PC Gamer
Rift's 1.9 patch, which releases on Wednesday, aims to change the face of player-vs-player combat in Trion's flagship MMO forever. Along with new Instant Adventure content and a Mentoring system that allows higher-level players to group with their lowbie friends, the patch adds a new Conquest PvP mode that offers a larger-scale alternative to instanced Warfronts. We have new screens and new details, including how rewards will work and a look at the new colossus, below.

As we mentioned in last month's preview, Conquest PvP divides players into three new factions to fight over territory in an open, alternate-reality version of the Stillmoor zone. Those who join the fray will be able to accrue both temporary and persistent rewards. The mode includes a sort of "momentum" mechanic where doing your part will grant you temporary buffs going into future battles. During a recent phone call, the developers told me that these buffs will start to wear off about a day after you earn them, and playing only a couple times a week should be enough to keep them steady.

In addition, Conquest introduces a new currency type that can be earned by completing objectives, winning a match for your side, and killing the new colossi PvE bosses that only spawn when one side has won the map, and are only available to be confronted by the winning faction. Rewards will presumably include better PvP gear and consumbales that can be carried out of the mode.

If you're one of those reclusive MMO gamers who don't like other people, Conquest has you covered, too. According to Rift's chief creative officer, Scott Hartsman, lone-wolf players will be able to contribute to their side without making a single kill, by gathering materials and crafting items and defenses for their side.

Also coming in 1.9 are the aforementioned new Instant Adventures and Mentoring system. The new Instant Adventures bring the fast-paced combat to the Freemarch, Silverwood, Gloamwood, and Stonefield zones. Hartsman told me that they're using the modular nature of Instant Adventure to test some more experimental mechanics such as granting temporary abilities without having to worry about the potential of them "breaking" the open areas of the game.

The Mentor system, which scales your character down to the level of the group you're joining, is meant to let players continue earning rewards for their higher-level characters as they help lower-level friends through content.

Lastly, 1.9 will finally bring a barbershop feature to Rift, allowing you to re-customize your character's appearance. So if you've been regretting those dreads you put on your Bahmi since launch, you're less than 48 hours from remedying your ill-advised hair disaster.
PC Gamer
There were a lot of great games at E3 this year, but only one can be the best. PC Gamer's editors pick their favorites from the show floor.

Logan: Watch Dogs
Go ahead and fiddle with your Facebook privacy settings all you want: Aiden Pierce knows exactly who you’re sleeping with and how you feel about them. He can tap your cell phone to listen to what you’re telling somebody or he can jam it so they’ll never hear it. He knows where you work, how much you make, and if you stash your cash in a private account he can plunder it at the nearest ATM. And if you try to get away from him, you better run someplace that isn’t under the domain of ctOS—the central operating system that administers Chicago’s infrastructure—and hope that he doesn’t mess with the traffic signaling system on your way out.

In an unexpected and wonderfully audacious demo, Watch Dogs ruthlessly teased me with the power to take the technological apparatus of an entire city and press it into my service as a tool of surveillance, reconnaissance, or destruction—while also giving me glimpses of what may be the terrible consequences of my actions (such as a hapless bystander desperately trying to resuscitate his dead wife after an accident that Pierce caused).

It’s still an action game—there’s shooting, there’s free-running, there’s bullet-time, and there’s beating a guy with a retractable baton—but throughout an E3 smothered by overbearing, barely differentiated violence in sequelized blockbusters, Watch Dogs feels far more ambitious. It seems to see in gamers not folks who will dutifully respond to more, bigger, and louder, but instead people who want their cunning, skill, and resourcefulness challenged in new and more imaginative ways.

Evan: PlanetSide 2
Fighting against two factions instead of one activates some dormant area of my FPS brain. It's not simply that you have more and differently-colored soldiers to shoot at, but you experience this novel feeling of competition over resources that matter. No other shooter gives me that sensation. Occupying someone else's base means something—just by contending for an outpost, you're earning a tiny trickle of resources. Own it, and that earned-over-time allowance extends to your whole empire (while being denied to the enemy). The magic of that mechanic is apparent even in an hour-long play session with a character I'll never use again in a crowded, loud convention center. Whether you like it or not, you're a part of something.

Beyond that, PlanetSide 2 is better-looking than Tribes, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and (save for Natural Selection 2, which I love the look of) any other multiplayer shooter I can name. The sci-fi context has let SOE's art team run wild with neon and high-contrast player and vehicle skins in a way Battlefield can't. It's a miracle that this will be free.

Runner-ups: Arma 3, Natural Selection 2

Josh: Rift
Rift never really grabbed my attention at launch. I've dabbled over the past year since its launch, but the game's first expansion, Storm Legion, cannot be ignored. A lot of information was revealed during E3, and everything I've seen has convinced me to re-up my subscription and dive back in headfirst. The expansion adds two continents that are each as large as the entire game world that exists today. That's cool, but it wasn't what had me scrambling for my credit card. What got me was the E3 livestream demo of Storm Legion content that showed a massive open-world boss who, when he's defeated, tears down walls to open new zones of the continent to players. Let me reiterate: this boss doesn't just drop loot when you take him down, he drops ENTIRE ZONES OF CONTENT. That's awesome, and so is everything else I've seen about this expansion so far.

Runner-ups: Planetside 2, SimCity


T.J.: The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard
It's hard to put into words how big a Skyrim fan I am. Three of my favorite things in the world are Vikings, werewolves, and The Elder Scrolls series. Letting me play in the homeland of the Norse-flavored Nords and be a werewolf in an open-world Elder Scrolls game almost gave me a fanboy heart attack. However awesome you think Skyrim is, multiply that by Odin to get how awesome I think it is. The only thing missing was an organized faction of wussy-ass vampires (you heard me, consider the gauntlet thrown!) to tear apart with my Nordic werewolf claws. Dawnguard gives me that, plus a new werewolf-specific perk tree. It may just be an expansion, but with the relatively lackluster showing of PC RPGs at this year's E3, it was the one thing I was most excited to hear more about.

Runner-ups: Assassin's Creed 3, Planetside 2

Tyler: SimCity

SimCity is looking more and more like the reboot the series deserves. The new engine is simulation-oriented, and changes the game's underlying processes without mucking with the SimCity mechanics we're used to, such as zoning areas. City specializations, resources, and vertical integration create opportunities for industrious mayors to noodle around with economics. The buildings have been pared down to their identifying features, making them charming and easily readable. The sound design makes crunching buildings into their foundations seem forceful and satisfying. Oh, and you can build cities next to your friends' if you want. It's evolving where it should while keeping the core SimCity concepts in play. If Maxis had asked me what I wanted from a new SimCity before it started on this project, I wouldn't have come up with anything I wanted as much as what it's promising.

Runner-ups: Divinity: Original Sin, PlanetSide 2

Tom Francis: Dishonored

Sipping tea in my rain-lashed manor back here in England, my view of E3 has mainly been the major publisher's press conferences. Their weird blend of family games and relentless, brutal, fetishised ultra-violence left me wondering if there was anything there for gamers like me.

But tucked away from the main stages, there was something for us: Dishonored. An open ended infiltration game with teleportation, possession, Force Push, and no small measure of fetishised ultra-violence. But they showed it in context, and demonstrated that the decision to put a blade through someone's skull was up to the player - that makes it meaningful. The generous 9-minute walkthrough video is hugely entertaining, and it's now the game I'm most excited about playing.

Tom Senior: Watch Dogs

Drab, misguided showings from many of this year's major players at E3 made me wonder what E3 is really for. Most of what was shown this year has been on the radar for a while. We were seeing new footage of largely known entities, but then, in the final moments of the Ubisoft press conference on day one, this appeared. An open world game of assassination and high tech espionage in an interconnected Chicago. Entire minutes passed without anyone being hit with a stick or shot in the face (that came later). There was investigation, conversation, and slow walk through rain slick streets in a flapping trenchcoat. There was a bit of GTA in there, and a bit of Deus Ex. It was beautiful, cool, and most importantly, new. E3 should be about surprises, which makes Watch Dogs my pick of E3 2012.

Runner-ups: John Carmack, Dawnguard

Chris: Assassin's Creed 3

What I'm looking for at an E3 presentation is a sense of the game I'll actually end up playing. It feels like the higher-profile the franchise, the less likely that we'll get to see what we'll actually be doing when the autumn rolls around.

Aside from the fact that Dishonored and Watch Dogs were taken, this is why Assassin's Creed 3 is my pick of the show. The seven minute demonstration at the Ubisoft conference certainly had its (seemingly) impossibly cinematic moments, but it was glued together by sequences that looked very much like an Assassin's Creed game - and a good one at that.

The moment when Connor returns deer meat to the forest encampment, for example, or when a passer-by asks him to fetch some mercury: that's what you're going to be doing come November.

It doesn't really bother me that Connor is the kind of assassin who'll ride a horse right up to the enemy gates, or blow up half a fortress to distract a target. Assassin's Creed has always been more of a gymnastic badassery simulator than a stealth game, and in that regard it's looking really, really slick. Also, their heavy enemy type appears to simply be defined as 'Scotsmen'.

Finally, the E3 screenshots refer to countryside parkour as 'treerunning'. Good work, Ubisoft. Pun of the show.

Runner-ups: Dishonored, Watch Dogs
PC Gamer
rift thumb
Rift is on a roll. Massive-scale open world-style PvP is on the test server and a brand new expansion is just around the corner with new continents that triple the world's landmass.

Massively spotted a livestream of some of the Storm Legion expansion's content, and it has one of the craziest open-world boss fights I've ever seen.

During the livestream, the developers showed off multiple areas on the new continents including deserts, plant-infested ruins, and clockwork dungeons. But the most impressive part was a mammoth-sized golem/monster boss fused with electricity goes crazy and starts smashing down walls in the open world.

That's not just a pretty effect either: when you force the boss to bash down that wall, it unlocks a new zone in the world filled with quests, crafting recipes, and other goodies. So how do you force this guy to go Jericho on the zone? You have to wear him down in combat--and that fight looks amazing.

Different parts of Volan's body can be targeted and destroyed, which will affect the way that the boss fights you. You can use catapult weapons and platforms to launch yourself into the air and collide with the boss for special one-time abilities that deal massive damage to it.

You can watch more Storm Legion footage on our site. No release date has been announced yet.
Community Announcements - Elrar
<p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.StormLegion.com"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-1330" style="border: 0px;" title="community_header" src="http://community.riftgame.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/community_header.jpg" alt="" width="408" height="118" /></a></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KwtnsAUJbbs" frameborder="0"></iframe></p>

Announcing RIFT: Storm Legion - Our first epic expansion will transport you to a far away land, ripped asunder by the Bloodstorm's landing thousands of years before.

Crucia gathers her Storm Legion in the long-lost cradle of civilization. Adventure through this eldritch landscape, battle your way to the planes themselves, and conquer the dragons of Air and Death!

Here's just a taste of what you'll find:

<li>Adventure across two huge new continents that <strong>more than triple the size of the existing world </strong></li>
<li><strong>A new Soul for each Calling</strong> expands the Ascended Class System - build the hero you want!</li>
<li>Rise to new heights of power through <strong>10 challenging levels, increasing the level cap to 60</strong></li>
<li><strong>Dimensions</strong>: Customizable spaces allow players and guilds to <strong>own a sliver of Telara</strong></li>
<li>Become the talk of the town and boost your stats with <strong>stylish new capes</strong></li>
<li>And more!</li>
Prepare for the coming storm - more info awaits you at <a href="http://www.StormLegion.com">www.StormLegion.com</a>!
PC Gamer

Yesterday we brought you the news that Rift was getting a new expansion, Storm Legion, and new the first details are touching down. First things first, the expansion will bring not one, but two new continents. Along with more skills, a raised level cap and an epic battle with gender-confused Dragon.

Storm Legion's main antagonist is the Dragon Lord Crucia, Queen of Storms. We're not entirely certain how you can be both a Queen and a Lord, but it might have something to do with being a giant lightning Dragon capable of zapping anyone who points out the contradiction. Like most Queens, she's celebrating her Jubilee year by releasing an army of horrors through an inter dimensional gate in an attempt to destroy the world, and it's your job to stop her.

The big news is the new continents, which Trion say will triple the size of the existing world. In addition Storm Legion will raise the Rift level cap from 50 to 60, and a new soul skill tree for each class. The expansion will also feature seven new dungeons, three new raids and a new 'Chronicle' (Rift's high level story driven instances). Finally, Rift is getting its own form of player housing, with customisable 'dimensions' that guilds and players can make their home.

Storm Legion will be coming this Autumn.
PC Gamer

Looks like our prediction last week about Rift getting a new expansion was spot on.

"I have unlocked the secrets of The Infinity Gate." These are exactly the sort of words you don't want to hear from one of Rift's anarchic greater dragons. This one is Crucia, grand foe of the high elves of Telara, lord of the Plane of Air and commander of the Storm Legion, who look as though they're about ready to mount a full scale assault on the citizens of Telara in Rift's next big update. The colossal stone infinity gate is warming up, ready to punch holes through reality and deliver the hordes of the plane of Air right into the laps of Ascended players. It should be a mighty good fight.
Shacknews - John Keefer

Trion World's popular MMO, Rift is getting a face lift through a new expansion pack. Called Storm Legion, the expansion promises to add two new continents that will triple the size of the existing world of Telara. The story-driven expansion will focus on Crucia, Queen of Storms, and the armies she hopes to bring through a gateway to the planes.

As explained on the expansion's official web site, Storm Legion will add three new raids and seven new dungeons. The add-on is planned for release this fall.

Trion had hinted at the expansion when it sent out an odd assortment of goodies, including a carpenter's level with the number 10 on it (the level cap rises from 50 to 60), the soles of four shoes (four new souls, one for each calling), and a rusty key ring with a gold key labeled Port Tempest (although the new city is Tempest Bay, according to the official site).

We'll get a first-hand look at the new Telara at E3 next week.

PC Gamer
We received an interesting package today at the PC Gamer offices: a wooden box labeled "A Storm is Brewing." Given that I was a world-class detective before taking the intern gig here, I was tasked with determining what it all meant. My peerless deductive skills have led me to the conclusion that these are likely the first details of Rift's next major expansion.

The box contained the following items:
Two posters: One depicting the Polesti Raid in World War II, and one depicting Stuart's Confederate cavalry raiding Pennsylvania in the Civil War.
Amazing Detective Skills say: That's two "raids." So, this seems to be MMO related...
A liquid level, with a sticker on it bearing the number 10.
Amazing Detective Skills say: 10 levels? Must be a level cap increase, which usually means big expansion
Four soles of shoes. This is what tipped me off that it was Rift I was dealing with.
Amazing Detective Skills say: Rift calls its classes "souls," and this seems to indicate that four new ones are being added.
Six rusty keys on a ring, and one golden one labeled "Port Tempest."
Amazing Detective Skills say: This likely indicates to a new capital/hub city called Port Tempest, and six new smaller cities or zones.
A felt bag containing five glass prisms, all of different sizes. No, they do not fit together (I tried that already).
Amazing Detective Skills say: There are items in Rift called Prism Fragments, five of which (the same number that came in the bag) can be combined to form an Inert Prism. These Prisms are currently only used for a few crafting recipes. Maybe they're about to become more important? Hmmm...
An incredibly stylish, red, hooded cloak.
Amazing Detective Skills say: This was probably just here to get people like me posting pictures of ourselves in it on the internet. Mission accomplished, Trion!


And thus I reached the conclusion that the box of mystery indicates such: A Rift expansion is coming and it will bring a 10-level increase in the level cap, two new raids, four new souls, six new areas, a new city called Port Tempest, and possibly something fancy to use those Inert Prisms for. If I'm right, we should have more details to share with you soon.
PC Gamer
Rift's new PvP mode throws the game's rulebook out the window. Defiants and Guardians--who needs 'em? The new Conquest mode lets you join one of three factions that battle on a massive map with capturable objectives and no player cap, more closely resembling Guild Wars 2's World vs. World vs. World mode than Rift's existing PvP Warfronts.

According to the video just released by the developers, and a great interview write-up over at MMORPG.com, the 3 factions are groups from an alternate plane fighting for dominance of the instanced zone. Players will pick one of the three new factions (Dominion, Oathsworn and Nightfall) to join and will always fight on their side in the Conquest mode--although players will be able to switch factions once a week. These factions will only exist in Conquest mode and players will still be Defiants or Guardians in the rest of the game.

The map itself will be a huge open area designed to capture the feel of open world PvP--the video shows tangled environments with bridges crossing over over roads that are running between cliffs that players can run on. It's supposedly modeled after the Stillmoor zone, featuring grasslands and the interior of a castle. It's good the map is large, because there is no limit on the number of players that can fight on it. A faction can win by either capturing 40% of all the objectives on the map or by killing a total of 5,000 enemy players.

Capturing objectives means taking over areas on the map that give buffs to your entire side. Lone wolf players can also gather resources and build things that enhance the combat prowess of everyone on their faction.

The winning faction will earn PvP weapon enchants, along with unique buffs and abilities that are not only usable in the Conquest PvP mode, but out in the open world as well.

The mode is now live on Rift's Public Test Shard, where you can test it today during the planned event that runs from 4-8 PM PST.
PC Gamer
Rift - weird toad man shows his approval for a volcano
A new three-way PvP faction war mode will land on Rift's test servers later on today. From 4pm PDT / 11pm players will have the chance to and jump into a new PvP warzone in a new version of Stillmoor to do battle for a cluster of control points (or Sourcestone Extractors, as they're called).

As a member of one of three new factions, Ascended must seize a certain number of these areas to win. "The match ends when a single team has claimed 40% of the control points or 5,000 players are killed" explain Trion on the Rift site, "once this happens a 10 minute timer will start, this is your chance to make a last grab for control."

Dominion, the Oathsworn and Nightfall are the three factions in question. Their differences are philosophical, which means any Ascended can be a member of any team as long as they're up for a fight. "Are you a Ram, guarding the flock under your iron grip? Do you protect your pride, your virtue gold as the Lion’s mane, keeping the helpless from harm? Or do you soar like a Raven into the twilight – cleansing all corruption in your wake across the universe, whatever the cost?" RAVEN FTW.

The three-way PvP is the latest in a long series of updates that Trion have been providing over the last year. The Infernal Dawn 1.8 patch is coming up next. That'll add a new 20 man raid, instant adventures, improved 'looking for group' tools and fishing. Find out more in our look at the recent Infernal Dawn Rift developer roundtable.

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