Rift: Silverwood

I hit level 18 in Rift yesterday and uncovered all of Silverwood. I even took a ride on the top of the mountains at the north and west edges and found two small rockeries with a green item in each. It’s really great that you can get to these places and that you can walk on pretty steep cliff sides.

Also, walking around on these mountains and overlooking two zones from there, it occurred to me that the 3D engine is probably ready for flying mounts sometime in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trion Worlds made sure of that and have it somewhere on their list of things to do.

I noted in the previous post that I only saw daytime and was wondering if nighttime ever occurred. Well, I have seen both since then. Nighttime is more akin to World of Warcraft than Lord of the Rings Online, i.e. the landscape gets a bluish tint but you can still see most of everything.

Rift Invasion
As an invasion moves, the ground effect moves with it.

The game has grabbed me in a way I haven’t been grabbed by an MMORPG for years. The atmosphere when stumbling into a rift and seeing a lot of other players is so unique. I join them on the fly in a big raid and start my mix of mostly healing everybody and doing a little bit of damage when they’re all right. I usually end up reasonably high on the participation meter.

One of the reasons it feels so great is that it’s so spontaneous and temporary. I admit I’ve become pretty introverted in MMORPG lately and usually stick to my own business. In Cataclysm, I didn’t do any of the dungeons, even though I reached level 85 and did a lot of dailies. I just felt like I didn’t want to go through the bother anymore. But rifts are so very different and I can get right back to healing a lot of players in a jiffy. No LFG, no preparations in guild chat – I merely check if there are other players moving towards the rift. In that case, I’m definitely in!

Pros and Cons

There’s so much to like about this game other than rifts. The loading, for instance, is amazingly fast. I bet Turbine is having bad dreams about this. But a lot of the features and details are generally slick in a way only an old and hardened MMORPG usually exhibits:

  • Whenever a new enemy respawns right next to you, it takes 2-3 seconds before it attacks you. This gives you time to move out of the way if you don’t want to fight it. This is definitely not always the case with the competitors and it’s usually annoying when they attack you immediately.
  • Just like in World of Warcraft, the same quest node respawns a bit later and you can take it again. In Lord of the Rings Online, you are never allowed to do that. You have to find a new node there. Although there’s something to be said for the latter (more challenging perhaps), I still like the former better.
  • The enemies sure don’t hunt you far. It’s always a pain when they hunt you down half the zone in some MMORPG. But to be honest, it’s almost too much of a good thing in Rift. Sometimes it feels like they barely hunt you for 10 meters.
  • If you die and soul walk, you have a few seconds in the ghost world before you actually appear. It gives you time to move your character to a safe spot so that you won’t get pummeled as you reappear.
  • The auction house window has a “Clear” button. Look there, Turbine. How hard can it be?
  • There are portals in the zones that can take you to another spot. It’s like the portals in Vanguard, only they cost money like a normal taxa service. I don’t have a problem with these portals – it’s instantaneous and flying/riding a taxa mount usually gets old fast.
  • When several enemies have been killed and you auto-loot one, all of them are looted simultaneously. It’s a good idea, but it certainly takes some time getting used to. I often stood there clicking the other enemies wondering where the loot went.

That’s not to say that it’s perfect, however. Here are some things that actually annoyed me:

  • The salt and pepper enemies are too close in many areas. Maybe it’s to make up for the fact that they don’t hunt you far, but if you want to pass through the area and not fight, it’s almost certain you’ll get a lot of aggro even if you try to avoid them.
  • The 60% starter mount is much too fragile. Often it just takes one single punch from an enemy and it’s gone. It’s even worse than the 60 durability free goat in Lord of the Rings Online, and that was bad enough already. I heard the faster mounts are more durable. I certainly hope so.
  • When you sign a guild charter for a whispering stranger, you automatically join the guild when it’s created. I don’t necessarily want to join; I just wanted to help.
  • The bank window has been cloned so perfectly from World of Warcraft, it’s almost ready for a lawsuit. It would have been nice with a different design there, perhaps even with a few shared slots.
  • Swimming in water needs a lot of work. I read that we can go upwards with SPACE in the next patch, but we also need to go down with e.g. X as well. I also have trouble sticking to the surface when swimming. My character tends to dive under too easily.
  • The 3D engine looks great, is smooth and loads fast. But sometimes I do wish that things in the far distance wasn’t so foggy. I looked in the video options to see if there was a way to mend that, but I couldn’t find anything that seemed relevant.
  • I’m not too fond of the way quests pop up in the same camp several times during the span of leveling. An example of this is the Quicksilver College. I took a bunch of quests and moved on to other camps, but later, when I returned for something else, suddenly there was a new batch of quests for a different area in the zone. I would rather have preferred going from camp to camp, it gives a better sense of progression.
  • Healing is great in rifts and such, but where are the threat removal spells? I haven’t seen any on my way to level 18. (Maybe they’ll pop up later.)
  • I also noticed that some souls seem to repeat certain spells. I had two spells with the same damage and the same cooldown but from each their own soul tree. The only real difference was the name. After a while I just ditched one of them.
  • One minor bug actually popped up. I found an artifact that, when right-clicked, just opened an empty window with the subtitle “Level # – Race – Faction – Role”. I tried repeatedly. Same bug. Then I just forgot about it for a while. Later I tried again and it suddenly worked as it should.

Invisible Lizards?

Remember these lizards from Lord of the Rings Online?

While exploring the fields of Silverwood, I’ve sometimes noticed a sound of some critter that can’t been seen. It sounds exactly like one of the small lizards from Lord of the Rings Online. Every time I hear it I often look around to see a guest appearance. It could be a tribute, but it’s probably more likely that it’s a common sound from certain lizards that I’m just not aware of.

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