When it was originally released, RIFT was supposed to be the World of Warcraft killer. Fans of MMOs had been clamoring about how Trion's big baby was going to bring something new in terms of gameplay. graphics and depth to force Blizzard's hand into making their juggernaut better. After all, competition does breed innovation.
Regretfully, the expectations of RIFT fell short and the original release, while good, was nothing groundbreaking that would rattle the chain that WoW had on the MMO world. Well Trion's new baby, RIFT: Storm Legion, is more of all the expectations people had been hoping for from the original and more than just a simple expansion. Come see why.
You get a richer experience that goes beyond simple menial tasks and continually stopping rifts. The main story circles around an evil dragon named Crucia, who is determined to take over RIFT's lands with her mechanical-ish (magitech specifically) Storm Legion. Completing each task isn't an easy job, as you have to be prepared for this story before you can even begin. Requiring a level 50 character, you can't even hope to survive in this new RIFT without being ready to go. This might be one of the few knocks on the game, as getting to level 50 in the first RIFT title might be more of a chore than you wanted, but the payoff of Storm Legion is worth it.
First, let's discuss what it does to the original release of RIFT.
Storm Legion isn't your typical expansion pack that you would find on other MMOs. You're not simply adding more content to one section of the game, and you won't go through it in a day. Instead, Storm Legion is the makeover that most fans of RIFT expected the first time around. Simply put, there's more depth here, more quests, better graphics and better ways to do things. It's as if the initial release was the foundation of a greater release, which is Storm Legion.
Starting with depth, one of the best things about Storm Legion is that it adds two more continents to the mix. You get Brevane, which is comparable to a South American Aztec setting. There are plenty of jungles, green growth and ancient ruins wrapped around new technology that stays consistent with the Storm Legion theme. The second continent is called Dusken, which is mountainous and stormy (one of my favorites). The first release of RIFT gave a constrictive feel to the gameplay, where you would visit small pockets of areas to take care of small issues in the game. It never felt like an expansive world that held untold tales and secrets. Storm Legion rectifies and corrects it, expands it and makes the experience feel like it's an exploration into unknown parts. Say what you will, but having that feeling of 'infinite' landscape is vital for immersing oneself into an MMO. That's one of the reasons why WoW works so well because it's so darn big, or at least it seems to be. Trion seemed to want that to happen with the first release, but for some reason it never came to fruition. Storm Legion makes the world of RIFT bigger.
With the expansive world comes better graphics. One of the more blandish parts of the initial RIFT release was how it looked. I remember it was supposed to exceed the graphics of World of Warcraft, which isn't hard considering how long WoW has been out (and not updated enough to support better visuals). What came out of RIFT was neat once-in-a-while effects and a little better character details, but the initial landscape was bland. This time around, everything seems to have a bit more life to it. The landscape seems to move and shift in the distant. For example, when a RIFT storm is brewing, you can see it detailed in the distance moving and forming from the clouds. The lighting effects and shadowing seem to have been improved in this expansion release. Another example is Brevane, which has large spiked vines reaching from the ground and crawling up (and over) the walls of the Eternal City that is surrounded by jungle. This is the RIFT everyone expected originally and it's breathtaking in MMO standards.
So, you should expect a bigger RIFT experience thanks to the expansion. You should expect better details and a greater world to play in. This isn't simply an expansion, it's a complete experience makeover.
Now, let's get to the finer details of Storm Legion.
The first thing you will notice, or eventually notice, is the ability to acquire four new souls in the game. The new souls add more dimension to characters and allows characters to break free from their classes. Here's what to expect:
Harbringer: This soul conjures up weapons made of energy (like two vicious blades). Good for close combat characters and nasty when properly used. A mage with melee weapons is the best way to describe them.
Tempest: Very useful when long range, this soul uses lightning as its strong suit. Limited in damage, but still very useful in groups on the outside.
Tactician (favorite): Guns and healing, what more could you ask for? My favorite of the group and certainly with its flaws, but still the most worthwhile in my opinion.
Defiler (second favorite): For the magic lovers out there, you can cast ranged spells that destroy anything in their path and heal with this soul. If you're good with the magic then this might be the way you want to go.
You'll use your souls well with the adventure that Trion has laid out for you in Storm Legion. The souls are well thought out characters that really do offer up something for everyone. I'm impressed by what Trion did in this area.
Speaking of areas, RIFT: Storm Legion introduces another feature called 'Dimensions'. Dimensions are spots that players can build a home of their own in the game to teleport to at any given time. Players can customize their Dimension to pretty much build what ever they want. It's a neat thing, as most MMOs simply give you space to put things in, rather than to build and personalize. Picture a small area where you can literally just do what you want to make it your own and you've got the idea of Dimensions. It's a very neat add-on that brings players closer to the world that Trion built, which again is the building blocks to a lasting MMO.
With all this positive, where is the negative with Storm Legion? The only negative that I can really take out of this is there are still too many menial tasks spread out in the game. At times, RIFT: Storm Legion becomes an ADD kid's dream. You can go on a quest, but stray when you see something off in the distance that you want to go explore. Once you get there, you might find yourself on another quest that is less relevant, but now clutters up your HUD. If you find too many things to do then it waters down the experience. I know this is mostly player driven, but if Trion could make some of the smaller quests either go away or more meaningful then it won't seem confusing or a waste of time. I fully understand this is just nitpicking, but it is something that takes away from the main body of the game.
Having said all this, the game is still incredibly deep and rich content. There's plenty of meaningful quests to accomplish in the game, new dungeons that are worthwhile to explore, all while staying on task with the main quest. There's so much to do and explore that I'm still dumbfounded by incredible upgrade to the RIFT experience that Storm Legion brings to the table. While it's not a $14.99 expansion, rather $40, it's worth every damn penny if you love the game. It really does provide a better overall experience than what initially came with the first RIFT release. One only has to wonder what's in store for RIFT players on the next go around of the title. Maybe it can teach WoW a thing or two. Now, if only The Secret World would get its head out of its caboose and reach this level of depth, then we would have a nice MMO war going on.