Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Ten Bad Things About Rift

Finally I’ll be able to give you part two of the closest thing you’ll get to a RIFT review from me. Last week you could read ten good things about the game, this time its ten bad things I’ll be writing about. As usual, no particular order will be used, nor do I claim that this list is exhaustive or objective. All you’ll get is a list of ten things I personally don’t like about the game. Read what I liked as well, and then make up your own mind.

Don’t take bigger bites than you can chew

Rift offers a huge amount of customization options through their soul system – four basic classes to choose from which can specialize in up to three of eight areas each. My current character is a melee-centric cleric that can switch into a combination of healing souls for group content. So far, so good. The issue I have with the system is that the different soul trees feel both very niche and very similar at the same time, both due to the fact that the designers had only so many ideas for interesting skills and talents but had to spread them amongst 32 trees. Whereas a warlock in World of Warcraft has a multitude of different play-styles associated with it, a Warlock in RIFT is always pretty much the same. The choices in the talent trees are mostly boring and clear-cut (take more damage for PvE, take more health for PvP, that kind of thing). The purifier is a single-target healer and is pretty much exactly that. Aside from some (meaningless) damage-dealing abilities, almost all the abilities the purities the purifier has deal with keeping a single target alive. Similarly, a Warlock has a variety of damage-over-time effects at her disposal. These differ, but their differences don’t really matter until you get to endgame theorycrafting. Until then, the warlock is all about putting those DoTs on the target and using a single direct damage spell until either the DoTs need to be re-applied or the target is dead.

Sure, you can branch out by putting points in different souls, but that is usually not the optimal way to go at things. It is much more efficient to put a lot of points into a single tree first than to spread them out into different trees. In my opinion, Rift soul trees could be much more interesting if they had limited themselves to, say, five trees for each class instead of eight. That way they also wouldn’t have had to repeat what is essentially the same ability in so many different trees.

Damage can’t be everything

I’ve written about this before, and it still holds true. Rift events are fun as long as you are a damage dealer, but if you do anything else (such as tank, heal, or buff) you will feel screwed on the final results. My cleric is quite a good healer whilst being only a mediocre damage dealer in his alternative soul setup, yet I get much better results in rift events when I deal damage – especially when there a lot of other players around. The amount of damage per time that players can deal is the only metric that isn’t capped and doesn’t get split between multiple players. Healing is capped both by the amount of damage the monsters get to deal and the amount of healers there are. Tanking works similarly and buffing isn’t really rewarded at all. When one of the main selling points of a game is this imbalanced, there’s something wrong with the game for sure.

No mods

I’ve heard other players rejoice at the fact that there are no player-made modifications available for Rift, citing especially the lack of damage meters, boss mods and the infamous gear score is good things. Me, I absolutely hate having to work without the interface improvements I’ve become so used to. Where is my sortable and filter-able all-in-one inventory? Oh right, it doesn’t exist. Instead I always have to try to sort my inventory over and over again. Annoying. I’d also like to have a HUD again and maybe target-aware action buttons. Button real estate is incredibly limited – so much that I don’t even have any damaging abilities hotkeyed in my healing setup. Yet sometimes I do want to access those abilities. This would be easy in World of Warcraft, but the lack of mods makes it impossible in Rift.

Grinds in leveling areas

Another point I’ve written about already. What is the point of grinding out reputation or currency during leveling when the rewards for the grinds quickly get obsolete through further leveling? I have all the reputation factions that tend to get close to reasonable rewards just as I’m leaving the zone to go into a new one in which the basic quest rewards are already better than what I can get from grinding faction reputation or competing in rift events. The effort I’d have to put into those things simply isn’t worth it for the rewards.

Lack of creativity

The field of MMO design is an incredibly derivative one and we should all be used to new MMOs feeling a lot like old ones by now. Especially World of Warcraft is always mentioned when a new game launches and people will claim that the new game is just a copy of WoW. Oftentimes these people forget that WoW itself was just an amalgam of pre-existing game ideas. That said, Rift is still incredibly lacking in innovation. There is very little aside from polish that I could cite as a reason for others to play this MMORPG instead of another (such as WoW). I’d really like to be able to say something along the lines of “Rift is like WoW, but it has super cool feature X which makes it better.” Rift events (*cough*public quests*cough*) and the soul system just aren’t enough of an innovation to make the game stand out.


The crafting system of Rift is quite boring, but the same is true for WoW and many other MMOs. Rift has a couple of things that make it even less appealing though. My cleric is an alchemist and has the two gathering professions of butchering and foraging. I chose this combination because I wanted to be self-sufficient and materials from both butchering and foraging are necessary for alchemy. Alas, alchemy produces little of practical value so far while all the gathered items clog my inventory. Both gathering professions provide crafting materials other than those needed for alchemy. I should probably trade those to other players or sell them on the auction house, but I can’t really be bothered. I much prefer a clean system like that in World of Warcraft where one gathering profession supports one crafting profession or a really open one in which you can’t possibly be self-sufficient in crafting and have to trade. The Rift system seems like a whole lot of annoyances for little to no reward.

That said, I haven’t really gotten far into any other professions yet, so maybe I just hit a bad apple with alchemy. Another issue I have with alchemy is that it keeps on using low-level ingredients at higher levels from time to time, essentially forcing me to return to low-level regions for the express purpose of gathering herbs and other ingredients. Then there are the crafting daily quests which require you to craft a certain amount of a specific item and then bring those items to recipients somewhere else. The recipients for the first couple of crafting dailies (which you should really do every day) are in annoying places that can’t be reached by fast travel – again forcing you to visit low-level regions for pretty much no gain aside from the main objective itself.

Limited fast travel

Speaking of fast travel –there is only one portal (comparable to a World of Warcraft flight master) in each of the (huge) zones. Be prepared to spend quite a lot of time on horseback to get to places. Sure, the world feels bigger this way, but running along familiar terrain gets boring pretty quickly. This seems like quite a step back from the usability other games offer.

Game-relevant collector’s edition rewards

If you have bought the collector’s edition you have access to a free mount early on as well as a much larger starting inventory. I’m greatly opposed to the ability to buy in-game advantages with real-world money, especially in a game that is not free-to-play. Charging us a monthly fee and still allowing players to pay more for actual (read: non-cosmetic) in-game advantages is something I simply can’t support.

Class identity

The soul system leads to classes being able to perform well in quite a large amount of roles. A rogue can be a melee or ranged DPS character as well as a support healer and as far as I have heard even a tank. Differences between classes are usually easy to spot in games and you pretty much know what “the hunter” in a World of Warcraft group is going to do (aside from wiping you). A ranged rogue in Rift looks pretty much the same as a melee one or a bard (the support healer). Looking at a group setup really tells you pretty much nothing about how things are going to work out. Maybe this setup will just take some getting used to, but for now group play seems pretty much a wash. This is a problem that occurs directly from the variety that the soul system offers (which I like, in general) so I can’t really tell you what the solution to it is. But different soul setups really need to feel more different, not only to the player but also to other players in the group.

Gold spam already

It feels really odd to me that game companies still launch games with inappropriate anti-spam and anti gold-selling methods in place. It should be clear by now that gold farmers will infest your game and spam your chat rooms if you don’t do something against it and I simply can’t imagine that implementing a proper spam filter on server side or even client side is all that hard. It simply seems as if companies don’t take the threat of gold-selling seriously until they realize how much of an impact it has on their game.

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