Long time readers will know that I’m a Canadian living in the United States, but that wasn’t always the case. Even after our wedding, my American husband and I had to live apart for more than a year while we waited for the paperwork and the immigration process to complete so we could finally be together for good. In that time we only got to see each other on the weekends every few weeks or so, when my husband would fly into Toronto to spend time with me. That chapter of my life is thankfully behind me now, but I remember clearly the way I used to look forward to the days he would arrive and have a heavy heart on the days he would leave.
Now I wonder what he would say if I told him I feel much the same way about the Rift beta events?
To be honest, he’d probably roll his eyes at me and laugh at the way I set up that punchline at his expense. Still, I don’t remember exactly who said it, but the words of the blogger who first likened the comings and goings of the Rift betas to a long distance relationship resonated with me, for obvious reasons. Now that Rift beta 5 has come and gone, I find I’ve fallen back into the similar routine of waving farewell while reminding myself this is not goodbye — after all, the next one might be just around the corner, and in any case, the soft launch for the pre-order folks is just a mere month away.
Because of the huge number of patch notes included in Rift beta 5, a part of me seriously considered rolling another character and starting over to experience the new changes, but in the end I decided against it and resolved to press on with my mid-20s Defiant mage. I’ll be playing the early levels again soon enough, and I had to leave at least some surprises for myself at launch after all.
It always makes me feel a little hokey to say something like a game is growing on me, but in this case it’s really true. I have no doubt part of it has to do with Trion’s continued efforts to address player concerns and improve the game, but I’m also convinced that Rift simply starts to get better the higher level you get. For one thing, I’m gaining better abilities and getting more powerful, which helps.
However, more significant I think is the increased scope of the rift events as you progress into Stonefield and beyond. I remember being tired of the repetitive and tedious nature of the rifts and invasions at the beginning, to the point I actually started avoiding them. But zone-wide events and quests associated with them promptly changed my tune, and now I find myself seeking out the invasions whenever they occur periodically. The rush you get from joining a raid group of 20 players or more and defeating a raging colossus is motivation enough for me, but the rewards you receive upon completion of these events are nothing to scoff at either.
As a result, I did much more “rifting” than I did for all the previous beta events, and the public grouping system probably had much just as much to do with that. Defeating rift incursions is much easier when you have an idea of how much support you can count on, and also spotting where others are congregating on the map tells you quickly where you can join battles being waged. I also leveled much quicker this time around, thanks to all the rifts I participated in and the experience gained from sharing monster kills.
I made enough progress to make it to the zone of Scarlet Gorge, a beautiful zone in which I saw my first signs of Guardians and Defiants clashing in open conflict. I didn’t join in, however; there’s a good reason I rolled on a PvE server. On that front, I was glad to see that many quests relevant to the lore have emerged, especially those marked “story”. I love the look of this zone, and I eagerly await what comes next.