I played some more Rift last night and found myself in a bit of a pickle. Shortly after reaching level 8, I got myself killed, and respawned in the next quest hub ahead of me in the progression… which was in the process of being overrun by a level 15 Life invasion. The defense was sparse and swiftly overrun, so I got stuck in a cycle of spawn-die, spawn-die, spawn-die. It was very frustrating, and I felt like it soured me on the game.
I see a potentially major balance issue here. Rifts and invasions (more than a simple copy of WAR’s public quests, by the way – there are elements from Tabula Rasa’s base control mechanic involved as well,) are central elements of the game, and they’ll need to be balanced correctly to prevent exactly this kind of frustration. This is where WAR, in its PQs and in some of the RvR content as well, fell apart – balance broke, so the game broke, and Mythic never fixed it except by shutting servers down to try to keep populations afloat.
I did play some more this morning and got through it (after the hub had reverted to PvE control,) and would like to hit the game again tonight, to try and experience the rift/invasion stuff as it’s meant to be. It may be that I’ll have different thoughts on it after that. Otherwise, I’ll have to wait until the next round of beta action to try again.
In other respects, the game impresses me; it’s very much a Frankenstein game, with elements from all over the place blended together. And everything seems to work well, except for this one area where it didn’t seem to, at least last night, but it’s an important one. And it should be pointed out that Rift won’t be releasing for some time yet, so there should be opportunities to address these issues, which may be as easy to fix as adding more respawn points so level 8 players don’t pop into level 15 hubs and get overwhelmed.
Even with that said, though, there’s a trap Rift could fall into – the same one that Warhammer did. WAR was gloriously fun during open beta and headstart, and became an utter shambles in a matter of a couple weeks after launch. That could happen here, too, and Trion will have to walk the fine line between neutering important content and making it actually work correctly. Let’s hope they can do that better than Mythic did.