(because I couldn’t wait for us to reach level 16)
Mr. Randomessa and I are now level 15 after 1.5 weeks playing Rift (well, Mr. Randomessa actually has a Spousal Leveling Contract alt that he levels up in his spare time so that he can play with me with whichever character he feels like). Pre-launch weekend I was working and didn’t have much time to play, but we put in a good few hours this past weekend and are still enjoying ourselves very much, even as we lag behind others who are having dungeon tales and adventures in the next zones of the game.
I will say that we are really loving crafting so far in Rift. It’s the least-grindy crafting I’ve had the pleasure to experience, although something nifty like an EQII-esque minigame would be even better. Heck, just give us an actual crafting animation for each type of craft instead of having us “wash our hands” over the forge and I’d be thrilled. In very little time and with surprisingly little effort, I already can make items that I won’t be able to use for four more levels; my level-appropriate crafting skills are grey and net me no additional experience. After crawling away battered and bruised from LOTRO’s crafting, this lack of grind is a very welcome departure.
The only unfun thing about the crafting is that our chosen professions rely on mining. I touched on this before, but the whole ninja-ing of metal nodes is really old. Mr. Randomessa doesn’t have enough money for a moount yet (we spend all our cash on crafting, heh), so he is constantly beat to nodes by turtle-riders, when nodes aren’t gathered out from right under his currently-in-combat nose. The only thing that makes up for it somewhat is that I can butcher anything left behind from others, which feels a lot nicer than having to compete with them for the resources I need. I can’t say this enough, but I cannot wait for GW2 to do away with this competition thing entirely. For now I just stow my own turtle, or use it to travel to the node and claim it for him.
Speaking of GW2 crafting, apparently this is a screenshot sneak peak of GW2′s crafting interface. GW2Guru denizens are crawling over themselves to speculate about what this means, but my take on the matter is that if GW2 crafting were exactly like Rift’s, only without the node competition, I’d be tickled pink. Add something like EQII’s crafting minigame, and I’m in heaven. Unlike my progress-bar-phobic brethren, I really don’t mind them if they are small and if I can create useful things immediately. Unfortunately, how many items must be created before they are “too many” will vary from person to person, but if I can start a crafting session after an evening of questing (or, for GW2, pursuing my personal story + dynamic events), and, in five minutes, have leveled a tier of crafting and can create more powerful items than I could have when I started using solely items that I gathered during my game session, this is plenty for me, and not grindy at all.
Back to Rift: server queues for Faeblight are still an issue when we get ready to play, especially on weekends, though since we are on the West coast the weeknight queues are short by the time we hop online at around 9pm. There are still plenty of people running around the low-level areas, which is nice, and we have even participated in a zone-wide event or two. On the other hand, we have also been known to avoid a zone-wide event or two in favor of crafting in Meridian. I’m not yet certain what the repurcussions of failing an event are, other than “well, there will be rifts everywhere, good luck with that.”
The public grouping system is as nice as we remember it from Warhammer, with the same problem that we noticed when we played Warhammer: there’s no real way for Mr. Randomessa and I to “stay together” after joining a public group, except to each leave party and then party up again (or if there is, I’m unaware of it). It’s a minor thing, just a few clicks really, but it would be incredibly handy if joining a public group were more like joining a Warfront/Scenario: join the group and then when you leave, you stay in whatever pre-formed party you were a part of.
PvP-wise, we have dipped our toes into this as well, and have the usual complaints about group cohesiveness and the importance of killing the Guy With The Thing, but when matches are good, they’re great. When they’re not, they’re teeth-grindingly bad. When they’re close, they still manage to be a lot of fun, though, so it can go either way.
In short: Rift is still fun and is shaping up to be a pretty big success, where I define “success” as “at least as successful as anything released post-WoW, with better retention than most if not all comers.” We have our fingers hovering over the 6-month subscription button, but haven’t had the guts to follow through yet. I think once we reach level 20+ (if we can do so within the next 8 days!), we will be in a better position to say whether that investment seems worth it. I’m very glad that Trion has given us this window to decide; they’ve got the best of the subscription-model game options I’ve encountered.