I think it’s fair to look at the drawbacks, issues and negatives of games that you’re excited about — at least, from time to time — not as an exercise in cultivating cynicism, but to stay realistic and balanced (Pete at Dragonchasers and Rift Watchers had the same idea here). Thus, here are six things I really hope get fixed in Rift, if not before launch, then soon thereafter.
1. Defiant starting zones
I’m torn on factions at this point (and I’ll probably just go with whatever the guild I pick chooses). I like the concept, look and mounts of the Defiant a lot better, although the Guardians have dwarves and a much, much better starting zone — here I’m talking both the initial tutorial and the 1-20 level area.
The Defiant tutorial is a lot longer than the Guardian one, and then you come out in a starting zone that reeks of non-personality. If you’re at all familiar with World of Warcraft’s Lich King expansion, you know that there were two starter zones for Northrend: the bland Borean Tundra and the visually stimulating Howling Fjord. The Defiant area is so the Borean Tundra it gives me flashbacks — just a jigsaw puzzle of nondescript locales. When you compare it to the lush forest that the Guardians explore, it’s like night and day.
2. Combat sounds
I tend to agree with Wolfshead when he says:
“The actual audio of the weapons themselves such as the swords hitting mobs is less than spectacular. It seems that Trion’s sound designer has recycled the same metal clanging sword sound over and over. I could barely hear the sound of my ranger shooting an arrow with his bow. The gunshot sound effects were even worse and sounded more like a peashooter than a real shotgun going off.”
In this, Rift is a paradox. Sometimes Rift’s audio is just incredible and detailed, like how you can hear your character panting after a jog if you zoom up close, or how the sound is muted a bit underwater. But yeah, many of the melee combat sounds are quiet and uninspired. Even some of the magic spells need a bit of oomph behind them.
3. Better explanations
Rift is okay — just okay — in explaining things to you as you level up. Mostly it’s all front-loaded at the start, but by the time you’re in your teens, the game sort of gives up trying to teach you things that seem to be important, such as collections. There’s also some other system in place that uses buffs in an item (a planar thing?) that I haven’t figured out because I don’t recall the game ever taking the time to tell me about it. Just kind of, hey, here it is, have fun.
4. Public grouping
Word on the street is that some sort of public grouping system (or open grouping) is in the works, and that’s good as it is sorely needed. Due to the proliferation and nonstop nature of the dynamic content, there needs to be a way to quickly jump into a group or raid without having to spam the chat channels.
5. A larger diversity of armor models
At least in the beginning zones, everyone looks alike because all of their armor looks the same because everyone’s getting them from quest rewards. In my experience, I didn’t get a lot of usable armor through drops, although I could just not be looking in the right places. I’d love to see more variety in looks, however.
6. More races
I have to say, for a game that prides itself on a hugely flexible class system, its racial choices are dull to the point of uninspiration. Two humans, two elves, a dwarf, and a slightly larger human. That’s… wow. It’s just bad.
I don’t think we have any shot of seeing any other races before launch, but this would be one of my top wish list items for an expansion.