A few weeks ago I had found myself coming to the end of an MMO and, faced with the task of grinding out endless quests and experience, I wondered to myself if there was a better way to be spending my time. It was around that time when I discovered that the first full expansion for another MMO had just hit servers. Before I knew it, I was re-installing Rift and preparing to dive headfirst back into the world of Telara.

As soon as I started the game up, I realised that things had changed. Seeing as I hadn’t actually played Rift properly in a few months, I decided that my best course of action would be to start from scratch. Luckily the Storm Legion expansion contains some new souls to try out, so I had a good reason to start new anyway. I decided to side with the Guardians (A religious faction whose heroes were ascended by the gods in order to save Telara from danger) and once again found myself at the character creation screen. I’m not exactly the type of person who takes my character too seriously, so I decided to make a human female with pink hair. I’m most familiar with Ranger-style gameplay, so I built her into a rogue and decided to try out the new soul (the Tactician). Finally it got to naming my character, a task that I’m sure everyone knows can be painful. Rift’s random name generator provided me with the name Pettle, which seemed to suit my pink hair, so I rolled with it.

Upon being placed back into Telara, I recognised the starting area which I’d played through a dozen times already. It was eerily quiet, but I did spot a few extra players as I made my way through the first hour and a half of gameplay. Once I finally progressed enough to leave the intro area, I was once again dumped into the familiar area of Silverwood. I quickly ran into a bunch of other players, and found the region under assault from various fire rifts and strongholds. There was also a server-wide quest going on to celebrate the launch of Storm Legion.

Questing through Silverwood I began to remember why I’d enjoyed Rift so much having started playing when it was in beta. The world is still rich, the community is generally good and there’s plenty of interaction when it comes to protecting your cities and zones from whatever has endangered them this time. I noticed a bunch of new stuff that hadn’t been in the game last time I played (including some cool fishing mechanics, although the first fishing quest happened to bug out). It was also at this time that I ran into my first major change from Storm Legion. I was granted access to my first Dimension.

Dimensions are essentially a little instanced chunk of the zone that you can portal into and make your own. There’s items and scenery that you can purchase and bring into the dimension, which then works like a sort of map editor, allowing you to build your own little space in Telara, perfect for hanging out when you need a break from the rest of the world, or relaxing with friends.

Friends now come in more shapes and forms than when I’d last played. On PvE servers, the walls between the Guardians and Defiants have come tumbling down, with players now capable of grouping up and conversing cross-faction. This is a change that doesn’t really take me by surprise and still fits in with the general theme of the game. It means there’s more you can do, with more people. Despite being somewhat friendly with the opposing faction, there’s still a sense of competition, and players who don’t want to play with the other faction still have that option.

It took a solid 15 levels or so for me to really settle back into the groove of things and, more importantly, to learn how my Tactician soul really works. Equipped with various flamethrower-like attacks, the tactician does good AoE damage, even if it did conflict with my character’s name. I ended up taking Pettle up to about level 20 before I realised that levelling all the way through 50 would take far too long, and temporarily abandoned her in favour of my older character, which was much closer to accessing the new Storm Legion content.

I also had a quick play with the other 3 souls added with the Storm Legion expansion, and they all felt like they added a really unique aspect to their calling. The Tactician gives rogues a strong AoE build, and a way to do some good damage to large groups, but they lack the ability to handle 1v1 combat too well. The Harbinger soul brings a whole new range to the Mage calling… melee range. Harbingers summon blades of air and life to take the fight up close and personal, but as with most melee classes, they come up short when it comes to groups of enemies, or long ranges. Warriors gain ranged spellcasting via the new Tempest soul, and Clerics gain a versatile caster/healer in the Defiler soul.

I’ve enjoyed re-questing through the original Rift content, and trying out the new souls which make each of the callings a little more versatile and a whole lot more entertaining. I also spent far too long making my Dimension look shiny and cool. The moment that really brought me back into the Rift fold, and encouraged my urge to switch characters so I could get to the new content sooner, came from a random occurrence however. Just as I was starting to feel like I was back in the Rift I remembered, I found myself about to leave Sanctum when a Storm Legion rift opened directly above the main entrance. High level members of the Storm Legion suddenly flowed through and the city broke into chaos. It was a reminder of what makes Rift such a unique game, and how the story of Telara is always unfolding and always ready to bring the fight to you.