Rift beta NDA dropped

That roar you heard today was the news spreading that the Rift NDA has dropped.


I’ve been dying to talk about this game… I was lucky enough to snag a VIP Beta Pass from Massively, so was able to get into both the recent beta events. In both cases, Rift became a disruptive event in my life. I’m not sure if that’s good or not, but it sure was fun.

I can’t remember the last time a game has pulled me in and gripped me so tightly. I’d have entire conversations with Angela that I later had no recollection of, I was so focused on the game.

That’s the good news. Rift is a certain purchase to me (well, unless they suddenly take off in a radically different direction).

The bad news? I have trouble articulating exactly what it was that sucked me in.

I mean, there’s a great character creation system. You’re this “Ascended” being that gets to ‘equip’ the souls of fallen heros and so take on their skills. You start by picking in archetype (warrior, rogue, mage, cleric) and then your first soul (class, essentially). You get a skill tree for that soul. At level 5 or so you get to pick a 2nd soul and equip it, and it gives you a 2nd skill tree. At 20 you get a 3rd soul and in the full game there will be more to ‘collect’ though only 3 can be ‘equipped’ at any one time.

Every time you level you get a skill point. It’s up to you if you want to focus on 1 skill tree or travel up several. You also have multiple roles, which are basically sets of souls and skills. So you can focus on DPS in one role and healing in another.

Anyway, this is covered everywhere Rift is mentioned. But I love alts and there’s just incredible potential for lots of character “classes” created by combining souls.

The PvE leveling is fairly typical in terms of quests. You go from hub to hub but there is always plenty to do and generally several areas for you to ‘work’ in at any given time. Y’know how I griped about the new WoW newbie experience and how you always have 1-3 quests at a time… it was nice to get into Rift and have 15 quests to choose from.

The lore is rich and deep and I found myself wanting to learn more about it. I can see myself reading Rift novels in the not-too-distant future.

There are also daily quests from very early on, usually built around killing Rift creatures. There are “Story” quests that I was right in the middle of when Beta 2 ended. 🙁 I’m not sure if they finish differently or if they’re just tagged Story because of strong lore.

So that’s all fun: a very polished, solid PvE questing system with really interesting character development.

But then there are the rifts. Rifts are going to be the acid test for the game. Some people will HATE them, others will love them. To start, think of Rifts like Warhammer public quests, but they’re public quests that can happen anywhere.

A rift forms…like a tear in space. It’s a huge, awesome looking effect. And then creatures start spilling from this tear and it’s up to the players to fight them back. Rifts have several stages of increasing difficulty. There’s a nice balance mechanic in that if there aren’t a lot of players around the rift will have some kind of helper technique…generally an NPC that you can spawn to help you fight back.

Eventually you can seal a rift and when you do, everyone gets goodies. Lots of consumable items, then some items that you can trade to a broker for stuff you can use. Once in a while a piece of gear.

Now what if there’s a rift and no one closes it? Then parties of rift npcs spawn and head out to attack outposts across the lands. I saw more than one person go AFK in the middle of a road in a ‘safe’ spot and then get stomped by one of these roaming parties. If no one stops these rift creatures they’ll eventually start fighting NPCs, including quest givers. By the end of beta 2 (when the Rift spawn frequency got bumped up quite a bit) there was some bitching from people who couldn’t turn in quests because their NPC was fighting rift creatures.

If you feel sympathy for those people then maybe Rift isn’t for you. For me it was a freakin’ breath of fresh air to be playing in a world that wasn’t so compartmentalized into safe zones and fighting zones. There is chaos, wonderful, glorious chaos, in the world of Rift. Yes, you WILL get ganked by roving bands of NPCs that come upon you while you’re fighting a conveniently difficult mob. It’s just part of the game.

I also dabbled a bit in crafting in beta 2. It’s a solid crafting system, very WoW-ish. I took butchering (essentially skinning but you get more than just leather from fallen beasts) and gathering (picking herbs and harvesting wood) and apothecary. I sold the leather and wood on the auction house and used the herbs and organs to make healing and mana potions. Nothing really fancy here but skill level 1 I was making stuff I could use.

In Beta 1 I played a Reaver/Void Knight to level 17. It was a challenging combo because I played him pretty much full melee but had no self heals. There was a certain amount of downtime that went with it. In Beta 2 I played an Elementalist/Storm Caller. I don’t usually play mages but this guy was pretty awesome. The Elementalist side gave me pets and the Storm Caller side gave me lightning attacks. I put most of my points into Elementalist. He still didn’t have any heals but with the pet and ranged combat he didn’t need them very often.

I should probably attribute this to beta but the community was (mostly) awesome. Fighting rifts was all about random people banding together and fighting. No one was mentioning kill stealing or worrying about who is grouped with what… the rift mechanic seems to reward you whether you’re in a Group or just fighting alongside others. When the rift frequency cranked up, gangs of rift-sealers formed and charged from location to location, beating back the enemy from the other side.

If you think Rift might be for you I urge you to play at launch. This is going to be one of those games that really shines with a lot of people playing together. In case Rift doesn’t do well (and I have some concerns about that because so many people expect MMORPGs to be very orderly and safe) you’ll miss the fun if you don’t play until the population diminishes.

Beta 3 is next week. I’ll be reporting from there. I also have some screenshots that are on my PC at him; I’ll post some of those later today.

Apologies if this post is a jumble. I’m at work and was too excited about the NDA dropping to take the time to properly compose my thoughts. 🙂 Rift is my Next Big MMO, without a doubt.

Comments from Tipa: “You have to do story quests to get the quests for the dungeon and to get your third soul (at 18, not 20)” Thanks, Tipa!!

10 thoughts on “Rift beta NDA dropped

  1. Hate to bust your bubble but there was a lot of kill stealing. The only time I saw people working together was during a Rift. Otherwise, they would either still your mob from you that you needed or steal your item while you were fighting off mobs. Course, this is the mentality of the MMO world in general. However, during the Rift openings, people would bond together to shut down a rift or kill a group of invaders that had gotten into the questing area.

    This is not a solo game. You need to have friends who play otherwise the game will become very frustrating and hard. Again, this view is from what I observed in the last beta and the frequency of rifts will probably be toned down during the regular game. But if you don’t have a steady group to hang with, shutting down rifts will be an issue, especially during low peak times, when no one is in an area and the rifts start getting out of hand. Not sure how the developers plan to handle that problem.

    Damn, not sure why posted all that here, I have my own blog. lol

    I will say that I loved the beta and that it will be a day one purchase for me. If I can find a steady group to hang with, which I’m pretty sure I have, then it will probably be my second MMO until I tired of WoW then my main. That is, if they can keep it fresh and exciting and if the beta is any indication of that, then I should be set.

  2. I must’ve just been lucky, I guess. I had a really positive experience (though I’ll admit I left regional chat on but turned global chat off after someone went on and on about how the game sucked and then mentioned they were only level 2).

    I did most of the weekend solo. Well by ‘solo’ I mean not joining Groups but I was definitely fighting beside people much of the time.

  3. I was in beta one and Merrie was given two VIP keys from a kind soul at the Rift forums.

    I was lukewarm at first but his past weekend I had a lot of fun.
    Merrie and I quested and ‘rifted.’ The minor ones we could duo, the major ones we’d cooperate with the folks nearby, or I took to inviting them into a group (easier to heal that way.)

    My character in 2nd beta was shaman/warden – he could melee and heal. However, for my second soul I put all my points into warden, turning me into a pure healer. I could switch roles on the fly, heck I did that just to give us the warden’s water breathing at one point. It was very cool and much better than I though when I first read about it.

    During the huge invasion that happened Saturday night Merrie and I just happened to be in the elf castle when the main raid boss spawned.
    He attacked us, but at the time we had no idea that was the core of the invasion. We even fought him for a bit – I kept thinking he was damn hard for a solo mob lol.
    What really impressed me is that during that invasion there were hundreds of people on the screen – and I had no lag. It was rather shocking, and just a little impressive 🙂

    Oh, and speaking of ganking during the wee hours Friday night an invasion took over a quest hub. I died – repeatedly- until I figured out I could move a ways before rezzing. I had UO flashbacks 🙂 But it was fun, and eventually we cobbled together a force to beat the invaders back. I quite enjoyed it – it just feels like a different dynamic than joining a PUG for an instance run.

  4. Sounds like it could be a lot a fun. But the “regular group” thing could be a deal breaker for me. I can’t always get on at routine times. Also I am not into disruptive gameplay, which the Rifts seem to embody. Getting ganked by another player is bad enough, but a horde of mobs?

  5. I disagree on the need for a regular group, but yeah if you don’t want disruptive gameplay, stay away from this one. The rift system is all about dynamic content.

  6. Regarding the disruptive gameplay – I may not enjoy it forever, but I felt the kind of disruptive gameplay the rifts caused was different from the kind you get from PvP in that the whole server of players (in the PvE sense) is on your side. Everyone has a stake in beating back those enemies instead of you having to go form alliances and bring friends everywhere. It might be a small distinction, but it made all the difference for me.

  7. I may have misspoke. You can solo, and it isn’t crazy hard when your dealing with normal mobs and the like. There is a bit of down time for players that can’t self heal or those that have to get mana back, but that was the way it was in the original EQ. I’m talking about in facing those Rifts and or invasions I found it easier to deal with them when your had your own group of people. The game relies a large bit on brother helping brother to close down those rifts and if people are more interested in their questing and aren’t interested in closing rifts that could become an issue. Especially for the guy that opens up a rift and then runs off without trying to close it. That can be an issue as well.

    You can successful solo in this game. I’m not against that, but only if people help each other out with the dynamic content, that will be the true test.

  8. OK, I follow you now, and yeah, I agree that everything is going to be easier and ‘smoother’ with a group of friends. But I did appreciate that I could run up to a rift and help a bunch of people seal it without every yelling “Can I get an invite!!?”

    And (and again, maybe I was just lucky) it seemed like people were really helping each other in terms of pulling aggro off the mages (me!) or helping burn down a mob before a tank ran out of HP (them!).

    Keep in mind that I’m that weird MMOer who dislikes the artificial construct of being in a Group with a capital G. I prefer more organic comings and goings and cooperatings.

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