It has been two years since we saw the release of the Storm Legion expansion to RIFT, which came when the game still was a pay 2 play game. But now, their second expansion named Nightmare Tide been brought upon us like a sudden wave, washing away our characters to new shore. Unlike last time RIFT saw an expansion, the game is now free to play and so is the expansion. So everyone with the game will be prompted to download the new update, and if you have a level 60 character, you can visit the nearest porticulium master and go to the water plane. You can also buying one of their three collector’s edition packages, which will grant you everything from an awesome shark mount to a level 60 boost for one character.
The Water Plane
For those out there who still haven’t heard about this new expansion, it is one which takes place in the water plane, which means it is under water. My first thought when the expansion was reveled late this summer were about The Guild with the beautiful Felicia Day. In it she works for the developer for “The Game”, who are going to make a new expansion, which is set under water. And there are a lot of funny jokes about how bad an underwater world would be in an MMO, but now it is here, and can it really work?
When first entering the water plane, I’m amazed by how beautiful this underwater world is, and how fun it is to move around in the water parts. Guild Wars 2 was one of the first game to really introduce big underwater areas, where we could swim for how long we wanted and do a lot of “quests” under water. But I never really felt as they used the depths and levels which moving underwater areas can give. This is something Nightmare Tide manages to do a lot better, when moving in the water areas of the game, you really get the sense that you are deep underwater, and objectives can be hidden among corals, on ledges at different levels in the water, or above the water just floating around. But for being in the water plane, there is a lot less water than I would have imagined. Still, moving around the other areas is a very nice addition to the game. The first zone Goboro Reef is very the water parts are, and this is a great new zone where you go through walls of water. The second new zone is, Draumheim, and it feels like moving around in “The Little Mermaid”, the whole town is more or less an underwater city, without the water. The last zone is called Traken Glacier, and while it is a quite boring zone with little to look at, but the vast and huge icy landscape with a ceiling of water makes for hunting rifts.
Apart from three new zones, we are given a fair amount of new content for or based on those zones. As always we have the obligatory quest line pushing the player’s trough all new zones, and teaches us new aspects of the game. The story itself is pretty much the same as the rest of RIFTs story, very mediocre and filled with clichés. The quests themselves follow the classic concept of kill quest and fetch quest which are getting boring by now, but everyone can stand doing them while leveling.
In PvP we can find the new map Ghar Station Eyn, which is set in the area of Draumhein. It is a big city map which looks great, which is to be expected since the zone itself looks good. But I don’t think one map is enough to justify the expansion for the PvP players. In the PvE section there is also a new kind of rifts, called nightmare rift. Nightmare rifts come in the usual lesser and greater rifts, so they can be played while leveling and not only in the endgame. These rifts do not have any set of stages, but every stage and boss battle is randomized, and the rift will be pouring out new stages while the timer last. I found the nightmare rifts to actually be more enjoyable than regular rift, both while leveling, but especially in the endgame, since they gave nice loot quickly. It was also fun to try and beat my previous record on how many stages I with the public group managed to get to until it ended.
The expansion also introduces four new souls to play around with, one for every class. While I do like how new souls add more variations to how you can play, and can add a more personal touch on how each and every player plays. These new souls are pretty much the same as already existing souls. It won’t take long until they are either incorporated in standard builds or forgotten since no one wants them used in a raid. In the five new levels players won’t be getting more soul points, instead at each level they’re given a mastery. Masteries are a set of four new skills per level from level 61. The choice you make is not locked, so you are free to change when out of combat. I really appreciate this new approach to added levels in an MMO, and my guess is that this way will create less balancing problems than the regular way. And to get a set of completely new skills for each new level is a great way to make the game interesting once again.
A new and somewhat unique addition to RIFT comes in the form of a card game called Minions. In your adventures in Telara, you can by quest or loot receive minion cards. You can then use these cards in a mini card game, where you send you minion on an adventure by selecting a minion card and the adventure card you want. Then there is a set timer for every adventure where you minion is off doing something important, and upon completion, you are given resources. Think of the crafting and gathering missions of Star Wars The Old Republic, but with cards. While the card game adds a little extra to the game, it really feel plastered on there, I really wished Trion would have one all out here giving us a card game with a lot more interactive parts in it.
Learning To Swim
As always with expansions to MMOs, there is the question on how this will affect new players and players leveling alts. And like with their last expansion Storm Legion, low level characters is getting very little new from the expansion. What they are getting is the nightmare rift, which can act as a great way to level in combination with instant adventure. RIFT is also implementing a mentoring system, which makes it possible for people above level10 to mentor up to the same level as the highest one in the party, and therefore being able to enjoy all the new content in the water plane. While there are a lot of limitations, it still opens up for all players, both new and old, to enjoy the higher level content.
As for the endgame, RIFT is getting a couple of new dungeons set in the water plane, and a few of the old dungeons are coming in expert mode. But sadly the new dungeons are not adding anything new but loot the game. They look very similar to other dungeons in the game, and the bosses are mainly dealt with pure DPS, not much tactics needed for any boss. The game is also getting a new raid, to keep up with the gear grinding that RIFT has become all about. The one thing that holds Nightmare Tide up is the high level versions of nightmare rift, they for once add something a little more exciting to the game, and possibility something which can make casual players have a chance in the race towards new gear.
RIFT is still one of the few F2P games out there actually working well as an F2P game, and with Nightmare Tide they are still keeping this up, since the expansion is free for all players. But, Nightmare Tide falls short as an expansion, and looks a lot more like a huge content update. While playing through the new content, I always got the feeling that they chose to do the expansion smaller to be able and release it for free. Sure, there are five new levels, three zones and a few dungeons more, but many subscription MMOs have implemented the same amount of content over the course of a year or two. And by choosing to make it free and only making half of an expansion, I feel somewhat robbed of my new experience, even if it is a free one. I wanted a new reason to return to RIFT and to stay with the game, but all I got was a couple of weeks of entertainment, and then I ran out of content and any reason to stay with the game.
+ Beautiful and varied environments
+ Great use of water
– Not a full fledge expansion
– Boring story and dungeons
– Few reasons to stay in Telara after hitting 65.
Expansion Rating: 4/10