I got into a bit of a tussle on Twitter today with @arkenor and @scopique over the question of Rift and grouping. Ark said “I don’t think you’ll get terribly far in Rift without grouping.” and I took exception to that. I mostly solo and do fine.
But there’s all kinds of nuance here. What does “fine” mean? Did Ark mean Grouping (as in joining into one of those artificial constructs that MMOs offer) or did he mean grouping as in, working with others? If he meant “You won’t get far in rift if you insist on doing everything by yourself” then in fact I’d agree with him and the whole discussion was a big Twitter misunderstanding. Scopique pointed out that as a Tank he didn’t do well soloing when it came to fighting rifts and again I do understand some builds aren’t built for solo play.
I just wanted to elaborate here where I’m not limited to 140 characters. I’ve played 3 characters so far: a Warrior build to 17, a Mage build to 20 and a Cleric build to 16. I’ve spent most of my time outside of dungeons solo, by which I mean not Grouped. I feel like I did fine, by which I mean “I was having fun, making steady progress and never feeling overly frustrated for any length of time.” I haven’t played a Scout so maybe you can’t solo as a Scout; I don’t know one way or the other. And maybe things change past level 20, so I can’t speak to that either, but I’m pretty sure Ark isn’t past 20 and can’t speak to it either.
Now that said:
1) Dungeons absolutely require Grouping, I agree. You won’t be able to solo a dungeon until you’re horribly over level, and you won’t be running into random other people in there.
2) I also agree that you can’t get very far fighting rifts without playing cooperatively with other characters. I spent a LOT of time fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with other players, but very little of it Grouped. I consider this Solo play: your definition might be different.
3) Warfronts don’t give you a choice: when you enter one you get put in a Raid (though I never tried /leaving it)
4) Some builds are going to be more forgiving than others. If you play a pure tank then you’re going to look at a lot of dying or a lot of downtime. I suggest being an Apothecary if you’re going to go pure tank and want to solo. Mathosians have a great racial shield that turns damage into heals too. That helps.
4a) You have more points than you can spend on 1 soul. So (making numbers up) at level 15 you might have 20 points to spend, but you can only put 15 into a single soul so unless you’re just going to throw away those extra points, you have to take at least 1 other soul. If you plan on soloing I urge you to pick a soul with either a pet or self heals. Both will keep you upright longer.
(And remember that you can have several Roles, which essentially are character builds, so if you enjoy Solo some times and Grouping others, you can easily do both on 1 character by having a Role for each playstyle. Each Role can use a different set of souls and point expenditures. You can switch Roles any time except in the middle of combat. So if you’re Soloing at a rift and someone throws you a Group invite and you accept it, a tap of a key will put you into your Group build.)
Solo players will probably die more often than people who’re always grouped. That’s true of most games. The death penalty in Rift is very light though. I do die a lot when I’m not being careful. But see above: re frustration (or rather, lack thereof).
Quest content is intended, for the most part, to be solo content. That’s true up to level 20 (except for Dungeon quests) and I could swear I’ve read an official source saying that’s an intentional design decision but I can’t find a citation now. So maybe we’ll have to wait and see.
The rift reward system is built to accommodate solo players. The one flaw with this is that you have to ‘tap’ a rift mob to get kill credit for it (for daily quests). I’m hoping they can change that. But you’ll get plenty of experience and rewards remaining solo while fighting rifts, and you’ll get quest rewards for Invasion Quests even if you spend the entire invasion solo (assuming the good guys win, of course).
It’s no secret I’ve been having a huge amount of fun playing Rift and I really want other players to give it a chance and hopefully wind up having as much fun as I am. Will Rift be fun at 30? 40? 50? I have no idea, but when it comes to games I’m an optimist. I know I’ll get my $60 (Digital Collector’s Edition for me) worth of fun out of it in the first month — in console gaming that can mean 10-12 hours of gameplay. After that, it’s anyone’s call.
But when I see something that I perceive as misinformation (based on my experience playing) that might turn potential players away, I’m always going to challenge it. Sometimes I’m wrong, and sometimes I’m right, but the discussion that results is often enlightening.