Rift: Impressions

Well, all, I’ve been playing Rift and in lieu of a comic this week I thought that I’d go over what I thought of the game thus far. Bear in mind that I’ve only gotten to level 20 out of 50, so keep that in mind.

To start, let me say that Rift is fun. The levels are well-designed, and the quests flow easily into each other. The soul trees are fun to play with, and the instances fun. But let’s poke specifics, shall we?

First of all, the rifts. For those unfamilair with the game, small pockets of the land will occasionally get “invaded” by enemies from one of the planes. You have to kill the enemies at the rift to close it, each clearing resulting in another level of difficulty until the penultimate battle with whatever is hardest, then the rift closes and showers rewards on you. Even more to the point, the game will sometimes have major invasions, where a plane will attempt to take over an area, opening many rifts all over the map as well as putting in world bosses.

While the rifts are a fun idea, a single rift isn’t a lot of fun. While it’s great to solo them, they just don’t have much impact on the world. That’s not to say that they’re boring, not at all, just not as grand as expected. Well, except for the major invasions.

You see, invasions have something that so many games lack: a non-player force that can pose a legitimate threat. Invasions, if left unchecked, will completely take over an area, turning it into a blanket of death. Why? Because invasions can and will attack towns. While the first wave or two might be fought off by the NPC guards, eventually they will fall. The beasts can then destroy a stone that controls the town and set up their own “foothold”. Doing so claims the town for them, and prevents all the quest-givers and so on from respawning.

Let me tell you about my experience. I was in the third area of the quest progression (inc. the prologue) and the Death realm invaded. We didn’t have enough people to fight back, so they took over the area and destroyed all the towns. I had to group with a few other people to systematically take back the area, and it was awesome.

Now, the souls. Rift’s classes work different than the rest. While you do still pick one of the classic four archetypes, each “calling” has several souls that it can use, each different. At one time you can have up to three souls active, in a way that acts as a convoluted talent tree. As you level up you gain more points to put into your souls. As you dump points into the upper part of the tree, which contains the usual “+1% to health” and such, you slowly unlock the powers of the soul by filling in the “roots”. Basically, each new power is about 2 more points in the tree.

This leads to many possibilities for the specs, of course, but it also allows for a bit of cross-role movement as well. For example, I play as a rogue, which has the possibility to be the classic sneaky-backstabby guy, the hunter/ranger, or the bladedancer. However, you can also spec into a fairly competent tank, using dodges and rift-shields to overcome you lack of heavy armor. It’s a pretty innovative idea, since the leading cause of alting is to try out new roles. Why role a warrior when you already have a perfectly competent tank with your rogue? Hell, you could even act as a terrible healer if everything in your raid goes completely to shit.

So those are Rift‘s two big calls to fame. But what about the rest of the game, you might ask?

Well, I do like how the levels are designed, and how the quests flow into each other. There’s a very clear progression of quests, they almost lead you by the nose to the next givers. This isn’t a bad thing, I’d rather be on a rope than wandering around aimlessly, but it also has the problem of being terrible for alts. There’s one, and only one, leveling road in the beginning, so I hope that you enjoyed it because you’ll be seeing it again if you decide to roll a healer or whatnot. They are rather fun at times, though, putting you in legitimate danger and sometimes doing the “use” objective instead of just “kill”. The stories are pretty good as well, it definitely shines at moments. My favorite thus far was a town of disguised aquamen that sold things like rotting cheese and clumps of hair as well as potions because they thought it was normal.

Also, I hope you can round up 2.5 platinum to buy a horse quickly because you will do a lot of running. There’s only on port per zone, so you’ll end up running everywhere. Again, this isn’t bad, it allows you to get a feeling for the size of the world. It does get annoying at times, especially when you have to take a shortcut through a field since every non-road area has the mob density of Manhattan, but it’s acceptable.

However, I must say that the enemy spawning is crap. Enemies tend to spawn rapidly, and they have an annoying tendency of spawning inside aggro range of you. You’ll sometimes clear an area down to the last man, then have someone run up and shank you from behind because he spawned five feet away. Not good.

Like I said, Rift is fun, there’s no denying that. However, I worry about its future. Once the population evens out and the beginning areas are not filled with new players (hypothetically, of course, my server Nyx is dead) I wonder how the game will go. You see, there’s no LFG system for dungeons, which means that new players will have to group with whoever they can find. Remember how WoW was before LFG came in? Not good.

Also, the world events (Rifts, invasions) are based on the population of the zone. This makes sense, you don’t want one man and fifteen rifts, or a battalion of players and one minor rift. However, what happens when everyone gets spread out, leaving just a few people in every zone? Are the rifts going to still be fun? Are invasions still going to happen? Will people even care?

We’ll have to see. Still, it’s a fun game and you should try it.

Oh, and Guardians are for losers, Defiants are the cool, leather jacket-wearing kids. If you want to play on a PvP realm, please come to Nyx, we need the pop. And if you’re there, join <The Academy>, run by a very sexy and eloquent fellow named Catal whom I have no relation to. Okay, that’s a lie.

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