Rift Beta Summary Five – Group and destroy
Beta Five – 1/25/2011-1/29/2011
Trion has stepped up the Beta testing to prepare for the upcoming release of Rift. Including more zones, more dungeons, more levels, and most importantly a LOT more people. Also up to be tested was the open group system, and how that would impact rift fighting on the world of Telara. I was happy to spend some time in Beta 5 and thought I would share a few observations and quotes from what happened.
First, Trion extended the current Beta play area to include the zone of Scarlet Desert, which, unlike previous zones, includes a very strong presence from both Guardian and Defiant forces. Both are fighting their war against the minions of Regulos, but unable to ally due to past betrayals. Players could also explore the Foul Cascade dungeon, which is the highest dungeon yet to be revealed.
Add to that the increase of level to 30, which allows almost all of the branches of the soul tree system to be acquired (last one requires 31 points). Players can for the first time see how their entire soul tree could mesh and work with builds to take full advantage of that flexibility.
But lastly, and very impressively, are the sheer numbers of participants and how smoothly Trion is trying to integrate and obviously eager crowd of testers. It was announced very early on Tuesday that the total number of servers (including American and European) had hit 42. There appears to be some indication that the number was again raised later in the week. Considering this is a Beta test stage, that is a staggering number of server capabilities to match an even more staggering number of players. According to a Facebook post from Trion, the total number of test hours coming out of Beta 5 hit 2.4 million hours of play.
One of the largest problems I have seen in modern MMOs is how to deal with grouping, whether to make it mandatory, encouraged, or ignored. Trion has taken an interesting approach to Rift in that a lot of the basic game is soloable, however there is a very significant bonus to grouping for anything from dungeons to rifts. To help facilitate the grouping, they even have a simple method for joining an group that is not yet full, simply click a button that appears on the UI in the event that a group is in the area you are. One button, labeled “Join Public Group” appears when conditions are appropriate, and allows you to easily join your allies (Guardians and Defiants will not group mind you) against enemies in the area. This is not restricted to the typical group of 5 either, it quickly transforms into a raid force. I was fighting rifts using the public group mechanic and quickly found myself one of 20 allies beating down the forces of Fire in defense of Silverwood.
Imagine, being able to quickly assemble a group of allies to fight against the dynamic game that is Rift. Fighting off invasions, footholds, and closing rifts, with up to 19 other people who have nothing in common but wanting to bring down their enemy.
The more I play this, and watch the changes, the more excited I am getting for future Beta events, and the pre-launch on 2/24.
If you have not pre-ordered, I recommend it. Get into the last few Beta events, and get started several days in advance of other players at the pre-launch party!
Beta 6 is coming on 2/4/2011-2/7/2011, be there!
In summary, Rift Beta Five showed how determined Trion is to have a great launch, even if they are still putting the finishing touches on the product through the final stages of beta.