Jaradcel writes up a guest post on the upcoming update for Rift. Enjoy! –Ravious
Rift is to have its third major update in 1.3 come June 22nd, and besides a new raid in Hamerknell, also features major revamps to warriors and mages. Of note however, was the originally planned overhaul to PvP as well, which was scrapped after a massive outcry from the forums. I’ll skip the first two, and look at the results and issues of the third since I happen to be PvPing alot lately.
As in other MMO’s, Rift has its own special stat for PvP players – Valor. The more you have the less damage you take from other players. There are six ranks to gain at level 50, called prestige ranks, which subsequently unlock better valor gear as players rank up.
Initially, patch 1.3 was slated to drastically readjust how Valor worked.
First, it would reduce player damage further, with a planned 40% damage reduction in full rank six gear. Fresh level 50’s would have a flat 20% damage reduction. Notwithstanding how massive that reduction is, the second change would also see a reduction in critical damage dealt to players. From 50% at rank 6 gear, to 33.7% with no gear at all. These changes were planned to help ease in new PvP players, as well as to reduce the chances of being one-shotted at full health by an enemy’s crit hit.
Sounds good on paper to help make matches last longer and have players survive longer.
However, the current climate in Rift’s PvP has already been significantly slanted towards two role types – extremely high survivability and glass cannon high-crit burst DPS to counter it. Since heals skills continue to heal for the same amount no matter what gear a player wears, high survivability classes such as tanks and cleric wardens have a net gain in heals with better Valor gear. The planned changes therefore were seen as a massive buff, especially to wardens who utilize multiple heal-over-time spells to become near-godlike while keeping an entire team alive.
Additionally, the increased reduction in crit damage meant that highly crit-reliant classes such as assassins were heavily nerfed. Other classes that also shine spectacularly for five seconds of insane damage followed by wet noodle hits cried foul. As it stands, assassins cannot kill a warden caught out in the open before the warden simply heals back to full.
Trion didn’t seem to believe its players, and thus organized a three day large scale stress test to examine its changes. It lasted for only one day. In just three hours of testing, the test showed them exactly what they had been told all along – that the upcoming changes would turn PvP into a 20-minute smackfest. Player deaths were reduced to such an extent that kills were nearly non-existent except under extreme focus-fire or due to the battleground’s mechanics. And wardens, with their heals, had become as gods unto Telara.
It is surprising, then, that the developers were able to admit openly that they were wrong with their gambit and scrapped their intended changes almost immediately after the test.
There is now currently planned to be only minor changes to PvP for 1.3 – premade teams will generally square off against other premades first, while both side’s daily PvP quest will be synchronized so players are queuing for the same battle.
The rollback, however, continues to keep the current issues seen in PvP and is a classic “chicken and egg” conundrum. How does Trion intend to balance or revamp a system which is reliant on instant-heals and high-crit damage without significantly buffing or nerfing one side? One way that seems likely is to create two separate ways abilities work – one against PvE content and another in PvP, much like Everquest 2 currently does. And indeed, pyromancers are slated to be one of the first being given that test in 1.3.
In my opinion, this is perhaps the smartest way to do things. While it involves more coding for developers, it allows Trion to tweak skills in either PvE or PvP without significantly affecting the other. WoW continues to rely on using the same system for both, and this has resulted in players rolling whatever is the current favorite-of-the-month class, such as frost mages back when Cataclysm launched. It will be interesting to see how this works out, and whether such a rethink will work its way into other classes in further patches.