I finally dinged level 30 in Scarwood Reach, which is the zone following Scarlet Gorge. It seems I’ve fallen behind quests, as I’ve had to do a number of orange quests. I’m not sure what I’ve done wrong. There was a small batch of quests in Gloamwood which I skipped, but I went back and did them to make up for it. This did turn the quests yellow, but after a batch or two more, the quests were orange once again.
Orange quests, and thus orange enemies (i.e. 3-4 levels higher) is a big problem in Rift, at least for my Cleric even with heavy emphasis on the Inquisitor soul. Enemies up to yellow are easy enough to kill, but orange enemies resist a lot, take forever to kill, and hit hard. I met orange solo mobs in Scarwood Reach that could get me down to about 20% health before I managed to kill them.
That’s just not fun for a casual player like me, so I’ve decided that I need to go back and grind some footholds and invasions, maybe even try some dungeons. As mentioned in the previous post, rifts are mostly empty after Silverwood on my shard with its medium population. I was hoping it would catch up after Gloamwood, but it hasn’t been much better in Scarlet Gorge nor in Scarwood Reach.
Am I too fast and the public haven’t caught up? I don’t really think so. A lot of players in my guild are much higher level, and besides, I’ve actually not played all that intensively. An hour or two per day, perhaps. My guess is that people are concentrated on questing and dungeons while keeping rifts in the back of their mind as something they can always do later.
An interesting thing happened in Gloamwood, which perhaps I should have seen coming. Where rifts in the Silverwood (the starter zone) were zerged by players (which was great fun), practically no one is touching the rifts in Gloamwood at all, at least not on my shard (Quicksilver).
I’d like to do these rifts, but not on my own. This means that I have to settle with footholds (doable because the enemies rotating the wardstone are not linked when you tag them) and then there’s quests. This, together with the fact that Gloamwood looks a bit too dark and gloomy for my taste, means that the game is suddenly not as cool as it was to begin with.
I fear that the rifts will only be zerged by players in Silverwood (the starter zone) and whatever the zone is for level cap (level 50) as more and more players reach it. This could probably even be shown as a graph with a big bump in the start and end of it, together with a “flat valley” in the middle. Since I don’t have the exact numbers, I’ll leave it up to someone else to draw it (fat chance).
I too have been pretty annoyed by the fact that low-level mobs can one- or two-shot me off my 60% mount in Rift. I then read a few complaints at the official forum to see if this improves with faster mounts. Supposedly the 60% is deliberately fragile and the faster ones can take a beating. I’m not sure yet, however. Some claim it’s exactly the same (which is not acceptable) while others claim it does indeed get a lot better. Guess I’ll have to see myself when I get them.
Nevertheless, it got me thinking and I have an idea I actually think is pretty good if I may say so myself. One of the points of being pummeled and thrown off the mount is to make sure the players actually use the roads. Fair enough. Here is what I propose then:
All roads in the zones automatically give you a temporary buff when you enter one. The buff makes your mount a lot sturdier while riding on the road (it gets more “confident” because of the clear view of the road). While on the road, enemies will have a harder time throwing you off. As soon as you leave the road to ride through an enemy territory, the temporary buff is gone.
In a previous post I claimed that Freemarch (starter zone for Defiants in Rift) looks a lot like Australia. Maybe I’m just lying on my back spotting clouds looking like rabbits and I actually have no case. But still, I think it’s funny how many similarities there are. Allow me to demonstrate:
When I bought the box and unfolded the big map poster, I immediately thought Freemarch looked like Australia. Am I crazy? Out of my mind? Perhaps the world designers didn’t even mean to do it but still did it subconsciously. If it turns out that I was right all along, another question pops up – are there any other parts of the continent that was inspired by Planet Earth?
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.
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!
Rift was finally launched in Europe yesterday and I was there right from the beginning. Luckily I had none of the queue problems I’ve heard so much about, although there were a few hours in the middle of the day where all shards (servers) in EU and USA were down for a patch. Other than that, the game ran perfectly. No bugs, crashes or anything of the sort. It felt like I was playing an old, settled MMORPG that had been around for months already. Impressive.
I started out by creating a Guardian Dwarf Cleric. I heard from various blogs that this should be one of the better choices. Ironically I’m usually the type of guy to make different choices in these sort of games, but this time I really wanted to make it easy for myself. So a cleric it was. The souls I chose to begin with were Sentinel, Purifier and Warden. This gave me a good array of healing spells aside from damage spells, and I reached level 10 without any hiccups.
Although great fun, there’s no question that the influences from World of Warcraft is so great that it’s almost absurd at times. Most MMORPG use a rainbow color code for the titles of enemies to indicate their difficulty, and when you’ve out-leveled them they turn gray and won’t attack anymore. World of Warcraft is unique with its yellow (for non-aggressive) and red (for aggressive) titles for enemies. Rift? Exactly the same title system as in World of Warcraft.
Still, the game did feel unique enough to fill me with the joy of exploring a new game and its world in spite of the heavy influences and loans from various other MMORPG. One of the reasons is that the starting zone for Guardians immediately puts you in a war zone with bombardments and a tangible sense of danger, instead of just holding your hand in a field of flowers like in so many other MMORPG.
After several days of dailies in Cataclysm (the game with the strong colors and the low polygon count) I finally lost interest in the game, and I thought that would be a good opportunity to check out the new zone in Lord of the Rings Online.
I must say I was surprised how fast I blew through Enedwaith. Somehow I expected it to take weeks, but it only took about four days. However, that does exclude the dailies (except for their initial quests) and all the small fellowship quests in Thrór’s Coomb.
There were two reasons why I postponed Enedwaith. The first and most relevant reason was that the delay of the F2P patch in Europe took so long that I actually lost interest in LOTRO and got involved in other things. And then there were the criticism found in various forums and blogs; the zone was ugly, the micro-zoning made it feel like an amusement park, the textures were off, the canyon in Gloomglens too “American” and so on.
But now, after having played through the zone, I must say that I really disagree with most of the criticism. I actually thought the zone was quite nice. The pennants flapping in the wind and the new bombastic music defined the atmosphere nicely. All the small areas around the zone didn’t feel too exaggerated to me at all – certainly no more than in other zones such as e.g. Old Forest and Barrow-Downs in Bree-Land.
Yesterday I finally completed the high-level zones in Cataclysm. The last zone, Twilight Highlands, has an almost dried-up river bed that reminded me a little of Thundering Steppes in EverQuest II. Still, I thought the atmosphere in Deepholm was clearly the best of them all. Mount Hyjal was a little bland, Vashj’ir refreshingly different with its undersea paradise (but in the end a bit too samey quest hubs) and Uldum had too many pop culture references for my taste. The Indiana Jones quests were imaginative but also an almost direct copy of numerous scenes out of the famous movies.
It took a bit longer to get through it this time because I felt a little burnt out (as mentioned in my previous blog post about the expansion) but when I finally completed the last zone, I was actually more inclined to do the dailies from then on. Maybe it’s because the dailies represent standard quests I quickly get used to, and because of that I can really relax. Without vehicles.