February 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

I think it’s fair to say I had an astonishing amount of fun in Rift since the headstart began last Thursday.

I quested, ran rifts, and even took part in an instance run through the low level Defiant instance of Iron Tomb.

Cleric Hawley has managed to attain the heady heights of level 17.

I know, there are players who will already have hit the level cap.  No, I’m not one of them, and to be perfectly honest I don’t care.  I raced through Cataclysm’s questing/levelling content with one eye on the clock, and it was nowhere near as much fun as it could have been.

With that lesson learned, I’ve been pootling along at my own pace, and that has meant that logging in to play has been fun from the start of the session, through to the end.

After all of my soul-based experimentation (or, perhaps; “soul searching”?), I have gone with Sentinel>Warden>Inquisitor, with priority in that order.  I know, I said I was going Cabalist, but with that third soul choice in front of me (only this time for realz) I still couldn’t make that final decision, so I decided to use a coin-toss-based decision making technique.

Are you aware of it?  The theory goes like this; it’s not letting the coin-toss decide, it’s using the coin to bring forth an emotional response which is the subconscious decision.  So, if the coin lands and you think; “Great!”, then that’s the choice to go with.  If it lands and your first thought is: “Best of three?”, then go with the other choice.

The coin was tossed, it landed Cabalist side up, and my first, instinctive thought was: “Best of three?”

Inquisitor it was (And I’ve already started collecting other souls.  No, I shall not dishonour my ancestors!  I *shall* get them all!  I just know that I need a “normal” set of souls that I’ll use in most circumstances).

I’ve not regretted it, to be honest.  Whilst all of the healing souls have some punchy fun to them, the damage and frequency isn’t as high as it could be; Inquisitor, being an offensive soul, is a nail-driver by comparison.

That means that I can go and have fun with rifts and invasions by healing until enough people are there that healing isn’t so necessary, and then go and chuck out some ranged pain in the latter stages.

And the rifts and invasions were just as much fun as they were in beta.  I’d worried that they wouldn’t appear with the same frequency or be toned down for launch, but they weren’t.  They were just as frequent, and frequently awesome.  One of my highlights was being in one rift where we players were just about holding our own against an equal level set of planar beasties; an invasion force appeared from the rift that was five levels above us, and promptly massacred us all.

It was fast, quick, and brutal; it was also awesome how the monsties appeared *in formation*.  It *was* an invasion.

It also meant that rifts aren’t a pinata, there to just give out sweeties to players coming along for a whack.  They’re a challenge, and a fun one at that.

They also remind me of all the fun points of mass PvP, with none of the bad.  There is the chaos, the confusion, the simple desire to win, but without the “kill the healer first” attitude and the attendant requirement to spend most of my time as some sort of speed-bump.

The questing was also fun.  It wasn’t particularly taxing, being more of what you would expect; kill stuff, gather stuff, talk to stuff, deliver stuff.  But just because something is familiar doesn’t mean an effort shouldn’t be made, and it’s nice to see that Trion have made an effort.

Without wishing to provide any spoilers, I went from the sublime (creepy, nasty, surprisingly vicious plotline for an MMO) to the ridiculous (if Monty Python made MMOs, it would be this set of quests, just with more Spam.).  Yes, I enjoyed both sets of quests.  Maybe it’s new-game gloss, but the comedy was a nice touch, especially coming so soon after the darker, more vicious questline before it.

And continuing the theme of null-spoil, I also went into Iron Tomb.  That’s the name of the level 15 to 22 instance in Freemarch, the Defiant low-level zone.  I’m not going to go through it with an in-depth guide, because:

No doubt there are guides available on the internets already, and have been for weeks
The group I went in with went in blind, and doing so only enhanced our enjoyment.

I can see what Trion were aiming for in their design of Iron Tomb; a simple dungeon that provides training in how instanced grouping works.  But also one that was still interesting, and fun to play through without requiring some form of formulaic solution to each boss fight.  To use the more jaded terminology of the veteran, there are tank’n’spank encounters, requirements for target priority, some puzzlework and the odd moment of fast-burn.

And for all that, it was one of the most fun instance runs I’ve had since early World of Warcraft, when I and a group of friends took about seven hours to clear all of Stratholme with none of us having been in there before.

All in all, it took us two hours, which was lucky because we had given ourselves a two-hour time limit.  Our intention was to go in, see what the place was like, and come back in over the next few days a little more enlightened.

At times, we were performing the more extreme forms of scientific research as seen in films such as Lost In Space and Event Horizon.  Yes, we went up to the weird goopy thing and shoved our arms in it.  Figuratively.

When facing one boss encounter for the first time, and sensing a trap, there was some discussion over TeamSpeak about what we should do.  My advice was simple; Go in, trigger the “trap”, die gloriously in the name of Science! and then come back a little more battered but a lot more wise, and have a serious go.

Which we promptly did.  A couple of times.  Such fun.

But it was more than just the instance.  Because I went in with a group of guildmates who were more interested in a fun time exploring than with obsessing over a tokens and trez, we got to have a great atmosphere, with fun discussions about what we were looking for, what we were doing, and how we would proceed.  Spoiler alert; I shall be laughing about the question; “How dangerous can a rock be?” for a long time.

To show how much we were about the fun, it’s fair to say we were a sub-optimal group formation.  One Warrior tank, one Rogue DPS, three Clerics.  One healer/dps, the others more heal than dps (including me).  We suffered in the fast-burn stages, but there was not even a thought about swapping someone out.  We’d started together, we finished it together.

In these days of LFD and speed runs, it was a long-overdue reminder about how much fun instancing can be.

And in best clock-ticking-down tradition, we finished with mere minutes to spare.  Fantastic.  All quests within the instance bar one finished (due to an unfortunate de-rezzing of a corpse) and all bosses downed.  And I gained a level and a half whilst we were in there.  From half way through level 15 to just into level 17.

The trez was pure gravy.

It might well be looking at Rift whilst wearing some extremely headstart-tinted rose-gloss glasses, but the fun I’ve had this last weekend really, really reminded me of why I play MMOs.  Fun exploration (both from character skills and game exploration), to casual public grouping in rifts, to running around dungeons chatting about what buffs and debuffs we can throw out.

And that’s not even everything I did in game.  I’m trying to reign my enthusiasm in, because I enjoy a hagiographic puff piece as much as the next grumpy, cynical old fart (which is not very much), but I think it’s fair to say that if Rift doesn’t continue in such a fun, exciting, well-designed fashion, I shall cry a river of real man-tears over what could have been.




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  1. I believe you’ve picked one of the better Cleric Soul-Trios there, one I might try out myself having discovered Cabalist (AoE) was a bit odd to use in the early levelling game. That’s an Alt of course.
    I too am taking my time levelling (Rogue) not least to allow a mutual friend to level with me, I also have no specific aims or plan I am just adventuring and seeing where I end up.
    I promised myself I’d not make any alts but I’ve already made 6, one of them on a US server so I can nip over the pond during the daily (grr) maintenance slots.

    As a Guardian my first Dungeon was “Realm of the Fae” and I just now finished the next one, “Deep Delvings”; I’d rate these as some of the best “Opening” instances I’ve seen in a game.
    They have good atmosphere, sumptuous looks and the second has some Boss fights with fairly interesting mechanics. Certainly for starter Dungeons they set the bar higher than normal.
    I played both completely blind of course and devised my own tactics (where needed) which was great fun and rewarding.

    I am actually finding the Rifts themselves a bit annoying as they are just too common: our zone seemed to be under near-constant attack by multiple invasions and while I appreciate the idea of a “Planar Threat” sometimes I just want to get quests done without a huge column of fire erupting in my face, immolating the wildlife and spewing assorted Elite monsters all over my intended targets.

    I’m doing it but it’s a carbon-copy of WoW’s so far. Hard to avoid a comparison there when the metrics match so closely! At least you have 3 so you can collect every resource in the game if you so desire (though you will then have no ability to do anything but sell the yield).

    Very modern with a few hubs directing you to quests conveniently grouped into smallish locales. The WAR (and later WoW) system of presenting 4 item choices is common so you almost always get a physical reward you can use rather than sell. The quests themselves have decent variety and I don’t recall any sense of grinding for drops yet.

    Not done much of this but already the Win/Loss ratio for “The Black Garden” seems heavily skewed towards the reds. I just tried “The Codex” which “Guardians always win” and duly lost 300 to 1000. Bum.

    Overall I really like Rift so far and recommend it alongside a very small number of MMOs I’d consider worth the time of day (and night).

  2. Ah-ah. Just read this post and the commentary on the Iron Tombs is spot on what I have been thinking about it. The stones, the way how LFD gogogo has spoiled the fun and the way the game feels right and fun at the moment.

    I’m just going to take my time and enjoy the dps-meter-less and cutting edgeless environment as long as it lasts, laughing at the poor sods asking for the “best spec to level” at the general and minding my own business when the utterly meaningless comparisons of Rift vs any other game rage across the chat.

    Hope to have a run or two in the IT with the guild later this week and sure as can be I’ll be hitting TS whenever I dare to close my wife’s siren call from my consciousness… (emphasis on the dare part).

    C out

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