Like I promised, here comes the downside to my new favorite MMO, Rift.  These are things the game does that either annoy me or push me to borderline anger with the game, but do not quiet send me into a frothing rage or bout of depression. No, those things I’m saving for the last of this three-part overview. So without further ado, and in an effort to keep this one under a thousand and a half words, on to my list of grievances.

Character Classes: This one is probably the pettiest complaint I have against the game, but it still drives me up a wall. There are four classes in this game. Four. What happened to the Everquest days where you got to pick a play style that was a class and not a talent tree? Don’t get me wrong, the only way Rift could ever offer it’s absurd customization is by boiling everything down to the standard Warrior, Rogue, Mage, Cleric archetype and then letting the player build up from there. It’s just that, at the start, I felt far more like “I am a Warrior” or “I am a Rogue” than I do anything like “I am the Nightblade” or “I am a Reaver.” That’s slowly changing as I level up, and while I really, really like that (Character evolution? In an RPG? What is this madness!), I’m just disappointed at such a bland starting mindset. Yes I want my cake and to eat it too.

Tree Clutter: While before I had plenty of praise for the soul system, and I still do, it has more than one glaring flaw. The first is that each and every soul has to be a contained and viable path for a player to go through the game, and that’s when Rift isn’t forcing you to spend points in one of your secondary trees. Now, while all souls have niches like the Reaver Warrior soul being an Area of Effect tank and the Void Knight soul being the anti-magic tank, both of those souls offer the same starting abilities.  The first time I played a warrior, I spent almost fifteen minutes trying to clean up my bar. Because by level six I had found myself with seven abilities on my action bar. Seven. Six of those were all similar. Void Knight Ability Point generator and finisher, one of each for Reaver, and then another for Champion. The only non-duplicate ability I had was from the points I had already spent in a soul already. Cleaning those out took forever, partially because I had to meticulously check and see if I was invalidating certain talents by removing certain skills. It was a mess. Second time through the zone on a warrior, I basically tossed everything off, only using the bare minimum to get by until I could sit down and work out which abilities I could use, and which I should be. The worst thing about it is, every tree is like this. Being contained, you will get a lot of abilities as you level. Deciding which are actually useful is up to the player, but removing some of the clutter at earlier levels couldn’t have hurt.

Tree Synergy: I said there was more than one thing wrong with the soul system, and this is the other major annoyance. Souls have almost no synergy with another. You will never find a talent that directly affects another soul. Oh sure, there are extremely bland talents like “Increase your damage over time spells by X%” or “Increase your critical strike of heal spells by X%”, but half the time these don’t even  apply elsewhere.  Let’s take an example. First tier of talent’s for the Mage Necromancer; Increase Death Damage by X% or Cause Plague Bolt’s debuff to apply twice and deal X% more damage per stack. Plague Bolt is the basic Necromancer direct damage spell. What are your sub-souls? I hope it’s something with Death Damage early on, or else you will be getting nothing from this tier. So if you wanted to play something like, Necromancer/Pyromancer/Archon, you’re just out of luck. Yes, I know it’s not fair to pick on the first level of talents in a specialization, but the thing is that every tree is like this on every level. There is no incentive to  build a soul out side of “Does it have a skill or buff I want? If yes, put points in. If no, it can be safely ignored.” I’m not asking much, and really can’t given the amount of souls to a given class, but at least something would have been nice. A little reward for building up your character. Like a Necromancer talent that gave the Archon spell Blood Boil a little bit of Death damage as a bonus, or an Archon talent that gave Pyromancers a little damage buff if Blood Boil, which does Fire damage already, is already on the target. One or two things, tied in to existing talents, for most of the souls so no one is left out.

Zone Progress: This one is another mixed bag that usually tilts towards the bad. There is no clear progression through a zone. If you are of level, the NPC’s will offer you a quest the moment you stumble across them. And you will randomly find quest givers, especially if you have to break from questing every five seconds to rip open a new hole in the world. But none of these quest givers will give an indication that you’ve missed anything. You only get the quest to move on to the next hub once completing everything at the current hub. If you happen to enjoy PvP or Dungeon running, you may find yourself very quickly out-leveling a hub and having nowhere to go next. Or just skipping things entirely on accident. Having a discussion with my friend, she didn’t even know about a whole hub that was one of my favorites in the zone. We had leveled so much through dungeons and player versus player content that we simply wandered until mobs were yellow and looked for a hub, or started questing in areas where there are achievements for us to collect. Zones in Rift tend to be fairly large, and often with a few NPCs loitering about lazily as they wait for some bright-eyed young adventurer to come along and do their chores solve their problems for pocket change. A little flavor text at the bottom of one NPC’s speech bubble like “I hear Kelari Refuge is having some problems recently. I hope they can handle themselves alright.” or whatever so the player is at least aware of the next questing hub open to them.

Voice Acting: This is an odd one. Rift actually has some very, very good voice acting in it, and it’s evident by the first half hour. It also has some pretty abysmal voice acting, as evident by the first half hour. Without naming any npc’s, some of the enemies have a totally flat monotone with zero inflection or even a hint of emotion. This is less “This person is evil, I must slay them. Rawr.” and more “Why is this phoned in?” There are some rare cases where this works like for undead, or just works because it goes totally around on itself and becomes so unbearable as to be funny, but that doesn’t even work completely because other undead have up to superb voice acting. Beyond that, some lines from the good actors are delivered like a twelve-year-old spoiled child to start with, and then are delivered in the manner you’d expect from the character in question. Eliam, I’m looking at you. I’ll point you out just because you do a really good job… minus the first line you say at all. I… wasn’t impressed.

Well now… that was quite a bit more than I was expecting. Still though, these are my major annoyances with Rift. Keep in mind these are not make-or-break for me. These are the little things that compound and  grow, making the game feel more annoying than it should at times. No, the things that send me into a wild murderous rage and deer killing spree are coming next in a much smaller and much more vitriolic post. Until then, compare what I’ve pointed out to the good and see which is worth more. If you have minor annoyances, feel free to add. I might revisit this series of three once I hit max level and see how everything, if anything, changes.