Saturday, May 28, 2022

Battlesuit Telara

One curious side effect of using Steam as a portal is the way I occasionally find myself logging in to something I had no intention whatsoever of playing. Take today, for example. I was planning on getting stuck in to My Time At Sandrock but what did I end up playing instead? Rift

Of all things, Rift? How did that happen? Good question!

I have Steam set up to open on my Library, which is asking for trouble to begin with. There's every chance my eye will light on something in the list and my brain will light up with recognition as though I'd seen an old friend across the street.

I can usually suppress the urge to run into traffic to greet them but across the top of the screen there's always a ticker showing me "What's New" for any of the games I own and I'm a bit of an easy target for that kind of soft marketing. It feels as though I'm discovering something for myself and that always makes me more receptive.

It helps to pique my interest if the headline or image is something I wouldn't have expected. Seeing the news that New World has an update caled "Arenas", for example, doesn't move my dial much. For one thing I knew about it already but more importantly, even if I didn't, it's obviously a PvP feature and although I don't have much interest in PvP in Aeternum, I know enough to recognize it's an area Amazon are currently keen to support.

A picture of a bunch of angry-looking battlesuits stomping toward the camera over the tagline "Mechs on Parade" in a news item about a fantasy mmorpg like Rift, though? That's something I wouldn't expect.

It certainly got my attention. I clicked on the image and read all about the event. I'm not sure how long it's been running but it ends next Tuesday, May 31. It's also clearly a repeat of a previous event because the blurb reads "Lightning strikes on the horizon. Roaring thunder echoes throughout Telara. It has happened, the powerful Mechs are back and causing the earth to tremble. Their mission? Revenge and Chaos."(My emphasis.)

A little research tells me the event first happened back in 2019 and has been repeated a few times since. I can't recall ever having heard of it. I would have thought I might have done, if only because I do still play Rift now and again, mostly thanks to it being right there in front of me every time I log in to Steam. 

You can see why even mmorpg devs want their games on the platform, even if, like Trion and now Gamigo, they have their own in-house corporate launchpad. Even when you log in through Steam it still takes you to Glyph but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have bothered if I'd had to go look for that old thing on my own. Since I added Rift to Steam, though, I have 60 played hours there.

The event may be a rerun but it's new to me and the sight of mechs tromping about the familiar landscape of Telara seemed like it would be worth a look. I logged in my mid-30s Rogue, the character I'm vaguely levelling on the odd occasion I feel like playing and took her to one of the starting towns, where it appeared I could get some quests relating to the mech invasion.

I had no trouble finding the questgivers in Meridian. They happily gave me the quests but if I was hoping for some context that would make sense of this apparent incursion from another genre altogether, I was set to be disappointed. All I got was a bit of hand-waving about the Storm Legion sending a force of "mechanized soldiers" and a "powerful new weapon" they'd developed by hammering five "mechanical dragons" into one megamechadragon. Should have called it that instead of Volt-1, which sounds more like a sports drink than an existential threat.

Once I had the quests I went looking for Mech Rifts to close or Mech Invasions to crush but I couldn't find any. I tried taking an Instant Adventure just in case it might be focused on the event but it dumped me in one of the new zones with one other person doing something unrelated so I dropped group and logged out.

In the evening, after playing Sandrock for an hour or so and taking the dog for a long walk, I was still thinking about Rift so I tried again. I was hoping to get lucky and find the event up and running. I did. It was. I was also hoping there might even be some other people doing it. There were!

I closed a couple of Mech Rifts on my own. There was one handily right outside Meridian, along with an Outpost, both of which proved little challenge since my Rogue is level 35 and the zone caps out around twenty. The only trouble I had was when my own skill, one with a leap-back I'd forgotten, pranged me off a cliff and I nearly died from the fall.

After that I worked my way across Silverwood to defend the one remaining Wardstone. I knew other people were in the zone because the required rifts were being closed but it wasn't until I got to the stone that I saw the first player. 

I joined the open group and we finished off the final invasion before the next phase started. We moved to that and then to the final act, the gigantic dragon mech, Volt-1. By then there were seven of us, the most people I've seen in one place in Rift for a very long time. 

With the dragon down and the Mech Invasion halted I returned to Meridian to do the hand-in, at which point I realized that none of the rifts I'd closed or mechs I'd killed counted towards the quest because it stipulates they have to give xp. At thirty-five I was way over the xp limit but I'd been enjoying myself too much even to notice.

It didn't matter because the important thing was that I'd seen the event in action. It's the same as every other Rift event: close some rifts, stop some invasions, hold at least one Wardstone, kill some mini-bosses, kill a boss. It's a great format. Why mess with it?

The whole thing also reminded me how much fun Rift was up until about three or four months after launch, when the zones were packed and events like this ran constantly. I've rarely had more fun in any mmorpg than I had on a good Wardstone defence back then. 

I'm half minded to try and find the event running somewhere in a zone the right level but given the imminent end-date I probably won't make the time. It wouldn't really mean much anyway. A lot of the items on the event vendor can be bought for the currency I got back when Rift converted to Free To Play and there's not much chance of making enough of the specific event currency itself to buy any of the rest, if I even wanted to, which I don't.

I'm happy to see the game still limping along, at least, although it's a pale shadow of a pale shadow of its old self. Still, better a shadow than a sunset and even a repeated event is better than no event at all.


  1. The original Rift had such a great storyline too, and it saddens me that they ruined it with later expacs. Well, and the cash shop shenanigans.

    1. That first expanson was a gamekiller. It killed my interest stone dead, anyway.

    2. I just remember the cover art for their first expac, and I blurted out "WTF is THAT all about?"


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