Sunday, October 23, 2011

Giving It The Old One Two: Rift

I'm still playing Rift most days but Mrs Bhagpuss has largely returned to her full-time job building houses in EQ2. I woke up one morning last week to find her still in front of the computer, having pulled an all-nighter doing a loft conversion on a Halas two-room. When I told her it was seven in the morning, the sun was coming up and I was off to work she said "Oh I thought it was only about three", as though staying up 'til "only" three in the morning decorating an imaginary house would in some way be recognized as normal behavior in an umpty-ump year-old mother of three grown children.

She still has an active Rift account however, and last weekend she managed to pull herself away from the workbench and forge for long enough to run through two Chronicles with me. The Chronicles are the new dungeons that arrived with patch 1.5. They are apparently tuned to be duoed by fresh level 50s or soloed by well-geared level 50s. Or something. I found that part a bit wooly.

There are three Chronicles. The first, "Meridian/Sanctum (delete as applicable): Ceremony of Attunement"  offers a solo instance of your capital city where your character is feted by the great and good of Telara for service to the nation.

Pig and cake. Breakfast of Champions.

It's an award ceremony so toe-curlingly embarrassing that the sudden appearance of arch-villain Kain and his Death plane cronies comes as a welcome relief.

Kain! I thought you'd never get here!
I'd already done that one on all my max level characters but I wanted to do the other two as a duo. While Mrs Bhagpuss was planing away over in Norrath I ran my Guardian through "Greenscale's Blight: The Fallen Prince" just to get a feel for the difficulty. I was using my usual Pyro/Ele soloing build, which has a mighty tank pet that I can chain heal literally until the heat-death of the universe. It also has massive single target and AE DPS.

Dressed mostly in crafted purple gear, the only thing that gave me any real trouble until the third named was my own sadly atrophied pulling skills, which had me running back from the altar quite a few times. If I'd had any self-healing I probably wouldn't have died, but that build has none.

The third boss was an extremely close fight. I actually killed her and one of her werewolf pals, but lack of self-healing defeated me when second werewolf was almost down. When I returned from my ghostwalk the whole encounter had respawned at full health so I called it a day for soloing. 

Mrs Bhagpuss then joined me over on the Defiant side. I was in my Pyro/Chloro build and she used her Necro/Warlock. Skeleton tanked. We did "Hammerknell: Runes of Corruption" first and it was fun. Those characters aren't quite as well geared as my Guardian and I thought the difficulty level was about right.

I can see right up your nose from here.

We cleared everything, killed the nameds, oohed and aahed at the dwarven workmanship, felt our teeth rattle in our heads whenever The Faceless Man spoke. The boss fights were straightforward with an absolute minimum of stupid dance moves, thank heaven. Loot was clearly aimed at fresh 50s. Nothing dropped that was an upgrade.

Triple somersault without a net!
The whole thing took about 45 minutes or so and we both felt ready for a second course so we moved on to Greenscale. With the exception of the same named that I stalled on solo, who was still a bit of a handful even with two of us, I didn't find Greenscale that much harder than Hammerknell. There was a bit of hopping about when the Prince used one of those annoying circle-on-the-ground things that I hate but nothing very taxing. Greenscale himself was a pushover.

The best thing about the Greenscale Chronicle was the interchanges between the various NPCs, some of which had me laughing out loud. The voice acting was excellent. Whoever did The Prince would be right at home in the cast of any 1970s British sitcom. It was well worth doing Greenscale just to hear him.

I do think these solo/duo instances are a good idea. They are hardly innovative, of course. EQ2 has had them for many years. I hope that Trion add a few at lower levels too, but I doubt they will since they seem to be determined to build a whole new game at 50 on top of the one they already have. Still, gift horse, mouth and all that. Looking forward to more, even if they are all stuffed up against the level cap.

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