[Rift] Not My Problem

I am in the mid-high level zone of Moonshade Highlands still. My vacation slowed me down for a week. I am pretty sure I am nearly finished with it being level 41 and nearing the final Guardian quest hub. I am starting to see an interesting change in these lower populated zones, especially during the week (i.e., even lower pop.). It sadly reminds me of Warhammer Online’s descent. The problem is that fewer people care about lonely rifts that open up. Invasions still seem to draw a raid group or two since they give rarer tokens and an achievement if beaten. Rifts, especially major ones, seem to be drawing less people.

I first noticed this in the Droughtlands where I was trying to find an air rift to close so i could complete an achievement requiring me to close each elemental type of rift. I played through a couple, but the mixed groups I was defending with never was able to complete the first bonus stage. Except for the world event’s death rifts, I don’t recall ever seeing a lone rift with more than 5 players. I am heading back to the Droughtlands after I finish the Moonshade Highlands, and I hope an air invasion will get a raid going.

The other thing I noticed was how attractive the death rifts were during the world event, and rightly so since they would give the world event’s currency and a chance at special items. I, and others, would run by rifts and footholds to get to the death rift. From a zone cleansing perspective, it was selfish and silly. Now, I am noticing even fewer people caring.

I am as guilty as everybody else of running by rifts (I do try and kill footholds), and I know I am not alone in opening planar tears in to rifts and then ignoring the result. I used to open the zone map to focus on dynamic events first and use quests as a filler to pass the time. Now, I am finding I am doing the opposite. I am trying to get through quest chains to “complete” the zone. It’s fun for me, but I can’t shake the feeling of being a bad citizen.

Should I care? I find it more exciting when we are pressed than when a lonely rift sits out in the middle of a high-density mob zone. Yet, I know that the lonely rift presents a danger. If it sits unchecked it will send out invaders (which are usually dealt with just fine), or present a greater challenge during a zone event. Plus, the offensive planar invaders seem to be balanced just fine against the meager population. It almost becomes a question of selfishness versus altruism. No one else is paying my subscription to have fun, but I also like the feeling of impacting others in a helpful way. (Anecdotally, the other day a lone warrior was defending a quest hub. I rolled up to join him in a duo-public group, switched to heal spec, and kept him alive to stem the onslaught. He might never have realized, but I do.)

It might also be that this zone and Droughtlands are two zones that can almost see the end game at level 50, but aren’t quite there. It gets harder to enjoy the ride when the ride is almost over and I keep hearing about all the cool stuff at the end.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Trion Worlds fiddles with the balance. I know when I start working on alternate characters I am definitely not going to want to go through quest chains again. So if Trion Worlds lowers the rate of lonely rifts, it could backfire with a bored leveling population. On the other hand, it might cause more people to get excited about that lonely rift so a good group results during the bonus rounds. I wonder if they are working on another dynamic event style that would work better for the leveling zones.

With the 1.2 patch likely coming sometime in May, it is apparent from the pre-patch notes that Trion Worlds is continuing to update at a pace we are unused to. They are including a completely new dynamic event style, slivers, which appear to be a type of phased end game event. They will also have crafting oriented rifts that drop rare crafting materials, and there are three new zone event styles coming with a “tower defense”-esque event, an escort event, and a race to summon a colossus event. Plus zone events, especially the big rare ones that provide purple tokens, should occur more often.

I think all these new styles are aimed at having players care. Most players love zone events and the slivers and crafting rifts have a good personal feel to them. Who knows, lonely rifts might just go the way of the dodo if Trion Worlds keeps adding new dynamic content. I do hope that in the 1.3 or 1.4 patch, they do take a look at the leveling zones.


18 thoughts on “[Rift] Not My Problem”

  1. It’s concerning, and I agree with you. I don’t know if it could be expected otherwise, that these rifts are being abandoned. I’m only level 26, and I know I pass by tons of rifts, partly because I’m doing something else, but also because they’re level appropriate, which means I can’t solo them. I am also in the same boat, in that I prefer to use my cleric for healing over DPS, so if I see someone heading for a rift, I’ll join em.

    Maybe the POINT of the game is that lonely rifts WILL be depreciated. If Trion has their stuff together, and are agile enough, and can produce the manpower to give consistant results, changing the game over time by altering the way the rifts work, the focus of the game, etc., to move the lore forward…that would be awesome and really great to see. But there’s a lot of inherent danger in that.

  2. Hopefully 1.2 ups the event rate enough, so instead of one rift being a break from questing, the events do that. One-off rifts will then become something of a bonus if you want it.

    The major issue (if you find rifts being left alone an issue) is that hubs don’t really get attacked enough by solo rifts. If the threat of one unattended rift was high enough, players would care. Now, I’m not sure I would want to close out a rift whenever I’m questing just to keep questing, but there ya go.

    As an aside, I think Moonshade is an easily skippable zone, since you can go directly to the droughlands. I know I did that, as did a few others in my guild.

  3. One of my issues has been the rift levels through the zones. If I am in Iron Pine Peaks some rifts in my level 43 ish area (of the zone) are as high as 47. Even if I could possibly solo a major rift (I can’t at level) one that is lvl 45 is impossible for me to do. I have noticed on my server that major rifts are largely left alone due to their difficulty.

    My leveling choice for my current character is to see how difficult how I can make things for myself, yes an odd choice, but I seem to be able to go about 4 levels above me (yes with great difficulty), but I enjoy the battles. I try to take out rifts, and I have been known to leave them partially done a lot because eventually I just cannot kill something that it spawns. I’m not saying that the rifts are too hard, I’m really wondering much more about the level range for quests and rifts in a zone.

  4. Here I go again…

    In early beta phases, the player population couldn’t ignore these Rifts. If they were ignored, they’d keep spewing invasions and pretty soon quest hubs would get over-run and you’d have to join forces with other players to take them out. It was at times inconvenient and an obstacle but aren’t games all about overcoming obstacles, in some sense?

    But now ignored rifts close themselves and ignored invasions go poof after a few minutes, and there’s really no reason to fight a rift unless you want the shards from it.

    1. Perhaps ignored rifts could increase in generated power. They start out at 1 dot, and if left alone, they go up to 5 dots, which start spewing out invasions.

      Perhaps also increase the loot for more dots, but I would be wary b/c you don’t want people ignoring 1 dots and standing around until it becomes 2-3 or so, etc.

  5. Trion has to work with the players they have. The price of making generic rifts and footholds feel important is having them matter, having them prevent perks and features. Maybe you can’t get your daily dungeon quest because the quest giver’s home village has been overrun and he’s worried about his family. Maybe the porticulum network goes down if death conquers a town with a porticulum.

    Trion think players wouldn’t cope with this. Much like the zombie event in WoW that shut down the banks from time to time.

    Gordon at WFS is predicting that we will see some old school elements in new games soon. I think he’s right and it will happen as the MMO market fragments and instead of trying to make a game for everyone developers make a game for a segment of the community.

  6. My biggest argument has been about the “WoW” mentality of the player. This I think prevents outside thinking of the box for what is happening in Rift.

    For example, who is to say that lone Rift is not important to “someone”. I travel with a small group of 3-5 players on a regular basis. When we come across a Rift…even if on a quest (which is becoming rarer due to the fact of trying to play Rift like a breathing world we inhabit)…we tackle those Rifts.

    So, even though most players may pass these little gems up for their questing addiction, they are the challenge our team of adventurers is looking for.

    Try not to look upon these Rifts as failures of a lowly populated game (which is a whole other issue which is ticking me off…)…but, the meat and potatoes of those groups who want their own content as they want it.

  7. I think the key is that they just don’t flipping matter anymore. Trion caved to the WoW babies whining that ohnoeswecan’tquest.

    1. I think it was a learning experience on both sides. People were used to questing as the prime playstyle, and Trion did have to gently nudge them. I get that, but I think at least in 30+ zones, it is time to nudge a bit more back to what it originally was.

      1. A man stands with one foot each on two different horses while attempting to cross a stream… hillarity and highjinks ensue.

        (everyone should be committed… I was committed once. The drugs are great! Don’t let anyone tell ya different…)

  8. I think the philosophical question at the bottom of all this really is “Should the Rifts matter or not?”, and it’s a question that needs to be answered both by Trion and the players.

    And no, the answer isn’t automatically “Well, of course they should matter!” because any game will contain different groups of players with different aims. Some will care about the rifts, some won’t.

    At some point (hopefully in the near future) Trion needs to decide just what kind of game and what kind of flow it wants for the whole game. Will it be a game with the Rifts as the main focus and everything else (questing, crafting, even PvP) to be done in the ‘outskirts’ or the ‘downtime’ of this? Or will it be the other way around, where the whole experience regarding the rifts is something to be done on the side, as they pop, and if it’s done or not it’s really not a big deal because the meat and potatoes is elsewhere – questing, raiding, pvping and so on.

    I’m fine with either of those, but it’s this current, murky, middle of the way approach which I’m not entirely digging.

    I’ll say this though: If we want the Rifts to be the main focus of the game, the whole thing needs to be tweaked and tightened up, if not revised completely. If the Rifts are supposed to be as important as any other game mechanic or element, or the most important one, they need tighter rules. They need to be as predictable as any other mechanic (which doesn’t mean they can’t have variety, that’s not what I’m saying). They need to have a clearer presentation and concept and, of course, they need to have clearer rules regarding a lot of things… particularly invasion spawning, a more transparent contribution/reward system, all quests and items related to rifts need to be made clearer and -working- and so on.

  9. Are you talking about those swirly thingies on the map I run by to get to the lightly shaded circles? Yes, I generally ignore those. I have more planarite than I can ever spend and the rare sourcestones only drop from invasions. So not sure what the motivation for stopping is supposed to be. I am also in your level range (43) for what it is worth.

    1. @Borz
      There is more XP to close a Rift than just killing mobs. The money drops are much larger in Rifts than in just killing mobs. Notoriety is gained with specific factions for your side, thus gaining the ability to buy special items while closing them.

      Thus, your question leads us to why these lone rifts just “sit”. Trion does not explain well the purpose of or the why of going and doing these rifts…which is sad.

      I have been doing a story/rift level alt, and it has been a blast…when I can find a rift (lesser populations in zones make these less probable)…I close them. I do questing to ONLY gain the story parts….THATS IT.

      This has relieved questing boredom and gets me running around zones, for resources and what not.

      Try Rifting more often and watch your level bar and cash go up.

  10. I’m still playing the heck out of Rift. Haven’t really played any other MMO since it launched and I play every day. I’m pretty much not doing quests any more. I used to pick them all up, finish a few as I explored then abandon the rest as I moved on. Now I don’t even pick up most them. You don’t need quests to level and I find it’s more enjoyable to do just a few of the interesting ones and ignore the rest.

    I’m also not doing rifts much. I did a lot during the World event, but other than that I do maybe one or two in a session. I don’t even bother to do half of the zone events now. I only clear footholds if they are in my way. Once you’ve done a particular Rift ten or twenty times, the appeal does tend to wane, as you’d expect. I do ones I haven’t seen before, though, and ones I know i particularly like.

    Nevertheless, I’m having a fantastic time. I’m working heavily on my crafting and gathering on both Defiant and Guardian sides. I find the crafting and especially the gathering extremely absorbing. I’m doing quite a lot of Warfronts and even a little open-world PvP when the opportunity arises.

    Most of all I’m exploring and fighting stuff for hours at a time, just like I used to do in EQ and Vanguard, purely for the sake of doing it, because it’s Just Such Fun! There’s so much to see and do. Today I found two areas I’d never seen before in zones I’d spent countless hours in already, and virtually every time I recross old ground I see spot something new.

    Rift is plainly and simply one the best exploring MMOs I’ve ever played, combined with combat that I enjoy more than any MMO I’ve played in years. Frankly, I’ve all but forgotten about the Rifts themselves. They are beginning to seem like a novelty, and one that I’ve probably seen enough of now. I wouldn’t have expected that back in beta.

    That said, I’d be very happy to see them ramped back up to something like they were then, where they really do pose a constant threat and not much can be done unless players band together to push them back. I’d like to see them take over and hold whole zones and even threaten Sanctum and Meridian It would be wonderful but we all know it’s not going to happen.

    Truly dynamic content, in which your gameplay is as likely to be affected negatively as positively, is going to have a *very* niche market. People clamor that they want it, but when they’re offered it they run around waving their hands and screaming. Trion are moving pretty clearly away from that and toward a much more staid and predictable offer, which I’m sure is good business sense.

  11. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a developer tell gamers what their game is going to be about… instead of the other way around which seems to increasingly be the case these days.

  12. I actually like the choice factor involved. Rift is striving to be one of those mainstream MMOs, like WoW and LOTRO. So that means lots of different activities for different sorts of people to indulge in at will – questing, leveling, achieving, progressing, crafting, exploring, pvp’ing, dungeon running, raiding, collecting, what-have-you.

    If everything is tightened up to the point that everyone in the zone feels obliged to converge on the little swirly rifts, the samey zerg-invasion feeling is all you’re going to generate. Not everything has to be tightened to the point of only catering to the Achievement, extrinsic shiny-motivated.

    By having the few lone rifts pop up, free to be ignored by the majority of the players out questing or crafting or racing to max level to raid, there is some free space for soloist or small group interaction to develop.

    I have cheerfully run by rifts when I’m busy thinking about other things. And I’ve also cheerfully stopped to stress test my build and attempt to solo a rift when I felt like it – I enjoy that most are built to be soloable or small-group doable, a number of the rift mobs actually have a stacking buff that gives them more hp when more people arrive – just ignore the bonus stages if you can’t manage it in time.

    What is always fun is that there usually is a second or third person who will run across me and join right in. It’s not zerg style player interaction at that point, and I’ve found the tougher rifts really good for building spontaneous small group interaction. The soloist builds go splat, so all you need is a role that can initiate pulls and tank for a while (aka a tank role, or tank pet.) The second or third person lines up right behind you to add damage and may even heal or support. Now and then, they may even stick around to do quests together in the same region.

    To me, those chance encounters arising out of dynamic content leave more of a memorable impression on me than the 10th yellow quest item I picked up for quest number somethingsomething.

    If others are choosing to ignore those experiences, and rush to the endgame, well, it’s Not My Problem either. :)

  13. The most ridiculous thing was trying to get the sceptres for the world event cache quest. It got to the point that getting ahold of the sceptres was so damned difficult and rare that we found ourselves shepherding the mobs across the zone, protecting them so that they could set up footholds, camping death rifts and asking nearby players not to close them. Closing rifts gave us nothing, so we had to leave them open long enough to get invasions.

    “Hi guys. I’m trying to save the world by carefully orchestrating the invasion of towns, wholesale slaughter and butchering of its citizens, bringing Telara to the precipice of annihilation… so that I can get my shiny purple staff. Trust me, the suffering and murder of your terrified, despairing loved ones will totally be worth it when I can heal an extra 100 per tick on my HoTs.”

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