Rift is great.

I’ve required a machete to carve through cigarette smoke in a cyber-cafe in Heidelberg, just so I could play World of Warcraft on a laptop.  It was summer, no air-conditioning, smoke everywhere, and I had to get my fix in.

My Warcraft account expired today.  With nary a whimper.  Just a couple months after the release of the expansion.  I’ll do game cards if I need a fix.  My daily obsession with reviewing all the add-on updates is over, and I’ve mined my last obsidium for a while.

I’m not missing it.  It’s not the crack fix I craved just a couple of years ago.  At first I thought I was going to have more characters at 85 than I had at 80 (which was six) and I realized that’s just crazy and the idea of fun just burned right up like some manuscript tossed in a trash can and set on fire.

And it’s because Rift has gotten everything right to capture my interest.

(Compared to Warhammer, I’d say Warhammer had the looks I liked, mostly, but it never truly gelled with me.  Not like this.)

Rift is fun, there’s new features, it looks spectacular, and I know the interface.

And it’s new.

I’ve got, Guardian side, a High Elf Paladin I play (see pic above) with my wife’s High Elf Chloromancer (a healer type).  (We’re trying our hardest to limit the number of alts and are committed to a single couple for each faction.)  On the Defiant side I’ve got a melee Bahmi Cleric which I play with my wife’s Bahmi Beastmaster (Warrior in plate with a pet) (see pic below).  But since altohlicism still runs deep, I do have a Guardian side Human Mage I play solo, and on the Defiant side a Dark Elf Hunter and Eth Rogue.  These solo alts do gather resources for my main gear crafters.

A sunny day at the seaside village of the Dark Elves.

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More Rift in the final Beta

A recent comment asked for a screenshot.  I’m a bit delinquent in getting a couple, but here they are.

I logged in this morning and noted “Everything’s orange.  Hmm.”  Wow.  Everything was really, really orange.  Here I was looking for the lush green I saw last time,for my screenshots, and it’s all orange.

Turns out the starter zone is on fire.  Under assault from the plane of fire.

The orange spirals are where the planes have touched down, and the crossed swords are where groups released by the touchdowns are wandering “loose” in the countryside.  They follow roads and are bent on destruction.  This is all dynamic and last night none of them were there.

Well, that explains the sunrise.  The zone is on fire.

This is my Druid.  Being a Cleric, he wears chain mail.  Being a Druid he’s got some healing spells, but he seems to be more offensive than healy.  A different Cleric I’d made earlier, a Justicair, had a quick heal, and an AOE heal.  Which is useful in rift battles (and pvp I’d assume).  With my Druid, in the battle I joined shortly after I shot this (in the Rift behind him actually), I tossed a heal (since healers ought to heal) and I was surprised to see the long cooldown on my only heal.  Not a healer type at all in that case.  (At least not at level 9.)

There are four primary classes: Mage=Cloth, Rogue=Leather, Cleric=Chain, and Warrior=Plate.  Within each class you have a large variety of play styles.  Your Rogue can go with twin daggers and poisons to be a Bladedancer, or he can become a Ranger with a pet and bow/gun, i.e. Hunter.  Your Clerics can be offensive with spells, a Shaman, melee, a Druid, or offer up more healing prowess, Justicair.  Mages range from Warlocks and Necromancers to Druidic users of nature (called Chloro-something) to heal.  And Warriors range from your shield bearing tanks, two two-hander users (ala Arms), twin blades of destruction (ala Fury), to one with a pet (ala Survival Hunter, but in Plate).  You start with one concentration, and you’re quickly asked to select two more trees to go with the first.  Obviously the higher you go in your tree choice the better you are in that area of concentration.  (Going up in the tree opens up new abilities down in the roots.  You’d have to see the tree to understand.)  Anyway, what seems complex and/or new is actually very streamlined and the wife and I picked up the game mechanics very easily.

Anyway, back to the screenshots.  The tortoise mount is from the Collector’s Edition.

As I’ve already alluded I am really enjoying what I’ve seen of Rift so far.  The wife joined me in the final Beta and we’ve gone and pre-ordered already.

The details in the world are beautifully drawn.  If you think the Defiant side is a little dry, plains and few trees, consider that you’re heading into the Eth (think arabic) homeland as you leave your starting area.  So, from a geographic standpoint, that makes sense.

On the Guardian side you appear to be heading into what is a very sylvan environment with lush trees and groundcover.  (The fire rift directly behind me has washed out all the greens.)  It’s otherwise a very lush and cool environment.

You can’t appreciate the armor my Druid is wearing in the screenshot, but the chain mail is very shiny and the best I’ve seen in a game.

I was playing a dark elf Ranger last night, in the Eth starting area, and their deal, that of the dark elves, is they are refugees from some islands.  Their “city” is a village on the coast made of the rafts they came in on.  The board walks and planking look great, and the shallow sea it sits in feels warm as you go out and hunt alligators for a quest giver.

The wife and I have enjoyed what we’ve seen.  It has played without a hitch, and looks Great!, on both of our machines, an older PC running Vista and an iMac running Bootcamp and XP.  Like I said, we both pre-ordered.  And I really, really look forward to seeing the rest of the world.  (And getting those dang fires put out!)

I went back in and the green’s back.  Here’s some more screenshots.

The green is back.  (And you can really see the detail in the armor.)

With a vengeance.  Off in the distance is an attack by the plane of Life.

This is my dark elf Kelari Rogue Ranger.  (The latest tunic leaves a little to be desired.  This isn’t a chain mail wearer.)  (And lots of collector’s editions out there given all the tortoise mounts.  I’ve otherwise seen horses, gazelles, bear-things, and a couple of other different mounts that folks can ride.)

This is the plains I mentioned.  The nearby quest givers state this was the Marches, or furthest reaches, of the Eth kingdom.  So it must get drier further along.

So that’s my two elves.  One High Elf Druid on the Guardian side, and a Kelari dark elf on the Defiant side.

I’ve also got a couple of humans.

Firstly, the Mathosian, a Mage.

There are a lot of pets in this game.  Each class has a tree which offers a pet.  Some heal, some fight, some do a little of both.  Heavy here makes a decent little tank for this cloth wearer.

This is my Eth, the desert dwelling humans.  This guy is a warrior going the tank route.

(And all the screenshots show the UI.  Which is very good looking and very customizable as to placement and sizing of items.)

These last two pictures show the divide between the two sides.  Defiant on one side, Guardians on the other.  There is a bridge between that they’ve destroyed, and both sides are deploying cannon fire (the green incoming) against each other.

Anyway, I hope that’s given you a small taste of this new game.

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Rift Beta

I’ll get to the Rift beta.  But first, this…

Currently, as one of the more erudite bloggers may have said, I can’t really be arsed about Cataclysm lately.

I’ve done the math.  In order for my leatherworker to create a set of the level 85 armor, leather or mail, and this is for my Hunter, mail, my wife’s Druid, caster, and my Druid, DPS, I need 1,235,000 stacks of leather.  I kid you not.  That reduces to 57 heavy leather, and that would let me buy 5 patterns.  Out of the 24 I need to buy.  Not that I’ve collected enough leather yet to even be able to craft those recipes.  That would be 2,300,000 leather I’ve got to gather to get to that state first.  Blacksmithing was much easier.  And, truly, I love nothing more than circling Ulduum looking for elementium nodes.  Truly.  Circle, circle, circle.  Vulture style.  And beating the competition who’s selling elementium at 10g a bar.  Because they’ve got time I don’t have apparently to clear the perimeter of the place, both directions.  And after Tobold studied over 1,000 Troll artifacts and didn’t get the Zinroth sword, I’d have more luck sticking my head outside in the rainstorm and getting lightning struck with a unicorn and a pot of gold.  A pot of gold, now that I can do something with.  A play session in Cataclysm, waiting for the next expansion?  I’ve got years to do that.

Speaking of luck, I did manage to get into the Rift Beta this weekend.

First reaction: Did the ex-Warhammer folks work on this?  (It shares the game engine.)  The Defiant area feels a little Chaos, the Guardian side like Nordland.

Second reaction:  No bugs or crashes or funny stuff.  Not bad at all.  (I use bootcamp on my iMac to play Windows games.  LoTRO is 50:50 whether or not I’ll get in or crash to a blue screen and be rebooted.  The Rift Beta has run flawlessly every time I started it up.  There’s a serious flickering in the media videos, but they’re otherwise stutter free. And the game is very nice looking.)  But otherwise all the graphics happen when they should.  Weapons connect like you’d expect them to.  Your spells fly when you launch them.

Third reaction: Last night I took my Bahmi warrior to 12:30.  (Lately I’ve wrapped up my gaming around 10:30 and watch old Smashing Pumpkin and Lemon Jelly videos on Youtube till I go to bed.)

Fourth reaction: Interesting.  Everything is familiar to this WoW player, and yet a lot of interesting implementations.  My Cleric has a pet that heals me.  My Rogue has a pet that fights alongside him.  My Warrior could have taken a course that would have allowed him a pet too (I believe).  And the Mages, which I haven’t tried, they’ve got pets too.  The grass sways, there’s questing underwater, with combat. 

Fifth reaction: The intros are VERY VERY Warhammer Age of Reckoning like.  One side is Chaos.  The other is Grimmenhagen.  But not too badly.  The Chaos side is actually technological, and a little ways into the zone you find the buildings are Italian Alps inspired looking.  The Human side is clearly Western Civilization hamlets. 

Etc.: And I’m not sure if I’m giving anything away (I’d have to have readers for that) but the intros actually conclude with your side losing to the ultimate evil.  But, lucky for everyone, they can send you back in time to make sure it doesn’t come to pass.  It’s all on you.

I haven’t tried the crafting.  Though I’ve mined some tin (the starter ore) on one character.

The rifts of Rift act like Public Quests in Warhammer, with a button at top of your screen to join the Public Group if you’re out soloing.  In Warhammer they were static events, here and there, and acted as basically repeatable super quests.  In Rift the rifts act like Public Quests but appear to spawn randomly.  On the beta servers they were extreme zerg fests.  I got some shards.  Like 20 blue ones.  I think I need 200 blue ones and then some other kind to get something for them.

No matter how the rifts might play out being a major feature of this game, consider the game has got some interesting quests.  It’s got instanced dungeons.  It’s got guilds and crafting and an auction house. It’s got mounts.  It’s got two factions, each with their own lore.  Neither are the “good” or “evil” side, they’re just differences of approach.  Remove the rifts and you’ve got another WoW.  WoW was good.  This could be as well.  It simply needs to overcome the gravity and momentum WoW affects on the MMORPG masses.

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A month with Cataclysm

What have I been up to this past month with the latest expansion?

Well, I’ve taken two characters to Level 85.

On his own, my hunter, Arcarius, and with my wife, my warrior, Msaker.  And reaching that goal couldn’t have been more different.

Arcarius, not being a gatherer of herbs or metals, and not taking archaeology, took the traditional route: quests.  He started in Vashj’ir, spent some time in Deepholm, some more time in Uldum, and reached level 85 in the Twilight Highlands.

More specifically, I “completed” Vashj’ir, doing every quest until I reached the entrance to the Throne of Tides.  And here is where my first feeling of worry comes in.  I exhausted the content and left the zone wrung dry.  Outlands had a bit of this, but I’d always left some quests undone.  Northrend seemed to have quests in every corner that I’d left undone, and could go back to if I decided on that later.  Vashj’ir seemed to drive me always onward, to the end, and leave me nothing to go back to.  What use is the coolest mount in the game (the armored seahorse) if all you need it for is to play tourist or gather skins?  You’d get 1-3 quests, which you needed to complete, to open up the next 1-3 quests, which you needed to complete… It’s nice if your goal is a mad rush to 85 to raid.  HOOOOOOAH!  (But I don’t raid.)  For me the world of World of Warcraft is the sandbox in which I “live” and play.  I seriously don’t expect, or want to see, the scrolling credits at the end of the game.  “Well, you’re done.  Here’s the credits.  (More of a reward for the people in the credits, than you, wouldn’t you say?)”  But that’s not to say I did not enjoy what I’d seen and done there in Vashj’ir.  I enjoyed that I was playing through a story.  But perhaps the story would have been better if it were just one in a book of content I could keep with for a longer time.  But in the case of Vashj’ir, you’ve got the story arc, story’s over, you leave the theater and you’ll see repeats on DVD later when you’re next characters roll through it.

Deepholm was graphically just as stunning.  But I only did enough to get to level 83, which would then allow me to go to Uldum.  There were several stories here too.  You work with the Earthen and their version of the Trogg menace.  You’ve got Horde and Alliance helping/hindering each other to repair the damage left by the Shattering.  There’s some cult activity with the Twilight Hammer.  But it’s dark, so I moved on when I could.

Ah, Uldum.  The environment and quests are stunning and feels very much “Lawrence of Arabia meets Indiana Jones.”  The questing in Uldum too was very much on rails, but two story lines, that of the Ramkahen cat-people, and Harrison Jones.  Oh, and the machinery, a third side, has an amusing quest where you become a raging ball of fire.  Harrison Jones appeared satisfied with what all I’d done with him, offering me no new quests.  The cat-people weren’t going to allow their enemies to roll over them, and they seemed satisfied with all I’d done for them.  (In other words no new quests for me from them, though we had battles yet to finish it seemed to me.)  Just one “breadcrumb” quest taking me to the coast where the Nazis where busy setting up their plundering operations.  Sorry, not Nazis.  Schnottzis.  But by then I was level 84 and could proceed to the Twilight Highlands where my leatherworking recipes were.

The Twilight Highlands intro, the Stormwind City version of it, was interesting.  Kind of a pause in things, doing quests there *in* Stormwind City, but I liked the premise of it.  And then the flight out to the Twilight Highlands, and where I discovered the reason I hadn’t seen flight points where I was expecting them earlier.  It’s all phased.  It won’t open up an area until you quested for it.  And that really sucks if you’re trying to quest as a couple, yet you’re a little ahead of your partner, and all you want is access to some crafting plans, (alright, ALL the crafting level 500+ recipes for ALL professions) and that doesn’t open up for you until you do those quests, and thereby preventing you from doing those quests with your questing partner, and, worse, you can’t help her with them either since you’ve phased past that point.  That aside, the Twilight Highlands quests were also nice.  Also on rails.  And I quested till I hit 85 and called it “good for now.”  And that was just a day or two ago, so I was fully a month with that character reaching 85.

Now my Orc Warrior partnered with my wife’s Shaman and we’re taking a similar route with the quests.  Vashj’ir (horde side now), Deepholm, and we’ve just started the Uldum quests.

However, my Orc Warrior beat my Hunter to level 85, and much earlier.  But my wife’s Shaman is still only level 83.  What was the difference between my Hunter and my Warrior?  Two things:  Mining ore nets you xp for each node.  Decent xp, and you need to hit A LOT of nodes.  And Archaeology.  Archaeology is the ticket to reaching 85 at blazing speeds.  Because I’ve got two other level 80 miners that are maxed now, and only one’s reached level 81 (albeit only doing mining), so the difference can only be Archaeology.  And I’m nearly 450 Archaeology (not quite) and can now survey in Northrend.  Next level will add Uldum.  I’ve gotten a couple blue toys (a mirror, and a teleporter), a pet (the fossilized raptor hatchling), a mount (the fossilized raptor), and have Queen Azshara’s Dressing Gown in the queue.  Now the latter will serve my two new characters, both clothies, well, since it’s a level 60 bind to account item. (Although I do have the Dreadmist heirloom too.  Maybe not.)  The whole goal of Archaeology is to get my hands on the Zin’rokh, Destroyer of Worlds, given I’ve got a Warrior looking for it, a Death Knight, and two Paladins, who could use it.

The wife and I have also quested through both the Worgen and Goblin beginning areas.  (Both well done, both very different) and our Worgens and Goblins are nearly level 20, and enjoying all the new questing opportunities in the “old” world.

On the crafting front, my miners, my Orc Warrior, Belf Paladin, and Human Paladin, mined enough ore to max their mining at 525 for the toughness buff.  All of them did so at level 80.  (One small leg up hitting the new level 80 quests.)

My Orc Warrior blacksmith has crafted, six obsidium executioners (two for my Warrior, though he switched back to Arms anyway, two for my paladins, two for the wife and my deathknights), three decapitator’s razors (for my warrior and both paladins), a lifeforce hammer (for the wife’s shaman), two fire-etched daggers (for my wife’s druid and mage), and an obsidium bladespear (for my Druid).  He’s also crafted three full sets of the level 80 (nice!) tanking plate (for my warrior and both paladins), a lot of the redsteel dps plate (for my paladin and our deathknights).  And … I’m exhausted.  Kaput.  I’m just going to rely on quests rewards for a little while to gear up the gaps.  That was a crap load of mining and it gets old when you’re mining someone else phases in, also trying to mine the node /saying “NINJA YOU STOLE MY NODE MY HUSBAND IS A GM NO MY BOYFRIEND WORKS AT BLIZZARD AND IM GONNA GET YOU BANNED YOU NINJA”.  (This Night Elf actually logged off, and created a level 1 horde character to harass me.  I reminded them that harassment was probably more of a bannable offense.  Ah, silence.)  I’m not banned, that only happened once, but petulent little tirades from 13 year old boys confused about who they need to be in relationships with to scare other people (I play a girl so it must be … HUSBAND that works as a GM – lying isn’t easy), not fun, and sticks with you.  Okay, it happened twice.  The other guy phased in on me and /said “Rude.”  I said I didn’t see him, thought it was free, he saw me back away once I saw him.  He said “Lag” and we left it at that.  I suspect it was a phasing issue.  Anyway, this blacksmith, since he’s questing with the wife, can’t start the Twilight Highlands stuff to get access to those plans and move on.  Not until we get Uldum completed to a point where the wife reaches level 84 and we can go together.

Damn, it’s going to be a month to write this.

So, in summary, my month with Cataclysm has seen me level two characters up to 85, do no small amount of blacksmithing, a little leatherworking (metal is sooo much easier to get than leather), some jewelcrafting, enchanting (mending enchant looks nice, avalanche is okay) and enjoy our new Worgen and Goblins.  My only concern is the new “quest story on rails” approach will exhaust this content more quickly than previous expansion.  Maybe we’ll see the follow-up expansion in one year, rather than two, this next time around.

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Many miles to the milestone

Zoiks.  I missed a milestone.

I was looking at the archives in the sidebar to the right, and I noted I’d posted in December 2010 *and* December 2005.  Five years I’ve been posting here.

Wow.

Anyway, I’m saving up some thoughts for my “Month with the expansion” post.  I might have one character at level 85 by then.  And if I keep at it with Archaeology, two.  It’s surprising and shocking to see how much xp is given for “crafting” be it looting an archaeology node, solving the clues, or harvesting a metal node.  My wife just dinged 83 and I’m 84 and 3/4.  The difference being I’ve been mining and doing archaeology.  (This is better than heirlooms.)

Anyway, a few more days and the month with the expansion will be done.  And posted.

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Yep, a Zep.

This years Christmas present way made up for last years lame Red Rider BB Gun.

It’s a Zeppelin.  That you fly.  In 3D.  With a gun that shoots other zeppelins, and other devices too apparently.  It leaves air mines.  It’s got nitro boost.  It’ll go five minutes, or until you’re shot down.

It’s definitely better than that damn BB gun.  I nearly put my eye out with it.  ./  Safety comes first!

On the home front, Junior finally gave up a smile with the camera in front of him while in his Christmas jammies.

(Which is even better than a zeppelin.  With a gun and air mines and nitro burst.)

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Waterlogged, but safe. Too safe?

My Alliance Hunter, not part of a duo with the wife, took the lead in exploring some of the new content opened up when Deathwing and the Naga decided to wake up and cut loose.

At level 82 and a half he has now “cleared” the underwater zone of Vashj’ir.

Some awesome graphics and some of the things you do to help out your side just blew me away.  Totally unexpected but very, very cool.

He came away with mostly new gear, aside from a trinket perhaps, and the gear comprised a set that looked particularly good.

As a leatherworker there wasn’t *that* much leather to be found.  I made a few pieces for the three leatherworker gear wearers (two druids and the hunter).

(My Orc Warrior managed to round up enough Obsidium and then Elementium, at level 80, to reach level 500 in his blacksmithing.  He’s going Protection to keep his Shaman Princess safe, and good news was till 500 blacksmithing all the tank gear he made was for level 80.  The DPS gear leveled up to 83.  Plus side ore is easy to get, and he’s crafted gear now for himself, my two other plate wearers, and the wife’s Deathknight.)

One thing, though, and maybe it’s because I’m playing a Hunter.  But there appeared to be nothing particularly challenging in all of Vashj’ir.  Nothing I couldn’t blow through and nowhere did I come anywhere close to dying.  I guess maybe that’s why folks think the dungeons are so hard, is it because the PVE is so easy?

But, otherwise, some spectacular scenery out there.  I love the Twilight Highlands which has a cool, water containing, yet dry enough, northern California feel to it.  And then there’s Uldum which, at least to me, is as rich as Vashj’ir, despite being a desert.  Think Indiana Jones without the dust and haze, and far more spectacular egyptian setting.  This is a home of the gods indeed.  I have played through neither area, simply running through gathering Elementium.

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