added in further atmospheric effects such as swaying trees to make the world feel more alive. Another place where the game has seen improvement in the art department is for the armor sets. The majority of player armor has gone from extremely bland when Rift was first released to unique and identifiable sets by the time Storm Legion was released. Some of the new armor released in Storm Legion is the most uniquely identifiable yet. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the player characters themselves. They are very Milquetoast and this expansion has done nothing to change that.
Storm Legion has more than doubled the current size of Rift. Adding two new continents riddled with quests to discover the lore and technological secrets these areas hold. Storm Legion has also brought with it 7 new dungeons that have both a normal and elite version that becomes available at level 60. Trion has bumped the level cap to 60. They also added in a 10 and 20 man raid on Storm Legions release. In addition to the PvE items they added in a new PvP Warfront. With the release of patch 2.1 they added in the chronicle and the second 20 man raid that was promised with the expansion. Four new souls have also been added to the game, one for each calling. Trion has also introduced a new type of rift in Storm Legion. These Hunt Rifts allow players to pull elemental commanders from their home plane to Telara where the ascended can bring them to justice.
One of the new industry buzzwords over the past few years has been dynamic content. Rift took dynamic content to a level that had not been seen before and took it even further with Storm Legion. Rifts that randomly spawn across zones, elemental foot holds that rise up and spawn invasions that can run amuck across your quest hub, as well as zone wide events that can set off both of these on a grand scale that demand you deal with them before you can continue about your normal business in the zone.
Rift has also introduced Carnage, and Onslaught quests. Carnage quests are a bonus to help you along as you level through zones. Once you kill a certain enemy marked with a little red dot next to their name you will automatically have a quest added to your quest log to kill that mob x number of additional times. Upon completion, you will be rewarded with bonus experience and Empyreal Sourcestones which are a new currency that will allow you to purchase gear, or upgrades for your gear. Onslaught quests challenge your hero to defend a position from an onslaught of elemental invaders. Usually this is nothing more than fending off 20 waves of invaders from a particular point. There are also a lot of quests randomly spread throughout the new areas that you will not find unless you are out exploring and completing other quests in the area.
Storm Legion is a well polished expansion but not without its flaws. With the amount of content and new systems that have been released it was inevitable that along with it would come a few bugs. While Trion has not responded to these as fast as they have in the past they have still done a good job stomping out the most severe ones. Also the amount of in game systems that allow for player convenience is second to none.
One of the chief complaints about the original Rift is the lack of replay ability if you did not care for max level game play. You could level a character as either a Defiant or Guardian but after that there was really no need to create additional alts. You would have played through the story line for both factions and rolling another alt, even if it was a new calling, would not provide much in the way of a unique experience since you would go through the same zones and do the same things. While Storm Legion will not do much to change the 1 through 48 experience for players it does provide two divergent paths for leveling in the expansion areas (50-60). If you choose to go to Cape Jule you will traverse the Brevane continent and have an adventure that is based more upon exploration, if you travel to the Kingdom of Pelladane and the Dusken Continent you will have an adventure that is more combat focused.
The single biggest feature that was added to Storm Legion that has the potential to offer the most longevity for the game is Dimensions. Dimensions are Trion's take on personal and guild housing. These dimensions are little instanced pockets of space that can be purchased by players or awarded through quests. You can find items throughout your time in Telara to add to your dimension. These dimension items can vary from boards and tables to dragon eggs and any number of things in between. Items can be purchased from NPCs, created by other players through crafting, come from quest rewards, and be offered from Trion through special out of game promotions. You can take these items and place them anywhere you desire in your dimension and scale them to almost any size. This allows for limitless combinations on how you can set up your home. You can keep your dimension private so it can be your bastion away from everyone else, or you can set it up to where guild members or anyone from the general public can come in and view your dimension. You can also set permissions to allow other players to alter your dimension. Players also have the ability to up-vote your dimension and your dimensions score is shown on a leader board compared to everyone's.
Trion has a few great systems in place to help foster socializing in game. First there is now open tagging on mobs. No longer do you have to be in a group with another player to benefit from helping them out. If you see a person in trouble and run to their aid you will get experience, reputation, and currency for helping them kill what it is that has them on the ropes. Second anytime you are working on a dynamic event unless you turn it off you will automatically be placed in an open group. Players will only have to click on the + sign above your character portrait to team up with you. This also works merging groups together which can be especially helpful in large zone events. Third there is a robust group finder tool. Most people usually only pay attention to the dungeon finder tab but you can also use this tool to form groups for group quests or rift groups. Fourth is Instant Adventures. The IA system will quickly toss you into a group in an area to take on a chain of quests with other adventures that could be pressed for time and want to instantly hop into the action, or people that just like to do Instant Adventures. IAs have a chain of quests that usually tell a small story through the zone. Lastly there is a guild finding tool. This guild finder makes it quick and easy to check of certain requirements you have for potential guilds you would like to join. You can then get in contact with the guilds officers and go through whatever recruitment process the guild has. There are a number of guilds that have little to no requirements for recruitment and are purely social with wonderful communities.
Rift is one of the last bastions of the subscription MMO. With The Secret World recently shifting stances and moving to a Buy-to-Play model (B2P), Rift and World of Warcraft are two of only a handful of MMOs left that are subscription only. (Both Rift and WoW do allow you to play to level 20 for free but in essence are truly only free trials). You can purchase a digital copy of Storm Legion from Trion for $39.99 if you already own Rift or $49.99 for a copy that includes the original Rift. You can also purchase a subscription for Rift as low as $10.00 a month. (All prices are USD). While none of the pricing screams out value, what really makes this a good deal is the pace at which Trion has squeezed out content updates. With 11 updates in 21 months over the course of the original game if Trion is able to keep up with half that pace in the coming years they will provide players with more than enough bang for their buck.
Storm Legion is arguably the best expansion to come out in 2012 for any MMO. If you have not already played Rift now is a great time to give it a try. With the introduction of Dimensions Trion has set Rift up to have a lot of interesting and unique player created content to supplement Trion's internal development cycle. Storm Legion does a great job of adding more of what the players loved in the original Rift but falls a little short in the PvP department. While they did add a new warfront they have temporarily suspended Conquest and shifted their focus even more to the conflict between the Telarans and their invaders and less on the conflict between the Defiant and the Guardian.