For those of you who have already reached level 60, there are some nice new activities headed your way. There's a new Chronicle called A Hero Rises, and as with the other Chronicles, it will give players a chance to experience the endgame storyline even if they don't raid. Also, the third tier of Planar Attunement is up and includes the ability to summon your group at any rift that matches the planar type you've selected. In addition to the group summon, each planar group has the usual stat increase to attacks, movement, and resists, as well as a unique ability for each plane. Fire, for instance, gives you the ability to take 20% of incoming damage and deal it back to the enemy for either two minutes or 25,000 damage. Life has a short team heal and endurance buff, while death has a lifetap that deals about 2,000 damage and heals for nearly that amount. As of the the time of this writing, PvP does not have new Planar Attunement abilities, but there should be plenty to spend those PA points on overall.
Of course, the holiday world event is returning to RIFT, but there are some new activities and goodies in addition to the fun stuff from last year's event. There's a sled race out in Iron Pine Peak, and an NPC at each city will offer an instant port to the sled location. There are two repeatable quests: One has you barreling down the mountain to knock over snowmen, while the other asks you to launch yourself off of a ramp to fly through several purple gates. The sled is hilariously fun, but unfortunately, it poofs once you're at the bottom of the course, smashing my dreams of scooting around Dusken and Brevane on a little red sled. Fortunately, there's a snowball fight quest that asks you to hit others (and get hit yourself as well), so I was able to channel my disappointment in a positive way.
In addition to the special merchant, there are a few new merchants in each city, and the selection of Yule items is much more varied than last year, although everything is still purchased with the unique snowflake currency that we saw last year. There are three Vaiyuu mounts now, rather than two, and there's a nice 28-slot bag available as well. There are also some nice pieces of level 58 gear, including a blue planar essence and a hat that can be upgraded to a purple level 60 hat with a purchased item called Spirit of the Season. And there's a new dimension vendor that sells a variety of Fae Yule decorative items, including trees, lights, and candy canes.
If all the merriment makes your inner grinch want to spread some misery, you'll be able to in the new Fae Yule-themed Whitefall Steppes warfront. In a neat little twist, one player is randomly selected to be "Santa Claws," and he'll get a special buff and illusion to complete the role. However, whoever kills Santa becomes the new Santa, so the hunter is also the hunted. Lastly, there are many new achievements coming with Update 2.1 that players can acquire by completing the new content.
While there's quite a bit already on PTS that I was able to check out, it's only part of what's coming in Update 2.1. There's a new 20-man raid on the way, and along with the usual class tweaks, Warriors are getting some extra attention. There were a few bugs with some of the Warrior abilities that are getting fixed, and Trion is bumping up tank mitigation with buffs that should correct things.
Overall, I think the Fae Yule world event comes at a great time because it's a nice respite from the dark and intense zones of Storm Legion. In addition, it should bring higher-level players back to the cities and connect them with the lower-level population. Usually, when an MMO launches an expansion, there's an inevitable stretching out of the population, and that leads to gaps where some zones feel empty. Because of RIFT's mentoring, IAs, and world events, there's more of a bridge between the two ends of the spectrum. Even though I'm used to the regularly paced update schedule, I was surprised to see 2.1 already hitting PTS. It's a nice sign of how planned out the game is, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.
Whether they're keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan and Justin Olivetti save Telara on a weekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT, from solo play to guild raids, their column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen and Justin for questions, comments, and adulation.