Rift - The Decline of Low Level Group Content
ByDate: Dec 29 2016 Views:
With Rift’s latest expansion, Starfall Prophecy, just over a month old, its impact on old content has already been made very clear. For players that already have their mains set up and multiple alts, it isn’t a big issue, but for those that are just now getting involved, the disarray within the system has proven to complicate things when it comes to users being able to feel everything the game has to offer.
A Focus On End-Game
End-game has always been the main focus for Trion when it comes to Rift. Getting there, the journey itself, has been somewhat on the sidelines, being that you only pass through it once, whereas you spend months or years at the latest levels, doing the content over and over in an attempt to either get the latest gear or other items you might want. As such, a lot of little “bypasses” have been created for lower levels that help make getting to the end-game much easier and more efficient, at the cost of fresh, new content – and it’s largely causing a disruption when it comes to finding groups to do things with.
An easy fix to this issue would be to simply give better benefits to helping out lower levels with dungeons and quests. A proper scaling system to content, for example, could allow higher levels to join lower ones and still feel like they are getting a benefit, as opposed to it essentially just being a donation of time to help others. For most that aren’t already at 70, getting there is the main goal. And once there, getting ready for raids is next. Offering the ability to actually progress while helping lower levels would be a huge step towards fixing the lack of community content for lower levels.
Low Level Warfronts
One of the most asked questions within the game, by far, is whether or not warfronts are disabled. Usually this comes from new players who queue up but can never find a group, though there are sometimes returning players that experience the same thing. Even a couple years into Rift’s life, warfronts were fairly active across all level brackets. Whether you were 10 or 50, for example, you could easily find queue pops. Over time, this has changed. As of this writing, for example, getting a warfront below the level 65 bracket is pretty much not going to happen. Queuing the entire path from 10->70, for example, resulted in zero queue pops, despite having spent days in the system looking for others.
It is worth noting that lower level PvP doesn’t serve a lot of good in terms of progression, which is why many won’t join the queues. Being that the focus is on end-game and warfronts grant a fairly small amount of experience compared to the time in them, as well as items that are quickly replaced, it is more of a boredom outlet early on in the game, as opposed to being something players actually want to take part in.
Dungeons are assisted by the “mentoring” system in Rift, which allows higher level players to queue up and join older dungeons. This helps lower levels by opening up the player pool considerably, giving a bit of life back to the older ones. The important thing to note here, however, is that due to the low experience gains of mentored dungeons, the vast majority of players are going to stick with the higher level ones and not deal with mentoring at all. Because of this, finding dungeon queue pops is fairly rare, but the random ones that do occur do help with giving a break from the other content. A good rule of thumb here is to just stay queued as you level – this way you can get that small break here and there.
Pushing for Quick End-Game
The push for getting to the level cap as fast as possible has resulted in players congregating around either solo questing (though grouping up for the story quests will speed them up considerably) once they are 65+, running Charmer’s Caldera endlessly from 50+ (with a guild mate or other friend helping), and instant adventures up until that point. While instant adventures could be considered as “group” content, it is vastly different from other things where players work together – and it often has a number of players just trying to leech the work of others, rather than helping clear the content out more quickly. And let’s face it: just doing instant adventures the entire time you’re playing gets old quick. If you have been running them for more than an hour or two, you are already just rehashing the same content over and over, and it turns into a drone-like aspect of the game, where you’re just mindlessly attacking things and watching your experience bar slowly fill up. And for many players, this lack of real social content up until the later levels has impacted their retention. After all, we play MMOs for that community feel – not to be stuck soloing most of the time.