A loving FU to Trion

Time to eat crow.

See, I wasn’t going to play Rift. Note the past tense. Just looking at it from a distance it looked like it had nothing to offer other than its two major key points, namely the Rifts themselves and the class system. The rest was just your usual spaghetti sauce of modern MMO, adjusted for flavor here and there. Enough? For some people it was, but for me it wasn’t. I just wasn’t interested in the least bit to learn about its details.

Then, of course, I just had to go ahead and try the beta. I never learn. So, basically, FU Trion. For getting me hooked.

Recap? Briefly? Okay: This game has no right being as fun as it is. Why? Because once you take out the rifts and the class system, we’ve played this game before. Some of us for years on end. We’ve done this before. Let that sink in. So, if we did, why is it still utterly fun?

Musings about that last point: It’s still fun because you really can’t take the rifts and the class system out. Sure, you might choose never ever ever to join a PQ and do a single rift, cross your heart and hope to die. That’s fine. But it still alters your gameplay as you go along. And of course, you can’t take the class system out. It’s still fun because it works, and it works great at what it does, which is offering a condensed can of modern, post-WoW MMO, with all that people love and hate about it. It’s fun because the combat feels meaty and punchy, and at least to me, never got old with any of the soul combinations I tried. It’s fun because it’s exceptionally pretty new ground to cover and muck about in. It’s fun because it’s polished and you can tell a lot of love went into it.

So, if you’re like I was up until a few days ago, thinking that you’re gonna give it a miss because there’s nothing in it of note other than the Rifts – which you won’t care about – and the class system – which might be nice, but whatever – here’s my impressions from playing the beta for just a few days: You’re wrong.

30 thoughts on “A loving FU to Trion”

  1. I still can’t run past a rift without helping to close it or abandon a source stone that is under attack. I just can’t do it. And now, WARFRONTS? WTH!?

  2. I was pleasantly surprised with the game also. I don’t think I will be playing, but it’s not because the game was necessarily lacking. In my case, I just won’t be playing much of anything until SWTOR comes out. It’s really in everyone’s best interest for Rift to succeed, and I’m glad to see so many people excited over the game.

    Did you have a chance to try much PvP out this week? It didn’t feel nearly as bad balance-wise as I had feared, so kudos for that.

    1. I went into a grand total of one Warfront. It looked nice and seemed more compact than, say, Warsong Gulch.

      I can’t comment any further because I stink at most things pvp related, so whatever shortcomings I might point out are probably mine and not the game’s. I’m totally the wrong person to ask about pvp.

  3. I just like the diversity be it content, questing/PvP/instances/rifts, and the ability to alter your role to suit the needs of the situation or to alleviate boredom with your current ‘archetype’. Tired of tanking, be DPS. Tired of DPS, be a healer. Tired of being a healer, be a tank. Tired of being ranged, go melee. Want to go with magic attacks, go do it. While some callings may have a few less options, there are still plenty souls to change your mechanics enough to make it play differently.

    Thats enough for me atm.

  4. You really should add to this the fact that you do not spend half of your time worrying about performance, gameplay issues, major bugs that will not let you progress and polish of all the systems.

    It may be what we have played before…but to me, playing such a beautifully polished and stable game that offers features I have enjoyed in other MMO’s…is a whole new ballgame.

  5. I was the same, not thinking I would pick up anything until SWTOR. Man, was I wrong. so it’s up to three subs for me. Still an entertainment bargain, if you think about it.

  6. No, I’m right. I tried the Beta and I found myself slipping into WoW-mode while playing. The story sounded interesting, but damned if I didn’t just grab quests and head to the quest markers without reading the quest text.

    The rifts were interesting if annoying when I just wanted to quest. The class system was pretty cool, even if they’ll be optimized within a few months. But, ultimately, you are right: I played this game for a while. This time, I don’t have my old university friends along, so it’s not as engaging.

    Maybe we’ll see when the first big expansion comes along. For now? Pass.

    1. I have to agree with you Psychochild, that one particular phrase especially, because I just didn’t feel engaged with Rift.

      Although I don’t think it matters for me how interesting the systems are or aren’t. It’s just that the overall amalgamation, presentation, all of it– Rift felt artificial and derived.

      I never had am urge to explore and that’s essential for me.

      1. Mileage varies – Rift pushed my explorer buttons pretty hard, in part by doubling-up with achiever buttons (there are some neat achievements you can only find by careful exploration. Well, or looking up the /loc on a wiki somewhere in a week or two, I’m sure, but that is – for me – less fun), and in part by just having things stuffed away in out-of-the-way corners begging to be found: neat vistas, or NPCs with a few lines of dialogue, or even previous adventurers who weren’t paying close enough attention to their buff bars (a drowned body I found in a lake that I looted for a 1-use water-breathing potion).

        1. I never made the time to explore at all. Partially because I simply never saw anything in the distance that called to me, and partially because I was constantly running from rift to rift frantically, because I knew if I took too long it’d get closed before I arrived.

          That was one of the single biggest issues with the rift stomping game for me. In contrast with what we know about GW2’s dynamic events – where you should be able to just go wherever you want, and be wherever you are, and you’ll have some activity or event going on – in rift you’re constantly forced to run to one specific place on the map, from whatever other place on the map you’re currently at.

          This is good, in as much as it brings players together; but also bad, in that it potentially punishes the player if they arrive after a 5 minute run, only to see the rift closing and everyone else getting loot.

          I truly have no idea how to solve this problem, other than giving players some sort of very fast mount early on (which I lobbied for in multiple threads during the betas I played in). Barring that, I can’t see myself doing much exploring – which is one of my favorite activities – because it would conflict with my desire to be available to defend against invasions and stomp rifts.

          1. I’m not only sure the problem’s solvable, I’m not particularly convinced it’s a problem – I think a certain amount of down-time, to explore, or craft, or roleplay, or just look at the view is vital. If GW2 does turn out to be “all events, all the time, everywhere”, and that’s not just the usual pre-release dev bumf, I could see myself burning out in about five minutes – as you say, doing fun stuff would conflict with the desire to be available to participate in events, followed by the desire to get away from events to be able to focus on something else, followed by uninstallation.

            I don’t think Trion’s quite there yet in terms of distribution, but they’re plainly working on it – over the course of four betas I don’t think I’ve ever seen the map event-free, and I’ve never seen it so over-run that there wasn’t anywhere to go if you didn’t feel like dealing with rifts or invasions.

            Oh, not sure if you’ve been following the more recent betas or not, but on the mount question the basic (60% runspeed) mounts are no longer level-gated, meaning you can buy one as soon as you can afford it (probably mid-teens on a first character, or as soon as you’re out of the tutorial and can get to a mailbox on an alt).

            1. I had stopped playing before the mount change went in, actually. It’s a great fix, though, and should solve any of the “problems” I brought up. :)

              Doesn’t change the combat system to be more interesting to me, but I think that’s a much more subjective topic, whereas I thought the lack of some sort of movespeed boost in the teen levels was an objective issue.

              Either way, seems fixed. :)

    2. I remember playing the first beta, and doing the same thing. Why can’t I just kill ten rats, and do it over, and over?

      I am not a big fan of take this item from your inventory, and put fires out, take this bucket and collect water.

      Even the new goblin zone in WoW was cool and everything, but kill quests aren’t the same.

      I am just hoping playing with my old guild is fun, and we have tons of fun pvping. That is why I play in the first place.

  7. This is exactly how I felt around Beta 3. I’d only heard of this game in earnest a few months ago and I said there was just no way I would be playing it. Don’t really care about SWTOR as I’m not a big Star Wars or Bioware geek. But GW2 was the one I had my sights set on. I even planned on spending the time between now and GW2 playing through all of GW and maxing out my HoM.

    But somewhere in between Beta 3 and Beta 4 when I went ahead and pre-ordered I just could not stop thinking about this damn game and the possibilities. Nor could I stop having fun. So a big, loving FU to Trion from me as well.

  8. I was interested, having read all the things I read.. and then I played the beta. First beta I was invited to, I spent a fair slice of the weekend playing but was getting bored by the end of it. The second, I probably only spent about two hours logged in. The third, I couldn’t even bring myself to launch the game, I was so bored of it. Sorry, I’ve done this before, for years on end, and I DON’T find it “utterly fun”.

    1. That was my experience by beta 5. I kept playing for a while because I honestly enjoy helping out developers that’re receptive and responsive; so I tested and left feedback. My final forum post basically explained why they lost my interest, and what they’d have to change to keep it, since I felt that was the best piece of information I had to give them.

      The underlying game that RIFT is just bores me at this point. It says nothing about the quality of the game or whether it’s new or old or recycled or undead – it’s just not my game, which is fine.

  9. I’d say if you played to level 8 or 10, tried out a few characters, didn’t find it fun… you may have missed out. I didn’t notice just how detailed, consistent, involving and just plain fun Rift was until I had a character in the mid-teens. From there it just got better.

    On the other hand, if you played into the 20s or 30s and still didn’t have fun then yes, you probably know what you like and should give it a miss.

    For a modern MMO, Rift has a slow burn of a start. I didn’t really begin to be hooked until halfway through beta three, by when I’d probably played for 20 or 30 hours at least.

  10. I couldn’t make myself do more than a couple dozen quests total, they were so bad. What limited progress (level 16 or 17) I made in the game had to come from just riftstomping, which is fun but gets boring quickly when you overwhelm the invading NPCs effortlessly. It didn’t help that I was a main Chloromancer, thus my healing seemed to rely on being in a raid, which made the entire experience much less fluid than I hoped it would be.

    It’s interesting to note that I stopped picking up quests in RIFT entirely by about level 13 or 14 – that’s how bad they were. I’ve never seen another game so quickly train me *out of* the habitual acceptance of quests… :)

    That said, I still wish RIFT only the best. I think it’s a great offering and I’m happy to see it do well. Hopefully its success will convince more developers to try bold ideas (which is what the rift and invasion system is, really), and will moderate some of the jaded, bitter attitude so common in the community right now.

    Personally however, I simply can’t bring myself to play another grind-levels-to-cap-then-raid treadmill; even worse to me is the simply ancient target-and-mash-keys combat system – I’m amazed they didn’t try a single innovation in the combat system itself. I think that’s a real shame, considering what games like GW2 and DCUO are doing to drive the evolution of MMO combat.

    1. Hmm…can’t speak to GW2, not having had a chance to play it, but I’m not entirely convinced that DCUO’s “do a quarter-arsed PC port of a generic console button-masher then have your lead devs tell anybody who complains to ‘STFU an lrn2console nub!!111!!oneoneoneone’ is “the evolution of MMO combat”. Or at least I desperately *hope* it isn’t.

      1. I recommend you read up on the DCUO combat system, if you haven’t – it’s actually very deep, though it looks to be just a button masher on the surface.

        This is accomplished by a rock-paper-scissors system that could have been lifted from a fighting game. In short, basic combos are punished by blocking (which KDs the combo’er IIRC), blocking is punished by block breakers (stunning the blocker, again IIRC), block breakers are punished by interrupts, and so forth. There is also an active dodging system, of course.

        This is the real meat and bones of the combat, not the light-light-light-heavy button mashing – although I’d argue that even that is an improvement over “1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,4444444!”… :) Obviously that’s a matter of opinion however!

        1. Oh, I’ve read up on it, and I agree absolutely that it’s very deep on paper, and I’m quite sure that there exist cases in which that depth has a chance to shine.

          It’s just that I found that in 100% of PvE fights and 95% of PvP fights* my combat effectiveness rose ten-fold if I ignored all that and just mashed buttons at random as quickly as I could rather than worrying about how many ms distinguish a tap from a hold and whether a given combo was 3LR2leftarrow2L3R or 2L3Rleftarrow3R2L. Some of this is doubtless down to the fact that I react better to visual and verbal cues than kinetic ones, so I find it confusing when two-thirds of my skills are “hidden” rather than immediately capable of being referenced on a hotbar or similar UI artifact.

          *The other 5% of cases involved being curbstomped by characters 25 levels higher exploiting the loopholes in the PvP-flagging rules before they were fixed.

          1. Ah, fair enough. I apologize for assuming you weren’t familiar with it – I haven’t actually played myself, just read up on it here and there, so I bow to your superior knowledge. :)

  11. I’m still absolutely amazed at just how on-the-ball the Trion dev crew is. In a way, basing some of the stuff in existing concepts and systems (UI, etc) may have been a help since unlike pretty much *any* other beta I’ve ever heard of, the Rift betas pretty much *were* finished, releasable product and all Trion was doing was what you’d *think* a beta was for, final balancing and polishing, with a small handful of bug-fixes (as compared to other betas, which seem to be half-finished code that they’re still writing up *past* release time…). And the few significant bugs there were were patched within an hour or two, rather than days.

    The flexibility in builds is great–even if you *don’t* have alt-itis, it’s a great system because it better enables you to develop your character to how *you* want to play, rather than shoehorning you into a particular style like a more narrow class-based system does. It’s not as flexible as a skill/power ala-carte system like, say, original (aka ‘Gold’ now) Champions, but OTOH those systems usually get the ‘Waah, too many choices, I can’t min-max/Trinity it easily!’ complaint anyway. :-/

    Sadly, the process of ‘optimization’ has already begun–I kept hearing calls for tired old Trinity stereotypes in the last beta–I’d really like to see a game that finally kills the Trinity completely, and pushes players to be at least adequate in all roles rather than min/maxing one without being punished for being so narrowly specialized.

    1. Dunno myself. Personally I’m not looking to Trion to do away with the trinity. First because as a player, right now, I don’t care much about it. I see it’s an issue, I’d welcome its demise and replacement with something better (not ‘something else’) but TBH it’s pretty low in my list of concerns.

      And second because arena.net might go ahead and do it anyway “when it’s done”, so I’d rather have Trion focus on something else.

  12. I too was pretty bored by 20. But for some reason things got more interesting at 20+. Maybe it was the occasional skirmishes with the guardian side (rolled on the RP-PvP server), or my chosen soul finally getting some teeth, or the hugely better instance then the inital offering of Iron Tombs, but the game just got more enjoyable. And as with every MMO playing with a great group of people makes it all better.

  13. The class system is more or less the same as old MMO class systems… I guess when you’ve been spoon fed shallow and poorly constructed class systems, even shameless rip offs of a better MMO’s class system seems refreshing.

  14. Personally, I’m on the opposite shelf. It’s a neat game, and the class system is nifty as are Rifts, but with them not offering up a lifetime sub, I really don’t have an interest in it. If I could drop $200 or $250 on it once and be done, I’d go for that in a heart beat. But with it being ‘more of the same’ while I’m playing LotRO and STO, I’m giving it a pass.

  15. Rift looks and plays like a pretty fun wow clone with, as you said, some nice new features – but I’d be more concerned with stability. It’s very well polished – not quite as well as WoW – but making a speedhack for this game took me about 10 minutes. There is NO position serverside check for this game and I cringe when I think of what other “minor details” they slipped up on. Hackers will make this game pretty frustrating, I forsee.

  16. So I went ahead and dropped £40 on the pre-order pretty much sight unseen. I need an occasional new MMO to get me over periods of burnout with the one all my friends are playing, and this sounds about right. If it’s like LotRO with less petty annoyances it’ll be pretty much my favourite game for a few months. With any luck I’ll start to get bored of it right around the time open beta for GW2 starts. :D

  17. I spend a ton of time exploring but that could be because is the first and best fantasy + steam punk setting I’ve ever been in. For me it’s the perfect cross between the woodsy, rustic, shire-like zones I gravitate towards + steam/techno. As a result, each time I’ve leveled into Freemarch and Stonefield I’ve found new quest NPCs and out of the way places to just grind mobs when I’m in the mood for that. I can’t wait to take of the brakes and level for real!

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