I’m back into Rift again and having a great time. I tend to play short sessions, squeezed in around my GW2 time, so I really appreciate how useful the map is in Rift. It signals where the rifts and invasions are – at least for the zone I’m currently in. Major invasions are announced in level appropriate chat channels automatically and marked on the map (visible from anywhere). This speaks to Trion’s design goal of ‘instant adventure’, of getting players into the action as quickly as possible. I do wonder whether Guild Wars 2 will need more of this signalling of events as the population bunches up in the later zones more.
Another big change I missed while on a break from Rift was the ‘soft-merge’ of the factions. There still are defiants and guardians with their faction-exclusive bases and capital cities. But now I can freely group with defiants and guardians. In the past I have played alongside guardians many times to defeat a rift or invasion, though we couldn’t party or heal/buff one another. Now we can party up ignoring the faction split in the field to defeat our common enemies. Having played a couple of pretty intense invasions with mixed groups I really appreciate this.
My very first invasion since restarting, in the Stillmoor zone, was one such moment. It was early morning (GMT) so the zone was rather quiet when the invasion began. I had the time so I ran over to the nearest wardstone to defend, quite a trek in that zone, by the time I got there 2 of the four total wardstones had already fallen. Clearly the zone wasn’t busy and this was a loosing battle. So I met the sole guardian at the wardstone by their base – we RP’ed our determination to stand until the last for a moment and then the waves of water demons washed over us. It was a desperate battle at first, both of us almost dying a couple of times as the number of enemies increased. Then the cavalry arrived, another pair of guardians as it happens, and we turned the tide on the invasion eventually winning the day.
Linking back to the mapping idea – this kind of fight, a desperate delaying action while re-enforcements can arrive will only occur if players know the events are on. So it’s in everyone’s interest for people to know where events are happening.