Something I realized this weekend — for a whole week before that, I did zero gaming. None at all. You see, on New Year’s Day, we welcomed another dog into our home, and I would have made a quick post about it the same way I did for our first pup, if only she would stay still long enough for me to snap a picture. The new girl’s got a sweet side but she’s also a hellion, which makes her a handful and a half. So it’s no wonder that when I finally came upon some free time this weekend, I latched onto Rift’s fourth beta event like a frightened child clinging on to her tattered, spit-soaked security blanket.
Even so, I didn’t get to see nearly as much as I’d wanted. Beta 4 was filled with a ton of goodies, including Warfronts, the zones Stonefield and Gloamwood available for play, and a new beta level cap. I didn’t quite make it there, though I managed to fit in a Warfront or two, but only got to see Stonefield. I don’t know what it is, but there is an aura about that place that somehow reminds me of Age of Conan. When I was in game, @Longasc pointed out its alikeness to Conall’s Valley, and though I can see that, I think for me it was a little like reliving Gateway to Khitai instead.
Thinking about AoC reminded me of the travelogue type posts I used to do for that game, after being inspired by the gorgeous graphics and environment. Well, Rift’s no slouch in that department either. I didn’t dare take any screenshots when the NDA was effect, not even for my own personal use (it was quite a scary and comprehensive EULA), but after it was lifted, I went nuts. The world of Rift is truly quite beautiful, and what I really want is to let the pictures do more of the talking.
As you know, I’m more of a PvE kinda girl, and that’s where my focus was on for this beta. Not being much of a PvP fan, I don’t think I’m in a position to comment extensively about balance, but I will say that the couple of Warfronts I tried were a lot of fun, and every time we the Defiants were victorious. Most of my time was spent questing and rifting in Stonefield, a zone that’s much bigger than I expected, and they’ve managed to pack a lot into this area. As before, the quests are organized in a way that will take you through the place in a set and very systematic manner, which might negatively affect “off the beaten track” exploring if your interest is questing.
But certainly, nothing can keep you from traveling all over to enjoy the scenery…well, except maybe the hordes of elite invaders pouring from multiple incursions all across the zone. These can get a little out of hand, and it’s quite irritating to keep coming back to a quest hub to see it entirely swallowed up by mobs and the player numbers are too few to do anything about it. This led to a fair bit of finger-drumming while I waited for the invasions to be over to turn in my quests and pick up new ones, but I’m hopeful that this is something that can be balanced, and if anything, these crazy invasions are making the rift events more interesting.
I’d wondered during past beta events how Trion will be able to keep up their appeal, and it seems full-zone scale events and zone bosses are the answer. I would like to see more. I just can’t put how I felt into words, seeing the dynamic events unfold as multiple raids formed across Stonefield, then watching as the groups traveled all over zone working together to complete the objectives. Finally, everyone came together to take down the colossus Oacris the Awakened.
I continue to be amazed by the quality of Rift. It’s by no means perfect or bug-free, but it’s far better off than a great number of MMOs when they were at this stage, and hell, even some that are already released. Rift is really growing on me, just like a damn Train song, and it’s not just because I tested the crap out of the beta this weekend. If you think about it, we’ve only gotten to spend a relatively short time with the game so far, but already Rift feels like the boy next door I’ve known for years, and I’m slowly but surely starting to fall for him.