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.
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.
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.