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Conquest in RIFT Needs Revision

I’ve been playing a lot of Conquest (CQ) now that I’ve hit 50 in RIFT. Three faction PvP is a good idea and I’m happy to see Trion taking on the design challenges that come with it. That said, the way that CQ is currently implemented is functional at best. That’s a problem considering that it’s been incentivized as “the way” to progress at level 50. With Guild Wars 2 coming next week, these are the biggest problems I see with the system as-is:

1. It’s Confusing

“What does it all mean?!”

When you first enter Conquest, the game offers you nothing in the way of direction. You simply are, in the middle of a keep, with possibly a portal or two in front of you; what they mean or what they’re for meaning nothing. You open your map to dozens of multi-colored points that also mean nothing. So naturally, you follow the raid — assuming some of them are in the keep for you to follow — and hope to learn the game that way. And you probably will after a half-hour of trying to piece together a strategy that doesn’t exist. There needs to be better direction here.

Also, despite there being multiple raid groups on the map at any given time, you can only see the one you’re in. Players need to have a way to see where everyone else is so they can make informed decisions on where they should go.

2. There’s only one strategy… and it doesn’t work

Right now, the only strategy that exists is “follow the zerg.” If you don’t follow the zerg, you die. CQ makes that painfully apparent the first, second, and third times you try it. After that you’ve probably given up. Following a large group is a good way to stay safe, earn favor, prestige, XP, and shards when you cap control points. Sounds like a great way to progress! In practice, however, each team is doing the same thing. In one big circle, three teams roam capping extractors and losing the ones they’ve captured before. It keeps things balanced. Too balanced. Ask anybody who’s spent time there and they’ll tell you, matches almost always hover at with two-to-three teams in a 1-3% tie.

Other strategies come out in play. People shout them like in all battlegrounds. Unfortunately, the game-mode trains players to follow the zerg for their own good. Players trying to move in small groups quickly find that extractors have far too much HP (~400k or 50x that of an average player) to “whittle down” before their defender-zerg runs to their defense. No amount of /1 shouting will change that. Rebalancing will.

Four of us tried to cap an undefended extractor. We didn’t even get it halfway down before being thoroughly trounced.

3. Matches last WAY too long

CQ has two win conditions: One team must capture and hold 60% of the map for ten minutes or a kill-counter of 5,000 must reach zero. I’ve played quite a few matches now and I have only once seen a team hold the map for those ten minutes. Most times they never even reach 60%. In those majority cases, the kill-counter must hit zero before the final, PvEvP phase begins. 5,000 kills doesn’t sound like a lot in a three-faction battle but it is — oh, how it is. To put it in perspective, after an hour and twenty minutes today, 3,400 kills remained. At that rate, the match would last over four hours. More often, it’s in the three hour range. Regardless, that is WAY too long when CQ is very obviously intended to be a primary progression mechanism for players at the level cap.

Idea: Cut the kill-count in half. You still get the large scale PvP without the “my eyes are bleeding” strain of three hours spent running in circles.

4. It’s too heavily incentivized

Conquest is by far the quickest way to earn XP, favor, and prestige. By-frickin’-far. To put it in perspective, one warfront is likely to give you 600-1300 favor and a pittance of prestige. One round of CQ can net you 15-30k favor and 5-15k prestige. Really. Most of my planar attunement levels have been earned in there as well, but I haven’t paid enough attention to give you a number on that one. All I can say is that it’s not unusual to level up twice in a single match.

That’s great progression but players are feeling forced to play even when they don’t want to — and I don’t blame them. Want to be competitive in PvP? Conquest. Want to get the perks of planar attunement? Conquest. Want to get some of the best enchants in the game? Conquest.

Overall, I think the game mode has a lot of merit and a lot of potential, but there are serious design issues at the moment. Given how much of a selling point CQ was for this patch, Trion needs to be on their game and responding to players’ concerns. How about you, what do you think of all this?

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  1. Liore

    All excellent points! I was getting kind of frustrated with the complaints about Conquest since it launched, but I have to say that the current iteration is the least enjoyable in my opinion. I haven’t seen the end of a match in.. weeks? The procedure now is that I queue right away for Nightfall or Oathsworn (Dominion is pretty routinely smushed in our cluster, so it’s not really worth it if I want kills). Then I wait 20-30 minutes to get in. Then I run around for 45 minutes or so and hopefully find a zerg to follow. Then I get bored and quit when there are still over 4000 kills left.

    I really enjoy MMO PvP, and more “open” maps, but Conquest right now is totally not fun.

  2. Starseeker

    I’m not sure i totally agree that Conquest is the fastest way to get favor…leveling yeah I can agree but you also have to look at the time sink.

    Your in conquest for 3 or so hours, and you may or may not get a zerg to get faction from, alternatively you can complete 12-15 warfronts or more in that time frame (if each warfront ran to the end of the clock). Warfronts grant more favor and prestige.

    I kinda like the longer conquests, I just avoid them when it starts getting later in the evening. However, I do think they need to reduce the kill count by half, because some of them get a bit ridiculous. I was in one the other night that ran 4 hours, and we never reached even half the kill count, finally at 1:30 my team just gave up to let someone trigger the 10 min timer because everyone needed sleep. Basically all 3 zergs were just chasing each other around in a circle killing extractors and not each other.

  3. sean

    man, Conquest must be so different on the US server clusters… I play on the EU clusters; I’ve never seen a game go more than 90 minutes, most games end with the 60% mark reached; even when we reach the kill count it’s fast.

    Eg: since the start of this week, I’ve played 8 CQs. 2 went to kill-count, 2 ended with *more* than 4k kills remaining; 2 ended with between 1-2k kills remaining and the last two I joined during the 10 min countdown so I don’t know for certain how they ended. Of these 8 games, Oath won 6, NF 2.

    On the EU cluster, NF looks for favour, so rides in a zerg *to hit other zergs* (current favourite tactic: claiming the Briarcliff teleporter and farming anyone who comes close); Oath looks to cap; Domi is caught between zerging and capping and usually ends up farmed. There is absolutely *no* ‘ride around and aviod each other’.

    This means, by the way, that on the EU cluster CQ is *far and away* the fastest way to rank up. I’m currently running my rogue (r28 as of today) through CQs; at his rank it takes 2-3 CQs (thus, 2-3 hours, typically; often less) to rank up – if I tried that in warfronts…. well, my main and 2nd chars ranked up in warfronts, so I know how little favour and prestige that would grant.

    The quest I have, for those of you on the US clusters, is *why do you let that happen?* The thing about the zerg is the zerg can’t split, and if all 3 factions are zerging after each other, why in god’s name aren’t you (as in, you the reader of this comment) going *somewhere else* to cap? I find it hard to believe the zergs chase each other through Briarcliff or Burlingham; there’re too many cliffs (cliffs being zerg-breakers) – thus, why don’t YOU ride to Burli or Briar or the back of CM or *anywhere else on the map* and cap? Once one side starts to get an advantage, the other sides *do* panic, their zergs break, and you win. And once one side starts winning, people flock to it, the other sides face the need to change strategy, and given there isn’t much talking or co-ordination in CQ, strategy change is hard, slow and messy. OR: if you are in a guild, why not queue with guildies, and decide ‘we’re taking and holding Burli/Briar/whatever’? Sure, *if* the zerg comes, they’ll smash you, but if the zerg goes so far off it’s usual path to come for you, the other side (hopefully, YOUR side) will cap behind in the time available and win.

    Seriously: there seem to me so many strategies for defeating circling zergs (we had them on EU too, from time to time) that I wonder how they still persist. Actually, I know how they still persist: they persist because each player decides to do the safe thing of following the zerg. Thus my previous question: why do YOU continue to let it happen?

    1. Chris

      Honestly Sean, I try it a few times per match and if it gets nowhere, as in I get put down quickly, I give up. On Greybriar, getting put down is the rule. I have yet to be able to get a single extractor down without the zerg. I think most players have had similar experiences. I’ve gotten close by myself, down to 100k hp or so, but after chipping away at boss-level HP for five minutes, only to be shut down by one or more players is pretty defeating. The other reason is that the reward for time spent is minimal. Compared to following the zerg, the xp/favor/prestige earned may as well be zero. If it worked, I would do it simply to contribute toward a win; people follow incentives though and there is very little to break into small groups.

      That’s very interesting to hear EU operates so differently. I wonder why that is and what we in the US can do to get closer to that!

  4. Tom

    Chris, if you’re on Greybriar then you’re in the Seastone cluster. I was on that cluster as well last week. CQ’s usually only lasted 90 min and was similiar to what Sean is describing for the EU cluster.

    Well, I decided to try out the Faeblight cluster so I transferred off. Do not make the same mistake!!! CQ’s last over 4 hours even during primetime. It’s truly horrific. Someone said something to this effect: if you want to experience low valor and prestige ranked folks, go to the faeblight cluster. If you want to experience the opposite, go to the seastone cluster. And, they’re exactly right.

    If, during the past week, the seastone cluster CQ’s are now taking over 90 min to complete (during primetime, mind you) then my suspicions are correct. Less PvP’rs that have gear are playing. And, to be completely honest, with GW2 coming out the 25th, I’m afraid it’s going to get worse for Rift. At least in the near, foreseable future. Perhaps after the GW2 launch period wears off, but if the game is as good as it’s being hyped I don’t see myself becoming nearly as dedicated to rift PvP.

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