The night began with a bit of a delay; it seemed that the team was doing a few last-minute tweaks, including a disconnection issue, but as usual, the devs kept everyone informed with regular messages until eventually we began the test. I played a Defiant character, and the Conquest NPC was located right in the Meridian courtyard. To join a Conquest instance, you must choose which faction you're going to ally with: Oathsworn, Nightfall, or Dominion. During the test run, players were able to instantly change allegiances between rounds, but I doubt that will be the case when it goes live. Once you've chosen your side, you can join the queue for a Conquest instance either at the NPC or in your Warfront tab, and you'll be instantly ported and put into a raid when it's ready.
The nuts and bolts
For the test, I chose Oathsworn first and then switched to Nightfall, which turned out to be a rather popular choice. In fact, I had two completely different experiences between the first and second runs. The first time around, our side made a little progress, but we were facing challenges constantly and had several great battles around the Extractors, which are key to dominating the map and claiming victory. To gain control of an Extractor, your side has to stand by it until it takes on the name and color of your faction. There are also turrets around them, which you can upgrade with planar charges, similar to wardstones. Building up the turrets is smart because it makes it that much harder for an attacking force to destroy and then reclaim an Extractor, and it can buy you valuable time if you're rushing to protect it.
The more Extractors you control, the better your chances of winning, but the other benefit is that you gain the ability to teleport around the zone as you expand your control. I didn't see a ton of use of the portals because people were pretty much running around from Extractor to Extractor, but once players get the hang of things, I expect that the teleporters will be a tactical advantage that can help determine victory. The map is helpful because it shows who's controlling which Extractors, but it also shows which ones are contested and where the teleporters are located. There are some things I was still trying to figure out, however, like whether the spikes around the Extractor icons indicated that it had been buffed up.
In my second run, I ended up on a popular side, and there were so many Nightfall that we had trouble finding players to attack. That did, however, give me time to appreciate how cool the zone looked. The Conquest instance is set in a version of Stillmoor, but the night sky has been changed, and it's impressive to look at.
If you're not into face-wrecking, you can still participate in the Conquest instances. Players can gather empowered sourcestones that are scattered throughout the zone, and crafters can use that resource to make buffs that help your side. There are several to choose from, including buffs that increase movement, health, and damage, and they apply to the whole team, so they can definitely make a difference.
There were two ways to win the objective during the test, although that might change as it gets closer to going live. The first was to control 40% of the map and hold it for 10 minutes, while the other was to have the highest total of kills out of 5,000. In the test, it was the first objective that tended to decide victory, but then again, the sides weren't exactly balanced, especially in the second run. I doubt that we'll see such imbalance when Conquest eventually goes live.
With the first test in the books, the Trion team has already posted an update
on what's next for Conquest. First off, the developers stressed that this is just the first iteration, and the main goal was to show some early ideas for what's planned. Also, they intentionally didn't release too many details in advance because they wanted to see how much of a handle players had on the mechanics of Conquest in order to determine what to tweak and what to streamline to make it more intuitive. There will be another test in the works as well, so if you missed it the first time, you'll have another chance to try it out.
All in all, the first test of Conquest was fun, although I do think that a lot of players (like me) got caught up in running around attacking anything that moved and sort of neglected the strategy of the game. But that always tends to be the case with new PvP instances, and then the better organized groups begin to use the terrain much better and find tactics that give them a leg up on the packs that just run and gun. There was a very good turnout over on the Defiant side, and I'm guessing that was also the case for the Guardians, so it seems there's a lot of interest among the players for this type of gameplay. Conquest has a lot of potential when it comes to the more sophisticated style of three-faction PvP, and I'm eager to see where the developers go from here.
Whether she's keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan saves Telara on a biweekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT, from solo play to guild raids, the column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen for questions, comments, and adulation.