*note: i may be a little bias due to the issues at the bottom, but try and read the whole post before flaming me.
so I recently gave storm legion a shot and I'd like to leave the impressions of a long time hardcore MMO player. I will try and touch on the good and the bad that I have witnessed thus far leveling 2 characters to level 60, completing the 10 man raid and progressing through the 20man.
so lets start off some nice stuff.
early leveling in rift was actually kind of fun. I rarely say that I enjoy any part of leveling in a game, the second I see "go kill 10 of these" I start to eye-ball the cyanide pills I keep for my own protection, but I found the first couple of levels (50-54~) rather comforting and was able to clear them fairly quickly with little hassle. There were several quests that, dare I say it, were fun, but as with all things that quickly ended. around hitting level 56 I began to look down a depressing road of mass carnages (kill 16 of X quests) and extremely long story quests that required me to run to the end of the universe. soon my leveling experience became the same mundane task it is in every mmo and those cyanide pills started to look mighty tempting, but damnit if i didn't hold it together. for the last 4 levels and all 10 levels of my other toon, I ran my characters to ashora and farmed onslaughts till 60, took maybe a day because of the absurd amount of experience you get.
note: the later zones have less and less compelling quests, longer run distance to objectives and much more time grinding out mobs between quests because there are maybe a handful of quests left in the game after reaching 58.
I will say that I found several dungeon encounters extremely fun. unfortunately dungeons began to show the cracks in trion's armor for me. many of them had clear, unbelievably exploitable bugs in them that were borderline ridiculous/ down right shameful to be allowed into a beta let alone the LAUNCH. Lets start with boneforge.
ahgnox is an encounter that is actually pretty complicated, and would be a fun, tough fight. the boss does several different types of AOE damage that requires group awareness to stop you from blowing each other up. while the fight is going on, the boss starts to fly around the room like superman, distributing justice and death to anything that stands in the way of his glory, a really cool fight if you actually do the mechanics. unfortunately, trion's encounter team and environment team dont seem to talk much to each other, and you can avoid EVERY mechanic in the fight by just standing close to the walls... yeah that AOE of justice? stand in it all day. this is a minor example of the monumental failings in communication within the rift development team.
necrotic throne: yet again another awesome encounter that challenges the player's ability to do their job while also maintain spacial awareness. you are presented with 2 "lungs" of the necrotic throne. the idea is to kill the lungs without getting hit by any of the copious amounts of AOE being hurled across the room, very tough fight. that is until you realize that you can just have your whole group go DPS, run behind the throne and kill it without ANY mechanics happened... sure that's how its meant to be done.
triumph of the dragon queen: I gotta say, a really fun raid, I enjoyed the hell out of it, and baring the few bugs that we came across, it functioned fairly flawlessly. The encounters wont blow your mind with their complexity, but it did take my guild longer then a day to complete, and at only 4 bosses that's a decent starting place. the 10man is safely farmable, maybe 1 wipe on each boss for people who haven't done it before, but still very well done. I have very few complaints for the raids. every now and then, things tweak out and bosses just sit there doing little to nothing as you just kill them, but that's once in a blue moon and usually has some sort of consequence that requires you to adopt a whole new strat on the fight.
this is where I will slam trion. people may call this crying or not understanding how mmo's work, I'm sorry because I'm about to hurt your feels. trion needs to fire their entire QA department and the people in charge of version control. SL released with so many badly done mistakes it is almost embarrassing to think that rift is larger then a garage operation which is coded in their free time on the weekend. the game launched with so many ridiculous issues its almost shocking. every time they fix something, they manage to break 3 more things. last Tuesday trion introduced a "hotfix" that was meant to adjust warriors. what ensued was maybe the most obnoxious blunder I think I've ever witnessed in an mmo. trion removed an ability from the tempest tree because it was healing to much. to replace it, they gave us electricity cascade, a finisher which was suppose to subside the lost ability + raise our dps a little more.. well it applied maybe a little too much extra damage. after clearly never testing a new ability before putting it into the game, they found out that electricity cascade (a dot) accidentally stacked to infinity, this led to interesting parses upward of 200,000 dps (average is 7-9k). clearly this had been a mistake and there must be a simple fix, maybe the intern could just go into the spell editor and uncheck the "stackable option". well that's what you would expect, but nope, all the interns went home Tuesday morning, and despite having all of Tuesday/Wednesday to fix this issue, the entire dev team took the week off and only supplied a change this morning, 8 DAYS after removing 2 of our highest dps abilities and leaving us there over a weekend. to boot, while electricity cascade is a nice buff, warriors still are significantly behind other callings when it comes to both tanking and DPS.
unfortunately this entire situation is eerily similar to rift at launch, major REALLY important fights in rift (IE greenscale) were reduced to beating up a special needs child because someone couldn't be bothered to check which version of the boss encounter they were patching in. its definitely not the first time, and most certainly wont be the last that trion does this, and largely I hope that by writing this, maybe it will get back to them that this shouldn't be acceptable behavior for a company. at the end of the day, if you weren't making video games, you would/should have been fired for incompetence.
while reviewing this, I feel as I have come off as maybe a little to harsh. at its core, rift is a solid game, and I probably will still play it assuming I still have a raid spot after last weeks debacle, but I have very little reason to maintain myself there if the above is what I can expect from the future (judging by the response on the forums, these same kinds of "fixes" have been happening for the last few months with always the promise that things are getting better, as the slowly descend into a vile cesspool) I have friends asking me to raid hardcore in wow again, call of duty would be a cheap substitute, and finals are coming up, I don't really have time to do a dev's job for them while trying to enjoy a product of entertainment that is responsible for the first time I have ever been legitimately angry with a developer's seemingly lack of interesting in maintaining a stable/ professional game.