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Rift – Lowbie Reflections and near End Game Review

August 1, 2011

I found a “post” that I had written about a month ago. It was about the lowbie leveling experience. What’s funny is that I had a pretty /bad/ lowbie (1 – 15 or so) leveling experience. It’s a lot more lonely and boring than higher levels. I was at the point, it appears, that I forsaw I would uninstall the game eventually, and return to WoW.

Well, I didn’t uninstall Rift, and I didn’t return to WoW. I’ve got to say that the lowbie experience of Rift is rather bad, however. There aren’t any instances until ~15, the starting zones are the same, they are very solo oriented, and they are boring with far too many fetch / FedEx quests. Everyone is so busy trying to get to level 20 (where the game really picks up), that no one ever, /ever/ talks, no one groups, and Rifts are almost always empty. All of the classes play similar at this level – just mashing a few buttons to kill things, and hoping you don’t die – since you don’t get ANY “Oh-Shit” buttons until far later in the game, if at all (very few Souls have oh-shit button abilities anyway). /Lame/.

Well, once you DO hit 20 or so, the game /really/ opens up. There are a lot more players around, Rifts actually  become impromptu group events, and there is at least two instances by that point. Instance gear is fairly quick to get (farm, I guess), queues aren’t /terrible/, and people are very willing to group up for instances if you ask in your zone or “level channel”. You have your other souls by this point as well, and you probably have at least two build slots – so you can change roles on the fly. Very cool. This is something that helps define the game and separate it from the pack of MMOs. Granted, Bliz lowered the level requirement for your second build (to 40 I think?), and reduced the cost – but it’s a bit little a bit late, and a bit useless unless you were gearing up for both specs from level 1 – which is a bit of a task with lowbie bag space.

My main toon is in the 40s. I only have two “big” issues with the game in this bracket. Invasion Events (or whatever you want to call them) mixed with dungeon queues. While queued for a dungeon, you cannot join a public group. This means you are a solo player. Queue times vary, but are long enough that DPS players will be waiting for an instance for at least as long as they will be in an instance – and are left to quest until then. So, you have a slew of random players on the map that /cannot/ group, and when an invasion event occurs, those players can’t group up. Make no mistake about it, at that level almost all invasion events require a group, if not a /raid/. In my experience about half of the invasion events just make the entire zone useless, since there are never enough unqueued players to form a group or raid, but there are just enough wanderers to protect the defensive objective – meaning that it stalemates the invasion event. All the while swarms and /swarms/ of hostile NPCs stream across the map and /spawn-camp/ quest-givers. So, questing and gameplay in general becomes a huge-ass chore until the event magically ends (usually due to server shut-down for one of their /MANY/ regular updates).

I encountered this issue much earlier – and considered it a gamebreaking bug, and even submitted a ticket about it; yet the problem wasn’t as pronounced in the lower level brackets because the objectives didn’t require a group or raid to complete, and the invasions would end in due time, unlike the perma-invasions that occur in the level 40 bracket.

The “good news” is that now I’m in the final zone (I believe?) there are a LOT of players from BOTH factions, and they know better and seem to be eager to clear up the invasion events. If not for convenience, then for the big fatty rewards.

I’ll write again soon with an end-game wrap-up, hopefully!


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