Monday 7 February 2011

RIFT beta weekend, WAR and me... again

I’m sure people won’t be shocked to hear that I spent the weekend playing the RIFT beta. It seems like pretty much every other gamer I know did too. And it was, once again, abso-bloody-lutely great. The PvE was entertaining throughout, the PvP dramatic and enjoyable and the world itself was a pleasure to be in. This is one great looking game and my initial concerns about the art direction have been completely washed away.

For a game that is essentially not doing much new I’ve been surprised at quite how RIFT feels like a breath of fresh air, particularly once you get above level 15 or so and things really start to kick off. I think that fresh sensation is down to 3 main things.

Rifts and Invasions
With Rifts appearing anywhere at any point and then spawning invasions that rampage across the zones, they add a random element to MMORPG gaming that has been missing for a good while. You can be doing your questing, PvP roaming or whatever, everything is normal MMO fare and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and you’ve suddenly got an entirely new situation to deal with. Rifts and Invasions add a level of uncertainty and break up the standard predictable gameplay that we’ve got used to in MMOs. People are actually grouping up with strangers to deal with stuff.

A major zone wide by the forces of Death in Freemarch

I think since Warcraft that MMO PvE gaming has been incredibly dumbed down, when talking about the open world experience that is. It’s always predictable and straightforward. No matter what you’re doing you know what will happen. If you ever repeat a quest on an alt it will be identical to the time before. Not necessarily so with RIFT. If playing on a PvP server (obviously you should be :P ) not only do you as normal have enemy players to be on guard for, but you (and they) must also be ready for attack from Rifts and Invasions. And the different Rift factions will also fight each other and the mobs in the zone. So what may start as a standard PvE moment can be transformed into a 3, 4 or even 5 way fight. It really can be wonderfully chaotic.

This in turn also applies just as much to openworld PvP, you’re fighting enemy players, but who knows what nastiness might happen. It is a very aggressive game in that regard. I’ve said it before but people should always remember that DAoC is a PvP/PvE hybrid. Whenever you’re doing PvP, there is PvE around you and for a lot of the game there is the same in reverse. DAoC is NOT a PvP or PvE game, it is not a RvR game, it is ALL of those combined. Which is something Mythic need to think about with the new purely RvR focus in WAR. Go take a long hard look at DAoC and understand the myriad of reasons why we hold that game is such high esteem.

Trion have gone and done a Blizzard special
Just like Blizzard did with World of Warcraft they’ve looked at the features in other MMOs, stolen the good ones or those with potential and then improved them or at least ensured they work. Other than the soul system, RIFT does not do much that is completely new. It’s comfortably familiar and not particularly innovative, I suppose you could say like almost every MMO released since 1999 it’s just Everquest again.

Yet it still feels fresh because everything just seems to work and work well too. From the crafting that is actually worth doing, to the WAR style Warfronts, to the wide variety of ways you can gear up and so on. For example; Rifts and Invasions are a hybrid of the public quests from WAR and Tabula Rasa’s dynamic battlefields. They’ve evolved the concepts and actually made something decent. It’s not a new idea; it’s just this time it works.

It's like applying the concepts in Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do to an MMO :P

I’m pissed off and a bit jaded
There’s no escaping the purely personal impact of WAR’s recent changes. It’s seriously pissed me off because it is just not the same game anymore. It can be redeemed, but until Mythic get rid of the ridiculous level 41-43 boost, the increased stat caps and insane stats on the RR90-100 armour I can only consider WAR’s PvP as totally broken. It has all gone too far. People claim you can level 40-80 in a week and still maintain a real life, but they are either liars or have absolutely no perception of how much they actually play. Of course the people running round instant killing people don’t see any issues, everyone else is just a whiner :P And regardless of getting to 80, it’s still gone to crap when you look at the difference between 80 and 90+.

Plus the super zergy campaign we see with double 4+ star keeps is just not much fun. I did ask in the Mythic live Q&A prior to 1.4 if keeps would degrade if the supply lines from BOs was not maintained, Mythic seemed surprised at the question and said no.

I did a tomb the other day, Tomb of the Moon I believe is the name; a one room, one boss and just 2 adds PvE instance. The adds bugged three times with the auras not appearing (yes we all has gfx set corectly) and then on the fourth time as we entered the instance, our DoK was for some reason put into a different instance to the rest of us. We gave up. A one room, one boss PvE instance should not be bugged like that. I've done 3 dungeons in RIFT so far and they have all been flawless, in a beta test, flawless.

Unfortunately pretty much everyone I know is feeling the same way about WAR.

So while I really like RIFT, I am also aware that I am incredibly disappointed with where WAR is right now and that can make anything different feel refreshing. Particularly if that other game is incredibly polished, runs well and has interesting new things to look at…  Yet maybe RIFT isn't as good as it seems? I'm obviously biased by how annoyed at WAR I am. Objectivity doesn't mix well with irritation.

Now it may well turn out that long term RIFT isn’t for me, perhaps invasions will get old, or the end game and PvP won’t live up to expectations. Who can tell? But I am starting to think that I will be taking more of a break from WAR than originally planned while I give RIFT a good shot. I’ll still be keeping my WAR account active, writing about the game and will mooch about on it a bit, but once RIFT comes out I doubt I will be playing WAR on anywhere near such a regular basis. At least for a month or two anyway, after that, who knows? It really depends on Mythic and what they do, or don’t do. Perhaps RIFT will just be a nice distraction while my frustrations with WAR simmer down and Mythic do a phoenix from the flames. Or perhaps not, we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to get properly started in RIFT. BTW I decided on class. I'm going Rogue and will be mainly messing around with a Riftstalker... I'll post why I've been captivated by that particular soul another time.


  1. Make some room in that boat, you're gonna need it.

  2. Well said! So much potential in WAR and it's just unrealized. A shame really. I just hope end game PvP in Rift is anywhere near as fun as WAR ORvR was back in the day.

  3. Rift is nice.

    But one thing I can't get over are the wacky avatars with the tiny heads. I know it's a ridiculous complaint among the other good things about the game, but I can't get over it.

    WAR is a tragedy. It has so many good things going for it. But I stopped playing because of the last patch. Even as an RR66, it felt as though I was an RR40 again. I didn't have the patience to push past that leveling curve. I hope they can fix it. But I don't think the will is there.

  4. Nice post boss, well ive given up on Mythic a long time ago. They have proven to be a company well worthy a monument of ineptitude award.

    I tried out Aion and now Rift, all i can say is that with high to ultra setting on graphics with some shadows enabled i get better fps in those games then fastest framerate in warhammer.

    And yes it applies to the warfront as well, completely absured. And i only had to change my 8800gtx ACS3 edition with 756 mb memory to a 5870 HD, otherwise its all the same computer.

    Then im not going into Mythics customer support or their coding, the absurd time to fix bugs etc.

    I can rather safely say im not going back to war unless they overhaul everything including graphics engine. But that would more or less make them re-make the game which aint gona happen.

  5. I've always struggled to understand why Mythic have such a problem with PVE.

  6. The stink of failure is so clinging to WAR it would almost take the game to be sold to another developer for folks to change their impressions. And you know it's bad when the tried and true faithful are now maligned.

  7. I dont really disagree with anything you say but in my experience all (big and some not so) MMO's are great at first. At least for the first 3 months IMHO.

  8. [shakrah]
    [TLDR: MMOs have moved on, so must we]
    The last days have left me with a very bitter taste. Far more bitter than I expected myself, which forced me on some introspection. Call me an old timer, 20 years of PC gaming from WingCommander, into UO, up until WHO. Which puts me squarely in the “senior” segment of gaming.
    After some thoughts, especially reading the official forums, it is time for me to consider simply that old skool expectations of say 2000 (hop in, have fun for 2-3 hours a day on average with the odd raid) does not cut not anymore with the business models deployed (10 hours+ to be remotely competitive). Games seem simply not anymore developed for such profile, and the official threads confirm this. What to say when I read: “I am DF 90+, so its normal that I own entire FGs, l2p, working as intended”, “1.4 is great fun”.
    Be it Planetside, SWG, LotRo,… all the games I played jumped the shark at some point, moving to new play-styles, but none of them said like 1.4 “forget fun, you pay us for keeping you busy, not to do something interesting or challenging”. The official fanbois are not wrong, I probably am.
    In one word, this bitterness comes down to the fact that WHO 1.4 convinced me that this world was not my thing anymore, and I don’t think GW2, Rift, SWTOR or any other new game will be developed with “fun” in mind, just making sure you have to spend x hours online.
    It is maybe a generation shift, as by now all of my old skool friends have given up as well, and apart from Planetside2, I think I simply have to treat my old MMO addiction. Which explains my bitterness at this 1.4 disaster.

  9. They've just been so slow to react that it raises a lot of questions about their understanding of quite how severe the frustration, anger and disappointment is in the WAR community right now.

    Rift and its beta events have been given free rein to revel in their polished state to an almost captive audience, while Mythic have left the serious issues WAR has right now fester and spread anger through the community. Effectively driving people into looking elsewhere, since there's been no hope given for WAR.

    As a guild leader and a player I can't miss taking part in the Rift launch, while I wait for Mythic to fix something that they should have done ages ago and are not showing any convincing sign that they are goign to in the future. They've said they're looking at it, but then they also said they were going to bring back fortresses, improve influence rewards, do more live expansions, etc, over a year ago. None of which they did. Now I know they want to avoid false hope like they provided with those examples, but alas that obviously isnt working.

  10. Just to add to that last comment.

    I do still think WAR is salvageable, genuinely it is and only Mythic know how many new accounts they are getting to replace those players moving on. As I've said before though it depends on Mythic's balls and backing as to whether they can entice the ex-WAR players back.

  11. Heh, Riftstalker is what I have chosen. Got to 33 last beat and was just awesome the whole way. It really is a fun, unique twist on the traditional rogue.


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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.