I participated in Rift’s 6th beta event over the past few days and had a generally good time. Now that I know the rift mechanic, it’s not new and shiny but it is still entertaining. I wonder what the rewards will be for the zone-wide invasions that happen every 2 hours or so (turned off right now) and how those will scale, but otherwise Rift is your standard MMORPG. A LoTRO guildmate asked last week for a reason to play it over LoTRO, and I was honestly at a loss besides “it’s new, and the rifts are fun”. The best way to quickly summarize Rift is as it’s kind of an MMORPG Greatest Hits Album, like the ones that collect the good songs of the year or decade. That may come off as overly negative, but I don’t intent it that way – it pulls off the collection of what works in other games in a cohesive, fun, total, and then adds the rift element on top. Giving a new bit of flavor to something that’s well-known and comfortable might be just the thing to snag in those players who are simply feeling their game has gone stale.
Anyway, in addition to these Deep Thoughts, I also played the Defiant side this time, and played a Mage and Rogue. I also played with two other tradeskills, the PvP zone Black Garden, and, thanks to my gaming family, got to see the guild functions a bit. Breaking that down after the cut.
Now that I’ve played both sides, I have a much better feel for the lore of the game. I do enjoy a good story, and while Rift’s story is again a standard model from the sci-fi genre, it’s a good read. Here’s me distilling it as much as possible. *clears throat*
In the past, the gods created this planet from a special material, at a place where it is in conjunction with elemental planes. This place would be, as they usually are, an idyllic world. And, as per standard plot, the bad people came, here called the Blood Storm. The gods raised various heroes who fell in battle against them and together with the gods they erected a magical barrier to keep them out. These raised people are then tossed forward in time by the gods to become the Guardians.
Fast forward to the end of the planet and you find the Defiant. They are standing on the last patch of the world that exists. The player is the end result of an experiment to create a godlike being. They then send you back in time to prevent the disaster that happened when one of the Guardians decided to join the big bad.
Thus the Guardians are religious zealots and the Defiant are apocalyptic machinists. A typical faith vs. reason, or religion vs. technology, type of story. On the whole though, the Defiant’s lore, flavor text, and general outlook feels better written. I’m guessing that the Guardians were made first, development-wise, as many junk world drops reference NPCs on the Guardian side, with the extreme example being the rewards of the first dungeon on each side are exactly the same, including the names. Getting a nature-themed staff from the Defiant’s tomb dungeon is a bit…odd. I did feedback this as they probably forgot to change the graphic and name when copying it over.
After having such a good time on the Cleric, I had high hopes for the Mage as the explody classes are frequently fun to play. I do typically avoid the big blast classes in games athough as they almost always become overpopulated for this same reason. I didn’t see as many mages as I expected to, but there were a good amount. I did find the game play lackluster though, and the souls to be not as fun as the Cleric. My normal game grind class included a pet, an assortment of damage over time spells, direct damage, a channeled self-heal, and a few crowd control options, which did cover most situations, but where my Cleric could easily handle multiple adds even unexpectedly, and solo elite level mobs, the Mage struggled on multiples, and only one of the pet class options had a pet that was worth keeping long term. The Rogue I found to be extremely heavy damage, and is definitely the DPS class of Rift. I purposely made a “glass cannon” spec’ed one and found it quite fun. While this meant I relied on potions to keep my health up, I tended to be able to destroy most mobs even two levels above me. I plan to play this one a bit more in the next beta to see how it feels later in levels. So far I have a mage and cleric to almost 30 so I want to see how this one feels up there.
This time around I experimented with the Runecrafting and Outfitter professions. The outfitter is a standard tailor type, with the ability to make cloth and leather armor, as well as bags. I was easily able to tailor gear far better than any quest reward, which did make me wonder why I was struggling on the mage so much when my gear was top of the line. The Runecrafting profession breaks down magical items, similar to WoW’s enchanter, and takes the results to make runes that can be applied to specific item slotted items. I found the restrictions on the runes to be a bit heavy initially, however later on I felt that the runes themselves seemed to be too few as I was crafting items that I couldn’t use for nearly 10 levels. This skill could use a little buffing out, with some more runes to give some more buffs. The buffs provided by the runes seemed adequate for the time and materials invested though. If you are going Runecrafter, I would highly suggest you also take a skill that allows you to create items as otherwise you will be starved on this skill. Almost anything can be runebroken into materials though, so you may avoid this pitfall with luck.
I ran 7 matches of the low level PvP zone, Black Gardens, on Saturday. It’s a standard capture the flag type of event, with more points given for having the flag, which slowly kills you (lore reasons), in specific areas. In almost every one I ran though, the carrier for either side ended up in one of two spots – behind a big tree or in their own rez area, hiding in a corner guarded by a squad of people. It reminded me of some of my less fun Warsong Gulch runs in WoW. During two of the matches I felt the need to turn off raid chat as someone spent most of the time berating the flag carrier, the players on our own team, or both. As I previously mentioned, I am not a PvP fan however, so this may be what some folks are interested in and we just had poor strategists.
Lastly, I rejoined my LoTRO guild in Rift and got to play with a few of the guild options. Guilds in Rift have levels, which get experience points based on daily guild quests. There appeared to be at least two; one PvP related and one instance related. Completing these and gaining guild levels allows your guild to have both passive and triggerable skills. I liked the passive ones quite a bit, especially the decrease to training costs (as I was constantly training, it seemed), but there was some with a buff to crafting, and an increase in cash rewards from quests. There’s also banners you can use, like a rally banner that allows guild members to all teleport instantly to a specified location, or ones that increase mana and hit point return. These appear to have a one hour cool down, and only last for a short time, but are still very nice.