Rift Overrun

As I go in to this fourth open beta weekend for RIFT, I have a overbearring question in my head. So many people are upset with languished tutorial zone and the themepark feel of the plethora of kill ten rats quests. What if those didn’t exist? What if I was just playing for the dungeon content, which I’ve heard decent things about so far, and especially the dynamic open world content?

That’s how I intend to play this weekend. I am going to roll a Defiant mage because I can roll through that tutorial really quickly. Then I am going to try and level and play with as much focus on the dynamic content as possible.

This dynamic war comes so close to the MMO I have designed in my head, I just wish it was not so tarnished by the lackluster quest system set in place, and I wish it was a tad more scalable, especially in early areas where small rifts open and are vanquished in less than a minute.

the dance of angry feet

17 thoughts on “Rift Overrun”

  1. That’s pretty much how I play. I do take quests when I see them (and I’m odd..I like reading the lore) but I don’t then set out to complete the quests. Instead I set out to do rifts and if I happen by a quest mob/destination I’ll hit it as I go past.

    Quests are there to kind of fill in the nooks and crannies around rifting, for me.

  2. I have yet to play any beta of Rift, but after hearing about the Rifts and how they function, this is pretty much my plan for the weekend. I want to experience the various rifts that I can and level up through those. Then once I get a decent understanding of the game and class(es), start looking for different PvP options; either the scenario-based PvP or open world.

  3. I just got a beta invite yesterday, and I’m in the process of deciding if I have the time to play this weekend. I’ll probably have the client DL overnight, and try to spend a few hours with the game, but that assumes I don’t wind up rushing to finish the last few missions in Prophecies. I have to admit I’m feeling a bit psyched out by Thunderhead Keep, just from reputation. :)

    So assuming I do give Rift a try, I’ll be trying to do the minimum questing necessary. At this stage of my MMO life, I’m just completely done with questing, it bores me beyond description; even in my Cataclysm trial (which, to be fair to WoW, has some amazing quest design), I struggled to get out of the tutorial areas. I can easily see myself getting bogged down in Rift and never getting past level 5 or 6.

    That said, I’ve heard a lot of positive things about the level 10-20 play, so I’ll do my best. I’ll likely be named “BriseBonbons” (or “Brise Bonbons” if it’s one of those games with spaces in the names), if anyone wants to hit me up and play together. :)

  4. I’ve been playing that way since the start, but then I play every MMO that way.

    My characters aren’t put on this earth (or that one) to run errands for NPCs too lazy to do things for themselves. If my plans and an NPC’s happen to coincide then fine, I’ll happily pick up a reward for something I would have done anyway. otherwise they can go whistle.

  5. All of Guardian-side Byriel (PvE) has basically been run over by rifts all day, so I do think they scale somewhat. Perhaps you’ve just been unlucky so far.

    I view quests as there to give people something to be disrupted by the Rifts, sort of an inverse funnel/incentive system. ;)

  6. I’ve never been a quester – EVER. I enjoy making my way around the appropriate level zones and killing what appeals to me. The more direct the questing, the more of it I’ll do because it’s easier to see which quests align with my plans for that session. This is why in games like Warhammer and Runes of Magic, I did most of the quests. They were just sort of there. Some players will feel that’s soulless PVE but to each his own. I abhor long winded chained quests that require me to do things in a very specific order or I’m ass out.

    So far the quests in Rift are the garden variety, in that they’re just there and I can do them easily while running around enjoying the show. I do appreciate the variety of interactions. I mean there are only so many ways they can have you complete a task for a quest and they’ve used all of the known methods.

    My only real issue is that as much as I love steampunk there’s something about Rift’s graphics I don’t like??? I can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s on my mind the whole time I’m playing because all of the SP elements are everywhere but I can’t enjoy as much as I did in Allods. Dunno why.

  7. So I’ve been playing on Defiant side a bit, and found it pretty impressive in most ways.

    The engine is smooth in terms of controls and animations. It looks very nice – they have a good art team. In general, this is what Warhammer should have been with another year of development. Like, exactly what WAR should have been – as far as I can tell they’re using the exact same engine, and many of the same art assets. o.O (I’m being facetious of course, but holy crap does this game look and feel like WAR.)

    The questing is painfully generic. Again, it’s WAR, even down to the icons and seemingly many of the SFX.

    The class system is a muddy mess as far as I can tell. They throw all 3 souls at you almost immediately, now, so you just have this undifferentiated stream of skills flooding you nonstop. As a novice player this feels like an overload of choice becoming no real choice at all – by level 5 I have like 9 skills on my bar, all of them with very similar effects and feel. Also, as you’re given the option of choosing new souls every couple levels, there’s no real way to know what you’re getting – they have a brief blurb about the souls, sure, but no real info about what the spells you’ll learn will be.

    Honestly the game is quite fun so far. The mechanics are solid, the story and world is interesting, and there’re some unique ideas in the art and lore. My biggest concern is the class system, which just feels like a real mess. I really feel for players who aren’t savvy about using forums and other resources to plan and research what souls to take. I’m getting lost myself, even after reading around on the forums and looking at the soul builder apps…

    1. If you Ctrl-click on the souls in the quest dialogue, you can in fact see the entire soul tree and how many points are required for what. They probably need to make that more clear, as IIRC that information only pops up when you mouseover the skill.

      1. Well, that would have been useful to know. Thanks for the tip! :)

        I’ve finally gotten to the point in the game where Rifts and invasions are common and interesting enough to replace questing, and that is very much what’s happening for me. In that level 10 to 12 range, the questing slows to a crawl, with the tasks escalating to “kill 15 boars” or “collect 10 wolf flanks”, which I can’t imagine any sane person choosing over *any* other option. So I hoofed it off into the zone and started chasing down invasions.

        This raised two issues. With no reasoning behind the invasions – be it scripted behavior or AI thought – they tend to pop up all over the map at random, leaving me stuck running on foot from one end of the zone to the other – through packs of aggressive mobs, generally.

        The second issue is that with the Rifts and invasions being random, it’s possible for them to behave in very illogical ways. I was standing near a quest hub at one time, and saw an invasion force of a handful of elite mobs coming down the road on the map. We fight it off and get our loot, only to have a completely identical invasion force come round the corner seconds later. I mean, sure, I guess it’s possible they sent two waves at what is basically an abandoned farm house, but wouldn’t it have been wiser for the first commander to wait a moment so the two waves could attack together? :) …Although, considering the similarly dense behavior we often see real players engage in… maybe the rift invasions don’t have Vent set up yet.

        Those qualms aside, once you get past the early training wheel Rifts (the one that pops up every 2 minutes in the post-tutorial area is just too easy), they’re actually a lot of fun, and far preferable to questing in terms of being social and enjoyable activities. I don’t rally have a sense of how they are in terms of leveling speed compared to questing; but they seem to give decent loot rewards, at least.

        I do have to gripe at the lack of some sort of easy open grouping system, however. I don’t understand why they didn’t at least copy the invite-yourself-to-the-raid model from WAR, given how well it worked there.

        After playing on and off throughout today, I’m both more impressed by its potential, and more concerned for the game’s future – however that works. It really does a lot of things incredibly well, but I just don’t understand what niche they’re aiming for. You have the rifts, which are very cool, but they’re just this sort of optional layer, set up on top of a completely unrelated questing-on-rails game. And that generic questing-on-rails game, while amazingly polished, just seems like a very weird design choice: It’s been done many times with marginal success, and just feels like it’s dated and hamstrung straight out of the box.

        I did play a couple PvP matches as well, but honestly I don’t think there’s enough there to talk about yet. I will say that the map design was very cool and unique in the level 10-20 scenario, at least.

        I’ll be very curious to see what the other impressions are after this beta weekend. Giant rant: Done.

        1. According to Syp (BioBreak) on Twitter… they are working on that. Not sure if it will be a launch feature. He did a phone interview with them last week, but not sure when it will go up (likely on Massively).

  8. I managed to catch one of the giant zone invasion quests – Ebb of the Tidelord… Even if Rift crashes and burns on launch (and I don’t think it will), that was worth the price of the pre-order right there. Nothing like the energy of a humongous spontaneously forming player Zerg. It’s the one feeling for which I keep paying top dollar in order to play on MMO launch dates and be swept up in the crowd’s energy. Oh, and performance was near flawless despite there being 100-200+ odd players converging onto the same locations. That’s some good behind the scenes code there.

    Also impressed with speed of response: tutorial zone mob got stuck, blocking the linear quest progression. Submitted GM petition, reset in 15-20 mins. Tossed in an idea for a target nearest option to keybind, and in a day or two, I was shocked to see a target nearest enemy, target nearest friend option while binding keys for an alt. Presumably I wasn’t the only one that thought of it and the fix may have already been in the works, but wow.

    1. I think it does manage to capture a sort of old-school social behavior that most MMOs have lost – you could potentially spend a lot of time standing around and chatting with other players at a quest hub, waiting for the next invasion to arrive. Similarly, you have those moments where dozens of players suddenly appear out of the woodwork all intent on the same goal, which is something that I haven’t felt in an MMO since… perhaps WoW open Beta?

      However, this is another area where I’m confused by some of Rift’s fundamental design choices. Given that it’s inherently a level-to-cap and do progression game, you have to deal with the majority of your players spending 95% of their time at endgame, meaning after the first wave of players moves through at launch, the social experiences we’re talking about won’t be available any more.

      This is where I think ANet’s intelligence really shows in GW2’s design – GW2 fundamentally modifies the MMO formula, in order to better mesh with the innovations that it puts forward: The idea of dynamic events as social activities taking place in a populated zone, is supported by and reinforces the emphasis on making alts and experiencing different personal stories. Suddenly the relative lack of endgame content (no raiding; and given the pricing model, I don’t expect a constant stream of new level 80 dungeon tiers to progress through) makes sense: If there was a real focus on endgame in the WOW sense, it would detract from the entire dynamic event and personal story system by isolating most of the population at level 80.

      I’m just worried that even if I chose to buy Rift – as someone who doesn’t play very often or level very quickly – I’ll be left behind in an empty zone, unable to muster enough players to even fight off the invasions or to take back quest hubs. At this stage it feels very much like it’s following WAR’s path in this regard: It will be awesome in those first few launch days, but frustrating for anyone who misses that initial wave.

      1. Interesting WAR mention there; I’d say – from my very distant vanatge point – that Rifts has one big advanatge and one big disadvantage relative to WAR’s tiers 1-3 situation though…

        [+] WAR, rather recklessly it turned out, launched with all intermediary levels in triplicate on account of their zone layout – presumably Rifts condenses people into a single path instead?
        If that’s the case, it shouldn’t take so many folks for an area to feel populated.

        [-] Rifts soul system is intended to offer stupendous flexibility & tinkering potential – that’s got to severely impact people’s enthusiasm/need for alts…
        The less people play alts, the less potential traffic after the launch population migration through the game.

        1. Three alts should be enough for anyone.

          That said, having played it this weekend, I pre-ordered. It’s an absolute blast when you get off the quest rails, to follow the rifts and events. Better still on a pvp server. The world actually feels open, which is pretty refreshing these days.

          1. I’m tempted, I gotta say. When it’s working right, it really does feel like a living world. I was running around today watching invasion forces spread out from a Rift and set up footholds all over the countryside. It really felt unique and exciting to watch these invaders from the planes run around with some agency, doing real stuff that changed the landscape.

            Soon after, however, I found myself at a foothold with no other players. Eventually a hunter type character showed up, but even the two of us couldn’t deal with single elite mobs. We tried pulling a few times, and eventually died.

            I looked elsewhere on the map. There were a couple invasions to the south, but they were level 18 and 20, while I was level 13. There was another to the north, but by the time I got there, it had already been closed.

            Rift just feels like one of those games that’s amazing when you get lucky and everything lines up perfectly, but you spend most of your time waiting for the perfect storm of fun to happen.

            I will *consider* buying the game, if and when a solid open grouping system is added – but without that it’s not even on my list of things to consider. Largely because I’m just not looking for an MMO to play right now, to be 100% fair to it.

            However, if I had any friends who were looking for a new MMORPG to try, I would recommend they check out Rift without second thought. It really is an impressive effort in so many ways.

            1. For footholds you need to use Holy/Eldritch flares to spawn elite friendly NPCs that will tank stuff for you while you beat on it. That makes many footholds soloable.

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