Three Things Rift Didn’t Get Wrong

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.

Slowing Down

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.

“Lifeless Questing”

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.

“Checklist Crafting”

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

“PVP Balance”

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.

Divergent Post

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.

7 thoughts on “Three Things Rift Didn’t Get Wrong

  1. I may be publicly flogged for admitting this, but the simplified questing system really suits me. I enjoy the “find hub; pick up quests; follow yellow circles; turn in quests; repeat” method of leveling.

    In WoW, Carbonite was one of my core add-ons so that I could efficiently breeze through leveling. I’m also convinced that I have some form of dyslexia, so reading large walls of text for comprehension and details is the opposite of fun for me (I assume this is probably a common experience for the ADHD gamers out there too :P).

    On the same note, being able to learn the sequence of events and easily repeat them on my alts is optimal for me. Right now I have one of each Defiant class all level 15+ with my Rogue at level 40, and I’ve only been playing for ~3 weeks. Each time I do a quest, I try to find a more efficient way of doing it, or maybe just trying not to die so dang much (squishy rogues are squishy).

    All that being said, consider the fact that making 4 different characters will satisfy just about all of your needs in Rift. What kind of longevity would the game have if the leveling experience was the sole draw to the game?

    I, like Bel, dislike PVP. For one thing, I’m not very good at it. For another, I think it’s a cheap cop-out for RPGs; instead of the creators coming up with original content and challenges, they just make your ability to press buttons vs your opponent’s ability to press buttons the challenge. This is why I couldn’t do AION, despite the Western developers’ attempt at giving the game some “PVE” content.

    While this is still a draw to a lot of people, I personally don’t care about anything PVP-related, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my playing experience. I don’t want to kill you, so please don’t kill me 🙂

  2. @Psynister you might want to run a recover on your client, because I’ve never seen any bugs like that on Shadefallen.

    I tend to agree with some of the “Wrong” things, but the experience is what you make it. I could just follow the yellow dots and grind the quests, or take that opportunity to climb around the whole area and look for hidden artifacts, puzzles or achievements. I’m continually astonished at what I find if I take my time and really look around.

    I really had to force myself to throw the whole WoW method of gameplay out the window and in doing that found that some of those “wrong things” aren’t really so wrong if you open your mind and your eyes. As Bel said, there’s an amazing story going on if you only take the time to pay attention to it. (I’ve got my eye on you Uriel Chuluun, I think you’re messing with stuff that will get us all in trouble 😉 )

    I am disappointed with the linear leveling path though. Maybe if they threw in some racial or calling specific quests it would make it more interesting to level more than one character.

  3. Not sure where the “barren” comes from. Silverwood and Gloamwood are still chock full of people on my server (Shadefallen).

    I don’t agree with the “problem” of two leveling paths. I agree it DOES suck having to do the same starter area each time I make an alt. However, there are more than enough quests in Silverwood that my first character didn’t do them all, and even my second alt got to Gloamwood without finishing everything. I know some people are purists who need to finish the whole area before they move on, but for the most part there are plenty of quests early on. The quests funnel for a while around Scarlet Gorge/Scarwood, but they branch out again really quickly. From Scarwood, Guardians can go to Moonshade and Droughtlands, then to Iron Pine, Stillmoor, or Shimmersand. I chose Shimmersand the first time and got to 50 before I left — leaving Iron Pine and Stillmoor open for exploration.

    I know some people are intent on doing every quest in the zone before they move on, and that’s fine. But there really is plenty of content that two or three alts can play the game and still do at least half their leveling differently.

  4. I actually really enjoy these posts, and I hope you do more of them. I thought your post on WoW being the WoW-killer was spot-on, and it showed me that you really know what you’re talking about. Anyway, keep up the good work 🙂

  5. I played on Shadefallen/Defiant last weekend, but while there were people there, there were massive glitches in the game where I constantly fell through the world and died. Parts of that were fun because certain pieces of terrain were left behind and I could use my Bahmi racial to jump from piece to piece in certain places, but after about 30 deaths I just gave up and went back to yet another barren server.

  6. Ah see I haven’t encountered the barren wasteland yet. On our server even in freemarch there is still a good number of players actively participating in rifts and invasions while I was leveling my rogue last weekend. When I moved to stonefield, there are even more there. Now at the high end, where I am most of the time, players are finally catching up so that game is becoming vibrant as well. Maybe my situation is unique to Shadefallen/Defiant but things are still definitely hopping there.

  7. As an altoholic who enjoys the process of leveling far more than end game, Rift got really old and boring quite fast going through the exact same content over and over. When I cancelled my sub I filled out their survey asking what they could do to bring me back, and I let them know so that they’re aware of the issue and hopefully they’ll address it in a future expansion.

    You said you like that players have that shared experience of having leveled through all of the same content, but for me that really nullifies the the point of having the experience. I’d much rather talk to someone in the guild and say, “dude, did you do Quest X over in Zone Y? Coolest quest in the game, go back and check it out!” There’s going to be some crossing of the path in any MMO, and that part I enjoy as you can find some common ground, but a full on railroad really kills the experience.

    As for the stale solo play, I haven’t read the article you’re referring to, but I agree with those three words. When I first started playing the game I had a blast. Chasing Rifts and fighting off the invasions were honestly my two biggest draws (followed closely by the customization via souls). Within two weeks of launch though the low level areas were barren and the rifts and invasions were essentially impossible to defeat, turning the game into little more than questing and gathering. I don’t mind questing, nor do I mind gathering, but I already have that in WoW which is still thrilling to me (I know you’ve given up on it, but not all of us have), so there’s no reason for me to change.

    So as a solo player I didn’t even have the option to join the public groups because nobody was there. I tried it on multiple servers and it was the same everywhere. I understand it being barren with everyone focusing on getting their characters leveled and all, but after a week of having a lot of people around to group with and destroy the Rifts where I had a blast followed by three weeks now of barren starting zones that I’m already more than tired of after leveling over a dozen characters to their high teens, it just feels rather dead and boring.

    So for players like me, Rift has already failed to the point that I’ve cancelled. Perhaps I’ll give it another shot sometime in the future when they expand starting zones and open up a few more options for questing paths, but until then I’ll have to hang my MMO hat in Azeroth. I really enjoy a lot of things about Rift, it just doesn’t appeal to my personal playstyle at this point in time.

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