On July 27th, after several weeks of working towards a common goal, Runeguard and the Ascended finally breached the sealed gates of the Hammerknell Fortress. A long time ago, Hammerknell was the shining bastion of the Dwarven civilization - an underground city where dwarves created wonders of craft and magic, a place where mead-songs once rang out in the vast halls of the city, a place a that was once thriving with life...
"Close the doors. Destroy the wheel. Never let them leave. There is no one left"
Now the city lies long abandoned, its former inhabitants gone, consumed by the aberrations of death that now linger in the silent halls of Hammerknell.
New threats await the Ascended deep within the delve, but the greatest threat of all slumbers beneath the earth, a threat that would drown the entire...Oh what the heck, despite the overly dramatic start this isn't supposed to be a lore writeup - so in a much less dramatic tone, one could write that after a lenghty wait, the much anticipated raid instance "Hammerknell Fortress" finally became available in Rift. Although the world event, which could be best described as something between abysmal and poor in quality tortured the raiders for weeks with the carrot that was dangling in the end (HK access), it all turned out to be worth the wait. As Hammerknell Fortress is not only probably the best looking raid zone I have seen in any MMO, it also features several really well designed and challeging boss encounters.
Obviously for the past few weeks we've been incredibly busy kicking ass and chewing bubblegum, although truth to be told, to the raid dev teams credit, a huge portion of the time it has been the bosses kicking our ass and going all nomnom on the corpses (or something equally gross...) but hey, at least the defiant rescue medic has piled enough plats from the soul mending bills to spend rest of her days on some sunny beach sipping down cold drinks.
So, what has been going in Rift for the past few months and how far have we progressed inside Hammerknell? Read more to find out!
Approaching the half-birthday
Time simply seems to just fly by these days... September marks 6 months from Rift's launch and I have to say, it has been quite a ride so far - looking back to the time around the release, Trion stated that they would be taking an aggressive approach to patching and content additions in Rift. At that time I think many of us were quite sceptical about that statement, after all, it isn't all that uncommon practise in the MMO industry that the PR folks write up fancy tales that promise wonderful things to come but in reality it all just ends up to be building up the hype with empty promises.
I'm very happy to say though that Trion has stayed true to their promise, thus far the amount of content added in Rift is on par and in some cases even significantly more than I've seen being added in a span of 1 year in some of the other MMO's I've played... That is quite an achievement in my opinion, especially when adding that the level of QA/Testing on majority of the patches has been reasonably decent - even though there has been few of those cases where a patch has caused more issues than it fixed, but those are all part of the ups and downs every MMO has at some point of their lifespan.
What we've had so far content wise (in addition to normal tweaks/fixes/balancing etc.):
- 2 x 20 man raid zones (total of 14 bosses and 4 minibosses)
- 2 x 10 man raid zones (total of 8 bosses)
- raid rifts
- expert rifts
- crafting rifts
- pvp rifts
- alternate version of an existing warfront
- truckload of live events
- plenty of new quest content
- Scarwood Reach visual revamp
- and much more...
All in all, a whole lot of stuff - even if the focus thus far has been heavily in favour of raiders ( which from the raiders point of view is a pretty darn nice thing )
During GamesCom, Trion also spilled out some details of what's upcoming in the next few major patches (1.5, 1.6 and beyond)... These included things such as a new warfront, story driven "Chronicles of Telara" solo/duo instances, add-on support, Alternate Advancement System, Master Mode versions of existing 5 man dungeons, a couple new overland zones: Ember Isle and Planetouched Wilds, new expert and raid rifts and a new 10 man raid zone titled "Rise of the Phoenix" and some other features which will be discussed about when their release time approaches... Quite a list of things to come, eh?
Aside from that, something that may or may not be of interest to those thinking about giving Rift a try or perhaps returning to check how the things are these days: Starting from August 25th, Trion is kicking off a half-birthday celebration week for Rift which will last until September 1st. During that time, the players currently subscribing the game will receive various ingame bonuses and the new & returning players can play the full game free with no leveling or zone restrictions. For more information about that, you can check the official announcement at: http://community.riftgame.com/en/2011/08/17/rift-half-birthday-celebration-kicks-off-august-25th/
That being said, I think it is about time to move on to what we've been up to lately in Rift.
Another place, another time?
Even though the 10 man raid content isn't exactly in our guilds primary field of interest, the so called Slivers - which are the 10 man raid instances in Rift - provide a reasonably entertaining distraction for the offday raids, as well as a chance to grab some gear for alts and even on occasions a chance to grab some bits and pieces for the slots you haven't managed to fill with drops from 20 man raid instances yet.
These "slivers" provide the players with sort of an alternate dimension type of "what if" scenarios, where the things have gone from bad to worse for the Ascended and in some way or another the bad guys are now much much more powerful... Typically the bad guys are up to no good (shocking eh?), and you need to prevent the annihilation of the entire world or equally predictable but totally cliché bad thingydingy from happening.
Out of the two slivers currently ingame, "the Drowned Halls" which was recently added is aimed as an entry level raid instance that takes place in the following scenario:
|Telara is doomed, having fallen to mad Akylios. Now Hydriss, the profane dragon’s sorceress-lieutenant, masses her most vicious and sadistic servants to invade our time. These would-be conquerers, armed with the best gear Akylios’s mad genius could devise, threaten to drown us in misery. Gather your allies and turn back their tide!|
Being an entry level raid instance, I suppose it isn't much of a surprise that we pretty much flew through the instance and collected a few shiny loots in the process. Despite being an entry level raid, The Drowned Halls is a pretty fun addition to the 10 man raids available in Rift - there are a bunch of decent items on the loot tables and 2 of the boss encounters (out of total of 4 bosses), despite being very simple fights feature some rather funny encounter mechanics.
Of Madness and Ruin
Which brings us to the department of 20 man raids. It has been all about Hammerknell Fortress lately... When the patch notes for Update 1.3 hit the forums on June 22nd, many of the raiding guilds were more than happy to see the patch notes listing the much anticipated Hammerknell Fortress as one of the features in the update - Hammerknell would bring the 2nd raid tier to the game in form of a truly massive raid dungeon with 10 boss encounters and at least 1 miniboss, as expected people were eager to sink their claws on this content. But first a world event would play out, which would set out the story for Hammerknell and progress throughout various stages before the raid dungeon would be unlocked at the end of the event.
I don't think anyone could have foreseen how painful the wait for the new content turned out to be, with literally no word of the event progress schedule, people were left to speculate which would be "the day" and it certainly did not help out that it quickly became pretty apparent that the world event wasn't much to write home about. A couple weeks later, while the event had its share of fans, a good portion of people would have rated it somewhere between abysmal & poor - I thought particularly appropriate description would be that the world event felt like an pointlessly dragged on RNG based POS that would have fit better in to some korean MMO that prefers mind numbing and repetitive grinds.
A few weeks later, July 27th was revealed to be the day Hammerknell would go live... and so it did - at a worst possible timing with several guild members having a break for their summer vacations that were scheduled to start during that week, the weekend or the next.
While the waiting period was incredibly painful, I have to say Hammerknell Fortress was definitely worth it - it lived up to all of the expectations and on some departments perhaps even surpassed them. The dungeon itself is massive: It is split in 3 initial wings, one underground section, upper floor areas and somewhere deep beneath the earth should be the area where Cthul... I mean Akylios is imprisoned. Despite being a massive dungeon, visually it is truly really amazing and it is easy to see why it would be called the crown jewel of the art team - up to the date it is probably the best looking raid dungeon I have seen in any MMO.
So now we come to the boss encounters, which have been well designed and challegnging so far - some even to the point of being nerve wracking due to no margin for error. I think it speaks well of the boss designs that no guild thus far have cleared Hammerknell fully.
Speaking of the boss encounters, the first one of them is Murdantix (unfortunately i don't have a screenshot to post), a fairly standard encounter mechanics / gear check fight that acts as sort of a guardian to see if your raid is well enough prepared to tackle the other bosses of Hammerknell. As expected, Murdantix fell down fairly quickly although this time around we lost the shard first kill on the boss by 2 minutes.
After killing Murdantix, we were presented with a choice of 3 different wings... We picked our route and eventually arrived at a boss called Soulrender Zilas, who (with typical Xanadu luck) turned out to have a reset bug, preventing the encounter mechanics from fully reseting after the boss has reached a certain hp % - which essentially meant that the boss was borderline impossible to kill as after a wipe, the boss reset but the mechanic that periodically requires players to get near Zilas was looping and kept 2 shotting anyone who wasn't near him. As we decided to head to another wing, we then received a realm wide broadcast message informing us that the King Molinar & Prince Dollin encounter had been disabled due to the prince attempting a coup by abusing an exploit - at that point, we simply decided to call it a night. It definitely wasn't the most ideal launch day for the dungeon, but then again encounter bugs are nothing new on the bleeding edge of raiding.
The next day we started working on the Matron Zamira encounter, making reasonable progress on it. Eventually the Soulrender Zilas encounter was back to a working state - we changed our focus back to him, which eventually turned out to be a bad choice. Being indecisive as we are, at some point we switched back to working on the Matron Zamira encounter and following the trend that started with Murdantix, we lost the shard first kill on Matron Zamira although this time it was by 21 minutes.
This of course meant that we were now more determined than ever, after all - we now had some competition on the server. We shifted our focus back to Soulrender Zilas and after countless of wipes - on August 14th, the king of RNG fell, this time as a shard first kill.
Which was quickly followed by the miniboss, Vladmal Prime on August 15th in the underground section of Hammerknell...
At this point, it came down to a choice from 3 boss encounters... Either King Molinar & Prince Dollin, Grugonim or Sicaron. In this particular case, the choice wasn't all that difficult and we decided to start working on Sicaron - who not only looks totally badass, but was also somewhat jokingly titled as the "guild killer" due to the fact that the encounter is rather execution heavy and a single mistake is enough to wipe the entire raid. So we headed down to the death corrupted Mausoleum area of Hammerknell and pretty soon, we ran in to Sicaron...
Although I can't quite tell if thats a smile on Sicaron's face (maybe it has a deal with the soul mender and knows he/it is about to become filthy rich or something)... Anyway, Sicaron is pretty keen on the saying "Feel the pain of a thousand deaths!", whether this is intended as a lore related voice over or simply a devious developer predicting the outcome of the encounter - it certainly felt like a very appropriate choice of words, as the amount of wipes on this encounter was rather high.
Regardless, eventually we got the execution and the DPS right and on August 22nd Sicaron fell down as yet another shard first kill.
Well well... That ended up to be a lot longer bit of news than I had planned but I think that's about it for now folks. In the meanwhile we'll wait for the update 1.5 and the upcoming AA system, as well as focus on downing more bosses at Hammerknell Fortress - after all, there's plenty of them left, so expect news of more boss kills soonish!
Oh and what would our news be without the usual random, odd and downright awkward quotes from chat... After all, I've had plenty of time to gather some.
Choose your next words carefully...
Well that's new... Uh, are we raiding a panty drawer or something?
Uh oh... So what's next, asking for some lashes with a riding crop?
If you want to say something that comes out the wrong way... This would be a good choice.
Uhh... Are you absolutely sure the cat is ok?
[ Last modified by Ayame 2011-08-23 22:27 (Full Log)]