Once more unto the Rift

Last beta I didn’t get much chance to play.  I messed around the character creator and read up on the base classes and logged in.  The game informed me that my graphics drivers were out of date and I spent what little time I was in game chugging along in a partial slide show.  This past weekend’s beta was much better.  I logged in my already created character, I ran through the introduction area, and I made it through the first few quest hubs.

Most of the game is fairly standard, and that’s not a bad thing.  The UI is familiar without cloning (it doesn’t look like the World of Warcraft interface even though it mostly functions like it), and the game play follows suit.  Others have praised the soul system, and I will too.  I really enjoy crafting my character from three parts and controlling how he forms as he advances.  To me, the simple genius of it is astounding: you climb up the tree adding passive traits (damage bonuses, spell modifiers, etc) and the number of points spent there determines which active abilities you unlock.  It is the best part of a class system melded with the best parts of a skill system.  Add in that you can build several specs on a single character and you come very close to what I’ve always wanted in a game: the ability to play a single character in multiple roles without having to resort to creating alts.  And even if you did decide to create alts, you really only need to make 4 characters – one of each base: warrior, cleric, mage, rogue.

The public group and rift mechanics are also fantastic.  While they can get repetitive if that’s all you do, mixed in with the traditional quest grind it makes the game feel fresh without feeling alien.  Last night on Shadefallen, Freemarch came under heavy attack from Death, with foot holds in every town and all the players banding together in groups to beat them back.  For soloing, I had been playing a Justicar/Shaman/Druid with a fairly balanced build to focus on making me a better fighter and increasing my 1-on-1 survivability.  But once the giant assault began, I bought a second role, used the same souls but spent more points on the Justicar to reduce my threat and utilize my area heals to assist the raid.  It worked out pretty well.  I spent the bulk of the evening switching between those roles, the solo build for the early waves of any rift and then to the raid build for the later waves.  From the builds to the rifts to the raids, it was much more exciting that any other MMO I’ve played.  Even my precious EverQuest.

I really enjoy the Justicar and Shaman aspects of what I’ve played so far, the fighting cleric appeals to me in so many ways.  If I so buy the game, I can easily see myself playing that for the long haul, though I may ditch the Druid in favor of a different third.  The fairy pet annoys me.

Now I just need to convince the wife and all my friends to switch to Rift.

One comment

  1. Michael says:

    My WoW guild had a mass beta invite for this and I played all weekend as well.

    I like the Soul system very much. I played a Sentinel/Purifier/Cabalist mix on one class and a Marksman/Ranger/Bard on another.

    I played Warhammer Online as well, and the Rift encounters felt very much the same, with the notable exception of being mobile and random, rather than the fixed locations in WAR. I played through some major invasions yesterday and found myself really enjoying the DPS class more. I noticed that playing a healer (and a caster based one at that) I wasn’t getting nearly the contribution points in a public rift group that I did doing DPS. This was very pronounced. With my level 7 rogue I got 17000 contribution just trying to hit stuff 10 levels above me (missing most of the time) and on my level 17 cleric, I got 4000 contribution chain healing a raid. When you consider that there are items that require high contribution points to get certain currencies, it seems there’s a break in that system.

    What I did get to see was extremely similar to WAR and I’m afraid that’s tainted my view on the game. WAR rapidly descended into the same PvP fights happening over and over again, and I burned out pretty quick. Seems a lot of people did, and the game is down to, as of the last Wikipedia update, 9 total servers. I’m hopeful that Rift is more rounded and holds their players interests longer. I see a lot of promise in this game, particularly the soul system, which I hope will come to revolutionize the way that games handle character building and advancement.

    All told, I liked what I saw. I have some concerns, but the game runs smoothly, the stress tests they put it under this weekend went well, and I’m hoping that the game succeeds.

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