I am about to hit up the boss in Silverwood, the first Guardian zone in Rift. Since I am level 21, I am well enough ready for the next zone, Gloamwood, but I do want to finish the quest lines in Silverwood first. The Life tree-demon Kongeegon, who may or may not be filled with rice porridge, alone stands in my way before I head off. It’s a little sad because there is still so much I want to experience and achieve in the zone. I have only received a check mark for one of the four invasion bosses, even though I have fought three, and there are hundreds of platinum-worth of artifacts to still collect. Still, there is much to look forward to.
And I need that, because I am also getting a little frustrated with the mechanics of Silverwood, which all coalesce in to traveling times. I am hoping that as the population thins, the landscape changes, and the events rebalance for the long-term populations, most of this will go away. I won’t really know though until I move on from Silverwood.
The rift/invasion events in Silverwood rely heavily on two factors to be entertaining. Population is the catalyst for action because I am pretty sure the system watches the amount of players at a certain level and reacts accordingly. If there is a glut of level 15’s in a quest area, then by Blood Storm a level 15 rift is going to drop. The other factor is distance. How far apart are the rifts going to be? This is especially important for invasion events when a dozen rifts open at once. These variables are used to basically create an amount of activity time.
How long will I have to travel before hitting a rift? How soon will the rift be completed based on local activity? These are the questions that enter my mind every time I see an event open up, and I am one of those players that will drop nearly everything to go join one. Obviously, I don’t want to head out of my quest zone, travel for 3 minutes, and then find that the rift is closing up as I arrive. It’s even worse when I am diligently fighting invasion rifts on one half of the zone only to realize that the boss warped in on the opposite half. It creates a bad dilemma where I have to decide between helping my zone defeat the invasion or heading the boss landing zone to get a grape-colored token and an achievement check box. (Plus, I absolutely hate the mob density in quest areas. I miss weaving my way through aggro-bubbles in other MMOs to take a shortcut.)
Kind of watching Guild Wars 2, I have contemplated whether Rift would actually be improved by allowing intra-zone porticulums so I can easily warp from major quest hub to major quest hub. At each major quest hub Guardians have what appears to be unused mini-portal frames anyway. I am not actually sure it would be an improvement given the fragile balance the event system has to maintain. The system likely breathes a sigh of relief when it sees a couple dozen players stuck at one end of the zone fighting rifts as the invasion boss drops on the other end. If everybody just warped to the nearby activity hotspots, I think the system would crumble.
So, is traveling time a necessary evil to maintain the fun of the event system? That’s the question I am dealing with, but I am going to refrain from definitively answering until I experience the later zones. Mid-level zones are notorious in MMOs for lower populations. Was Trion Worlds smart enough to design the mid-level zones a little differently so as to accommodate the lower amount of planar defenders, or is the event system going to just happily take this all into consideration?
I am on the fence on whether Trion Worlds should have also evolved past the traveling times in Rift. I have been so used to Guild Wars, where I can warp about with abandon, and Lord of the Rings Online, where swift travel is usually mere minutes away, that Rift actually caught me by surprise. My wife calls MMOs running games, and she has definitely remarked that Rift brings back a lot of that.
The bottom line is that I just want to play, but I don’t find that traveling to an event is very fun gameplay. Right now, Rift is fun, but the travel times are noticeable (especially in an invasion event). Not only are they noticeable, but I have to gamble travel time versus actual play if an unknown amount of players are going to close the rift or drop the invasion boss before I can make a contribution. We’ll see if this problem persists as I travel on past Silverwood.
well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze