It’s time.

Once you get your hands on Rift, and just create a character, and see how well it plays DESPITE being so graphically rich and intense, you realize how OLD World of Warcraft looks.

Here’s a screenshot of my level 27 Warrior. He’s not wearing an armor set, but parts of two sets I believe.  At 27 he’s just a tad bit over the half-way point to the current level cap of 50.  But check out how good it looks:

Now six years ago, back in 2005, I had a Warrior in World of Warcraft.  I posted a little story about Oddity getting his Whirlwind Axe.  He was level 30 at the time, also half way to the level cap of 60 at the time.  Here is what he looked like in the character select screen:

You need to bear in mind I was wearing some nice gear for his level at the time.  My main was an “MC Raider” and had access to some decent things.

Sadly, this would be exactly how he’d look today, if he were level 30 again.  Oh, they’ve added some “sets” now.  Provided you do all the quests you’re supposed to do.  And don’t find the odd looking piece that’s actually better anyway.

Point is, it’s time for World of Warcraft 2.  Or the next thing Blizzard is going to bring out.  And the bar is set for what it ought to look like with regards to graphical quality.  Lightning bolts, raging ghostly shovelhorns, and demon wings are okay (amazingly wicked at the time) but it got to all feeling dated.

Another expansion of more of the same can’t possibly be greeted as a second coming.

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2nd Acts in Rift

So after spending some time as Defiant in Stonefield we’ve now changed scenes by taking our Guardians into Gloamwood.  Both are the level 20-25 areas.

Stonefield feels very “Scottish Highlands” to me, with the green yet stony hills and the rain.  Gloamwood is greener with more vegetation, and gothic spooky.

The screenshot my previous post was taken in Stonefield.

The screenshot above is taken in Gloamwoods as we approach our first town.

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The Last Valley

Really nice scenery as I made my way into the last valley in Stonefield.

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Three weeks with Rift (and plenty more to go)

I’ve really been enjoying Rift, playing since Headstart began on the 24th of February, and here it’s 13 March.

I’ve leveled one character to level 20.  Three to level 16 or so.  The Level 20 has finally left the first zone after the starter area.  (And, it turns out, the epic storyline quest remains incomplete for him.  Unstarted even.  But I did get credit for “completing” the area, with a title “the Warden” and the achievement.)

We were in the Guardian area last night with our High Elves and I keep remarking to the wife how beautiful the graphics are.  The lush forest and the play of light and shadows and verdant greenery is unmatched by anything I’ve seen.

The level 20 Warrior started as a Champion (think Arms) but has since gone Riftblade/Reaver (think Elemental Damage Dots Death Knight+Death Damage Dots Death Knight) and the dots on groups of mobs really burns them down.

However, that’s not to say he’s not a ghost right now after dropping onto an elite level 20 monster (without realizing it was elite).

But, like the achievement says, I was just there for the view.

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Rift does Elf ears right.

I offer up two screen shots showing off identical helms on different races.

This is an Eth (Human) in a plate helm.  (My two-hander wielding Champion.)

This is a High Elf in the same plate helm.  (My sword-and-board Paladin.)

I noticed it earlier on my Kelari (Dark Elf) Rogue, in that the helm he had just gotten for a quest reward had openings for his ears.* (See below.)

That’s some attention to detail.  That the ears of a character are actually taken into account by the armor.  (In WoW I remember ears and eyebrows stuck out of the equipment, making it look odd enough to need to hide the helm.)

The armor sets you see are the basic crafted set.  Three pieces, one of them the shoulders, you can wear at level 7, the other 3, including helm, at level 11.  If you’re playing Rift and wondering where the helm recipe is?  It’s found in Meridian (or Sanctum) and the recipe is available after doing some crafting dailies.  My Defiant Cleric and Guardian Warrior are both Weapon- *and* Armorsmiths, in addition to mining.  (My Rogue (Defiant) and Mage (Guardian) are the foragers who get the things like leather and wood and such that some weapons and armor need.)

Are holes in helms for elves with big ears the sign of a “next-generation” MMO?  Jein. I submit they are a step in the right direction.

On this quest reward helm the ear holes look like they’ve been punched with a square punch.  (The crafted helm ear openings are much better done.)

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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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