Over the course of the last several weeks this blog has all but become devoted to Rift, at least in it’s content matter. One of the pieces you probably can’t glean however is that I have been approaching rift much differently than I did World of Warcraft. In WoW, I was the leader of large guild, and raided multiple times a week on a schedule. We fell in the casual raid category, but as a leader type I still pushed a good deal more than I should have to make sure things were getting done.
When I cancelled my account I had 3 85s, 4 80s, and 7 between 60-80. I prided myself on getting a character leveled and ready to raid in a minimal of time. When I leveled my shaman to 80, it was fully epic geared and ICC10 ready within 5 days. So to say I played with a focus and drive is a bit of an understatement. Leaving WoW, and coming into Rift, made me realize how much of this process was my way of trying to make a game I no longer enjoyed fun again.
So as I entered Telara, I have taken a much more slow paced view of the world. While I still hit the cap within 6 days played time, it was a much more gradual pace than what I was capable of. The same has held true with dungeons. Recently we have been running more than our share of experts both for gear drops and plaques. While they have been fun, lately the pace we frequency of running them has started to remind me a bit too much of the countless hours I spent mashing my face against heroics for the guild.
I am nearing a complete set of tier 1 gear, with only my gloves lacking. So after our initial push, I plan on taking a step back and moving more slowly. The focus on experts has detracted from the other things I really enjoy in the game. One of my favorite things is defending a town against an invasion. For some reason it feels so epic, to stave off wave after wave of mobs trying to take over our territory.
One of the things I had to contend with in WoW was the barrage of tells I received the moment I logged in. Recently with the focus on running experts, it has felt a bit like that again. I log into questions of “what are we running tonight?”, “When will the Aussies be on?” and “how long do we wait before we pug this?”. With the recent influx of newly 50s this should take some of this pressure off, but regardless I need to start saying no for my own sake. WoW became a second job for me, and I refuse to let that happen in Rift.
The Skewed List
In my travels today I stumbled across an article on mmorpg.com entitled, Rift: 5 Things Rift Does Wrong. While one point I mostly agree with, and another point I couldn’t care less about, there are three bullet points that I feel the author missed the boat on. Now granted, just like this blog is most of the time, the author clearly states these are his opinions.
The author is far from the first person to make this statement. The Author sums up his point best in this statement “I find it a little disheartening that questing in Rift amounts to basically: go to hub, get a bunch of quests, go to bright yellow circle, kill things, return to hub when objectives are met. “. Rift questing is very traditional, I will give them that. Thing is, for a good number of mmo players, this is what we want.
Over the last few expansions one of the things I have detested about wow, is the fact that so many quests have turned into mini-games. I don’t want to climb up a tree and throw bear cubs onto a trampoline, nor do I want to pilot a harvester and play a Super Mario like platform game as I try to climb a mountain. What I want are well written quests with storyline that matters, and clearly defined objectives. On top of that, I would really love to have clear visualization that is correct, so that I know where I should be going for this quest.
These two things ensure that if I am in the mood to read quests and really get into the storyline, then I can. The storyline in Rift is extremely well written and engaging, and when I am in the mood for it this is who I prefer to play. However if I want to go on auto-pilot and quest for maximum experience, I can do that as well because the minimap tools clearly guide me to my objectives. Nothing frustrates me more than being forced to play some poorly designed minigame, when all I really wanted was to go here and kill X things.
Granted, I come from an earlier time in MMO history, and much of my roots and practices are still there. When I am purposefully trying to level, I find myself grinding quests the same way I used to grind through mobs. However, with the slower pace I have taken in this game I have found myself enjoying the content along the way. This game doesn’t hold your hand as much as other games, and to find some of the cooler things you have to get off the beaten path and go exploring. There are so many quests you will never find, just by following the golden path.
“Stale Solo Play”
I guess I really don’t understand what the author means here when he says the solo play is stale and boring. Really comes to the point of what exactly he is calling solo play. To me, anything you can do as a single player without pre-planning, in an impromptu fashion is by nature… solo play. So while he spends more time harping on the fact that he doesn’t enjoy the questing system, I really don’t see him explaining why soloing is specifically boring.
To me this game is one of the more solo friendly games to come along in a long time. Why is this? Simple… the public grouping dynamic. On our server it is generally considered rude if you are running in private group mode, so for the most part players are open to the public. So this allows you as a solo player to quickly merge and mesh with additional players that are completing things you couldn’t normally do by yourself.
So much of my time spent doing rifts is entered into in a solo fashion. I ride out into a zone, and make my way to a rift near the porticulum town. From there I enter into a public group, and start moving from rift to rift freely all the while, participating in a group dynamic while still playing on your time, your schedule. Because of this same “open” dynamic, when you are off questing you are far more likely to find assistance when you encounter a road block on a quest than if you were truly alone in the world.
This is one I have heard a lot over the years. Crafting should be more intricate, or crafting should be more involved. Problem is, these are awesome things in theory but nobody actually wants to play a game with one of those systems. Everquest II had a cool system, for about the first five minutes I played it, after that the novelty quickly wore off when I realized I would never be able to just sit down, and craft a bunch of items quickly for my friends.
For me crafting holds a special place in MMOs. As an adventurer type, I go off exploring the world, and come back to town with a bag full of collected bits. Crafting gives me a moment of downtime, from the action of questing, rifting, dungeons, and raids. A time for me to set up a bunch of things to “build”, and go afk and get something to drink. This downtime, gives me a much needed pause button from the game, and also lets me get some cool stuff made in the process.
I am at the very most a casual crafter, but honestly I would imagine serious crafters are even less for a more involved system. If you are a serious crafter, chances are you play the auction house with your wares. Doing so means you farm up a good number of mats, multiple times a week, and batch create your items to be sold. If you have to sit there at the keyboard and mash buttons to get your stock replenished, you are just creating a new grind for players. While you might think otherwise, fire and forget it crafting really is a good thing for an mmo.
The other complaint that always comes up, and this was slightly eluded to in the post is that crafted items in Rift are the same as dropped items. Hardcore crafters for some reason feel that their items should be better than everyone else’s. I have seen this time and time again in games, and I am assuming this is so that a dedicated crafter can maintain a monopoly on the best gear. Thing is, these games are about epic adventure, not setting up trade cartels. If you really want to become a master artisan that corners the economy, you might want to look into other games.
Things I Don’t Disagree With
Firstly the author makes a point about PVP balance being off due to the massive number of soul choices. I can completely see his point on this one, and were this something I cared about I would probably agree with him. Thing is, I would almost as soon player versus player combat not exist in MMOs at all. Generally in every game, one of two things happens. Either the PVP balancing screws up PVE enjoyment, or PVE playability jacks up PVP fairness. It is a balancing act that no game has ever gotten right, and honestly I wish to god they would simply quit trying. PVP is something best left for other genres in my opinion, like first person shooters.
“Just Two Leveling Paths”
While I don’t necessarily think it is an Achilles heel, the fact that there is only one Defiant starting zone and one Guardian starting zone pretty much guarantees that by your second or third time leveling though, everything will be very stale. It has it’s pluses and negatives honestly. I have always liked the fact that each of us as players has the same shared experience. There is no night elf leveling experience, or dwarf leveling experience, only the shared faction experience.
However as I am leveled my rogue through Freemarch, and now Stonefield, the ground definitely feels well trodden. I hope given time they will add additional starter experiences, but ultimately you have to look at it this way. With the diverse functionality of Rift, there is no reason why a player would ever need more than four characters per faction. Were I to consider leveling 8-10 characters like in wow, I would probably cut myself. But leveling four characters, over the same quests is really no different than having to level characters up to the new cap each time an expansion comes out.
In Northrend, with 6 80s, I can promise that things felt just as well done each time I moved a character to Dragonblight, even trying to alternate between Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord. The only game I have played in recent memory that truly gave me an insane number of leveling paths, was Everquest II. However we didn’t reach that point until several expansions out the door. At launch, basically you were given the same kind of either Freeport or Qeynos experience as Rift. I would be far more disheartened if I had seen poorly designed content, rather than limited starter options.
I know this post today is a little divergent from what you guys are used to seeing from me since the focus on rift. Every so often I will read something and want to comment on it, and this blog has long been my format for these comments. Expect to see more informational posts, but at the same time expect to see more editorial commentary as well.