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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.

Grouping

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. Tripping The RIFT… « Voodoo Gamer

    […] over at Game By Night details five of his concerns regarding […]

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