Monday, March 21, 2011

Rift Dungeon Impressions - Realm of the Fae, Darkening Deeps

Playing on the Guardian side in Rift I have easy access to two dungeons (or instances) at this point in the game.  Realm of the Fae is a level 17ish instance that I've run both as a tank with my Cleric and as DPS with my Rogue.  Darkening Deeps is a level 23ish instance that I've only run with my Rogue.  My Cleric is currently languishing at level 21 and there's no telling when he'll see some play time again.

Realm of the Fae (courtesy of Google Images)

Realm of the Fae
Realm of the Fae is an outdoor dungeon, and really exemplifies the sort of graphics that Rift is capable of displaying.  The visuals are lush and vibrant and very atmospheric.  It's worth visiting just for the art, and I think every Rift player should run it at least once.

Realm of the Fae is broken into four sub-sections corresponding to the seasons.  As you progress you'll move from Spring to Summer to Fall and finally to Winter.  Each sub-section has it's own boss preceded by a fairly large number of trash pulls.  Many of the non-boss fights are optional though, and can be skipped if your group wants to move past them.

The boss fights are more than your basic tank and spank battles, but still not too complicated or difficult, and I think this is a great starter dungeon.  I kind of wish it was a little lower level, maybe 12 or 13, so that you could get to it sooner, but I suspect a lot of characters would be lacking the tools needed to fulfill their role in a group at that level.  Realm of the Fae was a fun instance that felt fresh after running hundreds of World of Warcraft dungeons in the Wrath expansion.  The zone quest rewards a very nice blue item and makes the dungeon worth doing once even if you don't get any drops.

Darkening Deeps
Darkening Deeps (courtesy of Google Images)
Darkening Deeps is a much more traditional dungeon than Realm of the Fae, and I found it be fairly unremarkable in design and art.  The central goblin village you pass through in the beginning is quite striking, but the rest of the dungeon consists of your basic windy passages and caves.  It's pretty drab, and very very linear.  Also, if you die, you're going to be doing a LOT of running.  Darkening Deeps has a strong World of Warcraft vibe, which can be good or bad depending on your preferences.

Darkening Deeps has two paths to take -- one leads up and the other leads down.  The path up contains nothing but trash mobs, but at the very top is a shrine needed for a quest, so most of the time you're going to have to go out of your way to get this.  Going up at least treats you to the dungeon's only worthwhile visuals.  Going down leads into the caves and a series of four bosses.  You can't really skip any trash in this dungeon unless you skip going up.  The bosses are much harder than Realm of the Fae (which is appropriate) and two of them (the werewolf and the spider boss) really require the group to be level appropriate and well coordinated.  I ended up running most of this dungeon as full Bard, as our underleveled tank was making the healer's life miserable.

I now understand why Darkening Deeps groups seem to be hard to find -- I have no real desire to run it again, and I'm sure many other people feel the same.  That the zone quest rewards a green quality item instead of a blue like Realm of the Fae did sort of adds insult to injury.

Overall Rift seems to be off to a good start with their leveling dungeons.  These are World of Warcraft quality instances, and generally superior to the instances WoW had when it first released.  I would say these are most akin to the dungeons of The Burning Crusade expansion, in that they're thematic, long, often difficult, and generally enjoyable.

Realm of the Fae is a definite hit, Darkening Deeps might be a miss, but I think I need to try it again with a tank that's not two levels below all the mobs.  Maybe I'll make a full Riftstalker build and tank it myself . . .

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