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Enter at Your Own Rift: Forward thinking

Karen Bryan

RIFT right now feels like it's in the middle of that quiet pause right before all hell breaks loose. In game, we're in the thick of the Waves of Madness event, and good old Scotty's ammunition is working well against the doors of Hammerknell Fortress. The question is, what will happen once the doors are finally broken?

Outside the game, Trion CCO and Rift Executive Producer Scott Hartsman posted a "State of the game," which outlined what they have planned for the fantasy MMO down the road. But it actually leaves us with more questions than answers. In this week's Enter at Your Own Rift, we'll look at the world event as well as the summer update, and speculate on what's really coming to Telara.

Justin recently explored the issue of whether rifts have gotten stale, and one point he made was that there might not be enough of a carrot to attract people to do them. World events like the current Waves of Madness actually do give rifts and zone events a greater purpose, and players have been jumping over to zones when an event is announced, in order to participate. The downside, though, is that it quickly feels like a grind as you work to collect the amount of currency needed to purchase rewards.

Overall, though, this world event has gone better than the first one so far. Each phase has stuck around longer, making it much more accessible to those who missed out on the "blink and it's over" finale of the first event. The world has also visually changed to help bring the lore right to the players, with the center of the action focused right at the gates of Hammerknell. I do wish, however, that there was a clearer explanation of what the new statues are in Sanctum. I was a bit surprised that the NPCs near it didn't offer up any story about what they mean or how they suddenly appeared in town. I even tried looking it up later on, but couldn't find anything, which is too bad because the statues are pretty prominent and just scream for a little backstory. In any event, the final phase should be due soon, and hopefully it will wrap up more smoothly this time around.

Shifting gears a bit, there were a few points in the summer update post that raised some curious questions about the direction of RIFT. The first thing that stuck out was the mention of adding more "worldliness" to the game in the form of improved crafting and new secondary skills. I immediately was reminded of what blogger John, "The Ancient Gaming Noob," called "A Theory of Fishing." It was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but his point was that games that have the time and resources to add "quality-of-life" features such as fishing are generally successful in the long run. Now, I'm not suggesting that fishing is definitely coming to the world of Telara, but I am prepping my tackle box in hopeful anticipation! And whatever does come down the road, it is nice to see that, just four months into the game, quality-of-life features are already on the menu.

Another point that surprised me was the plan to add solo instances. I love the idea, especially because it will give non-raiders the ability to connect with the lore and major characters that are normally only found in endgame raid content. For some, raiding isn't about the loot as much as it is about being able to see unique content. Unfortunately, that content happens to come with a requirement of bringing along several other groups of people in order to experience it. The Chronicles of Telara is a great idea, but it does pose that tricky question of how it will be itemized. Right now, there's a pretty crowded field of sources that provide gear -- crafting, T1 and T2 group instances, normal zone rifts, raid rifts, 10 man raids, and 20 man raid instances. Where would the solo instances fit in with the picture? And if it's on the lower end of the spectrum, would players even bother running through these instances? It will be interesting to see how it fits in game when it finally arrives.

"Instant adventures also sound intriguing in theory, but how exactly does it differ from those borg-like flash mobs that are already tromping around Telara?"

Instant adventures also sound intriguing in theory, but how exactly does it differ from those borg-like flash mobs that are already tromping around Telara? It sounds like it's meant to be a more static event that grows over time as more and more players join in. But is it something that takes place in the open world, or is it instanced? Perhaps it strips away the need to click a button in order to join a raid force, which carries that arbitrary cap of 24. When you think about it, the raid UI really doesn't fit with rifts at all, which can be as small as one or two players, or can grow as large as several dozen. Sometimes, players in your raid aren't even in the same area as you, while others who are right next to you are hard to track and heal because they aren't in your party. And as with the solo instances, the other big question is what type of rewards this content will offer.

Lastly, I was sad to see that Ancient Wardstones are going to be removed from the game. They've been problematic from the start, and the few times we tried them as a guild, it was hard to track which stones were activated, and whether the zone boss was even due to be spawned. Despite some tweaks, they apparently weren't as successful as Trion would have liked, and it sounds like they're going with a different system for zonewide PvP, through the use of PvP raid rifts and daily world hotspots. I was a big fan of Ancient Wardstones, and I liked the fact that we could quietly interact with the terrain and reap the benefit by summoning a boss mob. But what ended up happening is that as we flipped the wardstones to our side, we'd get accosted by a handful of Defiants who were annoyed that they couldn't do their quest turn-ins. A perfect PvP moment turned into short episodes of us letting the Defiants flip it back so they could turn in, and then us flipping it again once they gave the ok. I can understand why they're going to replace the system, and it's nice to see that they haven't given up on fostering world PvP, but I'll still miss Ancient Wardstones.

There's still a lot more that was covered in the State of the Game update, and I've barely begun to scratch the surface. What stood out for you? Was there anything that made you cheer in approval? What was missing that you wish had been addressed? Share your thoughts below!

Whether they're keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan and Justin Olivetti save Telara on a weekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT, from solo play to guild raids, their column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen and Justin for questions, comments, and adulation.

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