[Rift] Middling Wardstones and Zones

I headed away from Scarlet Gorge finally in a bittersweet decision. I really had wanted to defeat the zone boss, Urthura, who is spawned when one faction controls all the ancient wardstones in the zone. The Guardians did get to the point where all the ancient wardstones were controlled, and we even saw the Urthura spawn text flash across the middle of our screens. And then… nothing. She apparently poked her head up but then went back to sleep, or she figured the failed death invasion event detritus could have Scarlet Gorge, or we lost a wardstone, or something. Hopefully, next time I visit Scarlet Gorge I can kill her.

Still, I am thankful to go. Scarlet Gorge seems like an experiment gone wrong. The zone extends along a river that flows North to South, and in comparison to the other square-ish zones, Scarlet Gorge is a thin rectangle. Each faction holds an opposing end of the long rectangle. Traversing the zone is a pain as both the river and the road are full of mobs in many areas. The few zone events that we were able to win had the boss of course spawning on the Defiant side, which forced a long run across dangerous territory if I wanted to participate. Ironically, it was usually the Guardian wardstones that kept the event from failing.

The ancient wardstone content is also unusual. The goal, of course, is to control all the ancient wardstones for the faction, which will spawn a boss that drops purple tokens. It is slanted towards PvP and in a sense the prisoner’s dilemma. If every ~20 hours a faction let the other faction take all the ancient wardstones, then both factions could work together to kill Urthura (and get purple tokens). Obviously this requires a little more control in a PvP server. The part I really didn’t like was the lack of information regarding ancient wardstones. They are scattered throughout the zone, and unless the ancient wardstone is held by the enemy faction, it simply will not appear on the map as a normal allied foothold. When an invading group attacks a controlled ancient wardstone it will appear on the map.

I have to say, the zone feels poorly designed for a mid-level zone. It is clear that the developers put in a lot of effort to make this an interesting, exciting zone, but given the lack of ancient wardstone information, the poor zone traversability, and the pressing need to move on from a zone with a lower population, it just amounts to one strike too many. It feels like a good zone to become attached to at a higher level.

I do want to return to one topic before moving on to Scarwood Reach and invasion events. I really do not understand why the mob density is so high in basic quest areas. I do like that at the end of each zone’s story the PvE content difficulty increases as does mob density, but for the basic areas I feel suffocated. Maybe it is just the action-oriented player in me, but I like to move. I like to be mobile. Much of the mob-filled areas feels like digging my way in one or two mobs at a time, and then digging my way back out. I really liked Lord of the Rings Online’s mob density in Southern Mirkwood, where it seemed they gave me just enough room to wiggle through an area. It required skill to find that mid-point between mobs to squeeze through without aggro’ing. In Rift, I really do not like the inability to traverse mob-filled areas without heading towards the edges, cliffs, and steep hills.

Anyway, on to Scarwood Reach. First off, the traversability of this zone returns back to what players were used to in the other square-shaped zones. I was having no trouble moving long distances as long as I was careful to skirt the mob-filled areas. I have more or less just started it at the third or so quest hub, but I do want to comment on one thing specifically.

Invasion events need to scale better. Even more than Scarlet Gorge, Scarwood Reach is lonely. In the first quest area, which is nearly the whole eastern edge of Scarwood Reach, I saw one other player on Sunday afternoon. She was in the opposing faction. Therefore, when invasion events begin attacking wardstones (quest hubs), it can be a challenge to mount up a resistance. Near the beginning of one invasion, I was helping one or two other players defend a minor quest hub (quest giver, merchant, and healer plus wardstone), and three elite invasion groups (boss + 4 or more adds) came trampling down on us. I just laughed because it was so ridiculous. In Scarlet Gorge, I found that we could eke out against maybe half of the invasion events, and usually the Guardian’s porticulum area was the last remaining wardstone up. In Scarwood Reach, every invasion event I saw fails in a short matter. It seems that the system is not fairly taking in to account active population when it sends multiple invasion groups to player-less areas.

I hate to have such a negative post for a game I am still thoroughly enjoying, but I am really in the mid-level doldrums. It doesn’t help when design decisions make it less fun. Still, this week kicks off Rift’s first big patch (1.1) with a world-wide event. I am pretty excited about it, even though I won’t be able to participate in the level-50 let-every-dungeon-boss-one-shot-you event. As crappy as these mid-level doldrums are, Trion Worlds is emphasizing the great parts of their MMO, and that keeps me a happy customer. (Still, another few passes at invasion event balancing might be nice.)

–Ravious

14 thoughts on “[Rift] Middling Wardstones and Zones”

  1. I’m glad you are enjoying Rift. I’m pretty much done with it at this point. Nothing is holding my attention. It’s probably not Rift so much as me though. I’m not finding much of any MMO holding my attention lately. Good books and an upcoming series on HBO (Game of Thrones) have all my attention right now. Going to pick up that new Sims Medieval game today as well.

  2. I’m just about done with Scarwood Reach, and am finding myself someone in the same mid-level doldrums of which you speak.

    I am surprised though, for a game I am still actively playing, how uninformed I feel. Which makes me wonder, am I just missing some blatantly obvious things, or is Trion doing a not-so-good job of educating the player.

    Regarding Wardstones – I got one quest to activate one wardstone. I did that, and it spawned a little camp, but I recall seeing nothign at all in the quest text or anyewhere else about being encouraged to seek out and find other wardstones. And I had no idea about Uthera! So I’m curious, if you dont’ mind, if you can recall the process through which you learned about controlling the wardstones, and spawning Uthera. Was it from other guild members — something talked about in zone chat, something they actually explained in the game — or maybe something you picked up on the forums?

    I too, am thoroughly enjoying the game. But I am feel that I am constantly confounded by the games massive number of currencies, factions, tokens, and general systems that are all seemingly thrown at the player with little to know explanation of either their use or, more importantly, their benefit. And I actually *try* to figure this stuff out!

    Dusty

    1. Mostly from guildies. We have zone events to “teach” and explore the zone, and for Scarlet Gorge much of this zone event focused around the ancient wardstones.

      I fully agree with you though. Even just showing “enemy controlled ancient wardstone” on the map might be enough information to get a player acting for that content.

      One thing I forgot to mention was that Urthura only spawns once every ~20 hours, BUT there is no way to know that she won’t spawn if you spend significant time activating the ancient wardstones. I also feel this is more poor design.

  3. The invasions in Reach are tough, no doubt. When our group was in that zone, even with 5 we sometimes still could not defend fast enough to prevent defeat. With 4-5 though, we can basically hold off almost any number of invaders if we get to the stone in time, so long as the tanks hold most of the agro.

    The snowball issue in Reach is that since some of the events end so quickly, the average player does not have enough time to react and find a group. We found that if we held off for 5-10 minutes (which was crazy planerite for defeating so many invaders), the zone would organize itself a bit and start closing rifts or defending other holdings.

    That design might suck for the solo player or when no one organized is in the zone, but its very rewarding for a group. IMO it’s a good way to design an MMO.

    1. I see in many of your posts and comments, you seem to really like receiving planarite. What the heck do you do with it? I know you can buy crap for your sigil-thingy with just planarite, but I seem to get plenty of that from drops. Am I missing something?

      1. Far from being poor design for solo/duo players, I found both Scarlet Gorge and Scarwood Reach enormous fun. I can’t wait for my rogue to get up to that level so I can explore all the parts I skipped in my rush for the horizon.

        Mrs Bhagpuss and I spent much time duoing in both zones and had no serious issues with mob density. Indeed, since my main concern for most of the time I was there was farming cloth for my outfitting enterprise, the closer packed they were the better I liked it.

        At the time we were there (it seems like months ago but I guess it can only be a couple of weeks), Scarlet Gorge was very heavily populated and invasions were generally despatched in very swift order. I never knew anything about holding all the wardstones though. I never heard anyone mention it in chat, not even once.

        Scarwood was bus when we first got there but although I only spent a few days there it was already noticeably depopulated by then. It’s the only zone I’ve been in where people tended to ignore the invasions completely. That said, I did have some fantastic huge fights there at times.

        I’m still really enjoying Rift, but it’s becoming more and more the very good EQ/Vanguard style traditional MMO that I originally hoped it would be and less the innovative, ground-breaking step-change that Trion would have us believe. Which is fine by me.

        And you really never can have too much Planarite! I just like to count mine and watch it glow.

        1. I found it to be one of my favorite zones too and I liked the layout. The world isnt square-ish. I’m glad to see some deviation. Plus the landmass isn’t all that big so having to traverse things makes it more interesting to me. I am in Moonglade now and it’s beauty has stolen my heart.

          I enjoy the mob density too. This game feels more dangerous and active – something happening on all sides. Very happy with my choice not to go on a PVP Server. I have my hands full without it.

          Funny how something that really bothers one group of people is what some other group enjoys. I don’t envy developers.

      2. The big item is the 7500 planterite 6 slot belt (or whatever it’s called). I have two, one for DPS and one for tanking. Then you can buy all of the gear from each zone, along with the stones to put in the belt (all blue quality, and some are actually really good for their level). Finally, you need planerite to buy raid rift lures, although that’s still not something I’m buying just yet. I seem to always be in need of more, but I have a few guild members who have 10k+ and no major needs to fill. Just depends on how often you upgrade I guess.

      3. Bigger sigils/foci, essences to put in them, you need quite a lot of regular planarite along with your blue (or purple, if you’re lucky) stones for the later rare/epic planar gear, if you’re a crafter (or want to have stuff crafted for you) augment boxes, some crafting recipes are bought with planarite, a half-dozen or so cosmetic pets if that’s your thing, and at 50 lures for expert/raid rifts.

        I’m finding in the high 40s it comes in in heaps but it goes out pretty fast too. YMMV on both counts.

  4. I agree that the Ancient Wardstone system: (upgrading them, healing them, activating the contested PvP ones, etc …) isn’t well explained. I have been in almost all of the open beta events, have several characters ranging from 40-14, and I still couldn’t explain how they function completely.

    The currency needs tweaking as well. Everything drops the planarite currency – most players ‘get’ that. The uncommon blue and more rare purple tokens drop from the zone events but are non-transferable. It’s gets worse: some zones share the same blue/purple currency while others don’t. I understand they want to to stimulate regional event activity so players don’t “game” the system, but I wish this system had a little more latitude.

  5. I had the same feeling about Scarwood that a couple other people mentioned. Rifts and invasions were largely ignored. I noticed however that as soon as I made it to the next zones people were doing them again.

    I think that the mob density along the paths is a bit much but I assume this is the slow down the pvp ganking on pvp servers. You wouldn’t really be able to train through mobs to get to someone in these areas. I’m on a pve server though so this is only a guess.

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