A tour of RIFT 3.6: Celebration of the Ascended

When an MMO hits its fifth anniversary, one hopes that the game’s studio would pull out all of the stops to mark the occasion. Five years seems to be a tipping point from a fresh, young game into a more mature, established MMO that’s found its place in the industry.

Five years ago, RIFT launched with its vision of a fantasy world under constant attacks by elemental planes, dragons, and apocalyptic plans. Since then, the game has added countless featured, pushed out two full expansions, switched business models, and greatly enlarged the pool of souls from which players could build their own classes. Now the title is throwing a massive party for its fifth birthday with Update 3.6: Celebration of the Ascended.

We sat down with Trion Worlds to look at how this large patch will not only add on to the yearly carnival but will throw in a batch of new souls, one for each calling. It was a whirlwind tour that ultimately stressed how dedicated the team was to adding onto and refining the game that they clearly love.

Chill out!

Soul doctor, report to the ER

For those willing to shell out money for the new soul pack, many new build options will emerge with Update 3.6. Each of the five callings will get a new soul with the patch, each sporting new abilities, mechanics, and synergies with existing souls.

We were quickly shown the five souls, starting with the Rogue’s Shadeborn. The twist with this DPS dealer is that she can set a secondary target with a “Bond of Night” debuff. Damage done to a primary target will splash damage to that secondary one. This will make the Shadeborn ideal for attacking bosses that bring in adds, among other scenarios.

Moving along, the next soul in the parade was the Warrior’s Warchanter. This is actually a healer that shouts at allies to buff them up and excels at healing two main targets. The soul also has a shorter global cooldown and some off-cooldown heals, but its strengths have to be tempered by the fact that it burns through power like no-one’s business.

The Cleric will get the Runeshaper, a single-target damage-dealer with some interesting support utilities. Its mechanic is in reacting to procs, allowing the soul to shift from a slow-casting fighter to a swift pain machine. The Runeshaper can also drop rune fields to buff its party with things like mana regen and speed boosts.

The Frostkeeper is a Mage soul that, like the Warchanter, will be a great tank healer that’s a little more straight-forward to use than the Chloromancer. It can apply three hour-long barriers to teammates, each applying a different buff depending on what the team needs. The soul can quickly heal any teammates with a barrier on them and even has a skill to throw an emergency shield up around a player who’s about to die, causing a healing spell to go off at the point of death.

Finally, the Primalist will receive the Maelstrom class. Think of the Maelstrom as a turret: a class that stays still and spews out damage like nobody’s business. It also reacts to procs and has a damage-over-time skill that ramps up in intensity to a powerful final blow.

Shapely?

Did someone say ‘Carnival?’

As the title of the patch indicates, 3.6 will mark the return of the Carnival of the Ascended. Trion has been building on to its anniversary event every year, but the devs said that this year the Carnival has gotten the most amount of added fun following its debut. The Carnival will start on April 14th and run for about three weeks.

So what’s there to do this year? The action mostly takes place in the city of Tempest Bay, where players can try their hand at many games, new and old. One of the added challenges is to catch “artifact frogs” hopping around and carrying everyone’s favorite shinies. Speaking of artifacts, 14 new sets have been added for collectors, bringing the game’s total to 1,401.

No matter what interests you in RIFT, chances are that the Carnival of the Ascended has something right up your alley. There will be a new instant adventure, a new storyline chain, and plenty of raid rifts that allow players to relive the glory of past exploits and dragon take-downs. Players into the minion scene can collect six new followers through limited-time missions.

And yes, there will be rewards and gifts coming out of the game’s wazoo (please don’t try to think about where a wazoo is on an MMO). Hats, capes, mounts, and emotes are all up for grabs to party-goers. Our favorite? A new fainting emote for when you’ve been hitting the Carnival a little too hard.

But wait, there’s more!

While the new souls and the upgraded Carnival are most certainly the focal point of 3.6, Trion has slipped in a whole bunch of other goodies that are worth a mention.

All players can log in every day to get a gift from the new reward calendar. As seen in some other MMOs like Guild Wars 2, RIFT’s calendar has 21 days of rewards that can be attained simply by checking in once in a while. Progress through the calendar won’t reset if a day is missed, either, but will keep pushing its way to the top-tier reward before resetting. The devs pointed out that the calendar has such desirable goods such as raid-level currencies, upgrade items, and, of course, artifacts.

Patch 3.6 will also rework several older souls, such as the Archon and Chloromancer. Both the Beastmaster and Ranger souls are slated to receive new ranged pets as part of this effort.

Multicore support is a much-touted feature that will transition from beta testing to live for those who want a 25 to 50% increase in game performance. Also with the patch is the ability to increase bank vault size and a new tier of planar attunement. Dedicated players who max out all of their planar attunement fields will be able to activate six powerful buffs that will also provide a form of death insurance: When active, a player who perishes will instead be automatically resurrected with a host of buffs at his or her back.

Today’s patch won’t usher in a long period of waiting until the next update, either. Trion will bring out another large patch in May with a new 10-player raid, although the devs didn’t want to get into that just yet.

We asked if RIFT had seen an increase in subscribers ever since Trion buffed its patron program while taking away some of the elements from the free version. The devs said that they’d seen a “positive response,” although they admitted that change is difficult for players. Ultimately, Trion wants to keep up a high level of support for RIFT in the long-term, and doing so means that RIFT needed to be more financially profitable, hence the push for subscribers.

So where does Trion see RIFT in another five years? According to the team, hopefully hosting a giant 10-year anniversary and continuing its streak of being an influential MMO in the field. Expect things to only get better from here, we were told.

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17 Comments on "A tour of RIFT 3.6: Celebration of the Ascended"

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kevinbrill
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kevinbrill

I’m going to be clear about the fact that I’m a Patron.  And also that I’ve–for the most part–accepted the changes that Trion has been making to the game.

I’m being patient with them on how they are monetizing the game.  Originally I think they put a lot of effort into making their F2P model very forgiving (and at one time was the best F2P model on the market).  From what I understand, the money they were making off of the store was not meeting expectations, so I think the current direction is to make Patron status attractive enough for people to effectively “sub”.  Basically making it F2P, but if you’re serious about it, then a sub is highly recommended.  Which, somewhat ironically, seems to be where many of the F2P games are ending up (e.g. SWTOR, EQ2, WS).

What has turned people off, especially players who have been with Rift through the entire F2P timeline, has been the transition of patron perks to being additional benefits, to now being things that used to be free, but now are gated behind a sub.

They initially tried by giving some nice buffs to patrons (artifact tracking vials, bonus currency/XP/favor, a daily/weekly loot box, etc).  The problem was that once you became a veteran, those weren’t attractive enough to continue to sub.  Which has evolved to the point we’re at now, where they moved several nice to have features from the free portion of the game to under the patron umbrella.  Most notable of these would be the ability to queue up for specific dungeons and warfronts.  A majority of this is probably fine for the new player to Rift, but for someone who is coming back to the game, or has been playing consistently over the past two or three years, it can be a sore subject.

Do I wish there was a little less in your face advertising when I log in?  Yes!  Am I willing to not pay it attention, and close the window when I log in?  Yes, if it means that showing the window has a direct correlation to me getting quality content and support for a game that I really enjoy playing.

Veldan
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Veldan

There’s some seriously good stuff in 3.6, some much needed QoL fixes and improvements. It’s about time too, if Trion wants RIFT to have a future they really need to drop the buggy and glitchy reputation that RIFT has. This patch is a nice start.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

Reht Sorenthaz Same for me with SWTOR and possibly ESO if I ever get back into it (though that is B2P, but the subscription gives you $15 worth of cash shop currency per month I believe so you already get full value out of the sub from that alone).  I like when I have the feeling that my subscription is “good enough” to warrant being able to play without being pressured by the cash shop.  And when there is something I like, I can save up for it with the stipends.   That’s why I was okay with LotRO’s F2P system back in the day when I was playing on there for a year or so.   It felt like I didn’t need to pay anything else beyond buying expansions when they came out.   
In RIFT it just comes off as them saying that my subscription isn’t good enough, and that ultimately they want me to spend a very large sum of money at this point in order to get everything out of the game without restriction.

Reht
Guest
Reht

Sorenthaz Yeah, i think an addition like this would really help encourage people to go patron.  SOE/DBG did that for their all acess, 500 Station cash didn’t buy much, but between that and the other perks, it was worth keeping an account(s) subbed for me.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

ZenDadaist Just a minor setback.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

teppic It started before ArcheAge, honestly.  Their whole “no tricks no traps” F2P system for RIFT had dozens of red flags early on.  It was very clear that such a model wouldn’t be sustainable, but in order to try and keep their slogan going they kept working around it in the most obnoxious ways.

Sorenthaz
Guest
Sorenthaz

DugFromTheEarth Yep… I steadily was growing turned off by Trion after my subscription (and occasional special edition purchases) suddenly wasn’t good enough for them anymore.   In pretty much every other F2P-converted MMO I can pay a $15 sub and won’t have to worry about anything else.  But not RIFT.  In RIFT you either turn platinum grinding into a second job (so you can buy REX off the AH) or else shell out a bunch of $$$ if you want anything off of the cash shop.   New souls costing close to the same price as an expansion is annoying, and I wish they had just stuck to charging money for expansions instead.
In general for me RIFT was the one real MMO at the time that actually felt like it earned my subscription.  As every other MMO was going F2P, RIFT remained P2P.  But then they decided to cave in and give in to the money-grubby side, making a system that shamelessly and openly was designed around nothing but whales.   Past subscribers who supported the game in its P2P days basically got what amounted to some consolation bonuses but that wasn’t enough to really remove the sour taste in my mouth.  Then it steadily went downhill from there.
Now I can’t even be bothered to hop on just to check out the fifth anniversary event, because last I checked they horribly ruined the Carnival of the Ascended event by turning it into a horribly painful currency grind just to try and get a few of the carnival items.   And in general their whole design philosophy has turned to revolving around making horribly painful and overly tedious grinds just to get people to buy into their cash shop.  
I really miss the old Trion when they were actively interacting with the community and seemed to genuinely care.  Nowadays the only thing Trion cares about are the whales who are dumb enough to support their crap shop practices.

Sorenthaz
Guest
Sorenthaz

Simple way for Trion to get subscribers: add a credit stipend.

That’s it.   That’s literally all they have to do.  500 credits isn’t even that much last I checked.

NobleNerd
Guest
NobleNerd

DugFromTheEarth This again is why the f2p model fails at times. A new person coming into a game like Rift at this point in time would be overwhelmed with a sea of “needed” purchases to make for the game to progress and be fun (after some time). I see that in many games where so much of the game is behind paywalls that after a short period the game loses new players.

I am still a fan of the subscription model. Problem is, now with all the crappy designed and maintained MMOs out there most would not support a game this way anymore.

NobleNerd
Guest
NobleNerd

Glad to see Rift make it to 5 years…

That said, at this point in time I will not be supporting a Trion game… period. It goes deeper than the HUGE ArcheAge failure for me. 

With Rift I was there in beta and watched this game bloom! I was excited for the game until their attempt at taking on the giant (WoW) failed horribly. Even their marketing portrayed this.. “You’re not in Azeroth anymore!”. When the population started to die Trion made massive changes to the game with many of them causing me to lose interest in the game.

Again cheers on 5 years (not sure how it made it this far)!

DugFromTheEarth
Guest
DugFromTheEarth

The problem being that the most significant changes that would inspire someone to come back to play again are linked to “For those willing to shell out money” is the biggest setback. Most of us that played have already “shelled” out plenty of money to Rift.  And for me personally, Ive long since realized that all the things Trion wants me to spend money on, really arent giving me a new experience… but rather… its more like driving the same care, with just a different scented air freshener installed.

teppic
Guest
teppic

I get kind of sad seeing these regular articles promoting Rift, as it used to be such a fun game. It all went wrong when ArcheAge came out and Trion came about cash grab and whales more than fun.

ZenDadaist
Guest
ZenDadaist

*Cough* It’s Tempest Bay *cough* :p

Greaterdivinity
Guest
Greaterdivinity

hardy83 Well, now they have two! They used to just have a goodie bag with an artifact and possibly a low quality experience potion (and some other stuff if you were a sub), but now we get two things to log in and get for free every day!

hardy83
Guest
hardy83

Perfect Hero And every other daily login reward system in MMOs and Freemium games.

Daily rewards for games isn’t exactly a new thing.

Polyanna
Guest
Polyanna

Man that shark head never gets old.

Perfect Hero
Guest
Perfect Hero

So they are basically copying over the annoying click calendar from ArcheAge…

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