Category: Rift

A Helping Hand

Yes, we’re back here again. I can’t help it if I love this game and enjoy talking about it, there is a lot I can say and pull from the world of  Telara at large. So anyway, Support. This is a new addition to the ‘purity’ of the trinity that’s made up gaming for awhile now: Tank, Healer, and Damage Dealer. Rift introduces the role of Support, rewarding players who might want to spec into a more hybrid type build. I know some people who like to have both damage and healing talents to make leveling up easier. Yeah, you will never heal or deal as much damage as a more pure build will, but unlike those builds, the hybrids have versatility. So today I will be going over what, exactly, makes a Support character, and why having one is good for the group. At the end, I’ll do a break down of each class and tell you how Support usually works for them.

What is a Support? Support is the new role in Rift that allows players to take on various sub-roles in parties. Generally speaking, there is no one thing a support has to do. If your groups damage is lacking, deal damage. If your healer is struggling, help heal. If something breaks off from the tank, try and grab it before a squishy gets pounded. Buff allies, debuff enemies. Support exists to do everything it can to make everyone’s lives easier. I’ll give an example of how I play support, just to give you an idea:

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Crafting, Crafting

Today’s topic is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a little while. Today, we’re going over the crafting system that is found in some games, usually mmo’s. Remember that this applies for all crafting specialties in games, I’m just referring to Weapons and Weaponsmithing because that’s what I have the most experience with. Now with that out of the way, we can begin. Crafting is something of an oddity in gaming, that is both hated and loved, sometimes at the same time. I hate leveling my weaponsmithing because it’s expensive, and it just involves standing at a forge making what ever weapon uses the lest ingredients and get’s me the highest chance of leveling. And yet, my rogue was creating level 50 weapons when she was in her 30’s. I hit the max smithing level of 300 at level 39 and am close to already buying an epic recipe. At level 40. I can’t even use any of the stuff I’m now making or working on until I hit the level cap of 50. So how did this all go down?

Two words: Damascus Shiv. While I was leveling before, it was a common thing for me to use my marks, the currency you buy recipes with from doing dailies, when I noticed something odd. For one, this recipe was almost 5 times more expensive than it’s counter-parts. A normal recipe around this point cost me 13 or so marks. The Damascus items cost 68 minimal. I was intrigued by this odd recipe, and it was closed for me when I found out it was a blue, and a beautiful dagger too. I had to have. I began hording marks, doing every single daily to get as many of them as I could, until I could finally buy the recipe.  A more hidden reason for why I wanted the Damascus Shiv, it’s crafting materials were nothing special. Some planar dust I had kicking around, a piece of leather I already had for my warrior’s armorsmithing, and then the steel. Steel was the weird thing, I couldn’t make steel yet. Until I went out to mine a little…. and got the quest within a few lodes to learn how to create it. Now, the Shiv is a beautiful weapon. I’m level 40 and still using both of mine. They are relatively cheap and easy to make, and equip-able by level 32. It’s a wonderful item that really got me set and the fires of the forge burning for a long time. Finally around the high twenties, I was done. I had forged my own Damascus Shivs…

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Rift: The Ugly

And now we’ve come full circle with the game. From the things I loved, to the things I dislike, and now on to the things I despise. These will be a much smaller list in theory because the things that truly set me off in this game are few and far between, but they do exist and I’ve been waiting a whole week to really get into them and start tearing things apart. If you are allergic to vitriolic comments, you might want to skip this, because we’re starting with the one thing I hate most.

“Expose”: Now you’re probably wondering what expose is, and I’ll answer that right now. Expose is a very simple mechanic in Rift that slows you by 6%, stacking 5 times. So why is expose bad? Every mob in the game has access to it. Every creature in this game has the ability to slow you with basic auto-attacks, up to the point where it is impossible to run from them. Your only options are to keep moving a stupidly diminished speed or turn around and fight, and if you have Exposed stacked up to 5, odds are very good that there are more than just one freakish abomination trying to run you down and turn you into paste. So, you have a mechanic in your game that gives everything with the default attack (Literally everything) the ability to slow players who are actively trying to leave. What could be worse? Oh, they also have access to your player skills. In a move I used to enjoy, nearly all PvE mobs have access to one or more souls, depending on the intended difficulty. This means you can easily find, say, a Reaver soul infused monster, or Assassin soul, and this makes a good deal of sense in the game for the humanoids and undead. What doesn’t make any sense is then going and giving those mobs player slows. I’m talking about PvP centric talents like the ability to slow your opponent by 70%, or disorients and stuns on semi-low cooldowns. Pray to your deity of choice once a big pack starts following you, because odds are good that something in there has access to those 70% slows along with everything else rapidly stacking exposed on you.
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Rift: The Bad

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.

Rift: New kid on the block

Well now, I think this is a good game to get started on. It’s new, I’m new. Ish. Hush, I am! Anyways, what is to follow is my first-ish impressions of the game in a three-part series on Rift as the newest MMO I’ve been toying with, in classic style. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I’m having a lot of fun with the game right now, so we’ll have to see how it holds up in the long run. *NOTE* My highest level character is 24, and the level cap is 50. What I’m going to say is only what I know from playing the starting zone and the zone after a million times over different characters, not an analysis on high level play. We’ll see about that if Rift holds me long enough to get there

  • Like I said, we’re starting with the good. Let’s go way back to the start of the game with character creation. Rift hit every major sweet spot I had with a very large array of creation options. Hair styles are all nice, while the ability to mold your face is something I haven’t seen in an MMO in… well, ever I think. It’s been awhile since I toyed with anything but World of Warcraft, but I don’t remember having all the options I had in Rift. Eye color, hair color, body size, you name it. Almost felt like playing Phantasy Star Universe again, and I was in character creation for hours with that game. All in all, the creation options in Rift are solid, and will easily let you build up the character you’d like to play.
  • Next up, story lines. I’ve played the basic starting zone of both factions (Defiants and Guardians) and love the overall theme of both. Each carries a distinct flavor that is indicative to the Faction at hand, while being basic enough to let new players get a grip and ease into the game. The Guardian zone in particular is drenched in snippets of lore, found in books scattered across the zone that always drew me in. The Defiants had less overall, but they’re extra bits of lore were more focused on the world of Telara and what went wrong. And when you play on the Defiant side, it went very wrong. Starting zones take about an hour to do, but you can easily blitz through them once you know what to do (and can resist the devious pull of the collectibles), and will get you out into the main world quick enough.
  • Getting on to one of the more unique aspects of Rift, the soul system. This is something I am personally torn on, but since I’m saving all the bad for another post, let’s focus on the good. First thing is the sheer amount of customization to each individual character. There are eight souls to take on, and only three fit in a tree, so pick which ones you like. Want to play a damage-over-time stacking monster? Go for it. Direct damage with a side of healing? Totally possible. Now, I am very well aware that picking whichever souls you like isn’t the most optimal way to play the game, but you know what? Forget that. Play for fun. Rift gives you a second talent tree as early as level 9 for barely any cost, and by level 13 you can acquire all the souls you missed out on. Keep a second tree around for playing with what you have! Both my Rogue and Warrior are currently set up the way they are because I took advantage of the second spec and played around with the souls, going for what was the most fun and effective combination. Let yourself go and toy with it, I guarantee you’ll be cursing Trion for not letting you have more souls. That’s a good thing. Figuring out which is the most fun, and keeping an off-soul tree, is part of the joy of Rift.
  • Player vs. Player and Dungeoning I’ll keep together since most new players will want to try both out early. First thing about PvP, and I love Trion for this, is how they handle low level players. My ‘fondest’ memories of player versus player content in World of Warcraft is either watching higher level players berate the lower levels for either joining, or roaming about back-stabbing anyone with the poor misfortune to be under a certain hit point threshold. It wasn’t very fun for the lower level players, to be sure. Rift handles this by giving a buff to all players who aren’t at the higher level range, giving them increased stats. Outside of tanks, lower level players can achieve some of the highest hit-point pools in the warfront, making them valuable as flag holders or point defenders. More hit points means they live longer while holding the flag, and I’ll get to that in a minute, or holding out while defending until back up can arrive. Speaking of the flag, the Black Garden has become one of my favorite PvP areas of any game for a simple reason. Instead of capture-the-flag or territories, Black Garden is an oddball styled game where holding the ball grants points, and the winner is whichever faction makes it to 500. Oh, and the ball kills you. Once you grab the ball, it becomes an inevitability that you will die, as the ball does increasing damage every few seconds, until eventually it will simply one-shot the carrier. This keeps the whole team involved, always fighting to hold on to the ball instead of just passing it off to a tank and letting them stand there with healers making it nigh-immortal. Dungeons are just as fun with the vast abilities granted by the soul system. I’ve seen and been a Rogue tank, and seen just about everything under the sun fill in the various roles. Mage healer? Doable. Cleric tank? Easy. Not all roles are available, you won’t see a Mage tank or a Rogue Healer, but the degree of availability for the roles is staggering. 3 of the 4 classes can tank. 2 can heal. Every one can damage effectively and with their own styles of play. Literally every dungeon will bring in a new combination of classes and play styles, giving each one a nice little bit of flare to break up the dread of running them again once you log on to an alternate character. Or was that just me? *cough*
  • Finally, the greatest of the features in the game, the titular Rift mechanic. Rifts come in various flavors like Water, Air, Death, etc. and each will often have unique goals within their types. I’ve seen Death Rifts that are basic Zerg-rushes, just kill everything that moves. But there are also rifts that require positioning or area control, and those are just the Death Rifts found in the basic zone. Each zone also has unique Rifts, making a hint for each a joy as the player is never sure just what exactly will pop out of the Rift next. Rifts also use a contribution mechanic, so even if you walked up and started working on the rift without being in the party or raid that formed to deal with it, you will still receive the rewards from closing the rift as long as you did your part. Playing with a friend, we often break from questing just to tear open rifts and see what pops out, often fighting to close them once people gather. And believe me when I say they will. And open Rift draws players in like lambs to the… er… you get the idea. Every now and again a zone-wide event will start, forcing open rifts around the zone that must be sealed, spawning in a rare boss that gives players the chance to contribute and feel like they are accomplishing something, regardless of level. Oh, and some really nice loot if they get enough collectibles from the Rifts.

Through and through, I am massively enjoying Rift. What I listed off here is just the major things with the game that I enjoy. There are dozens of smaller things, like the ability to enter warfronts while in combat or the amount of easily accessible titles, that all add up to a great game. If you were thinking about looking into Rift, I whole-heartedly encourage you to give it a shot. The game has a free trial, available here.

And to show I’m not just an endless stream of hype, the next part in this series will be all my dislikes of the game. If you’ve read my little essays on Bioshock 2, you should have an idea of what kind of treatment the game is in for.