Is it really that time again? Indeed, it is time for some news from our Rift branch. Come to think of it, it has been quite a while since the previous set of news - nearly 4 months to be exact. Past few months have been both uneventful and eventful: When looking from the raid progress point of view, things have been rather uneventful or at least they were until February which is when we started making a good progress on Akylios and finally on February 28th, we killed Akylios!
What else has been going on? What kind of recipe we used to make Calamari Stew from Akylios? Read more to find out!
Tales of Telara
I know I've said this before and could probably keep yapping on about it until everyone is bored of hearing about it (or maybe you are already), but I'm still so impressed about the pace Trion keeps pushing out new content, anyway I guess that'll do for that subject. Now as far as the new content goes, there's been a decent amount of it in the past 4 months.
First up we got the Ember Isle, which is the largest overland zone in the game up to this date. While the screenshots don't really do the place any justice, I have to say the isle itself is stunningly beautiful - sunny blue skies, a lush jungle with scenic waterfalls and such. All over the isle you can find ruins of the temples and cities built by the Kelari that used to inhabit the isle before their exodus to Freemarch, many of these ruins are partially overgrown with vegetation, although some of them are still in use by the tribal like Kelari who chose to stay behind.
At the centre of the isle stands Mount Carcera, an ominous looking volcano which is said to be the place where Maelforge, the dragon of fire is imprisoned within.
Entire zone was designed for the players at the level cap and as such, content there is slightly more challenging than in the original areas of the game. There are roughly 70+ new quests, lots of repeatable quests, new achievements, puzzle, zone events and the isle also features sort of an in-built tower defense type of minigame. Within a few of the quest centers at the isle, there are defense arcs, healing wells and turrets which players can repair/upgrade and the mobs can destroy. If a defense arc is destroyed, it results in the mobs taking over the outpost - these are utilized in the new Onslaught daily quests which trigger waves of incoming invasions at an outpost against which you need to defend as well as in the zone events.
Just like with every other overland zone in Rift, there is a dungeon (in some zones it is a raid instance) within the Ember Isle called Caduceus Rise - CR is slightly less linear experience compared to other dungeons in Rift and in fact due to the size of the dungeon, the expert version of CR is split to two different instances, lower & upper. However, in the master mode version of CR, you'll tackle on the entire dungeon and its 11 bosses which can easily take up to couple hours if not more depending on your group setup/gear and such.
On the raid department, a couple new raid rifts have been added which are fairly casual in terms of their difficulty. As well as a new 10 man raid instance called Rise of the Phoenix, which roughly equals Hammerknell in difficulty and the loot quality - on the positive side, the boss encounters are RotP are rather entertaining for a 10 man instance.
Other new features worth mentioning are Instant Adventures, which could be best described as, click a button to join a zerg at either Stillmoor or Shimmersand and then the zerg is given small tasks that take them around the zone which they can complete for fast XP and other rewards. River of Souls: Chains of Death - Chronicle instance which gives solo/duo players a chance to take a look at the River of Souls raid zone along with an unique plot tailored for the chronicle. Also as somewhat of a rarity in MMO's these days, even the roleplayers haven't been forgotten when it comes to content additions:
Perhaps on slightly amusing side, after the ingame weddings went live, Trion aimed to become Guinness World Record holders for the most in-game marriages in a 24 hour period and succeeded with 21,879 ingame marriages in 24 hours. How cute!
Calamari Stew with Garlic Toast
When we first attempted Akylios in November, I don't think any of us could have forseen how much of a struggle the next few months would prove to be to the guild. Already at November our roster size was significantly smaller than it used to be, as we had been bleeding out members at a steady rate ever since Hammerknell Fortress launched and things weren't looking too good on the recruitment side either.
During December the raid attendance hit pretty much all time low and we lost a few more people, some due to being frustrated over the raid situation, some due to RL things and of course there was also the SW:TOR launch - ultimately it all brought the guild to the verge of not even being able to field a full raid during majority of the raid days. By the end of December, things were looking bad, incredibly bad: It had reached the point where the game had become a source of frustration and stress, rather than fun and I think it may come as a surprise to some, but there was a time when Sondrax & I were seriously considering closing down the Rift branch.
Finally in January, things started to look better on the recruitment department - it was pretty clear that many other guilds had experienced similar struggles during Nov/Dec and some had folded as a result and of course, there were folks who had checked out SW:TOR and noticed that while the journey from 1-50 was indeed quite a blast, the endgame lacked longevity and much of the endgame content was poorly balanced and bugged, which to be blunt was a mess compared to the endgame in Rift.
Roster size kept growing (although we still have room for more, so keep those applications coming!), new apps were getting kitted out with HK gear and Akylios progression was back on the track.
Akylios encounter is an incredibly well done multi-phase fight - the fight itself is quite demanding with a lot of things going on especially in the latter phases. By the time we started our proper progression, the encounter had been lowered in difficulty both by some bug fixes/tweaks, tuning the DPS requirement to be a bit more forgiving and of course, players had the planar attunement bonuses - still it was a good challenge.
First phase of the fight takes place at a small pier in the harbor area somewhere at the depths of Hammerknell Fortress. You fight against Jornaru (an Abyssal Cultist who is attempting to free Akylios), who keeps casting damage dealing geysers on the ground, summoning waves of mobs from the surrounding waters and occasionally creating three tidal waves that sweep across the pier in an attempt to knock people off to the water for an instant kill. Eventually Jornaru retreats and manages to break Akylios' bindings which causes a brief earthquake resulting in a portion of the roof collapsing down in to the waters, the raid must immediately move ahead and jump to the new platform that is formed from the fallen debris. Few seconds after Jornaru appears on a floating bit of debris and proceeds to cast a spell that covers the entire pier in watery stuff which will instantly kill you didn't move to the new platform.
Second phase of the fight consists of Akylios' gigantic tentacles trying to crush you & nuke you to bits, while Jornaru keeps summoning more of minions from the water and occasionally attempts to nuke a random person with a projectile orb that uses a split damage mechanic. After hurting enough many of Akylios' tentacles you manage to anger him, which triggers another earthquake resulting in yet another portion of the roof collapsing. Once again, you need to move fast to the next platform, as soon after Akylios will crush the previous platform with his tentacles and anyone caught in the way will be sleeping with the fishes for the rest of the encounter. (at this point, falling to the water means you cannot be rezzed, so you're out for the rest of the fight)
Third phase begins with killing a few more tentacles and then Akylios himself emerges from the water...
Fortunately at this point, Jornaru has run out of minions to summon - so he just settles to trying to occasionally nuke someone with the orb I mentioned previously. Meanwhile Akylios will employ a series of tricks in an attempt to deal with the pesky raiders, a breath attack which will hit either left, middle or right side of the platform, a mind decay mechanic where 3 raid members become infected with mind decay and must immediately gather next to each other, if the players fail that they are driven mad by Akylios (mind control) and start attacking their own raid members. In addition to that, every now and then some smaller tentacles will pop up from the water to nuke the raid and if left alive for too long they will heal Akylios - occasionally Akylios submerges back to the depths and attempts to kill the raid with a bunch of tentacles.
Eventually you damage Akylios enough to trigger the fourth phase and Jornaru teleports down from his floating platform and joins the fray. Raid must then deal with both of the bosses at same time, with all of the encounter mechanics used in the 3rd phase but also with the addition of Jornaru summoning the three Tidal Waves again in an attempt to sweep people off the platform. Eventually Akylios gains one more ability where he attemps to bore in to the mind of a certain raid member and in the process creates a massive sized channeled AOE around the targetted person. Once you've damaged Akylios enough, the fight enters the last phase where Akylios no longer submerges - at that point the raid needs to drop Akylios to 1% health (he cannot die while Jornaru still lives) and then proceed to kill Jornaru. Akylios enrages from the death of his loyal servant and then the raid must DPS him down before the frenzied squid kills everything on the platform.
That being said, apologies for the somewhat poor screenshot quality regarding Akylios... But the giant squid thing doesn't give a metric shit about posing for the screenies, it just wants to kill you... Now ain't that just plain rude!
Seeing as Akylios was such a meanie who tried to drown entire Telara in a flood of madness, wouldn't it be just appropriate if someone would instead make something helpful out of him? Like cooking a tasty calamari stew out of him? Plus I've heard some of the guys in the guild need to learn to cook, so it's like swatting two flies in one stroke - considering how gigantic Akylios is, I guess you'd end up feeding at least half the Telara with it.
Oh and I wasn't kidding about the recipe earlier!
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, cut in 1/2
1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds calamari (squid), bodies thinly sliced and tentacles whole
Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a medium pot. Add the garlic and let cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, white wine, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the calamari and stir to combine. Continue to cook until the mixture comes back up to a simmer, about 2 more minutes. Serve immediately with the Garlic Toasts.
Might need to adjust the recipe a bit on the tentacle size though...
As usual, Trion is busy coming up with some new content to chew at: First up is the Carnival of the Ascended world event which is scheduled to launch later on at evening tonight (Feb 29th), which as the name might imply is a party event that celebrates the 1 year anniversary of Rift. Event is supposed to include things like carnival games, piñata's scattered across Telara, chances to relive some historic events along with a horde of new fluff items to obtain such as masks, cute minipets and even a couple new mounts which are both very nice looking.
As an example, one of the carnival masks and a cute little Laethys balloon:
Also sometime in close future (probably in a month or maybe bit more), we're going to have Update 1.8: While the update details haven't been announced officially, there are a lot of class tweaks being tested on the PTS, as well as a new PvP warfront. Last but not least, a new 20 man raid zone is currently undergoing some testing, although not much of details are known about it yet: Currently it is being referred to as "Infernal Dawn" and players expect that the zone revolves around the newly forged alliance of fire & earth dragon cults and the fire dragon Maelforge, who is imprisoned within the volcano at the Ember Isle. There have been some speculations about a possible April release (which would probably time in well with 1.8) due to the name of the world event phase that is taking place then - whether that happens or not, well that remains to be seen.
Apart from that, some folks datamining the Rift files did uncover some interesting things, such as a map for another new overland zone which may or may not be called Planetouched Wilds, models of Estrian architecture as well as a continent layout that looks nothing like currently ingame. However, none of these are officially announced and as such remain a pure subject of speculation - one thing is sure though, it looks to be shaping up to an interesting 2nd year for Rift.
Fortunately, or unfortunately this time around - there will be no quotes, as I forgot to backup my archive of quotes while formatting my comp a few weeks back. I suppose I could have added a few recent quotes, but lets face it - some stuff is better left unseen.
[ Last modified by Ayame 2012-02-29 18:38 (Full Log)]