Light my fire

On today’s Rift article…

I sort of wish I was joking, but I’m not, and today I will be talking about Rift again. I’ve really wanted to get onto the Deepstrike server to actually play the stash of advance names I had claimed there. Two bloggers I know (and LIKE) are playing there as well, also, I hear-tell that a good chunk of old Gorfanger’s from WAR are making that their home. So, when I got home last night with my daughter from daycare (around 6:15), I booted up the client, saw the queue was approximately 45 minutes, and thought, “Perfect! Baby’s bedtime is 7:00, couldn’t have asked for better timing.”. So while I finished doing baby stuff, wife cooked dinner, and had enough time to have a meal with the misses after putting our spawnling to bed before jumping into the server.

As I mentioned before, I wanted to recreate the Shadowknight concept from EQ’s of past, and I continued along that route. Primarily putting points into Reaver, with a side of Champion, and a no-point homage to Warlord. For PvP, it’s been a fun mix. There’s an ability in the Reaver tree to turn all (3) of my DoTs into AoE spells while active. Two of those DoTs right now are ranged, and one of those two is a life-tap. So, in the one Warfront I can play in (Black Forest? Black Temple? whatever, doesn’t matter), the enemy team almost ALWAYS runs up to the center en masse, clogging between some of the giant spikes to where the fang is going to reside. This is the perfect opportunity to drop those AoEs, and ensure a decent incoming health-stream. I then run deeper into the mix, hit my AoE damage/taunt, and start spamming my frontal cone attack. It brings pain. Of course, this is only at level 15, so I’m sure there’s a lot of changes to come.

On the PvE side of the coin, for regular solo-questing, it has worked perfectly fine – as expected. For that type of gameplay, you almost have to TRY to fail at it, by either playing dumb or going AFK for extended periods of time. However, before I hit the sack last night, I got to experience a full scale-fire invasion. I’d participated in some of the Death invasions when I played Defiant during beta, but something about this one last night was different. Perhaps because it was a live environment, or maybe just the setting, but I actually had a good time participating in this. The entire woods of the zone gained an orange-red hue, which gave a real sense of danger, triggering memories of old submarine movies where the red lights bathe the captain’s face during combat scenes. The map was filled with orange swirls, black squares quartered with an orange cross, and crossed swords (if you play the “where’d this feature come from” game, then you’ll recognize the swords from WAR). Blazing arrows from each icon indicated the direction of attack of enemy forces when you hovered over their icon.

It was a fucking war, and the chaos that ensued was appropriate. Raid groups were running around all over the place, forming up to take out the captains and footholds of each invasion. The crossed swords are the invasion forces where the planar parties spawn out of. The footholds are stationary spawn points that need to be taken out to prevent more enemy groups from spawning, but they are often protected until a main leader is taken out first. Rifts are the random, semi-mobile PQs that often spin out enemy groups as well. The shit wasn’t easy at this point either, maybe because of a lack of healers, or just because I was not playing with any groups I trust or can rely on. Total pugs, but things didn’t always go down with ease, until the zerg piled up on it. The events are so big, and so wide-spread, that it’s hard to focus energy on any one attack. The sheer quantity and magnitude of the invading forces is helping to ensure that the players are fuck-all organized and just spread to the corners of the map. This is how PvE is supposed to be. This is PvE that is actually fun.

Sadly, the eternal pessimist in me is sure that in a couple of months time, players will have figured out the best, most efficient way of killing these things, and the fun chaos of the situation will be turned into a structured action list to make even the most stringent German engineer go, “Don’t you think you’re being a bit too particular?”. So, I am going to try to enjoy the insanity of invasions for as long as I can. I hearken it to the ORvR of early WAR, where it was just insane fun early on, but as time went on, and efficiency became king, it lost some of its luster. This is the advantage to playing an MMO at launch. This is the reason why you jump into a game early. The fun of a game after it’s been dissected by the player base is completely different from the fun at launch.