Whimper Not A Bang

Yesterday Rift saw it’s first major content update in the River of Souls.  With it came a plethora of class balancing, game tweaks, a world event, and a new raid instance.  This was the first major post launch test of Trion’s meddle.  The first major patch is usually a make or break moment for a game, and I have seen companies pull them off smoothly and others bring down the servers for a week.  While I can’t really give them a full passing grade for the results, the game was extremely playable.

What They Got Right

riverofsouls6_bmp_jpgcopy Firstly they gave the player base more notice than I have ever seen on a content update.  On they same day they placed this patch on the test server, they announced the specific day it was launching.  So from that day forward all players knew to plan ahead for these major changes.  While this only worked out to be a week, it is still a really major thing to have received notice of when the patch would go live on the same day it was initially announced.

On top of that, they announced Tuesday night that the servers would be down for roughly 4 hours.  In reality the downtime took 2 1/2 hours to complete.  This is another major thing, the number of times I have seen a server downtime go less than the announced time has been pretty few and far between.  The only negative here, was that the downtime was handled by US personnel, which made it extremely inconvenient for European players.

I’ve posted both the alpha and live patch notes on the forum, and those who have read the list can agree it was rather massive.  The amount of balance tweaks that were undertaken was extremely ambitious so all things considered the game was extremely playable.  Coming from WoW, our raid had a standing rule that all raids would be cancelled if a major patch was released that Tuesday.  It was a given that the servers would for the most part be unplayable by the time our raids started.  The servers themselves remained stable all evening long.

What They Got Wrong

riverofsouls1_bmp_jpgcopy One of the big changes that went in, that effected level 50 players was the change to the way bonus plaques work.  Much like the way WoW used to work, there are now daily quests in both Meridian and Sanctum for a Tier 1 and Tier 2 dungeon.  Last night the choices were Foul Cascade for the Tier 1 and Darkening Deeps for Tier 2.  Our little group decided to take on the Tier 1, hoping to knock it out quickly then proceed to Tier 2. 

First problem we encountered was that apparently instance lockouts did not reset at the normal times due to the server downtime.  This locked one of our oceanic players out of the instance, and it took us a good 10 minutes of zoning in and out to figure this one out.  After grabbing one of our stable of regular pug players, somehow he and I wound up in a different copy of the instance.  All of the players zoned out and joined us. 

We began to clear trash again, only to make it up to the first boss and find that he was missing.  Turns out we got locked to the instance that our Australian player had, despite the fact he was no longer in group and was never leader.  We chocked this up to patch day oddness as we reformed the group outside the instance.  Once again we cleared to the first boss for the third time, and hurrah, we had something to kill.

When we reached the second boss we encountered the first massive game breaking bug of the night.  On the Countess Surin Skenobar encounter, there is a phase where she teleports around the room dropping explosive barrels.  While doing this she targets random members of the party hitting them for large amounts of damage.  The bug we encountered was that when she fired her rifle during this phase, these massive hits would damage ALL party members.  So quickly the entire party would just be dead, without any way to heal through it.

We dealt with all kinds of little bugs here and there.  As a warrior I had major aggro issues on top of a wierd bug where any kind of “shield” ability was drawing aggro onto the caster not the tank.  All of these things were manageable, and knowing they were there, we could adjust our strategy to deal with them.  Not being able to complete one of the patches showcase features, that looks really bad.  I expect by the time I get home tonight, that all of these things will have been hot fixed, because after all that is the Trion way as it seems.  But ultimately last night we just quit working on FC, because we knew there was no getting past that bug.

A Grim Harvest

86481_RiverOfSouls3_bmp_jpgcopy Now for the piece that everyone was really looking forward to, the event.  Honestly last night, I was expecting a whole lot more.  Inside the capitol city there is a series of daily quests, in Meridian they are gained from Grim Disciples members located directly behind the porticulum.  Originally I was going to provide a run down of each of the quests, but Gaarawarr gives a far better run down that I could have done, with loc codes, images, and full reward information.

I had built this up into my head to be this massive invasion of Freemarch, and was shocked to see business going on pretty much as normal.  What we are seeing currently is the first phase, which appears to last a week of a multi-week event.  I am hoping as this week goes on, the occurrence of the new rifts will increase.  The good is, the new rifts are pretty amazing.  The two that I have participated in so far are the “dragon” rift where a massive skeletal dragon gets released from the rift, and flys off in the distance, and the construct rift where you are bombarded with various corrupted constructed and their endless court handlers. 

It’s all about accumulating Otherworldly Sourcestone, which can be used to purchase spiffy things from the Grim Disciplines.  Big negative of the Otherworldly Sourcestone is that they are an inventory item, not a currency… which was a confusing design decision.  Currently the prices of the items, versus the number of Sourcestone you gain from doing the quests and rifts means that no one has the toys to play with yet, but we can pretty much make an educated guess as to what they will be. 

For 100 Sourcestone you have the Hagbrood Hatchling pet, which to the best of my knowledge is a scaled down version of one of the many Harpies you fight from death invasions.  Touch of Shade comes in a 300 Sourcestone, and based on the flavor text of “Shrouded with shade energy from the Plane of Death” I am placing my bet you get the cosmetic “death” glow like when a mob roams into a death rift.  Lastly you have the Guise of Death for 600 Sourcestone, which I believe is the “zombie” illusion that Trion has talked about so much in various interviews.  Big negative of the guise is that it equips as a trinket, so for players who actually HAVE trinkets, seems like you will have to give up that slot to use it.

Keeping Hope Alive

Rift-RiverofSouls While things last night were a bit wonky, overall it was not bad.  Judged in wow standards it was a really good patch nights.  Compared to the Rift launch however, it was a bit disappointing.  Trion made an ambitious move to do a major content and rebalancing pass a month after the launch of their game and I think the  results are mixed.  We will have to live with it for a few weeks to see whether or not the results are a net win or a net loss.

My fears over the changes in the paladin/reaver effecting my survival have ultimately been mostly true.  The biggest change last night however is it felt like I had to fight a good deal harder to hold aggro.  I am not sure if this was the overall lowering of my paladin feedback damage, or the increase of mage damage.  Healer aggro as well seemed to be far higher than it has been in the past as well.  Hopefully I can figure out what magic buttons I need to tweak to bring things back to the norms.

As this event rolls out I hope it gets more exciting, but currently it is basically just another daily quest.  I have hope that over time it really will become the world changing event it was sold as.  I am sure this post will come off as pretty odd, considering I have been almost Pollyanna at times in my glowing reviews of Rift.  Hopefully as you read back through my past posts you will see I praise when folks do things well, and I poke when they are falling down as well.  I still have faith in Trion, and I still expect in all honesty that by the time we get home tonight to have another patch to bring a lot of these issues in line.  Was just disappointing to find out that this company truly was fallible.

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