Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Through Every Rift of Discovery . . .

. . . some seeming anomaly drops out of the darkness, and falls . . .
~Edwin Hubbel Chapin
Last night, my lovely bride and I returned at last to Rift, over which we bonded, and during our original run-through became engaged and got married. Rift, for many such reasons, will always havea special place in my heart.

That's my rose-tinted theory of Rift. In practice, though, we both lost interest soon after reaching max level in the autumn of 2011. I dabbled a bit in it after that, since I'd a paid 6-month sub right before, but we never really played seriously again.

As you probably know, Rift went free to play a couple weeks ago and was inundated with lookie-loos. Scooterz and I held off. Between RL busy-ness and other games, we didn't have time for queues. Then last night she decided it was time to jump back in and see what had changed. Much like Syp, we decided to start new Defiant characters to get our "Rift-legs" back. I went with a Cleric and she, a Rogue, falling into our old Callings (archetypes) and roles.

A significant difference from when we first started playing was that, rather choosing a first Soul (sub-class) after reading about them early in the tutorial section, you pick a trinity role—called a Purpose—as part of the character creation process. This purpose fixes your initial three souls right off the bat. Then, as you level up, that Purpose provides guidance for picking abilities and talents. If you want to deviate from that suggested build, you can. But you get a warning that it will invalidate your Purpose. It has a bit of "training wheels" about it, but I suppose there were enough complaints from bewildered new players during the past couple years that at some point they decided they needed training wheels. I just went with the suggestions rather than go off on my own. After all, if I wanted to do my own thing, I could just play my formerly max-level Cleric.

Even though the intro cinematic is still the same, reflecting that nothing from that past has changed, the tutorial itself has been greatly streamlined. They've reduced the number of different quests, and therefore the time spent in the tutorial; while at the same time increasing the XP received for completing the quests that remain. So your character is still roughly the same level upon leaving the tutorial as at launch. Also, whereas before there were some hostile mobs (that will automatically attack when you approach), now you don't encounter truly hostile mobs until you happen to be following an enormous overpowered golem.

All this streamlining was vaguely disappointing, perhaps only because I know what had gone before. I even wrote the longest single vignette I've published on this blog based on my experience with the original Defiant tutorial. A lot of understanding of the world—at least from the Defiants' point of view—is lost. On the other hand, with the changes to the in-universe politics (thawed relations between the factions) and apparent defeat of the Big Bads, maybe some of that lore is no longer necessary. By the time I was done with the tutorial, it was pretty late, and I was already pretty tired. So that may have affected my opinion of the process.

I didn't get very far past the tutorial before needing to hit the hay last night, but I saw enough to know that the former "welcome area" quest hub is largely vacant, as well. I'll continue on at least to Meridian (the Defiant capital) to see what else has changed and to see if it's an improvement. The Instant Adventures are intriguing, they sound somewhat like the Renown (heart) Quests of GW2, a looser style that (hopefully) helps get the player involved in the local story in a more organic way than traditional MMO quests.

More to come. . .


  1. Fyn and I have been playing Rift for about a week now. We stopped playing mostly because during launch we were all about rolling a million alts to try out all the things and then by the time we decided to actually level our characters up there was nobody around. We were dealing with rifts and invasions with just the two of us in our low teens having to avoid mobs that were level 18-20 all the time and it just became instantly bad. During early access and the first week of live, there were people all over the place and we were chaining rifts like fools and having a blast, but by the end of the second week the game was dead to us.

    This time around though, there are people everywhere and we're having a blast. We haven't had to deal with queues very much, or when we did they weren't longer than a minute or two, but once we get in game there are people everywhere. So it got back that feeling of greatness that we had experienced before, and though we are playing around with some alts this time as well, we're doing enough other things that it doesn't bother us when we do find those rare moments when we're the only two in the area.

    While there is some lore that is lost because of the changes to the tutorials, I also think that that lore really belongs elsewhere anyway. Tutorials should be quick and easy to teach you the basics of playing, and then you should be released into the rest of the game. With Rift's tutorials being contained in separate instances from the rest of the world too, I want to get through them as fast as I possibly.

    1. I agree that the inclusion of the Purpose in Character creation shortened obviated the need to stick around the tutorial from a mechanics perspective. I also may be looking at it from the storyteller's perspective, the introduction of the world is at least as important as the that of the mechanics. I also wonder if there is another place to get that. On the other hand, it may not matter to many people, and I guess I'm OK with that.

      Good to hear you're having fun and finding good crowds. We didn't have any queue either last night.

  2. Ture story: Rift now has character templates/Purposes, because when Trion was looking to expand into China and Korea, they did a series of focus group tests to see how Chinese and Korean players interacted with the game, and not ONE focus group participant, out of 100, made it through the tutorial *precisely* because they had no idea how to build a viable character.

    0% tutorial completion by your target market = build preset characters asap!

    As for using them, or not: once you get to, say, level 20, there's at least one viable world build for all classes that doesn't rely on the preset builds. But really, levelling (to 50 at least) is trivially easy, so the prest builds are good enough. Storm Legion zones tend to be less forgiving, but by level 51 you should know enough to make your own build anyway.

    1. Yeah, when I leveled to 50 before, it was mostly with a Tanky Healer build that worked well with my bride's all DPS Rogue. I'd have to look, but I know one of the Souls was a Druid, and the main Soul I used was built around a hammer and shield—melee healing.