Monday, January 3, 2011

Rift Beta 3... Or "Greetings fellow Air-Breather" PART ONE

This past week, from December 28 - December 31, was the latest closed beta session for RIFT... Beta 3. Now during this beta we were asked to play EITHER Guardian OR Defiant from level 1-20 and evaluate both the leveling system, all the soul class options available, and perhaps engage in a little pvp and major world events.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun this entire experience was. Added to my enjoyment was the fact that one of my dear friends from Second Life, decided to join me on this endeavor. She was lucky to have gotten a VIP beta key, so she too was in like Flynn. This short tale will recount our story as we leveled to 20 and had a blast in the Defiant side of things...

First thing I did was kill off the old, guardian Belenos. No offense to anyone but I am not white... the toon looks nothing like me, so it had to go. Besides, I wanted to be a defiant anyway, so this gave me the perfect opportunity. If only we had such redos in life...

Behold the NEW Belenos-

Still a cleric, still decided to go with Inquisitor as my main soul... partly for RP purposes, partly because the skill tree actually looked pretty offensive (as opposed to defensive).

Now I might segue to add that even though the Eth race are a bit darker than the Mathosians from the last beta, I am still not quite seeing "African" colors yet... I still hope the devs can add that in. Black players may be a minority in the gaming community, but it says a lot to us that we can at least have something that looks like us... regardless if some of us are "white boys trapped in black boys' bodies".

I digress...

Ok so... new cinematic aside, and with Swiftsure (my SL partner) on her newly created toon, we both awake inside the appropriately named Life Factory.

Act I- The Uncertain Future

Map of Starting area- Terminus

For the Defiant side, our game starts in the future. (Guardian is in the past). When we are brought back to life we are brought smack dab into the apocalypse, armageddon, ragnarok if you will.... Or to put it bluntly... the world is FUBAR! The Guardians are all but dead, the cities destroyed, the world torn apart and only a small group of Defiant remain steadfast in this grim scene. We are immediately told that the last great hope for civilization lies in our hands. As engineered Ascendants we are tasked to getting to a time machine they have created for the sole purpose of putting us back in time to a point where it is believed that future, that present could be CHANGED. Yes it is the classic paradox, except I do not meet my own grandfather and kill him.

With our mission clear, Swiftsure and I walked out to greet the dawn of the last day on Telara.

First thing we did was group up. As two of the last survivors on Telara, we may as well stick together. We made our way through a perilous course of insane Telaran husks, and other citizens who have gone mad in the apocalypse, eventually reaching the place where Asha Catari had rounded up the remnants of her guard. Our first task it would seem was to get the time machine working again. All the efforts of the Defiant technicians, including whacking on the machines they were attempting to fix, did naught to get everything fully functional again...

During the chaos it looks like something happened to cause the power supply to go out. Perhaps an attack, all I know is it was burning and we had to put it out. Along the way we had to rescue a few trapped people, and try our damnedest to retain some semblance of order and sanity amongst this withering civilization.

Eventually we reached the machine, and I doused it with water as Swiftsure turned it on.

Ok great!

We got that working... now what. Well now we had to report to some dude named the faceless man. Apparently he used to be an Abyssal (water plane cultist) who saw the error of his ways and sided with the Defiant. Nice guy, even if he is a bit touched. I should say that I know how he feels too, since I am feeling a bit touched myself. One cannot stare death in the face and witness the end of the world without being a little off kilter after that.

In any event, one of our next tasks was to take down a rogue Guardian... Not just any Guardian mind you, but none other than Shyla the Pentarch of the Vigil.... now turned Shyla the Fallen. For those who do not know, Shyla was the High Elf matriarch on the Guardian side... Well apparently (and it has been a while since I saw her) she has gone mad. She very nearly killed us all, and it pained me to do so, but she had to die. After my grim deed was complete... I have to admit... it touched me. How such a good elf could go bad... beyond me.

I had to rest for a while. It was probably just as well as Swiftsure needed some downtime also. I would not see her again until after I had completed our objectives ahead of her. As it was, fighting without her was going to be difficult. Many times over I had to back off and try again, as even though I had gained a second soul (Justicar, to add to my Inquisitor), I was still not quite powerful enough to defeat the many hordes of death.

When I got back up I was given the task of heading up to the camp halfway up the hill... Just shy of the time machine. There I met Isach, who told me how dire the situation was, but thanked me for my assistance on the way up in getting his reinforcements through the battle unscathed.

Almost there... I could feel the hands of death closing around Telara... the closer I got to the top of the mountain, the worse the feeling became. I was consumed with many thoughts... Why did the Guardians betray Telara by destroying the Defiant devices? Where were the Gods that at one time demanded my worship? They made the world, why were they absent at its near destruction? How could they let an entire world just simply DIE?

My faith was shaken to the bone as I mounted the crest of the hill and met Stavel Rosso, operator of the time machine.

We were just about to get started when I met for the first time the woman who would become a constant thorn in my side this entire beta event.... Alsbeth the Discordant. Better known as Regulos' personal witch concubine... Words cannot express how much hatred I have developed for this "woman".

After much monologuing, she decided to give me some undead creatures to keep me busy. No problem, I took them out with relative ease. A couple more spawned... again, no issue. Done in no time. Then like most villains, she decided she wanted to simply do the job herself.... uhh problem.

Enter my savior! Asha Catari and her personal guards!

I knew Swiftsure was on the way, but this could not wait, I had to work with Asha to get this witch bitch back to the hellhole she spawned from. WE did just that. By the time Swiftie made it up the hill, Alsbeth was a memory and we were facing the progenitor of doom himself... REGULOS, the Destroyer of worlds.

Asha Catari bought us all the time she could muster, and one by one Defiant ascended plunged into the time machine. I thanked her and made her a vow that when I saw her in the past I would pledge my maul, my conviction, and my life to her.

Then my world turned black. Asha Catari gave her life (again) so that we might live.

Act II- The Present Day

I don't think we are in Kansas anymore Toto...

All things considered, it was better than being at the end of the world! I waited several minutes till I finally got my bearings and saw Swiftsure materialize from the time machine, no worse for wear. In short time... pun intended, the other ascended survivors also appeared. Our presence there startled many, who were unsure if the machine would even work, but seemed like a blessing to others seeking justification and confirmation that the technology was sound.

We made our way to a built up cavern that housed some key people we needed to see, and informed them of who we were. They appeared satisfied with our identities and bade us well on our quest to get to Meridian to report to Asha Catari.

Like any good mission, it involves a LOT of side trips, whether helping other citizens, taking the time to learn how to craft, or even defeating opening water or death rifts! The Water Rifts brought me flashbacks of my time as a Guardian Inquisitor, in another life... and the many crusades to crush the cult of the Abyssal, followers of the dragon of water, Akylios the depraived. Fighting his minions brought my religious fervor back somewhat, and steeled me in the coming battles, even if I still resorted to drink after the battle was done to soothe my frazzled nerves.

The Water rifts in particular were to play a major part in my life as an ascendant this past week... as I was soon to  find. I took every opportunity to destroy every single water rift, invasion, or random npc I saw in Freemarch.

EVERY opportunity...

We found our way to King's Retreat, where we made some new friends, and we were able to learn some needed crafting skills. I will segue to say that crafting in RIFT is ridiculously easy. This can be good or bad to the average player. DO NOT come to Telara looking for a challenging crafting system that will have you solving puzzles or putting your life at risk to make 10 items... But do expect to be able to craft with great ease, so much so that you could in theory put yourself on autopilot to craft and "soul walk" around your rl house while your avatar does all the work. For the record, I do not recommend the latter as the chances are great that when you return, a planar invasion may have come through, and killed you!

As time went on, we found that doubleteaming rifts, and enemies, as well as doing missions together was in fact the BEST way to level up in Telara. Since Swiftie is a rogue, and I a cleric, we make a great combination that could handle MOST things that popped up to try and kill us. Just as it was going oh so well for us, we ran into an old friend again....

This witch.

OMG! I want to kill her... AGAIN! Perhaps if I could kill her that would have saved us all the problems in the future we just came from. Sadly... she disappeared before I could put my maul in her head. Her demise would have to wait...

By evening time we had made it to Kelari Refuge, a startling little shantytown on the beach, encased within a natural U shaped bay, and definitely off the beaten path enough so as to not be TOTALLY overrun by rifts.

It was here I decided to call it a night, as did Swiftsure. We agreed to meet up the next day for more fun adventures.

As I sat watching the glorious sunset at Kelari Refuge... I was reminded that at times... yes, Telara can be absolutely beautiful.


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