With beta 4, I’m changing servers on the Guardian side in order to join some old friends. That meant a new character for the first time since beta 2, and the first time since the skill point/soul distribution revamp.
I tried to look at the game with fresh eyes, to try to understand some of the common complaints. Obviously this is really hard to do and I didn’t have a lot of luck.
By level 6 I had 3 souls already (used to be you had to be 18) and I almost wonder if this is asking too much of new players. Level 6 is maybe an hour of relaxed play, unless you’re a total MMO noob who doesn’t understand how to move, attack, loot and interact with NPCs (Rift uses standard MMO systems for all these things).
I’ve heard some players wishing they could test new souls before committing to them. Some other games (which one escapes me) offers this and it sounds like a great idea. Rift doesn’t let you do this, but it does (now) at least allow you to examine a soul’s skill tree before choosing it. This is a new feature and it’s a bit hidden.
You get new souls as quest rewards. Before picking which soul you want, you can control-click on their icons to get shunted over to a copy of the skill tree for that soul. It feels a little weird to be using a quest reward window to do research. I mean I guess it’s the same as examining a piece of gear but it feels odd to me. Before they revamped the system you had only 4 souls to pick as your first one, and there were 4 NPCs you had to talk to as part of the quest; these NPCs told you a bit about that soul. I guess visiting 8 NPCs would be a bit dull. Anyway I think Trion needs to polish this system as well as publishing a nice big chart of the souls and what they’re best at.
Do keep in mind that while there are 4 archetypes (Warrior/Cleric/Scout/Mage) by mixing and matching souls you can really take on any role you want within your archetype. Tank cleric? Sure. DPS warrior? Yup. The archetypes are almost used as a character theme more than anything else.
Another common complaint is that you feel rushed through the tutorial. I’m not seeing this at all. Yeah there’s a lot of activity going on around you; battles and all that. But none of the mobs are aggro before level 5 or so. Yes, there’s a rushed ‘vibe’ but nothing is really rushing you. You can take as much time as you like to mess around with your UI, set up your friends list, or whatever.
Next, the “On Rails” complaint. Guilty as charged for the first 8-9 levels (1.5-2 hours). But if you’re lauding the new WoW newbie experience and criticizing this one, you’re being a total hypocrite. Both games shunt you from hub to hub pretty quickly in the first few levels.
I’ve heard complaints that the world is too small. This kind of dovetails in with the last point. Your journey from 1-9 is essentially along a corridor of quest hubs. But please, hit M, look at how much of the world, or even the starter zone, that you’ve explored, then zoom out. I don’t think the world is small at all. I’ve spent 3 beta events in 1 zone without getting bored.
Last, Rift is just another quest grind. Well by level 9 I was in Argent Glade fighting off rift invasions with a bunch of other players. In fact I dinged 9 in the midst of an invasion. Yup, you can play Rift as a quest grinder if you choose to, but there’s rifting and now PvP (though that doesn’t open up until level 10, at least not the Warfronts, so I can’t address that aspect yet, but I’m told you do get exp from PvP). If you choose to play it as a quest grinder then you’re missing out on some of the best features of the game.
In a comment to one of my earlier posts Green Armadillo of Player vs Developer criticized Trion for not exposing players to everything the game has to offer in the first hour. While in theory I agree that a game should hook you as quickly as possible, I don’t think it’s a practical option for Rift. Rift invasions are disruptive to the player experience. That’s kind of the point of the design of the game (see the recent Dev Diary for more details). But disrupting things during the tutorial phase of the game would (rightfully) draw the ire of many players. Can you imagine being in the midst of reading the tutorial pop-up windows and being steam-rolled by an invasion force? You do get to experience a rift in the first hour, but it’s carefully tucked away and always in the same place. Nor does it spawn invasion forces. It’s a pale reflection of the full experience.
So, surprising almost no one, I don’t see a lot of the complaints people are having. I didn’t get to play a lot last night. I wish I’d made note of my /played time. I’m guessing 2 hours over a few sessions. And I hit level 9 and Argent Glade (Guardian side) which feels to me like the end of the tutorial experience. I’m seeing “real” rifts now, the world is no longer a long narrow corridor, I’ve already got 3 hotbars (due in part to having 3 souls, and in fact that might be too many this early) set up; 1 for combat skills, 1 for utility skills (call pet, track plants, teleport back home, etc) and 1 for the myriad of consumables I’m getting from combating rifts.
My biggest gripe once again is inventory space! I’m spending all my cash on bags. More space, Trion. Please!
Also to anyone who has gotten this far. When you’re picking your souls, even if you’re a melee character, try to get at least one ranged attack (or a rush attack). One other complaint I have about fighting rifts: while you don’t have to tap a mob to get rewards at the end of the rift fight, there are daily quests to “Kill 10 Rift Creatures” which are basically free exp (since you’ll be killing them anyway) but to get credit for those kills you need to tap the critter. If you have to run up to a rift creature to tap it, you’re never going to get there before someone with an insta-cast ranged ability gets to it.
That’s my 2nd biggest gripe. It’d be nice if you got credit just for being in on the attack or even healing someone who’s taking damage from a rift critter.
That’s all for now. Beta beckons!
Oh, right now I’m playing a Druid/Warden/Justicar. I meant to be mostly Druid with some Warden and just the ‘freebie’ Justicar skill, but now I’m getting intrigued by the Justicar tree. My have to set up some new Roles for this guy…