Last night was a very wonky night in RIFT. The servers were going crazy, whereas in prior betas they ran pretty well. Many wise voices in chat kept repeating that this was beta, and this is the best time for Trion to optimize servers. So, my playtime was constantly interrupted, and I didn’t get to play in a big event. I did get to play in a few small invasion events, where I was able to test two new features.
The first was the open grouping feature. It is pretty good, but I wonder about whether it is an artifact, rather, of the decision to keep conventional MMO grouping mechanics in the open world.
Here’s how it works: A player near an event that has open grouping in “open” mode will get a button that let’s the player join an open group if there is at least one other player nearby in “open” mode as well. In one case, I was actively defending an outpost from an invasion, and I clicked on the button. The one nearby player was actually doing a quest and was training quest mobs towards the outpost. I quickly ungrouped before the quest mobs noticed me. So, I learned to be wary of clicking the join group button too early. If I hit a rift site, the open grouping button worked like a charm because everybody in the vicinity was doing the event.
Still, I want to ask the devs, why is it necessary to retain a conventional grouping system for open world events? To merely get the UI to let people heal each other better? To be able to see people on the radar? Seriously, that’s what it feels like. The skills already seemed balanced against being pseudo-grouped with everybody all the time, such as Withering Vine, which only affects 10 allies. Everybody gets rewarded based on participation. If grouping is for UI usability, I can imagine a much more fluid grouping system.
The second notable change I tested was how mobs were tethered to invasion groups. Before the change, an invasion group (usually 1 boss with 4 adds) would aggro as a group. So even though my Pyromancer might be able to take one or two of the adds on, all I could do was run after the invasion group until it hit other players or NPCs. Now, I was able to help weaken the invasion group by snipe-aggroing one or two away. I was having a lot of fun doing this, especially in the lonely southern Freemarch, and I felt like I was contributing to the cause pretty well.
I was a little worried about the overall effect of the change. I mean if players were picking off pieces of invasion groups as they ran by, the whole challenge of an invasion group attacking might be diminished. Thankfully, the developers had anticipated this, and the adds will respawn unless the boss is killed. They don’t respawn too quickly, but a solo player has to be very efficient if he wants to take on an invasion group alone. I was able to do it, but I had the help of quest mobs tanking the boss mob. I also had to kill two respawned add mobs. Overall, I really liked the change.
Hopefully I get another chance to play in Beta 5, which ends Friday morning. I am about a level and a half away from 20. The pains of foot travel are really starting to weigh on me. I made the comment before about missing Lord of the Rings Online travel before. The reason is that in Lord of the Rings Online a zone like Rift’s Freemarch would have intra-zone fast travel routes between major quest hubs. I am hoping this travel grind will alleviate at level 20. I also want to try a big event with the new grouping system, preferably with a mount.
before i sputter out