A month ago I decided to give Rift retail a try. My main, Athnamas the mage, is closing in on 50. In fact she is 2 bars from 49 as of this writing. I think at this point I have given Rift a fair shake. So lately things have been bothering me. Something just below the surface of Rift. I mean the game plays well and some of the visuals are stunning. But I think Trion missed the mark because they are missing the details. Here are a few examples of what I mean.
The landscapes can be visually pleasing when viewed from a distance. But up close they are lackluster. The ground detail is lacking. Large swaths of area just there. Sure, Freemarch seems to have a good bit of ground clutter but some areas of Stillmoor are little more than bland textures on the landscape.
This lack of detail also shows in quests. The grouping is nice. Even though the quest log only holds 25 I’ve never really felt limited because the quests are handed out, 3-5 at a time, from one quest hub and generally to one area. But they are bland variations of kill x of y. The epitome of this inattention to detail in quests came from one quest late in Stillmoor where you’re supposed to face off against your darker side. In fact there’s an achievement for it, “Mirror, Mirror”. What I had expected was to face off against a mob which appeared in similar gear as my toon. What I got was a mob which amounts to little more than a floating black blob. One that has been used in the past several zones!
The armor progression through the levels is lacking. In outfitting, one of the few professions I have taken, the difference between one set of armor and the next is often a slight different in color. In fact some of the highest level greens (46-48) share the same art with the 2nd level of greens! Trion added in a wardrobe tab with 4 different slots. There’s little need as I doubt most people would get past one look that strikes them. No doubt it is repeated several times.
Even the UI is not without its problems. Powers can be cast on Target’s Target, macros cannot. So what is a perfectly viable way of controlling the plethora of powers in single player becomes a bother in groups.
Finally, the combat seems bland. My character feels overpowered, immensely so. I have to really be asleep at the keyboard to get killed by anything short of an elite. Meanwhile the dungeons I have been in thus far have proven to be of the horrible schlock Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King foisted upon us. IE, tank holds all mobs everyone AoEs, rinse, repeat. When I am DPSing in a dungeon I literally have 2 powers I cast out of the ~20 I have on my bars. An insta-cast, non-channeled AoE followed by a channeled AoE.
Several months ago I posted my thoughts from Beta. They boiled down to Souls giving out too many powers with too much duplication and that rifts would soon become a chore. Do I still think that after a month of solid play? Somewhat and definitely.
As I later wrote I think Rift’s souls are supposed to give you a superset of powers from which you carve out your own style of effects and sequences as expressed by power choice and macros. I like that Trion is willing to tweak the nose of the holy trinity. Rogue tanks, mage healers? Yup, completed a dungeon with just that combination. I think it could use some serious refinement both in UI elements if not the base system itself.
Rifts, however, became just what I thought they would. Chores. This is especially true with precursor of the second live event. One of the dailies we get requires 40 of a particular item. Those items can only drop from rifts and footholds of the appropriate type. Closing a minor rift taken through all stages yields 4 of that item. Closing a minor rift without extra stages yields 2. So, as a mainly solo player right now, to get 40 I have to close 20 rifts solo. It wouldn’t be so bad except that rifts, once you’ve seen about 10 of them, really have nothing new to offer. They are hardly as dynamic as they are billed to be. They are just another type of spawn. That’s it. They pretty much all boil down to “kill x of y” 6 times with, oh, 4 of those on a timer.
Granted, most dailies can become chore-like over time. But Trion is doubling down on the Rift mechanic. With the 1.3 update we now get new crafting dailies which, dundundunnnnnn, we have to open special rifts and then close them! We get a new mechanic which lets us see alternate timelines which, dundundunnnnnnn, are rifts! Sitting on the cusp of the solo end game all I see are rifts in my future and it is depressing.