Monday, March 07, 2011

Team or Zerg?

The blogosphere seems to be falling over themselves to proclaim the greatness of rifts in RIFTS. I, on the other hand, am feeling rather ambivalent about them.

The thing about rifts, I'm finding, is that there is no substance to them. A rift appears, you zerg it down, and loot falls out of the sky. No strategy, no tactics.

Is that all we want from our games?

The simplest 5-man is more interesting and contains more team play than any of the rifts I've participated in. I know it is fashionable to mock the tank/healer/dps Trinity, but at least in a Trinity group you're working together. There's a feeling of being part of a team that is completely missing in rifts.

For all that RIFTS makes joining public groups easy, there's no sense of teamwork at all. Most rifts are just everyone attacking the boss on their own, including it being a literal graveyard zerg when people die. Indeed, people talk less in Rift groups than they do in WoW's Dungeon Finder!

If you don't act as a group, are you really in a group?

Kind of honestly, the only thing that changes if you join a Rift public group is that the healers might find it easier to heal people with the group/raid UI. But of course, for that to be useful there actually needs to be healers who heal, which is somewhat rare.

That's not to say that they're not somewhat fun. Rifts are like popcorn. They're light and tasty at first. But they're ultimately unsatisfying when compared to the hearty meal of a small team dungeon, or the rich banquet that is raiding.


  1. This was my take on the system from playing the open beta as well. Have you played further in? It left me wondering whether later in the game where there's less players around to zerg and presumably the difficulty would be higher, perhaps more team-oriented play might start to appear?

  2. My question for somebody else cheering about the social nature of Rifts was: Is it any more social to be in a group of 50 people that do not talk to each other than it is to be in a group of 5?

    More is always better, right?

  3. Matches my experience of Rift's rifts. That's one of the reasons I was bored of the game before it even released (and as a result, did not even seriously consider buying it).

  4. I've been saying this since beta 4..the rifts will get old quick when people get over the honeymoon and notice there is no depth to the game.

  5. Similar thoughts from me. The rifts are less social than the public quests in WAR (without doubt that game's best feature, and one I'd love to see WoW adopt too) and 5 man groups in WOW

    Give it time and Rift may grow and improve. But for now I don't think it really has what it takes.

  6. Rifts are like popcorn. They're light and tasty at first. But they're ultimately unsatisfying when compared to the hearty meal of a small team dungeon, or the rich banquet that is raiding.

    I think you are dead on with this.

    Isn't that exactly what the rifts are meant to be?
    Playing Rift, I don't always rush to do the rifts. If they sit around, no one is closing them, they spit out annoying invasions enough, or they're just close by I'll go take care of it.

    But really, aren't they just an added form of content that is designed to break up the quest / instance grind slightly?

    If they were planned to be hard and require tons of teamwork, they fail. Especially at the early levels.
    Though, to be fair, how hard would you want your newbie rift to be? Perhaps having zerg-able rifts in the first zone was on purpose. You can't ask much from players with limited skills at hand, who are learning their roles still. (part of the "healers who don't heal" problem)

    That being said, I'm into the fourth zone (30-40 lvl range) and I don't see much difference in the rifts. I feel there are fewer of them now, but no real tactics are required or attempted by the players.

    So, yeah, they're popcorn. Don't listen to the popcorn salesman. He'll tell you about how they are low in calories, filling, and the greatest tasting thing ever.
    They are just another dish on buffet line that is an MMO. They earn their spot by filling a different role than the other dishes around them. Personally, I'm ok with eating popcorn once in a while.

  7. It's something I have mentioned before. Honestly it's not that fun unless I am running with a healer, as I am a tank. I die a lot during rifts because heals are late, or I am there and there isn't a single healer. That set up is not good, but you have to take them for what they are during the leveling process. A break from questing to make things more dynamic and a way to progress your gear and reputation significantly without having to do a dungeon crawl.

    Also while I have not played at level cap yet I have read about rifts for an organized group. I am not sure how that all works, or if it is in yet. Thing is that Trion has been quite receptive to criticism and has fixed a lot. I'm hoping they work on healing because a healbot like interface for healers and/or something like a friendly and an enemy target. It might help more people with the healing/make more people receptive to playing healers.

    Also while there may not be as much strategy when there is a huge crowd, I do enjoy the pulls from small group rifts. taking down a single rift with 2-3 people is more difficult than you would think, and many times there are just things I haven't been able to do because of the way the game is designed. Trying to push those edges to me is fun, as opposed to WoW where I'm damned near a virtual god.

  8. Good morning!

    "The thing about rifts, I'm finding, is that there is no substance to them. A rift appears, you zerg it down, and loot falls out of the sky. No strategy, no tactics.

    Is that all we want from our games?"

    Some would say that instancing in World of Warcraft is going down this route already and has been for quite some time.

    People have compared the Dungeon Finder to a bad one night stand, where you get what you want from someone with as little communication and attachment as possible and as long as you get what you want the needs of your group don't matter.

    I'm certainly not swayed entirely towards Rift just yet, but I did enjoy the concept of the rifts because it seemed like people really wanted to be taking part in the adventures that involved them. It felt like there was more of a sense of involvement or togetherness and people really rallied to the call when a rift would open.

    You didn't hear "Am I going to get an achievement out of this?" or "I don't need anything from that" both of which are far too common in WoW. It was a very knee/jerk reaction. A rift would open, people would be in the area (for whatever reason) and they would participate. No questions asked. It was a really beautiful thing.

    I wish there was some way to bring that back into WoW and I would certainly support that ideal if it did.

  9. I found this to when playing Beta in fact it is one of the reasons I did not buy the game. After the rifts get old its just WoW with a wicked class system and even then the trees seem really cluttered since WoW trimmed theirs.

    You can tell that they clearly want some kind of tactics in the rifts since they added they bonus crystals and things like crate destruction but they just don't work.

    The problem with public quests is you can't assume there will be many tanks or healers in the group because the people walking by are random, once you start that that the events have to work assuming mostly DPS are there.
    With nothing but DPS there things have to hit for less and then there is no challenge.

    I don't think there is really a way out of this trap you ether have to have PQ's like W:AR where they are held up by some story and therefor stationary(suffering from no players later on).
    Otherwise you have them like Rift where they random and scale but have little story or variety.

    If there can be a medium that has enough story or other factors to keep them different but still prevent the lack of players seeing them then I think they will be amazing. I have no clue how you would reach this but I am sure Blizz could find it.

  10. Personally, I *do* want as little interaction as possible with the people in general.

    My experience with the general populace is that they don't play well. By gathering an unbounded number of them together for the same event, and then rewarding them based on their contribution to that event, the good players get gear, and the bad players get to feel like they participated without being carried to raid level gear.


  11. While I'm loving healing in Rift on my nights off from raiding in WoW, I have to admit I feel the same about rift events. Seeing them leveling was sort of annoying, how many times did I get killed trying to kill boars? ugh

    But then again, I can also see how utterly COOL they could be at max level and taking down real bosses in a world event. That would/could be super fun to heal!

  12. From my understanding, rifts are no replacement for serious group content. For that purpose RIFT has Expert (Heroic) dungeons and raids (one currently). Rift are the means to break the monotony of questing.
    However, they're enabling raid rifts this week, so no idea how they will work out. Especially on PvP-servers.

  13. "Rift are the means to break the monotony of questing."

    Pretty much exactly as I use them. They add flavor to the world, so it feels just a little less quest-hub heavy or dependant, and makes your gaming time that much more varied.

    The real question is were they fun for you? And if so, why be ashamed of that. Its a game.

  14. I've had somewhat of a different experience with small rift groups. I agree - the rift zergs are mostly kinda meh. I'm especially irked at how few of the blue and purple reward tokens drop, which are required for any of the good rift-progression gear.

    The small groups, though, can be a lot of fun, especially when you add in pvp to the mix. I've definitely been with a group of about 3-5 Guardians approaching a rift at the same time as 3-5 Defiants do, and that's a lot of fun. The rift-like Defiant/Guardian foothold mechanics do well to encourage this sort of interaction, and I think it has a lot more depth and fun.

  15. The glass is half-full.

    My only Rift character is a healer at level 15. I find it a nice break from questing to heal rifts. Healing a raid group at level 9? Fun!

    No, there is no strategy. Yes, there are healers - half my heals get poached in a group of 15 or more. Yes, maybe it would be more fun if the rifts had some sort of strategy. But I will be happy enough with the game if the dungeons require some strategy.

  16. Whats your highest character lvl in RIFT?

  17. I play a lvl 12 Cleric and for now I love Rifts. Those make the world feel dynamic, and it's fun to run throught the whole undiscovered map for rift events.

    As you said there's not much strategy, and not much healing needed. But I wouldn't like world event require as much strategy as, for example, Tol Barad. I personnally would not be willing to try and take the lead of a public raid.