There's no such thing as too much content in your favorite MMO. Rift just turned eight months old and the people at Trion Worlds have been pumping out more post-launch content than other MMOs produce in years, and aren't showing any signs of slowing. Their next major patch (1.6) will include the gigantic mass of land known as Ember Isle. Rift's Design Producer, Hal Hanlin, walked us through the zone to get a view of some of the new stuff coming to Rift fans mid November.
Rift players have been asking for more explorable content for some time and Ember Isle is the developer's answer to their call. In the lore, Ember Isle was originally the home of the Kelari elves and served as the home for dwarf castaways stranded by the power of Akylios, a giant sea beast that serves as the major raid boss in Hammerknell. Hal Hanlin told us that it would be roughly "twice the size of Shimmersand for playable space." Considering that Shimmersand is the largest current zone, that means a heck of a lot more area to explore. Thankfully there are multiple Porticulum locations allowing the player to move around easily. On this new island you will find biomes ranging from beachfront property, jungles and even a massive volcano which embodies the chaotic nature of Ember Isle.
The five planes will be present on the island, each trying to utilize the abundance or source stone, the basis for Defiant technology and Guardian worship, towards their own motives. Hanlin explained to us that Ember Isle was designed with invasions in mind and the new sourcewells would allow players to define wear they make their stand. Gathering around sourcewells, players create their own defensive positions by building up turrets and healing beacons, all while drawing the invasions in with Nexus Infusion, a new planar ability. Some of these sourcewells will have very clear paths for incoming planar forces, but some will be in the open making defense a bit more difficult. The invasions also include a new Onslaught system, increasing the difficulty and number of enemies that attack depending on the level of fortification around sourcewells.
The biggest addition for instanced group content will be the new dungeon, Caduceus Rise. The dungeon will have multiple paths and is a "non-linear experience," according to Hal. With a normal mode and two different expert versions, players are encouraged to take their own route through the dungeon. When asked if there would be a Master mode added at some point, Hal said it was a possibility but not something included in this patch. Raid content is planned in the future but it will also not be included in Rift patch 1.6. "We want to give players the chance to experience the new zone and finish Hammerknell before we rush them into a new raid," Hanlin explained. Die hard raiders don't fret, there will be a new sliver coming to Shimmersand and in the future Hanlin hinted at being able to take on Maelforge, the red dragon imprisoned within Ember Isle.
Other group content will include the new Instant Adventures. Instant Adventures will pull together large groups of players to overcome challenges in Stillmoor and Shimmersand. Players will be able to drop in and drop out anytime they want, making it easy for the casual and hardcore to participate. The adventures are in open zones and many groups of players can work together accomplish goals. Hanlin seemed to be most excited about these adventures of any of the new content, saying that he often lost track of time because he was so into the fun. PvP isn't a large focus of Instant Adventures (unless you are on a pvp server), but Trion still managed to add a new version of Black Garden to satiate our blood lust.
Overall patch 1.6 is looking like one of the biggest yet, adding more territory to explore and improving Rift's ever growing versatility. Check out the rest of the released screenshots showcasing some new enemies you'll be fighting below.