This last weekend I played a ton of RIFT in their Beta #4 weekend. I saw the light, but I also so darkness within. Impressions after the break. Warning: very long.
Awhile ago Zubon asked where the “2.0” was in the so-called RIFT’s Public Quest 2.0 system. Players won’t see it until they are approaching level 10. On the Defiant side, the first two repetitive rifts that can be seen from the Ark of the Ascended are training rifts in comparison to the rift-filled world below. Honestly, I would call it a fumble that it takes a really good hour to see one of the basest cores of the game. Still once I saw it for real, I was hooked. Events, which are the fullest embodiment of this core, made it amazing.
I had this skill called Planar Lure that I was itching to use. It can only be used around a tear between the planes, where the main plane Telara is interfacing with an enemy-controlled plane but no one has crossed, yet. Using the Planar Lure forces the tear to open in to a full on rift complete with invaders. I had this skill for a few hours, and like I said, I was just itching to use it regardless of any consequences.
I found one by the undead-filled Scarred Mire. It was a tear to the plane of water. Great, I thought to myself, water hates undead. I opened the rift with Planar Lure to start a small event called Abyssal Menace. The event starts out small with soloable mobs for the likely, lone player that had to push the red button, but it builds up quickly. Immediately three other nearby players dropped their silly questing or traveling to join in the fray. By the time we were done I counted at least five other players that had come to the water rift to play in the event. It was a simple, round-based, kill-ten-invaders type event similar to the PQ 1.0 system, but there were consequences.
Even though we unpartied six beat the Abyssal Menace, the event managed to also spawn two war parties (1 boss with 4-5 adds) to attack the quest hub at the Scarred Mire. After our rift was sealed we all ran to the quest hub to find another small group of players futilely trying to fend off the attack. They were not faring so well as the quest hub’s planar ward had fallen to their attack. One of the bosses was in the process of planting a planar foothold. This would effectively nullify the quest hub until the foothold could be destroyed and our planar ward renewed.
Of course the good guys won, and at the end there were about 20 players standing victorious at the quest hub. My one action had affected not only the world, but at least 20 other players. These 20 players where not defending against other rifts that had opened in the area. When I logged on half an hour later I saw a named water boss (Ara’quixgl something) fighting an epic death boss (Fist of Regulos) at the same quest hub. Would this have even happened if I had not opened that first rift? This is dynamic content.
There are of course wrinkles that need massaging. The first is focus. When there is a one rift invasion sending war parties at a quest hub the focus is easy. Players defend the quest hub, and then advance on the rift to close it. Once closed, it is easy to say “we have won.” When the big event, Battle for Freemarch occurs, where the map fills with death rifts sending war parties all over, there is still focus because there is a win and loss condition for the whole zone (we did lose at one point, but I am not sure what the punishment was). It’s when a bunch of same-elemental rifts occur without any “win” condition that focus is lost.
It begins to feel mushy. Is there an end in sight? It begins to feel like snowball-zerg whack-a-mole as our ever-amassing group of players continues to stomp out rifts that pop up around the map. Each small victory when we killed a war party, ended a foothold, or sealed a rift lost the “we have won” feeling because we had so many more to kill. But, since it was not a named event with a win condition announced to all, I think focus was lost. It felt like there should have been a better way to strike back.
There is also the issue of player survivability and scaling. Right now clerics seem to rule the day because of their fantastic survivability in healing themselves and others while also managing to output a respectable damage amount. The other classes have “support” souls, but their survivability still remains low. I really feel that as the dynamic content scales upwards, the whole mob agro system begins to rely too heavily on a holy trinity function where the mass of players needs tanks and healers. Players can not rely on themselves as much, and I feel this makes the game a little less fun. I expect that an open grouping system would help this issue greatly, but I hope that Trion also considers re-working each class to have one soul that really shines for self-survivability. I was trying a pyromancer/chloromancer build, but I did not have enough points for the chloromancer’s good heal, Bloom. It might have been enough if I had put more points in to the chloromancer (a support soul).
Finally, maybe I am just spoiled by Lord of the Rings Online, but I was getting really sick of the time it took to get to one quest hub after another. (There’s a big reason my wife calls MMOs “running games.”) Especially to get back to the quest hub that trades rift rewards. Perhaps that problem will be gone when I hit level 20 and get a mount, but having this issue in the whole first zone was not very fun.
Regardless, I had a blast with the game as a whole. There are so many other fun things like finding artifacts for my collections under a wagon, or killing a deer and getting the Deer Tears item (“you, monster”). I am looking forward to some PvP and trying other soul combinations. Hopefully next beta I will be able to experience a dungeon too.
man was in the forest