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Trion Worlds has been rolling out massive updates to Rift since launch, with seven large content patches hitting servers in the past year. As any MMO fan can tell you, that's an absurd pace, and one the developers plan to keep up with the April release of the 1.8 patch. At this past week's GDC we had a chance to sit down and check out the update, exploring the new skills, features, and missions fans can look forward to trying out when the patch hits next month.
While recent patches have serviced mid to low level players, the next update will bring things back to the end-game. This takes the form of a new 20-man raid called Infernal Dawn, bringing players into the volcano in the middle of Ember Isle. Plot-wise, it acts as a successor to Hammerknell, with players joining together to stop a dragon that looks to take over the world and turning all of the seas into lava. In other words, it's a fairly typical day in Telara.
Sadly, we couldn't actually run through the mission ourselves, but we did see some of the boss encounters, including one on a giant metal pirate ship (used for navigating the aforementioned seas of lava), and a golden dragon literally made of her horde of gold, gems, and jewels. It wasn't finished yet, but we were told this encounter would function much differently than typical dragon battles, with the boss adapting her shape throughout the fight, sort of like Spider-Man's Sandman. We were told she'd fall into a puddle, reforming into different creatures to make for an interesting encounter.
Above: At one point this dragon turns into a giant fist and smashes the ground
Dragon fans (aka everyone in the world) will be happy to know that the final battle will have players fighting yet another dragon. Trion said that this encounter, too, would be an unorthodox one when held up against past dragon fights in Rift. We were told that the team was making this fight a more epic, cinematic encounter, more akin to God of War's Colossus of Rhodes than anything typically found in an MMO. We didn't get a chance to see this in action, though we did catch a glimpse of the dragon flying around, and he looked pretty awesome. And angry. So angry, in fact, that the volcano started erupting as soon as the fight began, which we're sure doesn't make the fight any easier.
More utilitarian updates due in 1.8 include PvP leaderboards (complete with separate divisions to make sure you're competing against players with similar play styles), Instant Adventure for the Ember Isle, and two new skills: Fishing and Survival. We also discussed Rift's post-1.8 plans with Trion, and were told that, as was the case with the past updates, player requests would continue to be included. Within the next few months we'll likely see an in-game barbershop to allow ascended to update their 'do, as well as the addition of the "Trapping" trade skill that will allow players to capture critters to use as pets. Because everyone wants more pets.
Rift's 1.8 update is due out early next month - be sure to check back for more details as that release approaches.