Going into the weekend at level 47, I decided to dedicate some time for the final stretch of my mage in Rift. Truth to be told, it went very fast. Too fast, in a way. Faster than final levels in a game should go in my opinion.
But I’m at least partly to blame myself. I could’ve gone and done quests, or something similar. Instead, I went the Instant Adventure route. I actually dropped out of my final IA at 99% through 49 to get back to Meridian for a nice staging of my level 50 ding. Man, IAs are insane experience. Even at 50, it seems a lot of people play them day in, day out to grind AA points. I’m sorry, PA of course. A rose by any other name would smell almost as sweet. Except Everquest II allows you to level slower and get AA levels while leveling up, and decide the rate at which you funnel your gained XP in both directions. Doesn’t it seem like for any feature that a game comes up with, the answer seems to be “Everquest II implemented a slightly better version years ago”? Sadly, half the time followed by “then it broke the next patch and was never repaired” or “but the interface sucks” or “nobody uses it because it makes no sense”.
I had two epics saved up from a world events months and months ago (I think it actually was the pre-Ember Isle event). I decided that was enough preparation for level 50 normal dungeons, and queued up for them as healer and DPS. I was chosen as healer every single time. Surprise! The bad thing is that the dungeon runner population at 50 seem to be a very mixed bag. The worst experience was a group that pretty much ignored me (and another clueless newcomer) and rushed so fast that I couldn’t keep up with them even though I tried. Then I pulled something by accident that they had left, and I died, and I couldn’t even find them in the dungeon any more until we were almost done. The best experience was a group of several people who (I guess) also needed quests in Charmer’s Caldera, and we took a good amount of time to go through them. Half the group was french, with different levels of English proficiency, but between their English and the little French I know, we were able to communicate easily. This is why I play these games! Sadly, most of the regular dungeon are just rushed through by groups. At least I learned that my hodgepodge gear was more than sufficient to keep up overgeared tanks, unless they rode ahead, around a corner, and pulled 5 groups at the same time. Thankfully, that only happened once. Nobody complained, but when I remarked that I was out of range, I was told to not loot stuff. OK? That felt like a waste.
State of my Mage
Another thing I’m a bit worried about is the state of my class at 50. When you hit level 50, you can pick up the final chloromancer skills, and they seem to fundamentally change how the class plays. Before that, I used a bunch of different abilities. I typically started off with Radiant Spores, applied Withering Vine, then Nature’s Touch and Ruin (and Nature’s Fury on group pulls) when they were off-cooldown, and Vile Spores as a filler. Sometimes Bloom or one of the cooldowns if things got a bit hotter. Now my rotation looks like this: Radiant Spores, Withering Vine, Void Life, Void Life, Void Life, Void Life, Void Life…. I feel like I’m reduced to a living HoT, with no other really viable healing choices. It’s a bit boring, and it probably also means that my gear is the all-deciding factor, because there’s little difference between good and bad play.
To be honest, if that’s what my role is as a healer, I’d rather go back to what I started out with at level 15 anyway: a support mage. I really liked the archon soul, whose job it is to juggle around half a dozen buffs and debuffs, CC, cooldowns, and other fun things, to improve your group’s performance. Sadly, it seems to me that archons are considered utterly useless in 5mans, because the loss in personal DPS isn’t offset by the DPS you add to the group, and the debuffs and control aren’t considered worthwhile if everything tends to die fast. I probably should look into 10 or 20 man raiding, but I’m not really sure where to start there. There are daily and weekly quests for raid dungeons and rifts, but I yet have to figure out how to get a group for that, and whether I’m ready or not. Speaking of which, I’m not really sure whether I’m ready for expert dungeons (the next step on the 5man ladder) either. The dungeon finder says yes: I have the required stats of 340 intelligence and 90 focus. I find it strange that those are two requirements, but spell power is not checked for. I’m just worried that I’ll be shunned by the group because I can’t bring tier 3 raid items to their expert dungeon, and I have no experience with any of the fights to boot.
If you read all this, the outlook must seem incredibly bleak. I’m a bit unsure how to progress from here, that’s true. On the other hand, I still haven’t really touched any of the high-level zones quest-wise. I think the last zone I more or less finished was Scarwood Reach, which leaves 5 zones mostly untouched, plus Ember Isle. I tried out EI yesterday and was surprised how well I could already progress through that “50-only extra hard” zone. I had to be careful, of course, and if I got jumped on by more than one add while I was killing one mob, it was sure death. But it worked somehow, for the most part. I also have some crafting ahead of me; I’m still well away from 300 (~240 in butchering, ~260 in outfitting, ~270 in runecrafting), and once I’ve done this, there’s crafting rifts, too.
My dirty little secret
Finally, I’ll let you in on a small secret of mine: This mage is actually the first character that I brought to max level in any game outside of WoW (and even there, I typically only had one alt at max level, and only months after an expansion release). I only realized this when I was at 49. Granted, it probably doesn’t help that I never played any other MMO seriously until about 2 years ago. And even then, I picked out games that take their sweet time to level. They either had already had their share of expansions and level cap increases: in Everquest II, I had to reach level 90 by the time I started playing seriously, which I fell just short of, stopping somewhere around level 80 in the Moors of Ykesha. Or they were natural slow leveling games with a tendency for me to just stand or travel around and watch the scenery, like in LotRO. Anyway, first current-level cap character outside of WoW. Yay! Now I just have to figure out what to do with it…