Rift and Mentoring vs Dial-a-Level

Mentorship: the developmental relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced partner referred to as a mentee or protégé

Something on Wikipedia

Rift patch 1.9 came along while I was on vacation and I have spent some time coming to grips with it.

Patch 1.9 brought along the usual load of goodies that Trion has been handing out regularly since launch.  Each patch is a game changer.  We got a new world event, a new PvP option called Conquest, new instant adventure options, a barber shop.  The patch was chock full of stuff.  You can read the patch notes here.

Among this cornucopia was a feature I consider to be more far reaching in impact that everything else on the list.

Trion called the feature “mentoring.”

However, it really is not mentoring.  To call it mentoring sells the feature short.

EverQuest II has mentoring.  In EverQuest II you pick a friend and you can adjust yourself down to their level.  It is, effectively, the relationship described in the quote at the top of this post.  It is strictly an interaction between two individuals and you are limited to the level of the mentee.  (There is a “wet mentee shirt contest” joke lurking somewhere.)

Certainly you can use this new feature in Rift for that sort of thing.  But it does not require you have a lower level friend to mentor down to.  You essentially get a slider and can pick your level from a set range.

Pick your level

You can set a level appropriate to a lower level zone or dungeon and have at it without being locked in to another players level.  Furthermore, the feature is integrated with the updated Instant Adventure options that came with patch 1.9.  If you go into the random queue and it sends you to one of the lower level zones like Freemarch, your level is set automatically.

So it really is more of a dial-a-level feature, to borrow a term from other weapons technology.

And it seems to work pretty well.

At the lowest levels, such as when I get sent to Freemarch for Instant Adventure, I do seem a bit over powered.  Normal mobs go down in two shots with my pet assisting, before I can build up enough combo points to use a finisher with my ranged attack favoring rogue. (He uses the Huntsman pre-set soul plan.)  However, my rogue not only has access to all of his level 50 skill at level 12, which is the level that you get set at for Freemarch IA, but he also just got the second tier bow from the epic planar goods vendor, an upgrade that was sufficient to let him operate successfully in the Ember Island zone where previously he was losing a pet on every fight.

And this feeling of being over powered is somewhat diminished in Stonefield, where I have also spent some time running instant adventures since the patch came out.

All in all, it seems like a pretty solid attempt to solve at least one aspect of the “level” problems that plague so many MMOs.  Players can now pick a level and go play content they may have passed up while still continuing to earn planar attunement experience and related rewards.

5 thoughts on “Rift and Mentoring vs Dial-a-Level

  1. kiantremayne

    It makes an interesting comparison as well with the GW2 approach – in Rift, you get to pick your level, in Soviet Tyria, level picks YOU! :) With the Rift approach, you have the choice whether to be overpowered for the zone you’re in, or not… or just how overpowered.

    I imagine for those farming rewards there’s a sweet spot to set your level so the content isn’t grey to you but is easy enough to get max rewards for minimum effort. Not that I’d do such a thing – but as anyone who reads forums knows, if you aren’t doing things ‘efficiently’ you’re not doing it right.

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  2. bhagpuss

    You’ve been able to do this in EQ2 for several years, you know. The EQ2 mentoring system you describe is the original one and that still exists, but for a long time there have been NPCs called Chronomages in all the starting towns plus Freeport and Qeynos who will adjust your level on payment of a very small fee.

    You can Chrono to anything below your actual level, in 5 level increments. You stay at that level for as long as you choose – permanently if you wanted. You don’t need another player. Once chronoed you get xp and loot on whatever you do at the chronoed level.

    It’s not as automatic as the Rift version – you do have to go to the NPC to change levels. I prefer that, personally, for RP reasons. Other than that and the 5 level incremebts vs individual levels, the systems sound pretty similar.

    SOE are working on something they call “level agnostic” content, though. We get to see it in PvP Battlegrounds and player-made dungeons later this month. That looks to be very similar to the GW2 thing of matching you to the level of content around you automatically. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that brought in for all PVE content if they can get it tuned properly.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – I knew you were going to write this comment and bring up the Chrono thing.

    I sought in this post to distinguish what has previously been the standard for mentoring, that which SOE implemented in EQ2, with what Rift has decided to call mentoring. That EQ2 has some other system not called mentoring is beside the point, except to illustrate that being able to set your level independently is not really mentoring by the definition.

    EQ2 having two systems different systems seems somewhat cumbersome in comparison to what Trion has done in Rift.

    Level agnostic is an interesting idea, and one I am sure that feels pressing to SOE, what with two fantasy MMOs with level caps in the 90s. But in skill rich (over-rich in my view) systems like EQ2 and Rift, it is relatively easy to tone down skills acquired at high levels, at least compared to going the other direction. For example, in boosting somebody upwards to match their surroundings how do you deal with key class skills that a character might not have acquired yet?

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  4. bhagpuss

    Heh! This is getting to be infernally recursive. As I wrote the chronomage comment I wondered whether you’d refrained from mentioning the mechanism yourself in the expectation that I’d fill it in in the comments.

    Mrs Bhagpuss treated me to a week-long running joke on holiday last week in which she said things I would be certain to say just before I said them. It has to be said that David Byrne I am not.

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  5. Telwyn

    I’ve recently experienced this in Rift from the other side of the divide- I was the just dinged level 15 running a new low-level IA in the guardian starter zone. A high level player jumped in as the final boss spawned and we had a very tough fight (2 dps vs a boss) but we managed it on our third attempt.

    I also saw another level ’15’ player insta-slaying mobs the same level so certainly a mentored, but well geared level 50s can take out low level mobs regardless of the mentoring, but at least the boss creatures still present a challenge.

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