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RIFT's first State of the Game address floods players with news of the future [Updated]


Trion Worlds has never been shy in talking about RIFT's upcoming content, especially considering how fast and furious said content's been flying down the pipe. However, the studio may have topped itself today as it gave its first State of the Game address, opening up about the title's history to date and both the near and far future of the team's plans.

It's difficult to try to summarize all of this news in a brief paragraph -- so we're not even going to try! Instead, Massively joined a number of other news outlets for a conference call with the RIFT team and Scott Hartsman to clarify all of the exciting content, fixes and features mentioned in this address.

So join us after the jump as we look at quality-of-life improvements, new types of rifts, vastly improved PvP experiences, solo dungeons, and something intriguing called "Instant Adventure."

Fine-tuning with a 20-pound wrench

Trion's the first to admit that its game -- like any other MMO -- is far from perfect, which is why one of the team's top priorities is to continue squashing bugs, fixing problems, and fine-tuning RIFT to meet the needs of the players. Many of these fixes have already gone live through hotfixes, although there are plenty more to come.

The team is working to tune zone flow, mob densities and respawn rates to be more fun and less frustrating now that Trion has seen where adventurers tend to go (and avoid). They're also working to provide better explanations for how new players gain souls and what the heck "roles" are all about. Some zones, like Scarwood Reach, are even slated for visual upgrades.

For those tired of nonstop combat, Trion's working to put more "worldliness" back into the world via non-combat activities, such as improved crafting and new secondary skills for everyone. These are still a ways off, so Hartsman wanted to get the general notion out there in order to gather additional suggestions from the playerbase.

Riding rifts higher

As we wrote about earlier this week, there's some concern that rifts aren't as big of a pull as they once were. According to the address, Trion's placing a premium on these activities and is striving to upgrade its dynamic content from the massive world events down to localized rifts.

Fans of the world events will be pleased to hear that improvements slated for the future include the ability to transfer event currency and rewards between characters, and quests that change as the event progresses. Trion's also pleased to announce that new types of rifts are on their way into the game that should appeal to different types of players (such as the recent crafting rifts).

Hartsman said that rifts should only be seen as "building blocks" that the team uses to build events, and the team never expected players to rampage through rifts nonstop. To increase the popularity of rifts, more diverse currency (such as rift raids) was added to buy greater rewards. Raid rifts were introduced and have seen a massive boost in popularity, and monthly themed rifts (such as this month's water and death rifts) are being tuned to drop special items.

PvP is go for secondary boosters!

"Probably the biggest change on the way to how world PvP will function is the inclusion of PvP rifts -- special, localized combat areas that will open up and draw combatants like crazy."

Trion's been examining how world PvP's been doing, especially in relation to some of its attempts to foster conflict on the open field. While ancient wardstones and raid rifts haven't worked as well as the team would've liked, the devs are happy to see daily world hotspots increasing battles quite nicely.

Probably the biggest change on the way to how world PvP will function is the inclusion of PvP rifts -- special, localized combat areas that will open up and draw combatants like crazy.

Warfront fanatics are in for some love. To help with the queuing issue (and to better match up premades with premades), Trion's been combining shards into what it's calling "wargroups" for the purposes of cross-server fighting, and will be swapping shard hardware around to continue to increase the size of these wargroups. There are also plans to add brand-new warfronts and additional modes of play for existing warfronts (such as an "Escalation" mode) that will be rotated in and out as to keep them fresh.

PvP ranks will be increased with the additional rewards that players have come to expect.

Solo me friendly

So what's in store for solo players? A lot, actually. "High adventure for everyone" is one of the new maxims for the team, and there is a treasure trove of goodies lying in store for players of all types.

As the studio's said in the past, it's planned for players to hit max level at a "pretty accessible rate," and as such, there's a lot of projects in the works to expand endgame activities beyond just PvP and raid running. The team feels as though there's already quite a few options for solo players, although they feel that there should be more guidance so that endgame newbies don't feel lost.

Since players are still participating in activities that earn XP at level 50, Trion wants to use that experience to become part of "a continuing reward mechanic for further progression." Trion doesn't want this to be a mere grind, but as a reward for just participating.

"After so much time, you kind of unlock new abilities to draw upon the planes themselves," Hartsman teased. Apparently, you'll get points to spend in new planar attunement trees, including weapon and spell specializations.

Folks who like instances, but are perhaps frustrated with the queue situation, should enjoy the fact that the LFG tool is now going to draw players cross-server (this is currently on the public test shard).

If you're not at the level cap, don't worry -- Trion hasn't forgotten about you. The studio wants to add stuff for people of all levels.

The team's been brainstorming how to create a system to let players create critical masses on their own to experience content akin to the craziness of the zone events. These "instant adventures" will scale in size and difficulty as more and more people join, and should provide content on demand for players who don't have the time (or patience) to wait for big zone-wide challenges.

"We want people walking away from these instances thinking 'holy crap, that was cool!'"

Another cool concept is the idea of solo and small-group instances which will fall under the label "The Chronicles of Telara." These will help players get a quick instance fix if the queue for regular instances is too long, but even more than that, Chronicles instances are designed to give players a much better feel for the game's major characters and stories. Epic settings, places you normally wouldn't get to see, fighting alongside and against key characters are all aspects of these instances.

"We want people walking away from these instances thinking 'holy crap, that was cool!'," Hartsman said.

The first Chronicle is already designed and is being tested internally.

And in other news...

It also looks like Trion's working on a few out-of-the-game projects, including mobile and web development that will tie in with RIFT. "Picture a world where you can interact with the game and your friends in ways that you can't today, when you're not in front of the game itself," Hartsman wrote.

One of the questions raised was that of the possibility of Oceanic servers. This is something Trion's been looking at, although Hartsman admits that it requires a lot of contact with ISPs in other countries, and the studio's been hard at work setting up traffic arrangements to reduce lag. Hartsman said he'd love to have local servers for every region, but it's not always possible. That said, it's something the studio's continuing to investigate.

More live zones are in development, Hartsman confirms, including Port Scion, although many of these are for the more distant future than the near one.

And when will we ever be able to take the fight to the planes themselves and jump into rifts? "There is definitely...," Hartsman laughed and trailed off. "I cannot give a date on that. It's something we're planning on for the future."

Character transfers have been going extremely smoothly, especially considering that "hundreds of thousands" of players have used it so far.

Despite the size of this announcement, Hartsman said that this is less than half of everything that's in development.

[Updated to include a link to the State of the Game address on the forums!]

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