Last beta I didn’t get much chance to play. Â I messed around the character creator and read up on the base classes and logged in. Â The game informed me that my graphics drivers were out of date and I spent what little time I was in game chugging along in a partial slide show. Â This past weekend’s beta was much better. Â 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. Â 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. Â Others have praised the soul system, and I will too. Â I really enjoy crafting my character from three parts and controlling how he forms as he advances. Â 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. Â It is the best part of a class system melded with the best parts of a skill system. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â It worked out pretty well. Â 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. Â From the builds to the rifts to the raids, it was much more exciting that any other MMO I’ve played. Â 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. Â 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. Â The fairy pet annoys me.
Now I just need to convince the wife and all my friends to switch to Rift.