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Questing in RIFT: Not As Bad As You’ve Heard

RIFT’s questing sucks.

I’ve heard this said over and over again. Every time it’s by someone who has played MMOs for the last 3+ years and has completed no less than 50,000 of them. Let’s please keep our objectivity here, because, I’ve got to tell you, RIFT is no worse than any other game out there. It is Kill Ten Rats, Collect Ten Foozles, Zap 10 Badwots with the Magical Badwot Zapper, but you know what? It does it with style. It’s flashy. It’s fast paced. It’s dangerous. Those are three things quests should be. Quests don’t overstay their welcome (most of the time). For the most part, you hit a hub, do some quests, do some follow-up quests, and move on. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a good Epic Story thrown in there.

Sounds familiar, probably.

See, this is what I don’t get. We can rail against RIFT for having “crap quests” and yet cheer it on for being “familiar.” This and a few other double standards somewhat amaze me. Quests are what we’ve seen before. Yes. They are. Does that make the game less fun? Does it make LotRO, or Age of Conan, or Aion less fun? Let’s just do ourselves a solid, right now: Everything pre-Cataclysm sucks. Cataclysm was the tipping point, it seems, because from that point onward big chunks of the MMO blogosphere got done with the questing system.

And that’s really what it is: players are just done with the questing system. To say that RIFT’s quests are so bad completely lacks context. RIFT’s quests would have fit in very well last year. For what they are, they’re fun. They’re not breaking the mold with soul-like innovations, no, but they are standard MMO fare. The people saying questing sucks so bad are the same people who have already played this system in LotRO, and Age of Conan, and Aion. They’re also the same people most excited about SW:TOR, and Guild Wars 2, and Dynamic Content.  They have sampled the sweetest fruits and most varied fruits and found RIFT lacking. Let’s be clear here: RIFT is no worse than those other games and in some ways is better. The ways it’s better are the little details where Trion’s flair comes out. And yeah, I agree, I wish there was more of that.To say that there is some grand difference, that RIFT is “unfun” is a damnation that would better read “I’m SO tired of the questing system.”

Yet, to simply say “this, the biggest part of the game, the one you’ll be stuck in for the next 49 levels, is unfun,” is tantamount to saying “don’t bother.” That’s what bothers me. RIFT is one of the best PvE MMOs to come out since 2004 WoW. It doesn’t break the mold in the most practical areas. It’s a lot more subversive than that. After you get used to the class-freedom, the constantly changing environments, and perpetual sense of danger, how do you go back to the static worlds of yesterday? How does WoW not look like the sleepy-eyed giant with the safe and secure playground? That’s it, right there. That’s why players should bother and take notice, because, make no mistake, whether you say RIFT is dynamic or not, it changes things. It’s the first shot in the war against staticism (yeah, I made that up). Fans of the genre need to perk up and listen, because this is the first real movement towards next generation’s MMOs.

I’m not saying RIFT’s questing is perfect. It is a weak point in the game. It’s grindy, like all questing systems, repetitive, and, most importantly, un-innovative.  Where they’ve subtly but meaningfully evolved other aspects of RIFT, their questing system remains firmly in The Burning Crusade era of MMOs. It’s easy to see why people would be let down. But what it does, it does well. Quests are interesting and varied; quest text is worth reading for this reason alone. Spell effects are intricate, colorful, and flashy. Quest hubs are designed for the 2011 player: objectives are clearly marked and close together. There’s very little “take this package to Timbuktu via horse and buggy.” That makes quests quick and easy to complete.

What we need to address is the root of Character Power Progression — or CPP as Nils puts it. Whether experience comes from scripted quests, scripted rifts, or scripted events, it all comes down to the same thing: kill the guy, get the stuff, complete the quest. Every way we know it can get old. That’s human nature and one of the top few areas that MMOs are growing stagnant in.

The industry NEEDS innovation, but let’s not lay all the blame at Trion’s feet. They simply had the misfortune of releasing in a time when most of us were ready to move on from 10 Foozles and Badwot Zapping.

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  1. Saerawen - Aedraxis

    RIFT has very few ‘horse and buggy’ quests, those that are present are mostly (all?) breadcrumb type quests. They exist solely to move you to new areas.

    I’ve found in the first couple of zones that Trion has generally, but not completely, avoided one of my pet questing peeves. Which is quest givers who repeatedly send you back to the same area.

    Quest Giver : ‘Go kill ten foozles.’

    Quest Giver : ‘Great! Go kill fifteen foozle warriors.’
    (which requires you to kill ten more foozles to get to the foozle warriors)

    Quest Giver : ‘Fantastic! Now bring me the head of Foozle the Magnificent’
    (which requires you to kill ten foozles and fifteen foozle warriors to get to FtM)

    Drop rates for quest loot items are also very good. If a quest calls for ten Dire Wolf Hides then at most you’ll need to kill around fifteen Dire Wolves. I have a personal tolerance of five kills per drop item: If I kill five mobs for a quest item and haven’t received a drop I abandon the quest. In WOW I abandoned close to 50% of those types of quest. In RIFT I haven’t dropped one yet.

  2. Chris

    Thanks for the comment Saerawen. I’ve noticed that too. I like it. The breadcrumbs also work as a guide for exploring the best places to rift.

    One of my other pet peeves is people saying the game is so linear. It’s no more linear than any other game, with the exception of the starting zones. By level 30, you have a choice of which zone to quest in and it’s totally possible to skip entire quest hubs — or questing all together if you prefer to rift or PvP.

  3. Chordian

    The quests in Rift are technically okay and not a disaster at all. The enemies are varied, their death animations sometimes hilarious (check out the rok birds as they plunge beak first into the ground), the tasks much like in e.g. LOTRO and EQ2, and the rewards also subtle upgrades as they should be. The quest log is nicely designed and you have your “easy mode” map tracking abilities.

    But even so, I can clearly feel that I’m burned out on this part of an MMORPG. I didn’t even get to level 90 in the last expansion for EQ2 because of this. In Rift on my shard (Quicksilver EU), as soon as you leave the starter zones, the rifts/invasions are often empty of players. Instead I quest a lot, but it doesn’t take long before I’m “full” and have to log of and do something else.
    Chordian recently posted..Rift- Level 30

  4. pitrelli

    I agree with your first sentence.

    Ha

    No seriously rift really doesnt try to re invent the wheel with regards to the questing and I think thats why myself and others have left already. It was imo more of the same but in my opinion the story and lore is ….. Umm…….well its a bit crap.

    People like rift and I can see why, its not a bad game, for me though it could well have fitted into the mmo world 3-4 years ago without much of a blink of an eye. With swtor and guildwars 2 they are actually changing how quests and story are delivered (in some cases interacting and making decisions) to us as gamers which for me is a bit more exciting. Anyway this is typed on my phone so apologies for any spelling errors etc
    pitrelli recently posted..Subscription Overload

  5. Anjin

    You speak the truth, sir. I suppose people like Pitrelli will hit those quests and give up. You and they are right that this is the one place where Trion did not find a new innovation. I’m perfectly happy to overlook that because I think they got so much else right. Also I’m not sick to death of questing, so it’s not a deal breaker for me. But Trion did not make bad quests. If fact, I think they are as good as the standard quest model allows. It’s just that so many people are sick of questing in general and Trion gets the brunt of their dissatisfaction for following the leader in this one spot.
    Anjin recently posted..Watched Lately- Fringe

  6. We Fly Spitfires

    Now that I’m getting into RIFT more and leveling up, I don’t mind the quests as much as I used to. They aren’t very innovative but like you said, they’re no worse than any other MMO out there. I do think they pale in comparison to the ones offered in the new Worgen and Goblin starting areas of WoW though.

    One of the things I really like about RIFT though is the environment and setting which more than make up some lackluster questing mechanics. I just love Gloamwood. Reminds of Diablo :P
    We Fly Spitfires recently posted..It’s Good To Be Geek

  7. Hunter

    If your best argument is, “they’re only as horrific as every other MMO” then your argument doesn’t really hold weight with me.
    Hunter recently posted..My Three Rifts

    1. Chris

      If you’re tired of normal questing, RIFT won’t do anything to make it better. The way people are highlighting its quests like they’re something so horrible is really dumb, though. If RIFT is unfun because of the quests, so is LotRO, and WAR, and Aion, and just about every other pre-cata MMO — and let’s be honest here, people are still pretty torn on how Cataclysm approached questing, what with the ultra-linearity and all.

      I’m not trying to say RIFT’s quests are so great, but “boring, monotonous, unfun” is really going off the deep-end of lost perception when you DON’T apply that same standard to everything else. People will never do that, though, because that’s as good as saying you’re tired of the whole quest model and pretty much every current game out there. RIFT is taking the heat for a lot of people tired of quests, not simply RIFT’s questing.

      1. Green Armadillo

        Your comment here is basically what I was going to say. The complaints I’m seeing are from people who hate modern MMO questing. They’re welcome to their opinion, but it doesn’t really add information when someone who hates all MMO questing hates Rift questing.
        Green Armadillo recently posted..F2P LOTRO Version 2

      2. Drew

        I’m going to disagree with you fully, and I’ll explain why. Yes, I think RIFT’s quests sucked. I thought WoW’s quests sucked. I thought AION’s quests were pretty good (to be fair, this was not the knock on the game when it released – it was the pace). Fallen Earth’s quests do not suck at all; they’re awesome.

        Why on the latter two? It’s not like you’re doing anything different – I mean, it’s still kill X dudes, collect this, or escort NPC.

        AION had a solid lore base. One where it doesn’t insert things like unnecessary pop culture references. I liked AION’s story (which coincidentally RIFT did a poor job of essentially ripping off and modifying. RIFT’s lore sucks, sorry). I read most of the quest text there for the background. Some of the repeatable city-quests were just stupid, granted. Then again, that type of quest content is hard to make relevant more than once.

        Fallen Earth is a whole different beast altogether. First of all, the game is a whole different genre (post-apoc vs. fantasy), so it’s not the same-old, same-old. Secondly, they did a masterful job with the story. Some quests have comedic value, some are serious, but almost all of them pull me into the NPC’s tale. I want to find out what happens next. It’s not about just getting to a spot, clicking the box, and running back, it’s about finding out what’s in the box – and why it matters. Furthermore, the “event” quests which triggered a large-scale impact once you met certain goals are cool.

        In short, the quest model might suck for most, but not all quest text is created equal.
        Drew recently posted..Then Why Are There So Many WoW Blogs

  8. melissa

    This is not directed at anyone in particular, but the same people who talk about these unoriginal quest systems are often the same ones who complain when something more original is introduced. They are often the same people who just want to get to endgame as quickly as possible, which means they want to get to the available quest itself with minimal interaction with the npc.
    Character progression will mean something different to each player depending on which part of the game is more important, the mmo or the rpg.

    1. Drew

      Definitely agree. Someone who likes to rush to end-cap will probably hate Fallen Earth. Someone who enjoys crafting, exploration, and story will likely love it.

      That’s not even bringing up the FPS-style combat which separates it from just about everything else in the MMO market (Darkfall and DDO, excluded).
      Drew recently posted..Then Why Are There So Many WoW Blogs

  9. Stabs

    Rift has quests? I’ve been leveling in warfronts, instances and on rifts.

    But more seriously yeah I’ve done a few quests but they’re not my main playstyle at all.
    Stabs recently posted..Rift- the PvP Purifier

  10. Telwyn

    I’ve found the questing to be a decent challenge, certainly more so than WoW’s where nowadays you are given NPC help if the target is anything beyond a walkover. I also enjoy the lack so far of in-your-face pop references and gimmicky vehicle quests. As for the lore, well I’m enjoying it, not quite LoTRO standard but good enough.

  11. rift cleric pvp master

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  1. Questing, Variety And Fire Squirrels | MMO Melting Pot

    [...] Chris of Game by Night is taking a stand against folks who say that Rift’s quests are awful. For one thing, he points out, most other MMOs we play happily use similar quest models. He accepts that while questing is one area Rift doesn’t do anything new, it uses a model that’s worked just fine elsewhere. The problem? Us as gamers have moved on from the type of quests most MMOs use – it’s not Rift’s fault, it’s a wrong-place-wrong-time thing. A very good read whatever MMO you play. Some interesting comments, too. [...]

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