I notice there has been a downbeat pattern in the tone of Rift posts lately, making me debate whether I should write about my own Rift beta 6 experience. I don’t know if I had an overly positive or negative experience either way, but I do know is I like to keep my sights forward, maintaining a realistic if not always an optimistic point of view.
Here’s the thing — there are so many ways to tackle an MMO, so obviously players are going to have very different experiences from one another. That said, one thing I did notice is that I seem to be further ahead than a lot of people, currently sitting in my 30s with my Defiant Mage on the Wolfsbane server. So I was reading Pete of Dragonchaser’s post earlier today, and thinking to myself, Hmm, I don’t think I had any of his problems this weekend while I was playing in the zones of Scarlet Gorge or Scarwood Reach…
Now, if you can smell a big “but” coming at the end of that statement, you’re absolutely right! I spent half of my time in Rift this weekend leveling my character, but I also spent the other half playing with my husband whose Warrior is in the late teens, going back to the previous zones helping him catch up. And with regards to my experiences in Freemarch and part of Stonefield, I have to say a lot more of Pete’s criticisms are spot on.
Could be just me, but my point is I do feel a marked difference between the rifting experience pre-level 20 versus late 20s and above, at least so far. I don’t think it’s so much a matter of the actual difficulty of the rifts; instead, I tend to think my experiences were affected by the nature of the social interactions I encountered at each level bracket. It really matters in the world where you are and how much player support you have around you. Not surprisingly, when I went back to Freemarch I found a lot more players than I did when I was questing in the Gorge or Scarwood, which probably had a lot to do with why trying to “rift” with my husband was such a downright pain in the ass.
With so many people running around, finding rifts was a challenge in itself at this point, and they did feel considerably easier when none of the invasions lasted very long and rifts were sealed up before my poor mount-less husband could reach the area. Finally, I took pity on him and just gave him the money to buy one. The experience actually convinced me to upgrade my regular pre-order of the game to the digital collector’s edition. The extra bag space was already very tempting, but now with the mount changes where you can ride one as soon as you can obtain one, that two-headed turtle pretty much sold it.
Note, however, that I am planning on doing a lot of rifting right off the bat. I don’t think having a free mount from the start is necessarily a requirement, but given how zone-wide events can cover huge areas, and not to mention you’ll probably find yourself in public groups where many of the members will have one as well, I do personally believe it would be an advantage.
To continue my point, I guess reading Pete’s post just made me consider how much difference 10 levels, or even 5, can make in beta right now because of the number of players in each level range. If I had to play rifts in the earlier zones all weekend, I’d probably feel a little jaded with the experience too. But then I got to swing on back to Scarlet Gorge, and ha! It was back to running for my life again, back to being swamped by invaders, back to dying over and over again, back to a situation where we regularly failed the zone-wide objectives, unable to stop enemies from establishing footholds and overrunning our hubs. Many times, I even felt rifts got out of hand.
Life at around level 30 felt much more precarious. People seemed a lot more cooperative at this point, especially when invasions often get to be just too much for any one person to handle. Many times I found myself in a scenario where it’s just you and one or two other people trying to quest in an area where there just so happens to be an inconvenient major enemy foothold right smack dab in the middle of an objective. When there’s a lot fewer players at this level, grouping up and helping each other stay alive just makes sense, not to mention we can gain the experience and reputation together.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, give the rifts and public group system a chance to find their stride.
On the other hand, I think ultimately this growing pains process is also going to be the cause of major problems when it comes to balancing. As I mentioned before, I notice the number of players seem to be an important factor. The implications of this, of course, is how is this going to affect the rift events at launch when the lowbie areas become saturated? Will Trion take steps to counter the effects such a huge surge will bring? What about a couple months or even a year down the road, when populations stabilize, will they scale it back? Because right now, it doesn’t seem like it takes much for things to feel too easy, nor much to make situations get this mind-bogglingly ridiculous, as seen in the screenshot below:
Anyway, I suppose that’s a good lead-in as any to the “postcards” part of this post! Hope you enjoy these screenshots from Scarlet Gorge and Scarwood Reach: