Tag Archives: Rift

More on MMOs

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(OHAI GUYZ. I MADE A POST.)

So, as mentioned MUCH earlier (like… nearly a year ago-earlier) two of the big MMOs in our sights were GW2 and SWTOR.  Oh, I suppose to be more specific, the fact that GW2 and SWTOR had been in our sights, but GW2 was quickly falling off the radar, as far as personal preferences go.  GW2 was just sounding more and more like not the kind of game I wanted to play.  SWTOR won by default, with David’s devotion to everything Bioware and Star Wars (except the prequels… we don’t talk about those) overwhelming the more distant “that seems kinda interesting” feelings I had toward GW.  GW appearing to become more and more the type of game neither of us wanted to play was really the nail in the coffin.

SWTOR became our new hope.  (u c wut i did thar?)  Both Bioware and LucasArts were stingy with information, close mouthed and doling it out in minute drops.  We even ended up resubscribing to WoW, since we’d been goofing off on some other F2P games, but finding them less-fun than the Blizzard Behemoth. We even had high hopes for Cataclysm, dropping the money and getting about a months worth of playtime in it before (re-)discovering that WoW just doesn’t do it for us anymore.

As is also probably obvious from another recent post of mine, I discovered Rift. I didn’t go into it with any real expectations… Over the summer, David and I had gotten into the habit of signing up for any betas/F2Ps that looked even remotely interesting. And the soul system of Rift was definitely interesting enough to get a beta key and spend some quality time with the downloader. I certainly didn’t intend to enjoy it as much as I did. And suddenly, my Rift-raves started to sound a lot like David’s devotion to SWTOR.  There was once again two games on our potential horizon.

Granted, the likelihood of being able to start Rift much before SWTOR’s release (since they’re aiming for sometime this year) is a bit iffy due to a total MMO hiatus until end of summer due to baby.  It just puts them on more even footing. And while Rift appeals to me for the aspects of it, it also appeals because it’s a known quantity, which due to the secrecy surrounding SWTOR, you can’t say about the Other Game.

But I’ve still been keeping track. I watch MMO news/blog sites, and SWTOR is still in the running for Next Big Thing, with all the supposition and commentary you’d expect to find when people are left to their own devices to interpret vague developer comments.

Well, I’ve been watching those vague developer comments, and…  I’m not really liking where it SEEMS like it’s going.

First off, I may not share David’s love for them, but I have a lot of respect for Bioware. They make some great games. I also grew up on Star Wars, though my devotion to the franchise is… not terribly devoted.  David loves both, with a love matched only by his love of good chocolate and weird beers.

Just to get that out there before I start.  Ahem.

Okay, so.  Bioware has stated that they want to use SWTOR to put the RPG back in MMORPGs. But I’m worried that they’re going to make an awesome subscription-based RPG, that misses the whole MMO boat.  There’s not a lot of detail as to what they actually mean by their comment, beyond some mentions of the class quests. Well, this sets me to worrying… What is the primary function of the RPG? You, playing a pivotal character. A hero. When you think of RPGs, you think of heroes. MMOs lend themselves much more to adventurers than heroes. The bar is lower. The club is more open. It’s more “reasonable” to see multiple high-level characters running around.  To poke at the RPG aspect, it doesn’t ruin your immersion, which seeing a 100 other people who are heroes Just Like You would do in a traditional RPG. Playing a hero works in a single player game. You’re the only one awesome enough to be controlled by someone NOT the computer, after all.  MMOs require it to work in a setting surrounded by other people.

Also, Bioware wants to focus more on the class quest lines. Now, I have NO IDEA how important these will be, or how much time they’ll take up. But it’s pretty likely that all the real pivotal moments of gameplay for your character, the real character development, will come from these class quests. Well, guess what? Unless you want to create a party of all Jedi Knights, you’re going to be looking at a lot of time soloing, or potentially helping your buddy through run around and kill stuff quests that you can’t actually participate in yourself.  (Have I mentioned recently that I don’t solo? Cause I don’t.)

I’m also REALLY worried about the crews. I mean, think about it. You have minions. These minions do all your crafting/gathering/professioning, leaving you to be awesome. They also interact with you, have deep and meaningful quests and storylines, and can even be romanced.

Why would you want to play with other players? I mean really… You could have SnarkyRobotDPS backing you up and providing witty commentary tailored to your current progress on his storyline… or you could have IMAJEDILOL and his endless piles of leetspeek.

Is SWTOR a MMO? I’ve forgotten.

(Special thanks to Larry Everett at Massively, who made a post summing up/sharing all my concerns.  He probably does a MUCH better job putting them together than I do, and you all should read it.)

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So, Rift…

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Okay, I’ll fully admit I’m totally ready to eat my words. I’ve seen a lot of hype about Rift, enough to get myself into beta, but… I wasn’t sold on the prospect. I had tried a few characters in the last beta (screenshots at the bottom) and I was torn. The game itself ran well, was polished, and pretty fun… But I was having issues with the characters I made. Each I was dissatisfied with (for stupid Marianne-specific that-makes-no-sense reasons) so each one hit approximately level 7 before I decided it wasn’t for me and tried something else. That was how things stood two weeks ago in Beta 5.

The problems I mentioned above were stupid, I’ll admit. My first attempt at a character was a cleric (of course) in the Defiant faction, and I went for Druid/Shaman/Justicar. Essentially a melee-dps “I hit things with a giant hammer and they FEEL IT” ret pally playstyle with a little fairy to follow me around and play healbot to me and anyone else in my party. We’ve already established that Marianne doesn’t play games alone, and so shit DIED. Shit died so fast David and I didn’t even have time to blink. Listening to chat over the course of her 1-7 grind, I seemed to have stumbled upon the best cleric leveling build, one of the better leveling builds in the game as it stands, purely by accident.  I picked things that seemed to go together and, um, it totally went together.My hammer is hiding, but it will smash your face in.

So, yeah, I stopped playing a character because it was OP and I was bored. Go me.

Attempt number two went somewhat like the first. I made another character, this time a rogue and Guardian faction, because I wanted to try it (both class and other faction’s quests) out. Now, I’d done melee last time, so I decided I wanted to be ranged, and there is a bard soul for rogue as well, so I knew I had to pick that up. So I decided to go Ranger/Marksman/Bard. Ranger gave me a pet and some ranged shots, Marksman gives MOAR RANGED DAMAGE, and bard gives general group buffs, as well as the ability to channel music at enemies and smite them down with it.  Bard was pretty awesome, and it made me giggle. However, there was a slight problem: shit died. Shit died WAY TOO EASILY. Where was the challenge in this game? All I’d seen so far was stuff dies almost as soon as I look at it. Sure enough, I’ve picked the “best” solo rogue leveling build and one of the best in the game once again. Once again, I’m not leveling solo. Once again, I’m bored out of my mind. I want games that can actually be a challenge, damnit!WAR PIGGY

Fast forward to last Friday, the start of Beta 6. I’m somewhat hesitant to play, even though I’ve only tried half the classes, and a VERY SMALL FRACTION of the potential soul combinations. (thank you firefox, combinations IS a word. :P) There are also a couple things that I still really WANT to try, more than just “I should try this cause I haven’t.” I’ve also seen a lot of RAVE reviews, mostly from people and sources I trust, all saying the game is awesome and implying it takes a bit to get going. So I decide to go for it. So the plan was hatched: Find a character I want to play and get past level 7, aim for 10 or 15, and see when the game starts getting good and how good it is.

First step is resetting to my default. I look for characters and classes who are purely support and go from there. First try was a mage, specifically a Chloromancer/Dominator/Archon. I have buffs, I have CC, and I have healing debuffs. We’re back Defiant because mad science > religious zealotry. I’m trying Chloromancer because it’s a very interesting and different type of class from any I’ve seen before. I attack my target with debuffs which have a chance to cause healing to anyone hitting that target. Unfortunately, I’m somewhat flailing because my damage is shit, we totally don’t need CC, and the chance to heal is pretty low until you get a chunk of points invested in the class. I seem to have bypassed “support” and gone straight to “useless” so alas, she gets set aside as well.A fully-clothed mage? UNPOSSIBLE!

By now, I’m beginning to flail. Doing the dishes Friday night, I’m whining at David about the game, the fact it’s either too easy or too useless, that Trion needs to be able to sell a game in the first 5 levels, not wait until it gets fun at some unspecified “later” and generally being a ranty mess. David, since this beta and game was my idea anyway, reasonably suggests quitting if it’s not being fun.  I decide no, I’m gonna push forward a bit. There’s one more thing that’s on my list to try, and I want to try it before I was my hands of the game entirely.

You guessed it, I rolled another cleric. This one a Sentinel/Purifier/Cabalist, basically as close as Rift comes to WoW’s holy priest. Sentinel gives me a variety of heals, including smart-AOE, a Nature’s Swiftness equivalent , and a binding-heal clone at later levels. Purifier gives me some pally-like single-target nuke heals. Cabalist I took because I felt I needed to have SOME DPS ability, but I haven’t actually invested any points in it to speak of.  It just gives me a small boost to spell power and a single 3-target AOE damage spell.

Maybe it’s because we’d just done the Defiant noob zone 2 hours earlier, but we zoom through with nary a pause. I do fail!dps and healing as needed, David does most of the killing. It’s like Vanilla WoW all over again (back when my idea of MMOs was “follow David and heal him”) in some ways, because the DPS of the healbot in Rift is very much less the DPS of a healbot in Cata. But for the first time, we cracked the lv 7 barrier. At lv 8, we were in the first “main zone” of the game, outside of the safe noob areas, and experiencing what Rift was supposed to be about. We learned about questing and Rifts.

By the end of Friday night, Rift was in the category of “more fun” but I was still somewhat skeptical. Sure it’s pretty, sure the classes are *really* interesting, sure I’ve finally found something I’m having a blast with… But those rifts… I’m trying to quest, and I just want to turn this stupid quest in, and I can’t because there’s a rift with elite mobs pouring out of it and oh-god and they’ve killed the quest mob… damnit. We’d participated in a few Rift closings, and they were kinda fun… But when you’re trying to quest it’s kinda a hassle. Sure, it’s fun now, but how will it feel after the 100th? 200th?Tentacles are their own reward.

By Saturday, I realized I was looking at the game from the wrong perspective. Rift is about it’s name. It’s about closing rifts. THAT’S what you’re supposed to do. Questing is just something you do to kill time while you’re waiting for rifts to pop. The lightbulb went off and I dragged David back into the game with renewed fervor. We spent several hours questing as we went, but spending most of our focus running toward any rifts we happened to see falling out of the sky.  Major invasion? Oh, well we have a quest to turn in to the south, so let’s go for the more southerly rifts first. By the time it came to turn off the computers Sunday for D&D, we’d both reached lv 16, had cleared enough rifts (thanks to a major death invasion) to get the tokens for epic pants, and accumulated the money (after raiding the above-mentioned alts) to snag mounts.Vainyuu love. <3 my half-headed antelope.

And now, we wait. Beta 6 closes this morning, and there’s one more week-long beta planned for next week leading up to the game’s release. I know I’m going to be playing it. It’s the best thing since sliced bread, and the most fun I’ve had in a game since…  about forever. Therein lies our problem.

Our MMO funds are completely tied up in WoW at the moment. We don’t have the money to play two MMOs, with two monthly fees and two accounts. Right now is also REALLY not the time to purchase the start-up funds for two new MMOs either, not with the house set to close next month and the baby due in July. I’m also WAY more into Rift than David is. David is focused almost entirely on SWTOR, which he’s much more into than I am. About the only thing we do agree on right now is WoW isn’t really doing it for us. What WoW does have is our weekly game night with friends.

Currently the plan is to cancel our account to WoW in late-June/early-July, to end as close to just before the baby is due as possible (since we won’t be playing ANYTHING with a brand newborn), and then reassess or MMO time/desires in August/September, when we’re at the point where we can start thinking about doing things for ourselves again. Maybe then I’ll be able to play Rift. Maybe SWTOR will be released and David’ll snag us into that. Maybe WoW will be the shiznit and we’ll be back there. Or maybe we’ll decide that we don’t want to do any MMOs at all.

So yeah, Rift is awesome, I love it, and I’d totally rate it worth the price of admission. Also, sooper-seekrit message to past-self: When does Rift really get fun? The answer is lv 8-10, when you first get to the open world and can start participating in rift closures. And if any of you are also participating in the beta, feel free to friend Basmajini (me) or Thalis (David) on the Shardfallen server.