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My Concerns About Rift

As someone who regularly contributes to a Rift fansite, I’ve been accused of being a bit “fanboi” on more than one ocassion. Generally, I don’t give much credence to that kind of claim because it tends to come anonymous or one-stop-to-troll visitors. Not everyone embraces the MMO Nomad playstyle like I do I can see where that’s coming from this time, though. Apart from that one post a few months ago, it’s all been sunshine and roses around here. 

Today I’d like to counter all of that enthusiasm by sharing some of my concerns for the game. Here are the biggest questions still looming in my mind:

Rift Events – Where do we go from here?

Since Beta 1, Trion has really ratched up the amount and intensity of rift events. Not only are normal rifts spawning at speedy rate, multiple times a day huge events are also triggered causing dozens of the to open simultaneously. Now, these are undeniably cool, but will they continue on once the game has launched? Will 30+ rift invasions become the norm? If so, I have to wonder how that will effect the overall balance of the game. Rifts level you quick — much quicker than quests or PvP — and daily events will skyrocket the playerbase faster than I fear the endgame can support. There is also the issue of players simply getting tired of it. Rifts are the new shiny. It won’t stay that way if these huge events are overdone.

Trion has said (in the last Rift podcast) that what we’ve seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg; bigger and better things are coming in the first few weeks of March. Considering how extravagent these events are, I’m left wondering where they could go. So far, everything amounts to the same, public quest type goals. Then again, Trion has repeatedly referred to rifts as a content delivery system. In that same episode of The Rift, their marketing guest promises that their technology will allow them to deliver better content quicker. If that means more of these events, OK. I’m not about to complain because, thus far, what they’ve given has been pretty cool. But if it means real and truly designed (read: scripting, directed, with a narrative focus and overarching progression) it stands to be a true step forward. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Rewards for participating in rifts are another matter. Itemization still needs to be worked out and the system better explained. Thankfully, that is exactly what these beta events are for.

Class Balance and Purpose

Right now, the much lauded soul system needs work. It’s fun, sure, but the balance is a bit off. Why is it that a rogue — in leather — can tank better than a warrior in plate? Why is it that a cleric makes a warrior look like absolute drudgery — where one fights longer and struggles harder, the other breezes through without so much as a stop to drink. These are problems that need fixing.

My hope is that Trion takes the Mythic approach and buffs the underperformers rather than nerfing the classes people enjoy most. Playing a cleric is fun. That’s why people do it. The answer should never be to make a class less fun so the crappers look better in comparison.


Rift absolutely needs some kind of open group system. As I’ve mentioned before, I play a tank in almost every game I try. Throughout these events, I’ve tried, I really have. Tanks and healers are a necessity for all but the solo rift. The problem, though, is that there is no clear cut way for them to communicate with one another. I was never once invited to a party by someone else when I ran into a rift conflict. It was, in the truest sense, a complete and total zerg. Okay, I thought, let’s just roll with it; when they see I’m holding threat and tanking the thing, someone will throw a heal and try to keep me alive. Not once. Not a single time.

The only thing I can blame that on is the non-grouped UI gives healers no way to see who has threat and where their health is at. Healers want to heal. It’s not happening nearly as efficiently as it should.

The lack of an open group system makes fighting rifts and invasions a shoulder-to-shoulder solo experience.

I won’t talk about instances much because I haven’t done them yet (I’d like to keep some things fresh for launch). As far as I’ve heard, dungeons function just like those in WoW. Something still feels distinctly wrong when a rogue can out-tank a tank.

Here are a couple of lesser concerns…

Leveling Speed and Longevity

Levelling in Rift is pretty quick. My highest character is only in his mid-teens, so I can’t speak to personal experience with any authority. Arith hit level 27 in 22 hours, however, and that just feels a bit too sly.

We can compare it to a game like WoW where leveling is even faster, but such a comparison wouldn’t be fair. Why? Because WoW has a long established endgame with far more options than Rift. That’s not a knock against the game, it’s just a fact from having a six year head start. If you’re going to usher people to the end game, you need LOTS of options to prevent fallout. Rift has some but it’s yet to be seen how well they’ll last in the long run.

Appearances and Itemization

Simply put, there is not enough variety in armor. Players look far too similar for a game like this. It’s the Wrath syndrome. WAR-without-IP-limits-but-still-too-constrained-itis. Hmm. That was a bit long, but you see what I’m saying.

And have you seen the heroic rewards? This is totally subjective, but I’m not impressed. At best they’re uninspired. They’re bland, brown, and don’t make me want to earn them. Where are my floating crystals and pulsing energy beams, Trion?!

Is it a deal breaker? No way. Still, I hope the fix this.

Overall, I’m still very excited for the game. It’s fun. But, don’t let it be said that I’m blind to the downsides. These are my big worries for the moment.


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  1. Hugmenot

    Keep in mind the leveling speed is almost always greatly accelerated in Beta to ensure the game developers can collect a significant amount of data for more than just a few levels.

    My guess is leveling will take significantly longer when Rift goes live.

    Class balance appears to be a significant issue at the moment.

  2. Anjin

    I wouldn’t call you a fanboy. Your podcast mate who said that the classes never needed to be balanced? He might be a fanboy but you sound like you have a clear head.

    All of your points are perfectly reasonable. But since they are all things that need to be worked out against a wall of players, they can be tuned or updated in the coming months. Good to go in with a clear understanding, though.
    Anjin recently posted..Read Lately- Edge Of Destiny by J Robert King

    1. Chris

      Hey Anjin, thanks for stopping by! My hope is that a lot of this will be touched on in the next month and a half of beta. They’ve been really good about working in player feedback, so I believe they will. According to the last episode of Massively Speaking, an open grouping mechanic is already in the works. From where we are now, pre-launch, I think it’s a very good place to go forward from. I have my concerns but, at the end of the day, I’m still pretty optimistic about how the game will do. I’m very confident that Rift will find itself a decent subscriber base to see it through the next years.

      Yeah, though. I wanted to share this side of things so that I’m being fair. I’m beyond looking for my “one game.” All I want these days is a fun game and I think we have that here 🙂

  3. Green Armadillo

    Congrats on making it big enough to be accused of bias! 🙂

    Ironically, WoW’s endgame may be at a disadvantage compared to Trion’s, because constant gear inflation means that only the most recent dungeon is relevant. The place where the six year headstart really hurts is when it comes to solo content. As I just posted on my blog, you can basically level your first three characters in WoW to 55 without ever setting foot in a zone you’ve seen before, and you’d still be able to do 3 more characters through the same zones on the other faction. I seem to recall hearing that Rift’s two factions share the same zones from the tutorial onwards. That’s a huge difference in variety and it’s going to hit many players early on as they go to try other archetypes.

    As to soul balance, I don’t know if that problem is solvable. Blizzard is struggling to get 30 specs balanced in WoW, SOE has really struggled to find roles for its 24 subclasses in EQ2, and Trion’s system will have hundreds of variations. Also, as I commented @Ari’s post, there’s a big problem if you start balancing the game around triple-tank warriors etc because the other archetypes don’t have a second and third tanking soul they can slot. If Trion wants these off-specs to be usable (if not, they wasted a lot of time developing them), there have to be limits on how much synergy an archetype can get out of their second and third souls.
    Green Armadillo recently posted..Guide To WoW Cataclysm Newbie Area Revamps

  4. Chris

    Hey GA, sorry I didn’t comment sooner. I agree with you about the zones. I’ve rolled four characters so far and I’m already pretty tired of doing the tutorial. The actual zones are much, much bigger but I could still see it becoming a problem on the second or third character.

    Class balance is definitely a tricky one and, honestly, I hadn’t really considered PvE class balancing until now. It had always been about PvP. How they design the dungeon and raid encounters will really determine whether we’re in a “bring the player, not the class” environment or not. At this point, it’s hard to see how players won’t be shoehorned into a set spec if they intend on taking up endgame. Granted, that’s no worse than any other class-based MMO, but it certainly doesn’t do the soul system justice.

  5. Nils

    Where are my floating crystals and pulsing energy beams, Trion?!
    Nowhere. And hopefully there won’t be any!

    My hope is that Trion takes the Mythic approach and buffs the underperformers rather than nerfing the classes people enjoy most. Playing a cleric is fun. That’s why people do it. The answer should never be to make a class less fun so the crappers look better in comparison.
    I have an even better idea. Let’s increase all player dps by 300%. It’s more fun! And while you’re at it .. decrease monster dps by .. mmh .. let’s say .. 50%. In the name of fun everything has to be ok.

    1. Chris

      So the better option would be to make every class on par with the lowest performers then?

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