Postcards From Telara: On The Other Hand…

February 8, 2011

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:


  1. You make some very good points about covering ground during invasions and having that early mount. Fortunately, my little rogue had sprint, so once every two minutes I could run almost as fast as the mounts, but yeah, I was getting left behind by a whole cadre of turtles as we moved from rift to rift during the invasion. And heaven help you if you wanted to run a shard to drop off and the get back to the rift group.

    Really interested to hear more about the post 30 experience if you think of things. Any info on instance and/or battleground/warfronts/whatever experiences you might have to share as well, and thanks for posting this.


    • Several times I found myself in a sticky situation this weekend, caught between wanting to travel with the bulk of the public group with mounts from rift to rift (I had one of those mechanical steeds), or slow down with my husband and the rest of the group on foot. Often times, those of us running make it to the rift too late, either just before it closes or at the final stages, when you don’t get much credit. With so many people in the area, getting left behind by a faster group is a very real possibility. That’s why I broke down finally and just said to my other half, “Here, stop being so proud, just take my money and buy a mount” 😛

      I’ll definitely continue with the post 30 experience for as long as I can, until the beta is over. I haven’t been doing instances though, since those I’m actually saving for launch, but sure, I’ll try to share other thoughts as I level 🙂

      • His pride is almost laughable, given that it is beta. I haven’t got a character past 12, trying several archetypes. DGF is 15, having focused on a single toon, but with less time to do so. I am pretty convinced the CE is the way to go, given the initial advantages. Scary thing is, it almost borders on Pay-to-win.

      • He’s just like that 🙂

        On the face of it, I don’t think the mount thing will make a huge difference though. I guess it depends. If you’re just going to quest regularly, around level 20 or so you’ll be able to afford it, earlier if you’re good with spending and selling, probably manage it in about a day or two. On the other hand, if your goal is to do a lot of rifts or use it as your main way of progressing…then yeah, it’s a huge help. Having one will put you at a marked advantage over someone who’s doing the same thing without a mount right off the bat.

  2. the number of players seems to be an important factor.

    This could be pretty bad.

    • At this rate, I just see the constant need for Trion’s hand in balancing the number of rifts and invasions. Rift events didn’t last nearly long enough in the populated areas, whereas when I was in the less populated higher level zones, so many of my quest hubs were just being overrun by invasions. For instance, the first screenshot above was taking during one of these zone-wide events. We just couldn’t keep up with sealing the rifts, and about 5 or 6 invasions just swarmed this quest hub, where about 4 or 5 of us waited, helpless, either waiting for more people to show up or the mobs to despawn.

  3. I’m in alpha (hence the name here) and am just leveling up a new toon. The alpha servers are always at Low population as far as I’ve seen, and those players that are on are spread from level 1 to 50.

    In Freemarch what I’m seeing is that rifts get completely ignored. They “collapse” after a while and people just wait for that to happen. Heck there’s a rift spawn right outside Medidian, so close that some of the ‘tendrils’ clip through the fortress walls, and even that rift is ignored.

    With so few people footholds are easily soloable, so assuming they haven’t despawned it just takes a few minutes to pull the mobs 1 by 1, kill them, then kill the enemy wardstone.

    I do think the game is going to be VERY population sensitive during the leveling period. Hopefully by cap things will stabilize some.

    • Glad to see someone else who feels the rift experience will be very population sensitive. I think you can feel that most strongly during zone-wide rift invasions. The available number of players either manage to hold together to keep things in check, or the lack of resistance results in hordes of invaders simply steamrolling across the landscape. I’ve seen things turn out both ways, and it does depend on how much support is available in the zone.

      Thanks for providing your insights, despite the circumstances.

  4. Nice to read your Beta 6 assessment of things. I was in the Beta since I had already pre-ordered the game already. However I didn’t play much during the Beta event. Played maybe 2-3hrs during the first day and just did rifting which was run and Freemarsh was indeed crowded vs compared to Stonefield.

    Didn’t play more since had already pre-ordered the game and confident about the game prospects. I figure It was better spending the time catching up on getting some stuff done in EVE. So didn’t get back to doing more in the Beta 6 event which i’m sure was fun away from all the newbies.

    I haven’t kept up on what the changes were for the mount, but your analysis does seem right in been able to get to the rifts fast during launch and that mount will help tremendously.

    • Oh yeah, they were also stress testing during this beta, and handed out a ton more keys which could also explain the amount of people in the early game. There were also contests involving sealing rifts, which probably saw a lot of people rushing to do them as soon as they happened.

  5. The post-20 zones sound like a lot of fun, thanks for sharing your experiences there. I’m quite encouraged.

    I imagine in release players will be a bit more spread out across servers so maybe the population density even in the 1-20 zones will be a bit thinner (but not too thin) and things will be challenging and chaotic fun.

    Thanks very much for writing this post!

    • I don’t know if I would have thought about any of this if it wasn’t for your article, so thank *you*. I always appreciate another point of view, even if it doesn’t reflect my own experiences or views. In the case of your post, however, I saw where you were coming from — thanks to my husband giving me the opportunity and reason to go back to rift in an earlier zone so I had a basis of comparison. I did want to point out the difference between what I experienced there and what I experienced in the later areas though, which felt more like what you want Rift to be, and wanted to let you know, as well as muse to myself why this might be the case.

  6. Nice to read a counterpoint to some of the negativity that’s floating around. It will be interesting to see what Trion does post launch. Like the PQ system in WAR, it sounds like rifts need a very particular player population in an area to work well.

    • I don’t know if I was trying to counterpoint the negativity, exactly, just trying to be realistic 😛 I think there’s enough pessimism and optimism to go around when it comes to Rift already, so instead of just saying I agree or or I don’t agree, I wanted to guess at why people might be having different experiences.

      • I feel your response is actually logical compared to Pete’s. Like you, I also experienced a different feel than Pete did.

        And I was in my mid Teens (leveled from 15-19).

        I think it is approach more than the actual feel…but, it is hard to describe.

        I was grouped the whole weekend, so I was constantly teamed with tanks, DPS, etc. Everything felt smooth. I actually did spend quite a bit of time dying…so the whole easy thing seemed odd to me to read.

        Jaded was the word I kept seeing in my mind as I read Petes post. Your post has a more valid concern, and we will only know when it finally launches…what happens.

        For now, the game still feels fun, and when launch happens, I think it will be an enjoyable ride…

        Guess I am not so jaded yet.

      • You made me think of another point, that perhaps it always depends a lot on what class you play. Pete is a cleric, a very survivable class. Contrast to some of the tanks or melee I’ve grouped with during the rifts, who kept dying because they were right in the thick of things with more limited heal abilities. I think that can affect how one feels about rifts for sure.

        I really meant it about trying to stay realistic; I don’t want to be dragged down by the things I dislike, nor do I want to be blindly optimistic. I like the game a lot, even more so than I first started beta, I think, and during this testing period it’s more important than ever to look critically at what can be improved. Trion is amazing with feedback, so I’m doing my best to play a part, and have been submitting all my comments to them, both positive and negative.

  7. The game will be fun and it will be even more fun to play with and among good friends. So the next thing to eventually decide is on which server to play for us all who know we will be playing and who is going to start the guild thats going to openly invite us all. Reminds me of when I played STO and when we had the Fleet that Tipa had formed. May need something similar for RIFT and likely if it comes to past it’ll likely have quite a bit of members.

    • I’d like that too, though I still have no idea where I’m going to be playing. Some communities have already taken shape on the beta servers, so I think there’s a good possibility that Trion might give the live servers the same names. My own preference would probably be defiant faction, though I wouldn’t mind playing guardian even if I like them less. I’d probably stick exclusively to a pve server though, rp or normal, doesn’t matter. Me and PvP servers, we just aren’t good bedfellows 😛

  8. Lovely pictures. Good point about the mounts, I’m still trying to decide if I should pre-order yet. I need to just take the plunge and do it. That mount is a good incentive, I know if I don’t do it I will regret it!

    • The main thing with preordering will probably be the headstart. Don’t worry, if you don’t get the CE I don’t think it will make that much of a difference! It will help in the beginning if you plan on rifting a lot, but then even if you don’t have the mount you can probably afford one anyway at mid to late teens!

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