It’s been a week since RIFT’s Patch 1.5 was released, and we’ve all had some time to spend exploring the Chronicles, Master Mode dungeons, Library of the Runemasters, and new Planar Attunement features. At this lull in between major patches, I thought it’d be a good time to take a step back and survey both the results and possible avenues for the future. As with every patch, Trion adjusted the balance between the classes again, attempting to finally make things click for us. That isn’t an easy task, and it’s certainly one that will happen constantly, but it’s reassuring to see that our concerns are noted.
Along that same vein, the adjustments to RIFT’s dynamic content have been interesting. I think it’s safe to say that over the weekend, level 50 zone event bosses were hunted down to extinction, which was nice to see. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but Trion’s definitely on the right track. One of the most positive aspects about this last patch is the fact that it focused on creating content for every type of level 50 player. Raiders, PvP players, dynamic content junkies, solo players, and dungeon-lovers– This patch had something for everyone. And that’s the reason why I’ll sit around in my RIFT junkie hat and wave a little flag to encourage Trion to keep up the good work.
First up on the menu– Planar Attunement. One of the best aspects about the Planar Attunement system is the fact that almost all of the new additions, as well as most current mobs, dungeons, and raids, grant players with PA experience. Nothing frustrates some MMO players more than having to grind a particular dungeon or boss over and over again to get somewhere with some new-fangled system the developers have added. With PA advancement, all we have to do is keep doing what we normally do in-game, plus explore the new content. There’s no need for repetition.
While we farm Rift and dynamic content for sourcestones, we gain PA experience. While we complete Chronicles or dungeons, we gain PA experience. While we raid, we gain PA experience. That’s fantastic synergy, and I applaud Trion for using the same experience system used while leveling in a system during endgame. The simple beauty of it is the fact that it promotes doing stuff at endgame.
Granted, the system’s not perfect. Some of the paths in the Planar Attunement windows seem a little off. Some of the stat point adjustments seem more minor than others, but Trion has admitted to the stat point rewards being intentionally minor, and that’s a fact that actually makes a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things. As the game continues and expansions are released, it would be painful to end up seeing single bonuses that could make or break fights. It would be nice to see more variety in the actual skills and equip bonuses (my Cleric tank gets a bonus for using a totem, but not a shield?). This would be a great time for RIFT’s developers to show us some creativity.
Speaking of creativity, let’s touch bases with our new Chronicle system. The Attunement Ceremony Chronicle is a simple, creative way to introduce players to the PA system. I strongly support MMORPG developers who find ways to show their players storyline elements versus simply telling them in huge blocks of text, and RIFT Chronicles do just that, but without the hassle of player phasing, queues, or mass amounts of lag in capital cities. The boss fight in the Attunement Ceremony Chronicle is one I found enjoyable, as well, which is great to see in a solo encounter.
The GSB and HK Chronicles are also enjoyable, although it would be nice to see a little more complexity in some of the fights. The fact that you can solo them or duo them depending on your gear level/class is a good feature. Another great feature about Chronicles is that they’re quick to complete, yet offer nice chunks of cash, Runecrafting mats, notoriety, PA experience, BoA consumables, unique artifacts, wardrobe pieces, and even the occasional mount. The reward to time spent ratio is quite awesome, especially if you’re a solo player. The downfall, of course, is that players will quickly tire of repeating the same Chronicles every day, but that’s when Trion will need to come out with more.
Chronicles offer many possibilities for RIFT. Not only can Chronicles be made for all current raid content and future raid content, but developers can use dungeons, epic quest lines, and even normal quest lines for inspiration. It would be great to see the storylines of RIFT’s main lore characters developed further, and this is one way to let players experience continued character development without forcing it on them. The ability to jump back and watch certain scenes again is also fantastic. Trion will need to be careful, however, to not concentrate too heavily on adding Chronicles and thus neglect the raiding and group content. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– It’s all about balance.
The developers of RIFT have pretty full plates at the moment. Patch 1.5 was a success in my opinion, but there’s still a long road ahead. Planar Attunement, Master Modes, RIFT Chronicles, the dynamic content changes, and the new Warfront were all extremely good additions to the world of Telara, but now players need to be taken to the next plane. We need a new map to explore and some new quests to go along with it. Three endgame maps just aren’t enough, and thankfully, Trion seems to realize that since that’s currently in the works. RIFT’s dynamic content needs to be looked at seriously. Many classes and encounters need further tweaks and adjusting. From the sounds of it, the tank classes are currently being looked at as far as balance goes, and that’s a step in the right direction.
One patch at a time and one step at a time– That’s the MMO world we live in. RIFT continues its success by ensuring our paths– our journeys– keep progressing onward. If Trion continues creating content for all of its players, our journeys should all be pretty exciting.