ZAM had a chance to talk with Design Producer Hal Hanlin in San Francisco about Rift's upcoming patch 1.6 and Ember Isle!
Can you feel excitement in the air? How about the burning sparks flying across the sea from Ember Isle? Rift’s patch 1.6 is in the near future, and ZAM had a chance to meet with Design Producer Hal Hanlin this week, to learn some more information about the massive amounts of content being added to the game. While primarily focusing on the gigantic new landmass being added to Telara, we also were able to learn a bit about the new onslaught mechanics, instant adventures and the five-man dungeon, Caduceus Rise. Read on for more!
Fire and Earth are the prominent influences on Ember Isle.
Hal started our meeting discussing what patch 1.5 brought. “We just put out the new chronicles, the Chronicle of Attunement, planar attunements and we’ve been working on rogue fixes. We’re just about to patch in the last piece of rogue adjustments, which are for rogue tanking. And currently… we’re working on tanking in general.” The Chronicles feature, as players may be aware, are available at level 50 and are dungeons completed either solo or in a duo. Hal raved about their implementation and held them up as an example of a feature loved by the community, saying, “Chronicles? Wonderfully well received; we’ll definitely be doing more chronicles. They were accepted by the community instantly: they got stuff out of it. It felt like people could onramp into their loot progression, and it told the story people weren’t getting otherwise. So, we’re absolutely going to be doing more of those.” When it comes to the rogue tanking, Hal says that all tanking classes are getting a go-over, but rogues are first as the entire calling is being worked on. “Right now they’re trying to make the act of tanking more enjoyable. It’s just harder to get somebody to volunteer to tank. Every calling has the ability to tank to some extent, and yet almost nobody is doing it, so they’re looking at why… they’re just trying to make sure if you have a build capable of tanking, you feel like there’s fun to be had there and you go for it.”
A sourcewell, which taps directly into the sourcestone that is Telara's lifeblood.
We quickly launched into discussion about Ember Isle, the new area unveiled in 1.6. “It’s twice the size of Shimmersand for playable space,” Hal mentions, “which basically makes it the size of Scarlet Gorge and Scarwood put together. It plays REALLY big.” Both factions have a connection to the zone: “Ember Isle is the original home place of the Kelari Elves; that’s the Defiant’s tie to it. Also the dwarves, from the Guardian side, had explored over to it at some point and large contingent of them was stuck there. When the Ward went up, they were unable to get back, and we were unable to get to them. The reason for all of this (as we learn during Hammerknell) is because Akylios has made the seas basically impassable. With the opening of Hammerknell and the killing of Akylios, the seas are now passable and you can get across the water to them.” However, the factions of Rift aren’t expected to use boats to get there (seriously, waiting for boats got old like a decade ago in MMOs). Patch 1.5 introduced the travel stones, and Hal expanded on them: “What these are is the original magic that underlays what eventually became the porticulum in all of our areas. The Telarans didn’t know they were using that magic; they simply unearthed these things and starting using them and realized they could get to Ember Isle from here.”
One of the new spirits present in Ember Isle.
Ember Isle also introduces a new section to the lore of Telara in the form of “spirits.” While players will obviously know a creature from the plane of fire when they see one, a fire spirit is a being with similar powers but a very different source. “(Spirits) are where you have to start reading the lore a little bit to care. If you don’t care, it’s a fire creature, kill it, you’re fine. But if you do care, there’s a bunch of deeper story there and we have a series of quests you can delve into and get more information on. And the zone events will give you more information on it too.” While we did not get a chance to see a zone event during our play time, Hal did give several hints of what to expect: a dragon flying around the entire zone and players needing to use Sourcewells and activated defenses to take it down while fending off invaders and Onslaught creatures. This fed nicely into their newest mechanic!