With our final impressions for Closed Beta … ::cough:: … our last announced and planned Closed Beta, (we can see more coming down the pipeline) we finally were able to experience what all us WAR players cared about, PVP. I have to say upfront, the last Closed Beta almost completely changed my opinion of the game. Upgrading my ranking from “I can see doing this for a month” to “I can see this potentially as my next 2 year MMO commitment.” I’ve recently submitted the developers at Trion, my Beta impressions in feedback (due by tomorrow) and I think it be good to share some of those thoughts in the form of a review.
You have to take RIFT in its pieces as you find them and relate them to what you know when its appropriate. Ultimately, they have a great, great running server and game play with few errors which will call for tweaks instead of overhauls in the future of the game. You just are going to be amazed at how little to any lag or delays in the game you can find. Then again, who knows how things change at launch. I don’t remember lag in WAR’s betas, yet here we are.
Class Developement and Ability Trees:
They are so reminiscent of WoW and any other fantasy MMO out there that they aren’t asking to relearn anything. Sure, they have differences, but it’s not like the Warden isn’t the Healer you always have in any other MMO ever. Due to the ability to purchase extra Souls (basically a way to hold your 3 masteries in a way you need) and the ability to gain every Tree, means that you there is very little holding you from doing whatever you like when ever you want to. I guess for most, this is a positive, but a game that allows the Healing Class to not only Heal, but to Melee Attack well, Buff through the roof, Range DPS if they like, or worse, can build the best Tank in the game that can heal itself, you’ve created room for not only imbalance but you don’t limit us into specing specifically. Oh, MrMeh is a HoT spec Healer. Give me 2 seconds, I’m now a perfect Tank (not a makeshift). Oh you need DPS, here, I’m a DPS pew pew. To me, limitlessness (new word) is an issue.
Lack of story:
The beginning has some story writing and some thought process in it, but its lack luster adn just a general thought. The opening trailer and then the character creation movies are an absolute joke in terms of a game that’s beyond the browser. You can go ahead and remove those. You watch that and tell yourself, “Am I really about to play a game made for 12 year old girls? What the hell is this lame sauce?” I know it’s a Teenage, not Mature game, but really, you could accidentally tell a better storyline by coughing on a keyboard. The movies hurt your first impression of the game before you get in. Get a studio to make you real ones, or just remove them. Maybe remove the voice overs and use text so it’s not lame. Don’t know, but they aren’t doing what they are supposed to.
Lack of Voice and Sounds:
As good as the animations and gameplay go, you almost expect to see a bit more. I understand that sounds carry lots of memory and other issues, but we seem to be really missing them in this one for a game that I would think would have too many.
Having awesome management. For what they considered Heavy Red population levels, the game had non-existent lag. Not even at times did I get a small hicop. “Is that even possible?” I thought. Clearly we have been duped by every other MMO ever. No drops to desktop, no lagouts in combat, almost no waiting for zone load-ins. How is this even possible? … Awesome!
It’s almost as though you have an Asain MMO infront of you. You’re getting the best of shiny and detail without the glazed eyes the size of shields. At one point I was running down a path, and as the sun was setting, the light was breaking through the trees. I panned to the tree line to witness the light not only breaking through the leaves on the tree, but the shadows on my character held the same. You do have dynamic day and night times, but I didn’t see any sign of weather or seasons. Which is something I think this game could do. But even without, the game holds the graphics levels we’d hope to see from our MMOs these days. There doesn’t seem to be a balance for the sake of lag, you have none and great graphics, it’s a win win.
Cartoony Toons made Right:
I generally dislike the cartoony look of most MMOs. So as soon as I saw the goofiness of the Dwarf and the absolutely absurd Dark Elf ears, I immediate saw WOW crap characters mixed with Aion online shiny, and it caused a despise in myeyes that I wasn’t happy to see. And I held that against them until rank 10. It’s not that the cartoony gets that much better, but with detailed gear you start to finally lose that sense of childish basic looks and see more a detailed MMO. And you can easily forget how much you hate the look of the dwarfs with just a fine alignment and detail in the equipment and spell effects.
Though Open PVP made it very obvious that zerg is going to win here until time and strategy fall into most minds. The instanced PVP felt right. It ran well, the tools and rewards looked like it had the basic makeup to really do it right. Off the bat, the instanced scenarios use cross server players. No waiting and it also means you get to see all your friends still. A feature we can’t get out many games after 2 years, is there in the closed Beta. When you load in, the screen gives you a version of Squared for you that shows health, and debuffs on your friendly toons. Finally a game that realizes what mod we all use.
When ever you come with a good idea in your MMO, it is promptly just going to be stolen. Each MMO does something for the future developement and improvement in all games, but this feature makes the game. And won’t be easily stolen. RIFTs from a WAR point of reference are PQs. But they aren’t static. They move and summon randomly and possibly in different numbers. You can make a life of RIFT hunting and earn awesome rewards from it. And that’s great. These moving armies can clash with each other and take over camps. This means, that if you have quest to turn it, that you may not be able to, as your camp was taken over by a 3 way horde of Goblins. You would have to overcome them and take the camp back. This alone was great aspect and got me all giddy. But then, a giant version of this happened, in which the sky turned red and ash fell from the sky as the Fire Elements tried to massively take over the realm. There was no PVE solo carebearing anymore, this is a realm event, as the world is overtaken in RIFTs and stages of armies leading to a giant boss. Just amazing. It screams, “Try to copy this idea, I dare you” to every other MMO studio out there. This feature is what makes the PVE of the game great. Not that the dungeons weren’t awesome, because those were too. Again massive PVE, no lag.
Small Improvements Needed:
Speaking from WAR veteran and an enthusiast of MMO PvP there just a couple of missing elements or tweaks that are seemingly needed.
Groupings in Instances:
When you load into a Scenario (Warfront), you can queue and enter as a group, however you lose your placements when you enter. So you basically get separated into the 2 groups and there doesn’t, yet, seem to be a way to remedy that. The advantage is that you can’t move out of party, the disadvantage is, I’m missing my guildie. A remedy, I’m sure that every WAR veteran instantly recommended on Friday afternoon. It was the first thing that I noticed.
Death Penalties in PVP:
There doesn’t seem to be one. First time you get to do a Soul Walk, which just respawns you there in a couple of seconds and you get to move away while in this state. Second time makes you respawn at the closest point. And after your third you can start taking ‘Soul Damage’ if you don’t pay to heal up. All fine a good, though I never did test what Soul Damage was, but in PVP there doesn’t seem to be penalties, other than time to wait to respawn.
Healers get to of them when they spec in deeper into a healing path. One that is for non-combat rezzes and one much later on that gives you the ability to rex in combat. However,the game lacks ‘collision’ as we know it from WAR. Even though I’m surrounded and combat is everywhere, I’m not hitting someone, and I’m not being hit, so therefore rezzing is completely allowed with my ‘non-combat rez.’ However it takes a day in a half to perform which. So the suggestion is two-fold, there doesn’t seem to be a point to a second rez, and the time it takes to do it makes in PVP, unfriendly.
It’s an Ocean instead of a Pool. There is no seemingly good way to even think of this as a limiter to what you do. You healing is limited only by global cooldown and possibly CC at later levels. Is this intentional? I don’t think so. I was able to come right into Battlefronts at level 10 making a new (better made healer) on Saturday and not once in 20+ instances be outhealed by anyone, not even close. The times I went into instances as a DPS Cleric, I saw close instance fights. On my healer, I didn’t see one loss, nor one instance within 250 point spread (instances are on a standard 500 point system). Healer, real ones, are OP to the max. Massive heals with no real way to stop it.
For us WAR players maybe spoiled. We’ve complained about a poorly setup Tab targeting that we apparently didn’t know how well we had it. Having both an Offensive and Defensive targeting is non-existent. The targeting system I found basic and frustrating at times to deal with.
RIFT starts in a way that gives you the feel of WoW. And for most, that’s a reason to stop right there. You need to push through and you’ll see that the front end of the game is WoWish. Seemingly on purpose to bring you up to speed by the time you have to enter the real world. The game is dynamic in way that makes the game interesting and fun, instead of buggy and frustrating. When you think of the idea that 5 random generated armies could spawn and march on one chapter location that will keep you from even entering the camp, by even 100 feet, you wouldn’t consider that a ‘fun’ idea. Yet it is. Now that may be because we have the population now, that make it that way in those areas. How much fun will that be for a new player 6 months after release? We have to assume the generations of these spawn Rifts and armies are due to immediate populations. Concerns for a later time, but right now, it’s an amazing way to enjoy PvE, when you generally don’t think you enjoy PvE all that much.
PvP is stealing the aspects of what we wanted. Maybe not the Castle and Keep idea so much now (we don’t know what the endgame PvP is like) but certainly open PvP and Scenarios are in the right spot for us. The concern now is class balance, but with the developement team we see now, there doesn’t0 seem to be the concern of dev involvement.
On that, we haven’t even been close to seeing end game. And as we all know, end game is the make and break for long-term subscriptions. Or at least players convincing ourselves that’s what makes or break. What we can see is a system that works smooth and the elements of instance PvP that we can enjoy. Given that alone, it is something that can entertain by itself as long as the rewards are there. And they are. So anything besides that is great. With rank 1-25 being this fun, I can’t wait to see if that grows or teeters in the end part of the game. Viewing the dynamic map and our ability to only see maybe 20% of it, it is tells me that it looks to be a far journey before we even get to review that aspect.
As endgame can break a game for the long run, the start-up does way more detrimental things. Too often games try to limit access to servers hoping they can regulate population levels. As if I’m just going to accept being on another server besides the one with my guild. Or they do something like server queues to play the game. These are ways to ensure you have 30% less subscribers in your first week. Hopefully the poor startups of games like US Aion and WAR give this game insight into solutions that will prevent this unneccessary collapse of what should be great startups. Start with too many servers, consolidate early in the first weeks to ensure optimal server pops. Free character transfers are a solution that too often, no company offers. But when we started and I picked this server, I didn’t realize it was going to be the happening place. Free transfers allow player to leave heavy population and help early balance on their own. It will be interesting if this company learns from the others.
As for WAR players, the game’s PvP as of right now is there for the taking. It’s seemingly designed around carebears and for which it means that our premade guilds are going to come in a ruin everyone’s life that isn’t used to them. Being even a slight novice in terms of what has gotten us through WAR’s PvP will translate into elitism real quick. With all the class trees and with so much variety in masteries and abilities, the ‘Sure Win’ combination is going to take a while to figure out. However, you get that much better of an idea when you suffered in a PvP dominated game before. I think many to all WAR players will bask in the glory of not being a nub in PvP in the early days of this game.
The final Beta for me gave me a glimpse into their PvP and as result I had a hard time playing WAR for more than 2 minutes. That 2 minutes was my load time into a scenario. And I promptly ended my WAR subscription cycle within minutes of RIFT withdrawal. Even though I have a month and a half of wait for RIFT, I’m not sure that I can take that time in WAR without major frustration. In a way, my time in RIFT beta ruined any time I had left with WAR. So my early comments on RIFT were without the insight of PVP, and in all honesty this game has potential in not only taking on every MMO, it’s probably going to help kill other MMOs that had select population in the first place.
Is this a WoW killer? Nothing will kill WoW, except for WoW. But if there was, it wouldn’t be in opening day of an MMO. I think we can expect a long run from RIFT and at the smallest, it will change how all other MMOs think about dynamic PvE with PvP still in focus. This game is worth your time and money, even if its only for 3 months. I don’t review much, because I don’t usually have nice things to say. But I can see Mr. Meh being a RIFT blog in a month or so.