Tales From Telara Episode 1: We’re Not In Azeroth Anymore

by on March 10, 2011

Welcome to a slightly different GodisGeek feature as we take a look at Trion Worlds’ Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, Rift. Instead of rushing a week 1 review, we decided to take our time bringing you regular updates detailing our time in the world of Telara.

In this first episode we see how Trion Worlds’ MMORPG did at launch and take a look at some of the level 1-20 content.

Queue times are down to the server you choose

Launching an MMO is always a massive task, with thousands of users excited to login for the first time you need a good number of stable servers that can carry the load.

I started the download on the Rift client late on Thursday night just a few hours after the pre-order head start had begun. I let the client download overnight and logged in for the first time on Friday morning to find a good number of servers available for selection. I decided to make my first character on a server with a medium population as I didn’t fancy rolling on a highly populated server which could mean long queue times just to get in and I did not wish to play on a dead server with too few players. Playing on a medium server seems to be just about the right decision, the longest queue time I have experienced is 27 minutes at a peak time with most logins going through swiftly with no queue time at all. I spoke to some players that rolled on a high population server, they were regretting the decision after facing wait times of 5 hours plus. Five hour queue’s are not acceptable but hardly the developers fault. It is really up to players to make a balanced decision when choosing a server, if you are planning to play with friends then it best to choose a low-mid population server where there is room to grow.

No queue times on Icewatch

Normally big MMO’s such as Rift have teething problems at launch, server crashes and emergency down times which have plagued many an MMO launch seem to be non existent with Rift. The developers have done a really good job to make sure their tech works and is solid all of the time. Never has there been a time that I have been unable to login to my chosen shard (server) and carry on my adventure through the world of Telara which is very pleasing.

So it begins…

I started off playing as a Defiant Mage but soon changed to a Guardian Elf Warrior so that I could hook up with a friend. Both starting areas are pretty standard level 1-10 affairs which do well to teach you the basics of MMO gameplay, if you have played any fantasy MMORPG’s in the past then you know what the deal is here. The start area ends nicely with a scripted Rift event and sets you up for your travels in the rest of Telara.

After completing the opening zone as a Guardian I found myself in the leafy land of Silverwood. I completed the opening quests of the zone and soon found myself near a mailbox which I used to access some of the collector edition goodies. One such goodie was a 60% speed Tartagon mount! If you do not happen to have a collectors account then you can purchase your first mount as soon as you collect enough coins and find the appropriate vendor, the lowbie 60% speed mount costs 5 platinum which is roughly equivalent to 5 of your World of Warcraft gold coins.

Mounts are not the only form of speedy travel, and each race has an out of combat ability which can increase speed or launch you faster to your chosen destination. My High Elf Warrior has the “Angelic Flight” ability which allows flight every 15 seconds whilst Mathosians (the human looking guys) can run 30% faster for a short period of time.

Things are a little green in Silverwood

Questing is your usual affair of kill 10 of these and gather 10 of those

The bread and butter of any MMO is it’s quest content and apart from the Rift events, Trion Worlds’ game does little to stray from the fantasy MMO path. Most of the quests from level 1-20 consist of killing 10 of this and collecting 10 of those. Having played MMO’s consistently over the past 6 years or so I have to admit that fatigue has set in when it comes to this style of gameplay. I found myself growing bored of the repetitive quest content and limited my play time to 2 hour sessions in an attempt to keep things fresh. To be fair to the developers there are a lot of quests in Silverwood, the zone cannot be faulted for a lack of leveling content.

Away from the questing action you can gain some much needed experience in dungeons, PvP Warfronts and Rifts.

Rifts mix things up and keep you on your toes

You cannot get too far in the world of Telara without seeing, hearing or feeling the effects of a Rift event. Rift events are random and vary in size. You can find small rifts which spawn just a few weak mobs whilst at the other end of the scale you can encounter zone-wide invasions which are simply impossible to ignore. I really like the way that rifts require no work to get into. If you happen to be standing by a rift, a “join public group” button will pop-up allowing you to band together with nearby players.

Rifts do well to reward active players with planar currency which can be used to buy gear, planar spells and sigils. Loot from rifts are awarded directly to players, so there is no need for a loot master when it comes to public events. I managed to nab an epic shard for myself after downing a major rift boss and it is pretty cool donning purple items at low levels to give you an edge whilst leveling.

Well that wasn't there before...

Rifts can also be annoying at times! If you leave a rift open for too long you can expect a war party to break out and go in search of the nearest quest hub. Quest hubs can and will be captured if left undefended. If you were hoping to hand in that quest you just completed then you may have some work to do first.

Professions are actually useful

Being quite a big World of Warcraft player I am used to having a pretty useless crafting profession in blacksmithing. Most WoW crafting professions are good for a few decent epic items at the level cap but do little to help you on your way to that cap. Crafting professions in Rift are surprisingly useful if you pay attention to them. I chose to take the role of a weaponsmith with mining and foraging as my 2 gathering choices. I tended to my weapon crafting regularly through out my time in Silverwood creating tin then copper items, each new 2 handed item which I created replaced whatever quest item I had been using which felt great! My crafting profession was actually being used as I leveled it.

Another interesting ability to go with my crafting profession is the salvage weapon ability. As a weaponsmith I can salvage any weapon and regain some materials to use on my next piece of craftsmanship. It all makes for a somewhat pleasing and worthwhile crafting experience.

Thoughts so far

Just 2 or 3 months ago, few people knew about Rift but Trion Worlds’ MMORPG has surprised a few of us and with a solid start that has certainly won over a fair share of MMO fans. I did not expect Rift to be so feature rich and a lot of features which other games take years to implement are available from the start, making the trip from Azeroth to Telara that much smoother. Most MMORPG’s flatter to deceive with promises of grandeur but the guys over at Trion Worlds have kept things simple whilst adding their own spice into the mix.

This first week of gameplay has been promising, some of the quest content has been repetitive at times but there is certainly enough on offer to keep the experience feeling fresh.

Rift is available now for PC. Check back soon for the next “Tales from Telara” episode!