Rift: Storm Legion review

Since Rift‘s launch in March 2011, Trion has more frequently pushed new content into their popular MMO than any other subscription-based game of its ilk on the market. Rift’s first expansion, Storm Legion, strikes home with two massive new continents, an incredible player-housing system, and new class Souls. Despite the lack of new low-level content and the grindy nature of questing, Storm Legion successfully reminds old and new MMO adventurers why Rift is still a great game.

Storm Legion’s content begins on the old continent of Mathosia. The scantily clad Queen Miela will plead for your help to fend off the Storm Legion in a conflict overseas. The queen will give you a choice to aid one of the new continents, Brevane or Dusken, but you’ll explore both on your journey to level 60. This is great if you happen to already be level 50, but if you’re returning to a lower level character, you’ll need to tread through the old content before you can access the new landscape.

The diverse landscape of the new continents feels more detailed and intricate than the standard wide-open valleys found in Rift’s original content. You’ll not only find canyons with more nooks and crannies, but also full urban cities and rolling highland-inspired coastlines. A few of the new areas will feel familiar, like vastly better looking versions of Ember Isle or Shimmersand, but the majority of the new landscapes appear uniquely twisted by planar activity, with environments sculpted from hills with teeth and gums or a thorn-infested desert snowed over with pollen. The terrain’s elaborate three-dimensional layouts make for some great action during zone-wide invasions.

Storm Legion is a solid expansion.

Storm Legion has made an effort to make questing a more organic experience, but leveling from 50 to 60 is still an arduous process. You’ll find that quest hubs only contain essential story quests which work to direct you around each continent. While pursuing this saga, you’ll pick up random collection quests from objects, or automatically obtain Carnage quests by killing various enemies. Carnage quests are the definition of the tired “kill ten rats” moniker, requiring you to kill sixteen Storm Legion scouts, twelve savage scorpions, or whatever other fauna happen to be nearby. These do a great job of letting you move around the world without feeling tied to individual hubs, but the overwhelming amount of Carnage quests quickly makes the moments between story quests feel like a grind. Despite this minor annoyance to questing, leveling feels much more fluid when utilizing all of Rift’s existing, player-friendly features, such as Instant Adventures, player-versus-player Warfronts, and their Looking for Group dungeon queue system.

Storm Legion introduces four new Souls (one for each class calling), which seem particularly effective in dealing with the expansion’s tougher enemies. The Harbringer (melee mage who summons weapons), Tempest (Ranged Warrior the wields lightning), Defiler (complex cleric which creates links between players and enemies for healing and debuffs), and Tactician (awesome rogue who utilizes necrotic, ice, and flamethrowers for huge area of effect damage) all do an excellent job of providing players with a new type of gameplay for each class. Traditional specs still fare well in the new content, but each of these Souls seem designed particularly to make your lengthy leveling experience more enjoyable and easy.

But Storm Legion’s standout feature has nothing to do with progression whatsoever. Dimensions, Rift’s new player housing, is by far the most innovative housing system in the genre. Each Dimension gives you a sizable area to build whatever you can imagine with various objects purchased, collected, and crafted around the world. The Dimensions themselves come in a variety of themes and price points, from free and relatively small (earned via a quest from your faction city) to larger and more expensive. The high end Dimensions offer substantially more room to build and their own unique themes, such as the water-filled canyon from Ember Isle’s Dormant Core.

If you can’t afford to build your own fancy home (at 50 platinum, they are quite pricey), Dimensions also display a large array of social options that grant you the ability to visit other homes on your server. You can share your Dimensions with friends, guildmates, or the public. While you visit Dimensions open to the public, you’ll be able to help contribute by purchasing item limit upgrades and giving a plus-one vote for your favorites, which are tallied weekly to show off the top community-voted Dimensions. This community feature really helps you find new and creative ways to decorate your own home or to show off the 20-person hot tub you’ve made from strategically placed table textures. Each and every feature feels designed to make building and visiting player housing an easy experience.

Trion’s first attempt at an expansion has proven to be a great addition to a constantly improving game. The new class souls and Dimensions are a great welcome to the game for new and old players, and the gigantic new continents add some much-needed diversity to the end game. Storm Legion proves, once again, that Rift is a game worth revisiting time and time again.

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