Why You Should Be Playing Rift: 03 – Wardstones


Over the last few weeks I have become some what of a “Rift Evangelist”, as I have spent hours preaching to my friends why they should come over and play this new game.  It is not something I have really consciously done, but I seem to have a constant stream of “isn’t this cool” moments to share.  This series is devoted to these little sometimes overlooked features of the game, that all help to add up to such a rich experience.

Episode 03: Wardstones



When you first roll a character in Telara, and you notice that there are these odd looking crystal structures all scattered throughout the various towns and camps.  Like all players, I thought they were mere decoration, since I had played through the Burning Crusade era of WoW, and lord knows the outland had gratuitous usage of crystals everywhere.  However these are far more than pretty baubles to look at, each wardstone at it’s most simple level represents control.

The wardstone is a physical extension of the Ward itself, and both factions use them to strengthen their outposts.  Players within 20 meters of a friendly or neutral wardstone receive a 20 minute duration buff that scales based on the level of the stone itself.  The base buff is that you deal 10% more damage and receive 5% less damage from planetouched or planebound enemies.  Because of this, the wardstone is the primary target enemy invasions as they sweep over the countryside attacking towns.

When We Fail to Defend


Player towns become the focus of huge battles and enemy forces attempt to batter down the wardstone weakening our “foothold” on the region.  Above is a picture from Lakeside Outpost in Freemarch.  Players have neglected the invasions as they swarmed the area, and in this case Abyssal Cultists have taken down our wardstone, and created their own foothold.  When one of your towns wardstones is destroyed, no only does it allow for the enemy to gain ground, but it also keeps your NPCs from spawning effecting shutting that quest hub down.

These enemy footholds begin to spread planar creep on the ground, which allows more invasion forces to spawn from them.  If players are not on top of the invasions, this can quickly get out of hand, as each new foothold will start spawning more invasion units until eventually even the capitol cities can fall under the influence of the invading army.

For me this is one of the great features of Rift.  We play in an unpredictable world, where at a moments notice your towns can be ransacked by creatures.  As players we are forced to constantly stop what we are doing, band together, and push back the planar forces to regain our territory.  Games in the past have tried to carry out the “world at war” theme, but none of them have really succeeded.  Warhammer came close, but the world you were fighting over left you wondering exactly why anyone would die over it.  In rift we have these magnificent landscapes, that are well worth protecting, and we the players are constantly called to do so.

Ancient Wardstones and World PVP

wysbpr_03_ancientwardstone As you explore the land you encounter multiple kinds of Wardstones.  At the head of the article, the telltale green of a neutral ward is being shown.  Defiant footholds and towns are protected by the ruby red wardstone and Guardian footholds and bases are protected by the bright blue wardstones.  However once you reach the contested lands of Scarlet Gorge, a special kind of wardstone begins to appear.

To the right is a picture of an ancient wardstone in its neutral state.  Through a quest line you gain an ability called ancient wardstone activation, which allows you to spend one planar charge to activate an ancient wardstone to your faction.  You can gain up to three planar charges by closing rifts.


Above is an example of an activated Ancient Wardstone.  While towns wardstones were destructible by players in early stages of beta, they are no longer valid targets.  However these ancient wardstones become physical control points for PVP in any zone they are located in.  The victor faction gains access to lucrative daily quests as shown above while holding one of these stones. 

While I am not seeing a ton of PVP happening over them yet on my PVE RP server, I have heard they are extremely contested on the PVP servers.  Currently in most of the zones I have found them in, they are located in poorly defensible locations.  Which would make it hard to hold the stone against opposition for long.  But hopefully there will be some ancient stones in areas that can be held much in the same way as keeps were in Dark Age of Camelot.

The Future?

Since the wardstone is at is most simple level a control point for your faction, I think in the future these will be the way to work more world pvp into the game.  Access to daily quests is nice, but to get players actively controlling them there needs to be a bigger carrot at the end of the stick.  In Warhammer online, controlling keeps gave you access to the tier vendors.  While I am not suggesting going that far, I think holding an ancient wardstone should give the players access to something unique and otherwise unobtainable.

One of the concepts I have always liked is that of the frontiers from Dark Age of Camelot.  It would be nice as we go forward to see Trion implement a series of zones with towns and defensive structures that can be taken and held by a specific faction.  I agree mostly with their decision to make player town wardstones off limits from the opposite faction, I feel there should be an area of the world where that is completely viable.

One of the big things holding many of my friends back from joining Rift is what feels like only rudimentary support for the pvp community.  I am not saying world pvp or RVR is going to necessarily fix it, but I think with the existing infrastructure in place for taking and holding an ancient wardstone it is a logical step forward to implement something like that.  I am not the kind of player that can be swayed much by battlegrounds, but I have always enjoyed keep raids because of the epic feel of taking and holding a world objective as opposed to an instance that only lasts as long as the match.

Why You Should Be Playing Rift: 02 – Porticulum Network


Over the last few weeks I have become some what of a “Rift Evangelist”, as I have spent hours preaching to my friends why they should come over and play this new game.  It is not something I have really consciously done, but I seem to have a constant stream of “isn’t this cool” moments to share.  This series is devoted to these little sometimes overlooked features of the game, that all help to add up to such a rich experience.

Episode 02: Porticulum Network



The Porticulumn Network is one of the coolest features of the game, but is also one of the most indirectly complained about systems for players coming from other games.  I will admit at first I was one of the complainers, even going so far as to post on the beta forums about it.  However after living with the system, I have come to appreciate exactly how amazing it is, both for rapid transit and the way it very gently nudges the player population to be community minded.


What the Porticulum Network gives you is the ability to transfer from between any two ports on the network instantly for a nominal fee (that gets less and less nominal the further away from your current hub you go).  This is what we loved so much about the Dalaran portals in WoW, Fast Travel devices in Everquest II, and the various Plane of Knowledge portals in Everquest.  This allows you to move quickly to wherever in the world your guild needs you to be.

The player starts with no portals connected to his or her network.  They receive the first connection on their hub by visiting the Porticulum Master for their faction’s capitol city.  From that point on, they can connect additional ports to their hub by talking to the Porticulum Masters in each of the zones explored.  The above image shows a complete network for the defiant side (minus the new Porticulum at Knight’s Stand added in 1.01 patch). 

When you talk to any Porticulum Master you are given the option to Bind Soul for a small charge.  Doing this will give you the Soul Recall ability, and allow you to return to your bound porticulum.  This ability has a hour long cooldown and a brief cast time.  With the Total Recall guild perk you are able to reduce the cooldown to 50 minutes.  This allows you to rather quickly get to anywhere in the world once an hour.

What You Give Up, And Why It’s a Good Thing

Now we get to the point of complaint many users including myself initially have.  The zones in rift are fairly massive, and take a large time to cross.  If you notice, most zones have only one portal.  What the game lacks is an intra-zone taxi system, like flight points and horse paths that have been utilized in various other mmos.  Initially this seems like a massive thing to give up, players like to be able to go where they want to when they want to with minimal effort.  However, like the heading alludes to, not having these ways to travel intra-zone safely is a good thing.

Taxi systems general allow the user to skip large areas of content safely.  In a game like rift, where part of the design is a constantly changing world where rifts and invading armies besiege towns, it requires community interaction to turn the tide of events.  As you move through a zone, you are forced to confront these forces head on to survive.  As a result I have seen random groups of players gathering to take down rifts on a regular basis.  This kind of impromptu interaction is what I feel will keep the player community active and thriving.

As you move into some of the larger and more difficult to traverse zones there are multiple porticulum in the zone.  For example Iron Pine Peak a 40-45 zone, had 3 well spaced portals allowing you to pop between major questing hubs easily.  When you enter this phase of the game, the lack of an intra-zone taxi system really goes out the window.

It’s All About Immersion

One of the things has been amazing about this game is the level of immersion the player has.  As you travel across a zone you carefully cling to the roads, knowing that just off the path lies your likely death.  The game brings back the edginess and fear factor that so many early MMOs had.  In Everquest, I knew that if I went wandering off in unexplored territory I was likely to find something that would squash me like a bug.  However in the World of Warcraft era, we as players have become lazy as we are used to being able to wander zones with godlike impunity, or simply fly over the top of them ignoring all of the would be pitfalls. 

I’ve come to appreciate the uncertainness and randomness of encounters this game has brought back to the MMO genre.  I remember the sheer fear I had the first time I stepped foot into Muire Tomb in Dark Age of Camelot, or cautiously running the zone boundaries of Kithicor Forest trying to get through to the safety of Rivervale before nightfall.  While I considered it inconvenient at the time, and was happy to see things like that gone in World of Warcraft… I have come to realize now that I have it back how much more depth it gave the game.  After all, isn’t the reason why most of us play these games to have a break from our normal lives and be thrust into epic battles that just don’t exist in real life?

Why You Should Be Playing Rift: 01 – The Map


Over the last few weeks I have become some what of a “Rift Evangelist”, as I have spent hours preaching to my friends why they should come over and play this new game.  It is not something I have really consciously done, but I seem to have a constant stream of “isn’t this cool” moments to share.  This series is devoted to these little sometimes overlooked features of the game, that all help to add up to such a rich experience.

Episode 01:  The Map

wysbpr_01_mapshowinginvasionsOne of the running themes with Rift seems to be taking the best features of other titles, improving on them and presenting them in a very solid interface.  The in game mapping system is a perfect example of this.  Above is an example of the main map during a Freemarch Death Invasion.  It gives you a nice live heads up on what is going on with the world.

In the above example I have hovered over one of the invasion units represented by the crossed swords icon, you will come to be familiar with.  When doing so, the map highlights the trajectories of all the current invasion forces that are on the move.  This lets the players quickly see where these forces are converging upon, so you can cut ahead of the push and be ready to present a defense.  In the above example it appears that all of the enemy units are converging on Eliam Fields and Kelari Refuge.

In addition to the invasion tracking there are numerous other things being shown on the big map.  You can see there are a number of purple death rifts that have popped up.  The player can mouse over any of them and get the status, level and whether they are major or minor.  Each of the NPC towns is marked with a star icon, and each enemy fortress with an icon denoting the faction, dungeons marked with a green jewel and each major mob center marked with a castle like icon.  I’ve not seen another game that gives the player this much information without having to rely on add-ons.


wysbpr_01_minimap_waypoint All of the above is nice, but where the system truly shines is in the waypoint system.  The player has the ability to right click the map and set a waypoint.  On the main map this is shown with a line drawn between you and that location.  If you noticed on the image of the main map, at the bottom there is a simple and clean coordinate system.  The addition of being able to set a waypoint makes it extremely easy for you to travel to a precise location in the world.

In addition to it making it easier for you to travel to specific locations, waypoints work while grouping.  If you notice on the minimap I have highlighted the X> icon of the waypoint, and it pops up various information.  In a party or raid you receive the waypoint of your party members.  For traveling from rift to rift or coordinating defenses, this is a super simple way of letting folks know where you will be heading.

You can also see in the tooltip shown in the screenshot you are given a distance away.  The most amazing thing about this is that while tracking quest objectives, it also denotes whether or not the location is above or below you.  How much time have you spent in other games roaming around on the wrong floor of a dungeon looking for the quest mob that just isn’t there?  I will probably cover the quest tracking system in another post, but the mapping system makes it simple to figure out exactly where you need to be to complete an objective.

But Wait There’s More!

Every so often in this game, there is an idea that just makes you think “why didn’t anyone else think of this?”.  In the 1.01 patch Trion added in an extremely powerful feature without much fanfare.  By opening a chat window, and holding shift as you right click the map to set a waypoint, it now sends that waypoint as a link over chat.  When other players click on your link, the waypoint is set on their map as well.  Take a step back for a moment and ponder the power of this.

How many times have you been sitting in guild chat, as a new player is leveling through an area and asks where a hard to find mob is located?  Instead of having to do the “its by” dance, as you clumsily try and explain where it is, you can simply open up your map, from anywhere in the world and link to them a close approximation.  Since this went in last week I have already used it a dozen or more times in guild chat and zone chat to answer folks questions.  I find this kind of attention to detail simply refreshing.


wysbpr_01_minimap_tracking While not as sexy as the waypoint system, the tracking system in this game is everything you would expect it to be.  If you click the magnifying glass icon on the side of the mini-map you are given a clean checkbox list of available tracking options.  While tracking these appear both on the mini-map, and on a zoomed in view of the main map.

For the most part these are the standard set of options that were presented with games like Warhammer and in WoW with the Cataclysm expansion.  It is just expected that at this point any game on the market will allow for tracking of multiple items, and this does it well.

One thing you will notice missing from the list is professions.  Profession resource tracking is handled a little bit differently in this game than that of WoW.  When you learn a profession you get spells that toggle on and off the tracking for that gathering profession.  This was a little weird to get used to, but I appreciate it in the long run. There are various kinds of conditional tracking like the Reaver “Track Death Creatures”, that if included in the checkbox list would make it extremely cluttered.  Trion has done a great job of presenting lots of information in a very clean interface.

I mentioned this feature for waypoints and quest objectives, but the above or below tracking works for resource nodes as well.  How many times in other games you have spent tracking to figure out where exactly that node was, only to find it that it is in a cave you didn’t know existed?  If you simply mouse over the mini-map icon you can tell immediately whether or not the node is aboveground or not.

Wrapping Up

The Mapping system is one of those things players just expect to work.  When it doesn’t work, it is one of the first things players try to augment with addons (Cartographer / EQ2map project etc).  Why is the Rift mapping system so amazing?  Well mostly that it gives you all this functionality, in a clean, easy to use form factor… and completely out of the box without any user modification.  It is functions like this that make me think Trion actually plays its own game, which is a point I question about many MMOs.  It is this attention to detail that really has me so enthralled with this game.


Since this is the first one of these features, please let me know what you think.  Was this useful?  What would you like to see in the future?  What overlooked features really have impressed you?  Comment below and I will respond.