For a game that’s been out for only a little over a year, RIFT has a solid assortment of quality-of-life features. These are the little things that often go unnoticed, but really make a difference when to comes to our enjoyment within the game: smooth, built-in UI features, and the ability to customize those UIs further. A polished AH, the guild perk system, being able to flip between souls on the fly, the dungeon finder, achievement system, and the wardrobe system. Oh, yeah, and AoE looting. Other games have since added it, but RIFT was among the first big MMOs that added the feature.
Among the latest added 1.8 features, we’ve seen even more great quality-of-life features. The guild finder, the fishing and survival additions, and the new fishing dailies. The NPCs for which that are in actual convenient spots. Convenience? Come on– how often does that appear in an MMO? And last but not least, we can’t forget about leaderboards. They’re convenient in the sense that they display information that’s normally quite difficult to obtain, and what’s more– leaderboards are fun, and profit all kinds of players.
The coolest aspect about leaderboards is probably the fact that you can find out so friggen’ much with them. You can see data from your server, guild, or all servers. You can see data within the various divisions and leagues, or just see the top 50 players within a category. There are 89 leaderboards total, which is, well, a lot. They’re separated into five different ladders: PvE General, PvE Group, PvE Raid, PvP, and Crafting. Like I said– something for everyone. Trion posted a handy little introductory guide on using leaderboards this week. Take a peek!
Leaderboards are, of course, great for players who raid. It’s now easy to keep track of what guilds have completed which raids, and also keep track of the number of achievements obtained in the lower-tier raids. This helps players get a feel for the raiding situation on various servers, and since different chunks of time can be used as a filter, players can also get a sense for which guilds and players are actually active. This is vital for players looking for a new possible guild.
The feature’s great for players who don’t raid, as well. Players who love to run dungeons can time themselves against other groups, or compete against other players for slaying rare monster, closing rifts, collecting artifacts, gathering PA experience, and many other score cards that were previously pretty hard to track. Crafters are also able to keep track of the rest of the crafting world around them, and add a little competitive step to their normal crafting weeknight.
PvPers can have a little fun with the feature, too, and use it to track wins, healing, damage, kills, favor, and various warfront objectives. Leaderboards aren’t a measure of PvP skill, but they are another way to add a little competitive fun to instanced PvP. Players who enjoy PvP but don’t always enjoy farming out ranks or favor may find keeping track of leaderboard statistics enjoyable, and may find themselves more eager to follow warfront objectives and help lead their team to more wins.
Competition, though, is an interesting notion. Many gamers thrive on competition, and because of it, will strive to greater heights, perform better, and approach raids, currency/experience grinds, and PvP matches with a heated passion rarely seen without that competition. Passion, as we all know, can be helpful or it can be destructive. Lately, on RIFT’s official forums, I’ve seen a couple of cases of players frustrated about the higher level of competition seen in some players since the addition of leaderboards.
MMO players, by and large, will always find something to complain about, but I find these particular cases interesting because of the simple fact that leaderboards don’t offer any type of reward. They don’t offer anything by the way of fancy mounts, pets, artifacts, or even achievement points. Why would some players take the leaderboard system so seriously as to anger other players? It all goes back to competition, and bragging rights, of course.
The best example of this phenomenon I can think of is the idea of a new level 50 player, barely able to queue for an expert dungeon. Let’s say they queue as a healer. The tank and all three DPS in the group are geared to the teeth and proceed to gather up entire rooms full of mobs in order to obtain the quickest time possible. The healer finds themselves frustrated, and for good reason. They may not be able to keep up mana-wise, but here’s the kicker, I think– if the tank is that geared, it’s their responsibility to either slow down, or toss on some more survivability gear in order to take less damage.
Competition may be fun, and even more fun thanks to the leaderboards, but with that competition comes responsibility. Players need to be aware of who they’re playing with, and against. They need to know their group’s limits, and hold those limits to a higher priority than their leaderboard rank. Also, players should use a little common sense when running leaderboard runs. Grab a similarly-geared tank and healer, and DPS if possible. Grab people you know, who are after that same goal, and issues like this won’t arise.
Some players have suggested an additional option to select when queuing up for expert dungeons that would announce a player’s interest in running a speed run. The problem with this? Unless the option has an additional gear requirement (which would require a lot more coding), players in all levels of gear would select the option in hopes of getting a super-short run. I’m also not sure the issue’s prominent enough to warrant a solution like this.
At the end of the day, it’s really left in the hands of the players. Looking for a speed leaderboard-ranked run? Gather a select team. Treat it like any difficult achievement. With a hand-picked team, players stand their best chances of obtaining that ranked time. That way, everyone wins.
Despite random competition issues, I think the leaderboard system is a solid, fun quality-of-life addition to RIFT. Many gamers like statistics, and for them, leaderboards are perfect. The system also has some great potential for future additions that will be easy for Trion to implement. It’d be nice to see some cooler PvE and raiding categories that track particular, difficult achievements. What else would you like to see added to the leaderboard system?