ZAM Staff Writer Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland Tries Out 1.6's Ember Isle
Ember Isle, in all its denoted glory! I primarily explored the west and south sides.
Last week, I was able to go to San Francisco for a discussion with Design Producer Hal Hanlin and to test the newest patch in Rift. Currently 1.6 is on several testing servers, and during my time in the game I was able to see many other players running around the content. I focused primarily on three topics: the lore behind Ember Isle and its spirits; the new Onslaught mechanic; and the style and variety of the terrain. Read on to get my personal “feel” for Ember Isle, and what players can look forward to!
The account I used for the test was already set up with several level 50s, from both the Guardian and Defiant factions. I first tested out an Eth rogue, who I respecced as Saboteur, as that's the calling I use primarily on my main character. The gear on these characters is top-notch; for example, I had the legendary Soliton Blade equipped as one of my weapons. Naturally, this means that my character has a huge leg-up compared to many players or fresh 50s who would try this out; of course, it also helped equalize the fact that I wasn't completely comfortable with playing the new character. After properly setting up my character and rebinding the keys, I used my temporary GM powers to teleport to Ember Isle. I noticed that I had several quests already from the last person who played on the account, so I set about with them first.
Ah, Lizardmen. Everywhere they are found, trouble follows.
Some of the first quests involved uncovering some hidden enemies; the location of these enemies was surrounded by level 52 goblins. Now, bearing in mind I was a bit rusty at playing Rift and I didn't have the key bindings completely right, but every fight was taking me to half health, requiring me to drink up to heal each time. Early on I accidentally grabbed two goblins at once, leading to my (first) death. Be warned: Ember Isle is NOT a place for sloppy pulls! I also noticed that enemy HP values were frequently displayed incorrectly; this is likely just a bug on the test realm, but my second death came from deciding to mess with an invasion boss whose Hit Points read as 11,000. Once I initiated combat, the number jumped to 37,000. Not cool.
Once I acclimated to the character a bit, combat became slightly easier; but the enemies still hit like trucks, and double-pulls would lead to death without using a potion. After completing a few quests, I noticed some spirits that Hal Hanlin had spoken about in the earlier discussion. When I went to turn in my quests at Ember Watch, the neutral base of the new Keepers of the Flame faction, I noticed several collectable books scattered through the camp that revealed additional lore about the spirits of the island. One book said that according to folklore, spirits are spawned from the Sourcewells. Sourcewells themselves are called the lifeblood of Telara, so spirits are from Telara itself. Another book said that temple spirits are incredibly important; each temple or city has its own protective spirits, which can bless the cities with good fortune, or provide water to wells, or reinforce the city walls.
A Sourcewell, upgraded and ready for action.
The importance of spirits brought up interesting differences between the Guardian and Defiant views. When I hopped on a dwarf warrior, the introductory quests in Fort Zarnost mentioned that the Guardians are actually pretty anti-spirit, while the Kelari Elves' relationship with the spirits mean the Defiant find themselves firmly pro-spirit. The neutral Keepers of the Flame seem to have a positive outlook on the spirits however, which makes me wonder if this will breed conflict in later questlines for the Guardians. As for the Keepers, they have several repeatable daily quests that reward notoriety, some experience, and an epic quality Ember Reward Bag, which contains gold and some random high-quality potions. On the test server, the idle conversation of the questgivers said: “Are you surprised at how many quests are available? Well, this is only temporary for testing purposes,” leading me to imagine there will likely be 2-3 available randomly each day instead of the seven or so that were up for us. I only continued questing on my dwarf until I reached a quest that is supposedly soloable but involved killing two enemies with 33,000 health each. There was no way I could finish that, so I decided to head back to my rogue and try out some of the Keepers of the Flame quests.