I find myself still enjoying RIFT a great deal, it is a very good game, but at the same time I’m not entirely comfortable. The problem for me is PvP and almost entirely for reasons I (and probably everyone else) had saw coming from the start.
Class balance is terrible. Of course with the soul system that should be no surprise to anyone. I love the soul system, it’s one of the most interesting steps forward in MMOs in a long time, but it was always going to be “interesting” to balance for PvP. The next patch has a raft of balance patches and we’ll see how that works out, but it’s important to remember RIFT is very much like WoW, it’s a PvE game with PvP bolted on and the focus of everything is always in that direction. I can’t see it ever being even close to balance for PvP.
Crowd control has gone mad. I’m not entirely sure what diminishing returns or immunity timers are meant to be in-game, but I do know they simply don’t work. There are options for breaking out of CC, but they generally have very long timers and with so much CC everywhere, it’s not uncommon to spend most of your time stunned, feared, etc before dying instantly to one of the souls with damage issues… Also not all souls have the break CC abilities and that unfortunately dramatically limits how viable some souls can be, which is a little dull.
Of course I recognise that almost every MMO ever has balance issues and this early on in a game’s life it’s really not worth getting all het up about, but its worth mentioning as it is something I’m finding myself quite aware of. The biggest thing for me causing the aforementioned lack of comfort is the PvP environment in a much more broad sense.
Whilst there have been some great openworld PvP battles, there hasn’t as of yet been enough and it’s not quite the right type for me. That frequency could change of course if guilds force the issue and start raiding the enemy more, however as there is no materialistic reward for doing so, I’m not convinced enough guilds will want to. PvE (and to a point warfronts) offer far, faaaaaaar more rewards. Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, as RIFT follows the traditional theme park PvE centric MMO format. And it does it very well indeed, it’s very good at what it is trying to be, but that’s not the same type of game as the likes of WAR, DAoC and particularly EVE or Darkfall.
Now for me one of the major factors contributing to me playing WAR for so long is how “drop in and out” friendly the PvP is and to be fair, I’ve never really found that anywhere else… ok except for perhaps Planetside. EVE for example, is bloody brilliant, but it’s not that forgiving if you have to AFK suddenly for an indeterminate amount of time due to your daughter trying to paint the cat’s toenails. Whereas with WAR I can nip AFK constantly and just pick up an open group or roam however I fancy the moment I’m back at the keyboard. So in a snap I’m instantly back into the fighting and can contribute. RIFT is totally different in that regard, it’s mainly all about the instanced warfronts (scenarios, battlegrounds, whatever…) and the openworld stuff takes organising to be anything worthwhile. As I’m not a huge fan of instanced PvP scenarios that has meant I’ve ended up at a bit of a loss what to do on occasion.
There are of course masses of PvE things to do; from puzzles, collectables, achievements, raids, rifts and so many others things. All of which have been extremely well implemented, but on a personal note I’m just not that interested in doing that much PvE. I do like the rifts, world events, invasions and I particularly like the dungeons, but none of those are something I do casually. I like to do dungeons, etc when I have a set, known period of time online, so I’m not going AFK every 5 minutes. Which means on my couple of weekly pre-planned gaming nights I do dungeons and am really enjoying RIFT at those points; it’s just the rest of my general filler gaming time where it really isn’t working for me.
So I find myself pondering on how I’m going to spread my gaming time. I really do like the dungeons in RIFT, they’re very well made, a lot of fun and I’m enjoying the progression path. I definitely want to continue that experience. However when I don’t have those big chunks of spare time for dungeon runs, I get very grumpy milling around with nothing inspiring to do. My WAR account is still active and I’m sorely tempted to start splitting my time between the two games, but the problem is that all the reasons I quit WAR are still there; the watered down campaign, the disappointing Skaven implementation, small RvR lakes, wasted space and lack of new things to look at. Plus I can’t be arsed to deal with all those RR90-100 players beating you with their immense gear/level crutch (and if it wasn’t a crutch they wouldn’t cry all over the forums at the suggestion of nerfing it).
If only WAR could increase the frequency of their patching…