Exploring RIFT 3.4: Into the Wilds with Trion Worlds

Coming “really, really soon” to RIFT is the MMO’s fourth major update of the year, Into the Wilds. Patch 3.4 is so big, in fact, that Trion Worlds considers it an expansion-worthy update in all but name and for the fact that it won’t be raising the cap past level 65.

RIFT Senior Development Director for Design Simon Ffinch jumped into the test server build for 3.4 with me, fielding all sorts of questions about Into the Wild’s new zone and class while bubbling over with enthusiasm for the massive project that is about to cross the finish line. How will this update change the face of the game while providing an entirely new leveling experience for players? Ffinch had answers and then some (seriously, the guy really likes to talk about his game!).

The wild, wild… east?

RIFT’s world map has always contained a few inaccessible blank spots that the development team left open to fill in at a later date. Two of these patches of land that have been on the map from day one will open their doors come 3.4: the warfront of Bronze Tomb and the eastern region of Planetouched Wilds.

Astute players will notice that Planetouched Wilds is bigger than it used to be. A lot bigger, in fact. According to Ffinch, the zone was ripped out of Mathosia by a “cosmic rhinoceros” and taken on a long journey that exposed the region to the forces of the planes, infusing it with power and enlarging it to five times its original size. To those on the outside, the journey took place in a split-second, but to the Bhami who lived there, the region’s trip lasted thousands of years.

This level 65 zone lives up to its name in all respects. It’s an attractive landscape of rolling planes and blowing grasses that is broken up by a jagged crystalline canyon that runs through the region like an artery. Players will discover that not everything here is quite the same as the rest of Telara; for example, you can jump “crazy high” and witness rocks floating in the air for no apparent reason.

A new three-act narrative takes players through the backstory and current struggle of the zone and its peoples. Ffinch said that the studio invested more into voice acting this time around than it ever has in the past, especially with two key NPCs that will follow players around. One of these characters is Khar, a Conan-esque leader who’s a bit of a jerk but who also has a pet lamb named Mingy.

Even if a player is at max level, there are plenty of rewards to encourage zone exploration. New cosmetic sets, mounts, dimensions, artifacts, and gear upgrades are dangling for daring souls (pun intended) to pluck.

Getting primal

The barbaric feel of the land is echoed in the newly discovered Primalist calling. If players choose to purchase the calling, they’ll be treated to a new set of six souls that can be mixed and matched to create any role, only with a different twist.

Ffinch said that Primalist has been in development “for a long time,” and represented the desire for the developers to create a class that wasn’t pigeonholed into the current four archetypes. While the Primalist has strong ties to the Bhami, any race can become one.

Most all of the Primalist’s skills are impacted by an ever-present meter on the screen that vacillates between “fury” and “cunning.” Depending on where the meter is at, some skills are more or less powerful or aren’t even available to use.

Before you ask, yes, Trion has plans to add more souls to the calling, although no details or timetable were given for this.

And that’s not all!

As I mentioned earlier, Into the Wilds is a truly sizable update to the game that isn’t merely confined to one new zone and calling.

Ffinch rattled off a list of all of the content that players will find when 3.4 goes live this fall. This includes additional crafting recipes, a new five-man expert dungeon called Rhaza’De Canyons, more artifact sets with a new integrated system, and, according to Ffinch, “The most devious puzzle I’ve ever put into the game.”

RIFT’s raiding community isn’t being ignored with this update, either. Mind of Madness, a challenging 20-person raid, will hit the scene. It boasts “spectacular mechanics” and should keep raiders busy for a while to come.

“We’ve done what’s fun for us as developers and for our players,” Ffinch explained as a rationale behind the update.

Hints of the future

Of course, I couldn’t let Ffinch go without asking for a few hints as to the future of RIFT. We talked a bit about expansions and whether or not RIFT would be returning to them after Storm Legion and Nightmare Tide. He was cagey on the subject but didn’t rule out (or confirm) any plans for future expansion packs. Ffinch did comment that it was interesting how the MMO industry functioned on a pendulum that kept swinging back and forth between being attracted to and ignoring the expansion model.

He did say that there are definitely plans to do more with the popular minion system, although it was too early to talk about what those would be. Past that, Ffinch said that the team was “actively working” on the next steps for RIFT.

“We have plans that go a very long way into the future of RIFT,” he said. “We have big plans taking RIFT forward.”

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Malorey
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Malorey

goettel Veldan They have a new thing called Intrepid Adventures where you do raids like Hammerknell but you don’t have to worry about getting a raid group together and they don’t go on for hours and you can get good gear from them too!

Veldan
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Veldan

DrowNoble Veldan “check your PC hardware and such”

You must be totally unaware of RIFT’s issues on the graphics and performance front. A consequence of being among the lucky 0,1% that somehow has the miracle circumstances which make you circumvent all issues, I suppose…

I happen to have a great modern gaming desktop that I maintain well. It runs any other game perfectly and in other games, including other MMOs, it never shows any of the issues RIFT gives. On top of that, I played RIFT on a previous desktop and on 2 different laptops, and all gave the same issues regarding graphics. If that isn’t enough for you, the internet is full of complaints about RIFT’s performance, and there are lots of screenshots on the forums of the persistent bugs, like block trees, green lip / white skinned characters, pulsating environment, flicker, etc.

DrowNoble
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DrowNoble

Veldan DrowNoble Well not to sound cliche, but I’d check your PC hardware and such.  Rift has been the most stable MMO I’ve ever played.  Never had a crash, glitch or the like.  I honestly can’t even remember if I ever got stuck in terrain either.

Their business model is the best for free players when you compare it to the other MMOs with hybrid models.  They don’t take things away from you for being a Freebie but give you things for being a Patron (subscriber).  Earring slots are part of the expansion, so yes a free player would (and should) have to pay from them unless they bought the expansion pack.  Trion even put them on a 50% sale a while back to help people do that.  If you insist on just buying the slot unlock itself, yes it is expensive (as it should be).

Rex is pricey because they want you to subscribe.  Same thing in other games where the “sub token” costs more than the sub.  They Want You To Sub.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

Malorey Veldan Yeah its mostly just the beginning. The second zone has almost none of it and the third zone has only some of it. Most of it is in the water ‘subzone’ between zones (some zone events happen there, some carnages, etc).
If we do get the supposed 4th zone, Mykryr Depths, either next year or some future point Trion feels like it, then I can see it having the most underwater content since it’ll be more of an endgame (Lv 65 or a future level cap increase) sort of thing, but it isn’t happening yet.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

Veldan SwobyJ The sooner we deal with a time travel focus, the sooner RIFT can never focus on it so much ever again. :P

Malorey
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Malorey

Veldan Malorey OK fair enough, I only played the beginning part that was underwater and thought it was all like that. I’m lvl 61 now and most of it so far has been on land. I am really enjoying being back playing Rift and just did an awesome Intrepid Adventure in a Hammerknell raid that I would never have done otherwise! :)

Veldan
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Veldan

SwobyJ I hope not, RIFT has way too much time travel and alternate reality stuff already. It’s the one big weakness of the story imo. I like the complexity of it, but sometimes it gets downright confusing. We have:

– The planes and connections between Telara and them
– Slivers, which are basically alternate realities somehow connected to Telara, there are raids, chronicles and dungeons that play outside the normal reality in this way, but not all of them notify you of that, to confuse you more
– Failsafe device, as seen in the Defiant starter zone, allowing the Defiant player to go back in time and relive reality in a different way

– Oracles (Syntych?) which somehow have all used failsafe devices and lived out every possible future to pick the most desirable one, though the Oracles’ method is disrupted as seen in some quests, so we’re now in a reality that may not be a “safe” one

– Tarken Glacier, which somehow functions as a border between the plane of water and “something” outside it, where time and space are different, and Akvan exist, yet the border is a physical one and the player crosses it at some point
– Tenebrians, which don’t exist on Telara or in the planes, but still exist, and can somehow move to and from Telara and the planes

Any more stuff thrown into this mix and I’ll give up trying to understand it >.>

Veldan
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Veldan

Malorey Not sure if serious? Almost nothing in the NT expansion is underwater.

Malorey
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Malorey

I bought the Nightmare Tide expansion but really didn’t get on with the underwater aspect and stopped playing. Maybe I’ll give it another go with the new area being above water!

BrainAdams
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BrainAdams

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