Category Archives: Rift

Some Rift Impressions

Over the weekend, I had a little bit more time to play, so I gave Rift another shot. Told you I wouldn’t give up that easily. Plus, I got a lot of feedback on my last post, both here and at the Ancient Gaming Noob. Thanks for that, it helped!

I’ll just pick up a couple of points and talk about them. The first two are purely game-related, the other three are more about the community.

Souls and Roles

I’m still working on understanding the soul system. I’m slowly starting to like it, though it still seems there’s so many options that I’m not sure whether I’ll ever get them all. I’m a bit worried I might not be able to try out everything I want until I hit max level! At least unless the curve flattens considerably.

I spent some time on Sunday to redo my roles. I love to support, so I got a dedicated support and a dedicated healer role. My supporter is an archon/chloromancer. I’m not sure how helpful the chloro part is actually. The plan was to get Lifegiving Veil to bring some AoE heals in case they’re needed. Haven’t been in a group yet in which that would’ve been necessary, and I’m not sure yet it would make a big difference. I like the archon as a soul though; you’ll see it in the other roles.

My healer is a chloromancer/archon, with just enough to get shared vigor and consuming flames. The latter is nice as an instant bubble to rescue someone if my direct heals are on cooldown. I very much like chloro healing, though I can imagine it has its limitations. Actually, I think I ran into one already, but more about that dungeon run later.

Finally, I bought my third role last night because I wanted to experiment with a leveling dps role again. I had originally started out as pyromancer (fire! who can resist playing Tim?), but was way too squishy and got killed easily by adds. On the other hand, I have a dislike for pet classes, and I’m not a huge fan of death magic either. That meant that most of the cookie-cutter leveling specs went right out the window. I actually played my healing spec for questing for a bit, and it works reasonably well, it is just slow. I then combined the pyromancer’s DPS with a bit of chloromancer for some healing ability. I’ve yet to try that in really demanding situations; it seems to work better than a pure pyromancer though, so we’ll see. If all else fails I’ll proably have to take the necromancer soul for soul purge, which people claim is all sorts of awesome. I’d rather not, though.

The specs are still a bit ad-hoc and inconsistent. I’m often not sure which talents to take and just wing it. I just hope I don’t do anything blatantly wrong and will start worrying when stuff doesn’t work well any more. At the moment, most content is easy enough for me not to worry too much.

Puzzles and Cairns

Oh boy. I tried, I really did. I got the hint that Freemarch’s puzzles and cairns are hidden in Lake of Solace. I scouted all of it, but couldn’t find anything. Turns out I just wasn’t looking closely enough, literally. The “object distance” setting was only about halfway to max, and so when I though I was looking at the lake ground, I was actually looking at the lake ground sans objects.

I only found out about that after I gave up and asked the almighty Internet. It also told me the place of two or three cairns. I didn’t go and get the place for all of them, but how am I ever gonna find those on my own? At least most other puzzles won’t be underwater (I hope!), maybe that’ll make it easier. Otherwise I’ll have to admit I’m too bad for puzzles. 😉

The Community

First of all, I’m playing on Argent, a RP server. It’s not that I RP much, but I often pick RP servers to play on in MMOs. My impression is that the community is generally not as negative and chuck-norris-y there, plus I like it when roleplaying goes on, even if I don’t participate (I do every now and then in LotRO). I can’t say I’ve noticed much RPing in Rift yet, though. Maybe I’m in the wrong places; Meridian might be the capital of the defiants, but it doesn’t really feel like a city, more like a convention center (no houses and such, just a marketplace, two halls, and a tower); I must’ve missed something there.

All in all, the community so far has been a bit of a hit and miss for me. If I had to choose right now, I’d put it somewhere between LotRO and WoW.

Example 1, chat channels. The 1-29 channel was very lively last night. Some of the topics were pretty awful though, I was close to switching it off. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t, because I had a quite funny conversation with a couple of people. Too bad I didn’t note the names.

Basically, I said that I liked the game, but the lore felt kinda dodgy, and brought up the “great sun, and ascended!” line. We started brainstorming and came up with our own version of lore, which basically goes like this: You wake up as the first ascended ever in the future. You’re then sent off to the past, which naturally is a parallel universe in which all the other one-of-a-kind ascendeds seem to end up in. Which is why the quest givers around have you kill boars instead of doing valiant deeds. Of course, in this parallel universe, language must have also changed a lot, to the point where “great sun, an ascended!” means something along the lines of “oh great, another scrub”. I liked the fact that I didn’t get shouted down in chat immediately for something that might sound like criticism.

Example 2, dungeon runs. I’ve seen everything in the 6 or so I’ve done so far from horrible ones where nobody says any word at any point, over arguments between DPS and tanks about who is a noob and who has the wrong attitude, complete with porting out pouting and group kicks. But, and that is the good point, most of them were pretty decent.

My high point was a run of Darkening Deeps at 21. I zoned in and realized I had no idea what that zone was. Then I realized everybody else was at least 4 levels above me. Healing Darkening Deeps at 21 was… interesting. Actually, everything went fine (not sure how much the supporting cleric helped with that though) until we reached the spider boss.

Oh damn. See, somehow we had no real AoE damage. And that’s bad, because the boss summons a lot of tiny spiders that can overwhelm your group, plus it cocoons people who you need to free. We had a lot of wipes there.

  1. Cleric support got cocooned when there were a lot of spiders up; I couldn’t keep the group alive on my own.
  2. I got cocooned first, then Cleric after me. Consequently, not enough healing.
  3. We had a couple in the group. A rogue tank and a warrior dps. They decided to switch so that the rogue could AoE. Problem being, the warrior had never tanked before. Stuff didn’t go so well.
  4. Original rogue tank asked other DPS whether it could tank. DPS ran into the boss without saying anything, and without tank spec. At least the wipe was fast.
  5. Back to our original roles. Cleric got cocooned and wasn’t freed. At least he claimed so. I couldn’t target the cocoon, but that might be me. Cleric left angrily after that wipe.
  6. The same DPS that caused the last wipe stood too far outside, melee couldn’t reach him, took to long to free the person, spiders overwhelmed us. (couldn’t keep up the healing – a higher level might’ve saved the group there.) DPS left without a comment after that try.
  7. Finally, we got another AoE DPS as a replacement. Pulled the boss, healed pretty much as before, and boss died. It felt so much easier with the right role.

What I liked was that most people (the original three plus the replacements) stayed constructive and didn’t start blaming the others. I knew I was on the low end of the level range and actually offered to leave at some point, but they told me it wouldn’t change too much, we were just lacking AoE. We (well, me not so much, since I don’t know anything about roles and souls yet) continued to look at the problem and think of different ways to go at it, and in the end won. That was fun.

Even though to most players, this will probably nothing to brag about (“wiping on a level 23 boss lol!”), I liked the constructive atmosphere, even though, to be honest, I’d rather not be thrown into a dungeon again as a healer at the very low end of the level range. It was quite stressful at times.

Example 3, group quests. That’s a thing I sadly can’t say much good about. I picked up a couple of group quests for Freemarch in Meridian when I hit 15 or so, and now that I’m 24, I still have the ones to destroy the three spires, and to close 4 death rifts. The problem with the rifts is that there hardly seem to be any death rifts up, and it feels a bit arbitrary whether you get an update or not. The larger problem is the spires, in that nobody seems to do them. I’ve never seen anybody else around them, and the group finder couldn’t find me other people for that quest either. I tried soloing them last night, but even at 24, I got overwhelmed. Maybe I’ll try again at 26. If anybody of you is still on that part of the quest line too, tell me and I might join you!

So yeah, that concludes my thoughts on Rift for the meantime. I enjoy being heal and support, and it seems like I might enjoy my practically free month. After that, I’ll see. It’s hard after 10 days to say how I’ll enjoy the game after the other 20.

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.