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Rift: Planes of Telara PvP Opinions

With Rift: Planes of Telara going free to play, and me getting involved with the game again, I have decided to start doing PvP more often. Here I would like to detail what I like and dislike about the PvP system in Rift, as well as things like the different war fronts. Hopefully this helps some newer players (or those that are still trying to decide if Rift is right for them) better understand what the game has to offer in this area. So let us begin!

Factions

Rift is separated in to two different factions: Defiant and Guardian. Unlike some games, though, the classes available to each faction are the same. They also have the same skills and the same gear (although the gear does have different names). This helps create a true equality between factions, in that a Rogue, for example, on Defiant has the exact same capabilities as a Rogue on Guardian. While this does not make any difference with the population side, this is as fair as it can get!

How much the factions impact your game play depend on the type of server you are on. If you are playing a PvE server, or a PvE-RP, you will really not even notice it. Aside from starting out in different zones and having different capitol cities, there is no real difference. In these servers you can join the same guilds, group up together, raid together, etc. as if you are all on the same side. This was actually not like this until well in to Rift's life, and appears to have been brought forth due to complaints about population problems. By mixing together the factions like this, it helped resolve that by putting everyone in to the same pool of players.

Now, those that are on PvP servers are treated a bit different. Because you can not choose when to flag and when not to, the factions are always at war with one another (outside of the first zone per faction: Freemarch for Defiant and Silverwood for Guardian). Because of this war, there are different rules here. First off, you can not join a party in the open world with a player from the opposite faction. Since you are always flagged for killing one another, it would cause too many problems by allowing you to group with one another. Another thing that does not happen here is working together. Even if you try, it is very difficult because any enemy players will be targeted when you tab target or use AoE skills. Because of this, you have many less players to join in combat, and doing things like PvE becomes a hassle as well unless you want to kill your enemies first.

With that said, this is all understandable. Rift was originally created to have the factions against each other the entire time. I do not believe it was in their plan to do faction mixing, and if it were not for player complaints and population problems at one point I do not think it would have been implemented to begin with.

The Classes

Rift has four different classes, called callings, and they can each fulfill multiple roles. This is awesome because instead of choosing to just be a healer, for example, you can also switch over to being a damage dealer or a tank. These options make the PvP much more enjoyable, as they give more ways to plan against your enemy's attacks and make changes to your own strategy along the way. While each class is not equal to each other (they are not perfectly balanced), they are close enough to make it interesting to fight other players!

What this does is bring in some variation when fighting players, above and beyond what is normally seen in games. Instead of knowing, for example, what type of build someone is playing (healer, damage dealer, tank or support) ahead of time, you have to analyze their skills they are using and such. Furthermore, once you do figure out how someone is playing, they can drop in and out of their roles at any point (as long as they are not in combat at the time), meaning that it is even more variable!

While this can play to a negative aspect of PvP, it is positive for many of us. If you are interested in PvP not so much for the easy rewards, but more for the challenge of taking down enemies, this is a great system. The ever changing dynamics make for a different battle each time, which means you are constantly going up against some new challenges. This, in effect, means you learn how to be a much better player, and in a lot of cases this also ends up transferring to better success out in the PvE world, such as with raiding.

The Roles

While we covered the classes a bit, we did not look at the roles. Rift is separated in to four different roles: support, tanking, healing and damage dealing. Each of these has their own job, and when fully specced out for one of them you will be much more effective than a player that tries to create a hybrid (although this does not mean that hybrids are bad, it just means that if you are a hybrid tank and damage dealer, for example, a real tank will be better at tanking and a real damage dealer will be better at damage output).

Healer

The job of the healer is to… heal. This is what they focus on, and their targets will often depend on what type of PvP you are taking part in. If you are out in the open world, for example, heals will generally be used on the strongest damage dealers. Tanks, while they will get heals from time to time, dish out less damage and so are often seen as being less of a loss if they happen to go down.

When it comes to war fronts, the healing targets will change. In these cases, you want to heal whoever is either holding an objective or is trying to get to it. It does not matter if that person is a tank or anything; the person going for the objective is the most important person to keep alive and so they should be taken well care of.

With a pure healer, their job is to heal, rather than tank or do damage. As a result, they have great survivability, but when it comes to defending yourself against an enemy healer it is pretty easy. This helps add another dimension to the game, in that healers must decide if they want to be threatening or if they want to have great survivability at the cost of not really being able to do much else.

Damage Dealers

Damage dealers are by far the most popular in PvP, much like they are in PvE combat. This is most likely due to the view that they are easier to play, although that is not necessarily true. Regardless, the view is there and it helps shape the population of this role greatly.

Pure damage dealers are meant for just that: killing enemies. They have low survivability on their own, however if they have a “pocket healer,” or a healer that does nothing but keep them up, rather than healing the entire team, they can be very effective. Along with this, damage dealers are great for taking down enemy healers, as well as those who are carrying objectives (in war fronts that have objectives). They are a central part of any PvP match and without them, you really will not be getting anywhere.

The down side to damage dealers is their popularity. Since so many players choose to roll them, they pretty much overflow the game, in that you will undoubtedly find more damage dealers while out and about than you will any other role. This means that there are many less healers than damage dealers, which leads to tougher times with survivability and staying up. A good balance here is really needed, and sadly it is something we do not see that often, except with very organized PvP groups and guilds.

Tanks

Tanks do have their role in PvP, although not like in a lot of other games. Generally, the tanks here are just good for holding objectives or for being an extra target for enemies. A lot of people do not pay that much attention to the roles of who they are attacking, and so they will end up spending a lot of their time just attacking a tank rather than doing something more useful. This happens quite a bit, and makes the tanks very useful in all types of PvP, whether it be in the open world or in war fronts.

Tanks also have their benefit in matches like Port of Scion, in that they can tank the mobs and bosses a lot easier. While a damage dealer or other role can also tank the mobs in the war front, the tanks have a much easier job and since they can keep the threat built up on themselves, they can hold the mobs while their allies fend off any enemy players that might be trying to sneak in and gank them. In essence, when playing a match like this as a tank, they are running with the same role they would have in raid groups; help keep mobs attracted to them so allies can take them down without any worry, and help keep the mobs organized so they are not running around mindlessly.

Open World PvP

Open world PvP is often only seen on actual PvP servers, although sometimes a guild or a group of players will try to organize a PvP match even on PvE ones. For the most part, however, this does not happen that often on PvE.

While most players are more interested in PvP'ing inside war fronts because they are instanced and you can jump in and out when you wish, open world PvP is still there, mostly because it is helped out by the creation of PvP quests. These are daily (and weekly) quests that are available and deal with killing other players, or just fighting in PvE areas. They turn in to PvP matches, though, as both factions have goals in the same spots, meaning that if you are on a PvP server you are bound to run in to an enemy player (or more!). This is an awesome twist towards making open world PvP helpful, and it does a pretty good job at it.

The other way that Trion helps foster open world PvP is through PvP rifts. These are rifts that are designed to get players to fight each other, with the faction that opened the rift having the goal of defending it and the other faction having the goal of taking it down. This rift type works the same on both PvE and PvP servers, as you end up having to flag in order to take part, so really there is no difference there. Sadly, these are not seen as often as they should be, but when they are they can be a lot of fun!

Overall, open world PvP can be a great aspect of Rift, though a lot of people do not like being forced to take part. As a result, this is something you will really only see on PvP servers (though it can be seen on PvE ones from time to time as well).

War Fronts

This is the most popular form of PvP in Rift. It is based on instanced combat, where you can join a match from the safety of a town or other area, get in some PvP, and then go back to what you were doing before you joined. Along with this, there is no risk here, as there is no death penalty when in war fronts, even when dying to mobs. Furthermore, there are some awesome drops that can be had during the fights, as you are able to loot enemy players just like you do mobs out in the world!

I would like to take a look at each of the war fronts now, and go through a bit of what I like and dislike about them. Each one of these is really different, even if they have the same play style as another one. As a result, you can get a lot of different experiences by spreading yourself among all of them. At the same time, you will usually come across one that you feel is your favorite above all others, and that is fine!

The Black Garden

The Black Garden is awesome because the PvP is centralized towards the middle of the map. Both sides have about the same distance to run to the center, and what you are essentially trying to do is hold a flag with the enemy players coming after you in an attempt to kill you.

To add a bit of a challenge to holding the flag, it ends up dealing damage while behind held, and this damage increases with every few ticks. This means that even if you are being protected by your team, and even if you have a lot of awesome healers, you are bound to die at some point because the damage taken from a single tick will end up being higher than your maximum health. This helps create some added strategy, as each time you drop the flag you are risking that the other team will grab it and start earning some points for themselves!

The bad part of this map is that the size is that teams will often take the flag up near their spawn to keep it safe from enemies. While this would not be too big of a problem normally, the amount of points earned per tick is decreased the further away the flag is from the middle of the map, so what this does is slow down the speed of the match considerably, leading to a much longer game than it really should be (since kills, which grant almost nothing, end up being pretty much the only way for a team to win).

Ideally, what The Black Garden should do is set up invisible walls around the inner perimeter, or at least along the sides where the spawning walls are, and let players run freely through the wall as long as they are not holding the flag. This would help keep it near the center, while not allowing people to keep dragging it off and making the game drag on forever.

Domination: The Black Garden

This is an alternate form of The Black Garden that takes place on the same map, but with very different rules. Instead of having a flag in the middle that both teams are fighting to pick up and hold, there are two points, one on the west and one on the east, that the teams are working on capturing and protecting. Unlike the flags, however, these can not be moved, and instead are stationary.

This new game type brings about a whole new dynamic to The Black Garden. Instead of just having to deal with grabbing the flag and taking it to your spawn, or otherwise protecting it, you have to hold an actual area and try to keep enemy players away from it the best you can. Along with this, because there are two spots and each of them is worth the same amount of points per tick, it means just holding one really is not enough. Instead, you must either hold both points, hold one and keep the other one contested for a while, or hold one and get more kills than the other team does.

While there are multiple ways to win this fight, none of them are easy. Especially on a map as small as The Black Garden, being able to keep a good enough control over both areas is very tough. Being able to play dynamically here is by far the most important thing, as is keeping up with what is going on. Even a small mistake here can easily be the difference between winning and losing the battle, because both teams really have an equal chance of gaining points.

There really is not anything that is unfair about this map, although that can be a bit of an issue depending on how you look at it. Since both locations are worth the same number of points, if each team is holding one pretty steadily the map can drag on and the winner could take the match with a difference of only a point or two. This has not really happened (at least not that I have experienced) due to really big imbalances on player levels, classes and experience with PvP, but in a more organized battle I can see this causing some complications. Really, what would be better than the form of domination that The Black Garden uses is probably something more along the lines of having a single point to capture, and having it right in the center of the map where the flag spawns on normal mode. This would help move the match faster and would require just as much strategy, if not more, than the system currently used. Of course, the capture spot would still be stationary, meaning that the middle of the map would be the hot spot for all combat!

Library of the Runemasters

Library of the Runemasters is a lot like the normal version of The Black Garden. It has a flag you pick up and try to hold, that does more and more damage over time. A massive difference here, though, is that there is not one flag but many. In fact, the match starts out with four of them spawning, and over time this increases (the highest I have seen is seven up at once).

Each flag in Library of the Runemasters is worth three points per tick, regardless of where it is being held. This means that if you manage to find a safe spot (which there are none, unless your team is very good at protecting you from enemies), you will get the same three points as if you rush out in to the middle of the map. Because of this, the more important thing is to stay alive, rather than worrying about where you are standing and trying to balance the two together.

Another big part that plays a role in this map is that the map itself is pretty small. This compacts the fighting in to a little area, which means anywhere you go you are within range of an enemy player (pretty much). Finding safe areas is tough because of this, so being more protective is essential to keeping your allies up while they hold the flags.

There is a center area of the map that is above the outer perimeter. From here, you can hit players that are nearly anywhere else, unless they are hiding behind one of the statues along the outer perimeter. This grants the team that is holding the center a massive advantage with their ranged attacks, making it at least somewhat important to hold. The down side to this is that all of the flags spawn around the outside, so if you are just hanging out in the middle you will still have to wander out in order to grab them.

While this part is of some importance, its usage is really somewhat limited (although do not discount it; having it is much better than not). What are we talking about? The damage buff! From the spawn areas, each side has two portals. Going through these teleports you to the bottom level of the map and gives a short damage buff that increases the size of your character. This can give a massive benefit in a battle, though its time is pretty short. Regardless, there is no real reason not to grab it, since you have to go down to the bottom level regardless! If nothing else, consider it as being a free buff for taking a second out of your time to go through a portal instead of just jumping off the top level.

The Codex

The Codex uses the domination style of combat, so if you have played Domination: The Black Garden you are likely already at least somewhat used to it. There is a massive difference with The Codex, though, in that this map is actually built for the domination game style, rather than being adapted. This means that it is much more successful at hosting it than The Black Garden is.

The first thing you will notice when you enter The Codex is that the map is very large. There is quite a bit of running around here, and fighting will usually take place all around the map (although really it should not be). You will clash with players quite often here, even while just trying to go from one objective to another. Along with this, there are many places to hide and tons of environment to use to your advantage for avoiding enemies, attacking from cover, etc. The more comfortable you get with playing on the map, the better you will be with navigating it and knowing your best places for hiding and standing so you can take down enemies swiftly.

The other thing you are going to notice on this map is that there are not two objectives, but a total of four. One of these is near each spawn, and the other two are in the center of the two teams, one north and one south. At first glance, it may seem like this is a lot like The Black Garden's version, where holding two points for each team would put them on an equal level in regards to points, but this is very wrong. Instead, the different objectives have different values associated with them.

The Codex, located in the northern middle of the map, is worth five points per tick. Each of the other three is only worth three points each. For example, if each side owns two objectives, one will be earning eight points a tick while the other earns six, which adds up pretty quickly over time. In other words, just holding two points does not necessarily mean you are doing well and have a fighting chance. Instead, you must change things up a bit, such as this:

  • You can take The Codex and one other point
  • You can leave The Codex and take all three other points

Of course, the more points you have taken and are holding, the quicker your score will increase and the better your chances of winning the match, but as you might expect it can be pretty tough to hold on to more than two at a time. If you can manage to hold on to all four at once, however, that is a total of fourteen points you are earning per tick, while your opponents are getting none at all! Within even a short period of time, this can really change the battle and either move you from losing to winning or even to a faster win.

While the large size of this map is great, it is also a bad thing. It is important to remember that you will likely be dying over and over again through PvP, and this map is no exception. With the pretty long run distance between the spawns and any of the objectives, it means if your group wipes while trying to take one or just protect one, you are likely going to end up losing it before you have enough time to get back. This does sway both ways, of course, but it can get a little annoying at times. If you are at the bottom of the level bracket or you have bad gear, for example, you can count on dying quite a bit, leading to more time being spent running from the spawn to an objective than you do actually helping out. After a little while this can start to get a little disheartening, leading to decreased desire to keep continuing on, but just keep in mind that everyone else was in the same boat at some point!

If there were any changes I could make to this map, I really can not think of any that would be good. While the run distance between points is somewhat bad, it does add to the challenge of the match, and it does help drive players to try and die less often. I feel that the point system behind the objectives is spot on, in that one point is worth more than any of the other three, giving multiple ways to win and leading to some pretty heated battles. While there are some big fights that will occur at the other objectives as well, The Codex is generally where the big ones happen, and they happen often!

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