Scouting Telara

Telara is, of course, the world in which the game Rift takes place.

And it seems that the temptation of the Rift Digital Collector’s Edition for $10 was too much.  I broke down and bought it about an hour before the offer expired last week.

But my purchase was not completely impulse.

There was some speculation as to whether Rift might be a decent vehicle around which to reform the instance group after its summer hiatus.  Autumn is upon us, after all, the traditional start of the virtual campaign season.  It is even raining in Silicon Valley this week.

Of course, I have no real interest in playing Rift solo, so I prodded Potshot and his wife into coming along with me.  The grabbed the 7 day trial version and we were pretty much downloaded, patched, and ready to go by Saturday.

Steam sort of let me down.  One of the few things I will grant Steam is that they make patches and updates easy.  Not so with MMOs though, or so it seems.

I had Steam download the game client over night, launched the game in the morning, then had to let the client launcher patch another few gigabytes of updates.  (This is one of those things that I like about CCP, the EVE Online client is always up to date when you grab it.)

So Steam is completely useless past the purchase, as far as I can tell.  It is just a log in I have to do before I can launch the client and actually log in.

Fortunately, I still had the Rift beta installed, and while the beta client won’t update at this point, copying the files from the Steam installed version to the folder for the beta client seemed to solve my problem.  The short cut for the beta in the Win 7 apps menu even launches from the Steam-free location.

And if that hadn’t worked, I was just going to download the client from Trion, another option, to break the link with Steam.  Unless connections like that just bug me.

Anyway, by Friday night I was able to log in and make my first character in Rift since beta.

I picked the Alsbeth server (Hey HZ!) and went with the warrior archetype, starting with a beastmaster soul.  This was on the side of the Defiant, whom I recalled had worse character models (went with an ugly male Eth rather than one of the ridiculous male blue meanies) but a less annoying set of starter quests than their opposition, the Guardians.

Over the course of the weekend I got him to level 15 and arrived at the Defiant city of Meridian.

In the capital

I also rolled up a rogue and cleric archetype and ran them both out to the Freemarch.

The whole soul mechanism still seems a bit of a blessing and a curse to me, but I am not a fan of having too many choices.  One of the joys of going back to play EverQuest with Potshot earlier in the years was freedom from choice.  When you played a class in old EQ, you got what you got and if you didn’t like it you could go play a ranger and really feel slighted.

I get that some people like the mix-and-match element of the souls, but I have not been at the game long enough to what to pick to do what I want to do.  So I just pick what sounds interesting, knowing that a few months down the road somebody will say, “LOL noob! You went with beastmaster/champion/warlord for warrior DPS?”  I just hope the peril of bad choices is not as great as it was for Champions Online at launch.

And with three souls, there are three talent trees to compare.  Which do I climb and which do I ignore?  Too much to think about.

Pretty much just winging it...

But souls and talent points and the like were an issue for the future, we were scouting to see if Telara could potentially be a place for the instance group to regroup before SWTOR comes along. (Everybody seems to be on board for that.)

Fortunately, Rift seems to have improved some since my time in beta, and it was still very smooth back then.  If anything it seems even more refined.  And that was an important point.  One of the things that ended up failing for people in the group with LOTRO and EverQuest IIx was the user interface.

When World of Warcraft is your benchmark for interface responsiveness, both of those games clearly come up short.  I tell myself that the difference isn’t that great, and then I go back and play WoW and realize that it is.

Rift comes as close to WoW in smoothness as any MMO I have played recently.  Like the rest of the game, while it tries to set itself apart… it doesn’t mimic WoW exactly in any look… it still strives for a sense of familiarity.

It isn't an MMO without boars!

And with the dark atmosphere in the starting zones, the choice of fonts, and the public group/public quests (rifts) all going on, it feels like it plucked some of the more striking bits of Warhammer Online and laid them on top of a WoW PvE world.

The fights themselves can take a bit and you can easily get in over your head and die in the new player zones.  I will nit pick that it can be tough to tell which mobs require a group and which do not.  I suppose I should have assumed that giant just outside the Defiant starting place was more than I could handle, but I did not see any feedback telling me to steer clear when I targeted and examined him.  But I might be missing something in the UI.

Can I take these guys or not?

The world itself is as pretty as it seemed in beta.  Out in the Freemarch, where the skies are blue when the sun is up, the rifts make pretty backgrounds.

Turtle before the rift

They seemed to be everywhere as I was working my way through the quest line.

Rift in the distance

And, as I suspected might be the case seven months after launch, at least at the early levels, most of the rifts were going uncontested.

Another one over there!

If I was here to play the game solo, this would probably seem like a bad thing.  But since the idea is to get the group together with the intent of taking on group content, having rifts handy and available might very well be a good thing.  The five of us can form the nucleus of rift hunting raids as we work our way through the game.

And frankly, I would rather have that than the way rifts seemed to go in beta, with dozens of people rampaging after each rift in a giant, endless zerg rush.

It's the tier 1 Telara marathon!

By the end of the weekend, at least Potshot and I thought that Rift might serve well as a way point for the instance group.

An email out to the group regarding Rift was well received.  I think the group is interested in the new game, which Potshot described much more succinctly than I, as well as getting back to a regular gaming night with the whole group.

Earl is actually tied up for the next two weekends, so we won’t be jumping into the game as a group right away.  But everybody has committed to having the client installed and patched up so we will be ready to go.

It might be a good time to take a look at the Guardian side of the game while we wait.

But it looks like Rift will be where you will find us for the next few months.

16 thoughts on “Scouting Telara

  1. Percy

    If you’re not sure how to spec in Rift you should try focusing on just one tree at a time (Well, two trees actually since you need a second for the overflow points). Spreading your points around across three at once will spread you too thin and your character will lack focus and abilities.

    In general you want to look at the abilities you unlock (the “roots”) when you reach X points. Find one you like the sound of to shoot for and keep spending points in that tree until you get it. Then target another ability in a different tree and repeat.

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  2. Aufero

    I suspect you’ll like it. Rifts in particular make for easy-to-access small group content – they’re fun, there’s always at least a couple up, and with three or four people to get to the bonus stages the rewards are decent.

    The game also encourages exploration, which I enjoyed.

    (And yes, there are ways to identify tougher opponents, but they’re easy to miss if you’re not used to them. That particular aspect of the UI design could have been done better.)

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  3. SynCaine

    One bonus of a group chain-closing rifts: you will trigger the zone invasion event, and then you can do that (and last I played, people at least jumped in to contribute to that). Even just a single group can usually finish an event (and I’m sure they have been nerfed since I played).

    As for the souls, it really doesn’t matter until cap. The game is easy, and short of not spending the points at all (and even then…) you should not have trouble closing rifts and finishing the instances. Another nice bonus is having multiple specs, because in Rift they actually mean something. If someone gets bored of tanking, have the group swap out souls and basically anyone else can now tank.

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  4. HarbingerZero

    Yay! Look for Ellul in game when you are on, I’m happy to help out in any way I can, and I’d love to play a session or three with you. I’m on the Defiant side with that main, but I had intended to start a Guardian alt at some point soon as well.

    Soul building for me is just trial and error. I craft something using ZAM’s builder, try it out in game, and tweak as necessary. And I’ve found that even though I’m the biggest hybrid/swiss army knife guy in the world, I’m really generally happy with max points in one soul, overflow points in a second, and swapping the third soul for its basic skills as needed (with 0 points spend, you can swap on the fly).

    And I second Percy. Don’t worry too much about the talents (“branches”), look mostly to the skills (“roots”), that’s where the core of the class will be.

    Final thought: I’m close to dinging 46 and I’ve never had anyone criticize my build in the game. Maybe for level 50’s doing raid’s there are min/max options, but people seem to judge based on your play results rather than your soul building, which is a good thing.

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  5. pkudude99

    The tougher opponents have “sun rays” around their portrait when you target them. Solo mobs don’t. You can also turn on numbers in the UI and see mob HP totals. The “elite” mobs tend to have about 3x as many as the solo mobs.

    That said, elite mobs are few and far between in the overland setting. Heck, most rifts don’t even spawn them anymore, though in beta it seemed like at least half the rifts and footholds were “major” and thus had the elites. Now it’s about 99.5% are solo mobs.

    Percy totally has it right as far as how to spec goes. Based on your post, I couldn’t tell if you’d bought the other 5 souls from your trainer yet, but if you have then it can get even more interesting. . .

    FWIW, most “leveling” builds for a warrior usually include up to 29 Riftblade for dps, 10-11 points in Paladin for a bit of survivability plus a 10% 1H dps boost, and then the rest in Reaver for AE damage and some self-heals. Personally I like 6 points in Reaver for the AE ranged attacks early. They don’t do a whole lot of damage individually, but you can stack 3 different ones, so they add up.

    Warrior DPS builds tend to use the Paragon and Champion souls. Which of the 2 you make primary depends on if you want to dual-wield or use a 2H weapon. Beastmaster used to be “the soul” but it’s better balanced now. BM/Champion is still very highly regarded. Going “all in” on Riftblade is also a good dps build, using Paragon as the secondary soul. Riftblade as 3rd soul with 2 points for the Fiery Burst finisher move is considered to be a “must have” in any dps soul combo, since it’s an off-global ability plus as a non-physical attack it ignores armor.

    And if you’re planning on tanking early on a XX Paladin/ 6 Warlord/ 6 Reaver combo is quite awesome (AE ranged attack to pull, then Spotter’s Orders + Battlefield Awareness in melee to keep the aggro). Later on a full Void Knight build works very nicely as well.

    In case you couldn’t tell, I have a level 50 warrior ;-)

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  6. flosch

    Now that’s synchronicity. I also bought the game on steam last week, and gave it a try. And I just wrote a post about it today.

    I’m still on the fence myself. There’s stuff I like, and stuff I dislike, but most importantly, stuff I haven’t really gotten yet (the game feels still quite streamlined and on rails for me… weren’t people saying it was so great for exploring?)

    If it’s working out for you, that will be great. Looking forward to nice posts! That also means that, if it doesn’t work out for me this time around, your posts might make me revisit the game later. :)

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  7. Paul

    Soul trees are really only a matter for optimization at lvl 50. There, one uses cookiecutter builds, but there are lots of those. I’m still hearing about new ones and putting them together for raiding (hello inquisicar).

    End game has gotten better with time. I am pleasantl surprised the game has not gotten stale for me yet.

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  8. HarbingerZero

    @flosch – The game certainly rewards you for going off those obvious rails. So far, when just randomly exploring and enjoying the countryside, I’ve unlocked many achievements, gotten a couple of unique titles, and once even grabbed some blue loot from a treasure chest. They certainly give some nice perks for players willing to take the time to smell the roses.

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  9. Elisten

    Don’t forget about the puzzles in each zone. FUN! :)

    Rift was fun, but summer came and I quit playing anything online. Winters back so… we’ll see you out there!

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  10. flosch

    @hzero: Maybe I should just move out of Freemarch as soon as possible to see how the other zones are. I just don’t get anything done in Freemarch, because there’s a lot of people on my server, and there’s constantly invasions etc. going on. That is nice, but it distracts me after a time! :)

    @Elisten: puzzles? I didn’t even hear about anything like that yet.

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  11. Aufero

    @flosch The game never mentions the zone puzzles to you unless you stumble on one while exploring and solve it. Then you get an achievement (and some decent, possibly-useful loot) and start wondering what else is out there.

    You can look them all up online and get locations and solutions, but where’s the fun in that?

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  12. flosch

    @Aufero: I actually did google them last night, but didn’t check in detail, because, as you said, where’s the fun in that? I did check which zones they are in, and it seemed there’s none in the starter zones. So I my plan to move out of Freemarch soon to explore a more “normal” and less introductory zone is set in stone now.

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  13. pkudude99

    @Flosch — The puzzles and cairns for Freemarch are actually in the Lake of Solace. Take water breathing items with you if you can find them — some of the cairns are down VERY deep. The puzzle itself is shallow, though, and gives you a water breathing buff after you solve it so it doesn’t matter how low your breath bar is, so long as you complete it.

    Some of the puzzles are very inventive and fun to solve. Some (like the one where you herd bats) are frelling annoying. But overall, they’re all interesting to some degree or another, and they usually give you a level appropriate blue or purple item, so they’re worth finding and doing.

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  14. Pingback: Psychochild's Blog » To choose or not to choose

  15. bhagpuss

    Yay! Really looking forward to reading your reports on Rift.

    Just passing through quickly (been on holiday for a week and too much backed up everywhere to do detailed replies) but I had to laugh that you picked Beastmaster. The very first character I made in Beta was a Beastmaster and my current warrior has Beastmaster high in one of his Roles. Hardly anyone seems to play them and I can’t say I’m surprised.

    As SynCaine says, though, it really makes little difference what build you go with until 50th. Pretty much everything can level, is useful in a group and is fun, so let everyone go with whatever they fancy.

    For the casters I do strongly recommend a Pyromancer/Elementalist build for sheer magepower, though! Pyro/Chloro is great too. Necro/Warlock is a powerhouse too.

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  16. Vatec

    I was impressed by how stable and polished Rift was during beta. I waited six months before buying and subscribing, mostly to be sure that the game didn’t crash and burn like AoC and Warhammer.

    At first, all the choices may seem daunting. But bearing in mind that you can purchase a new role very early and very cheaply (basically an entirely different build you can switch to on the fly) and the fact that respeccing is quite affordable, it’s almost impossible to gimp yourself. If you don’t like the way a build is working out, change it.

    In any case, the approach I use is to pick a concept, find a primary soul that fits the concept, and a secondary soul that should have good synergy (for example, a Ranger with Marksman secondary). I then keep the primary soul maxed out until level 30 or so. That’s more than sufficient for any content up to that level. At that point, I go researching for more “efficient” builds.

    For those I’d google “Ciderhelm” for Warrior tanking, “Eaux RiftJunkies” for general Warrior advice, “Bluedots” for Mage advice, “Dunsparrow” and “Sozu Rift” for Rogue advice, and “Duracell Cleric” for Cleric ideas. Each of those should give you a very solid understanding of your options, even if you don’t adopt any of their builds.

    Hope you enjoy your time playing Rift!

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