Not getting Rift yet

Last week, Rift had a sale on Steam. The game was just 5 Euros, or 6.25 for the “Digital Collector’s Edition”, which comes with a slow mount and a bigger starting bag for each character (plus some other stuff that I can’t even remember). I sometimes spend multiple times that much on some groceries for a nice dinner on the weekend, plus a good bottle of wine, so I thought “why not?” Especially since it came with a free month of play time. On a side note, are they really that desperate for players at the moment? A sale like this that early in the game’s life feels… interesting.

I had tried Rift in beta, but had not been too terribly impressed. Nevertheless, I wanted to try the game at some point, and had the free trial on the radar for some time now. I just hadn’t had any time yet.

My plan was to level a Guardian and a Defiant through the prologue, and then decide on one for the time being. After playing the Guardian side, I knew I sure didn’t want to do another 40+ levels of that self-righteous zealot bullshit. After I also played the Defiant side, I wasn’t exactly impressed (steam punk time machine armageddon ho!), but it felt better than the Guardians, so I sticked to my Kelari mage.

The game sure has a couple of things going for it. It can look really nice on high settings (though the fan on my still relatively new Ti560 is getting much louder than in any other game!). I like how the rifts integrate into the landscape. I’m still trying to figure out how many types of rifts and invasions there are, and whether the spawn points are static or whether a rift can spawn anywhere on the map. I also like the ease of finding groups.

That, however, leads me to the point I’m still on the fence about. yes, finding groups was as easy as clicking a button, but it didn’t feel all that social most of the time. Sure, it is better than the average WoW pug, which seems to have at least one total jackass 50% of the time. In Rift, you group, and you ungroup, and never say a word. That this is actually an improvement is probably more of a concern about the general state of affairs.

I’m also sitting in decision shock half of the time. There’s so many souls, and soul combinations. And then you spend points in those souls. Which souls to take? How to spend points? I could try out all combinations that seem at least feasible to me, but there are so many, I can’t overlook the solution space. It’s disheartening. It’s like when I’m sitting in a restaurant. If they only have a choice of 3 main courses, it’ll be easy to decide. If they have 30, it will take me 20 minutes and I will still feel like I might not have chosen the right thing. Maybe I’ll make a post about this problem in more detail at a later point.

Which, finally, brings me to the points I don’t like. The first, and most important, one is that wherever I go, I’m seen as a sight to behold. At level 7. “Great sun, an ascended!” First of all, how do you know? I might’ve missed that part of the lore, all of this is still very fuzzy to me, but am I wearing a magic tattoo that everybody but me can see? Besides, I don’t want to be a hero at level 7. I want to be a scrub, and work towards being a hero. Maybe. One day. What fun is it to start out at the top of the food chain already? And how did these people ever get anything done without ascendeds, anyway?

Overall, the whole lore feels dodgy to me. I like the fact that each side shows you an indoctrinated point of view on their truth, but I would’ve preferred if the prologues had talked about the same events at least. It would’ve given the whole thing a “two perspectives, and there’s no black and white” kind of feel. In addition, I would’ve preferred if the back stories had given me the feeling that both sides are kinda right, and have a point. What I actually felt after the introduction was that neither side was very likable, because both were way too stubborn in their ideologies. That bodes ill for immersion and identifying with your faction in the long run. What’s up with two factions anyway? Useless artificial partitioning of your player base. But I digress again. More food for posts.

Finally, the streamlinedness. It feels like I start at quest hub one, do quests. Then get a breadcrumb quest to go to hub two, rinse and repeat. I heard before that Rift is so great for exploration, but I can’t see that yet. Does it get better? Do you get off the rails after the first zone? People might say that I should just go and explore stuff if I want to, but the problem is, a) the streamlined quest content makes it feel like this is actively frowned upon, and b), other games have instilled in me the fear that if I do too much exploring, I will outlevel content and (again, due to the streamline) will have to work through stuff that isn’t exciting at all any more if everything is grey.

So, the bottom line is: there is something about Rift. I like some things about the game. But it feels to me like there’s really fun stuff in there that I’m just not getting.

But don’t fear. I’m a late adopter. Many games take time to grow on me. Most extreme example: I bought Diablo II on release, played it for a week, then let it rot on the shelf for a year or so. Then, I started playing it excessively.

And I still got about 3 weeks of game time. Things might change. Who knows. Maybe I’ll grow to like stuff I don’t yet, or at least ignore some of those things.

5 thoughts on “Not getting Rift yet

  1. “Great sun, an ascended!”

    Potshot said at some point there every other NPC he talked to sounded like Alec Guinness intoning some momentous announcement. I get that they want to make you special, so you seem the hero, but even I can see half a dozen ascended from where I am standing at any given moment.

    It seemed to me that by this point in the game that the average NPC should be saying, “Oh hey look, another ascended. Take a number, we’ll call you when it is your turn.”

    The whole soul thing is… diversity beyond me ability to absorb right now. But at least you seem to be able to reset your spent points for cheap. I expect I will end up doing that a lot early on.

  2. I actually went by google to find out whether it was “great sun” or “great son” – both seemed to make equally little sense to me.
    And when it comes to Alec Guinness, I have to profess I’m probably the wrong generation. I think I can only name one movie he is in right away, and that’s the first Star Wars movie*. I like the way potshot put the point though.

    * OK, I just looked him up on wikipedia, and there’s _still_ only one other movie I recognized right away, and that’s Lawrence of Arabia. And I sure wouldn’t have recognized Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal.

  3. The game doesn’t “push” you to explore. If you just follow the quest lines, it will feel very straightforward.

    You have to strike out on your own to see the exploration stuff. RIFT doesn’t really tell you that it exists (well, I guess you could look at the achievements and guess at some of them).

  4. @Flosch — After hitting 50 there’s a nice ceremony you can participate in in the new solo “chronicle” where they basically say something along the lines of “Wow, you’ve become so powerful and done so much that we’re going to reward you with even more power!” And the you unlock the Planar Attunement. At least, that’s how it goes down on the Guardian side. I haven’t played my level 50 on the Defiant side in some time nor tried out the PA unlock Chronicle there yet, so I don’t know how it will work there with their steampunk style vs the angel of the gods coming down like on the Guardian side. There’s also a lot less of the whole “OMG you’re an ascended!” once you get out of the starter areas.

    Also, Rift locations are static so they’re easy to either look for them or to avoid. Invasions add a ton of spawn points to the “regular few” but even then they’re still static locations. Some zones have them right on top of each other, though, so you can be fighting 2 rifts simultaneously. It used to be if the 2 close rifts were of differing planes the NPC’s would fight each other too, but that got taken out, though it’s rumored it might be coming back “soon.”

    I post a bit about Rift at nomadicgamer.com, but I don’t get a whole lot into nitty-gritty details like soul builds, though, so while I’m happy to answer questions if you’ve got them, you may not find a whole lot of help in my posts 🙁

  5. @Rohan: Maybe it’s just that the first zone seems very full. Most of the areas are used for quest mobs. I found a few collectibles already, but I think that hardly counts as “exploring”.
    So I’ll see what will happen soon when I leave Freemarch. Or I’ll try a less populated server for a change (for some reason, I feel more like exploring if I’m more or less alone).

    @pkudude: Yeah, I read your blog, so I see your posts about Rift every now and then. And it’s good to hear that the tone might change a bit after you leave the starter areas. Come to think of it, I’m not a big fan of starter areas in most games…. many of them are quite heavily scripted and very “on rails” to ease you into the game, but that takes a lot of charm out of it. Unless all hell breaks lose at work or something similar, I should easily make it out of Freemarch before my game time runs out, so I’ll check for myself.
    And thanks for the offer on soul build questions. If I have any, I’ll ask. I’ll probably try a dungeon soon, and then we’ll see whether I found a way to play a heal/support mage well enough to survive that. 🙂

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