Rift: How bad is the PvP?

Rift PvP is bad. I don’t know if it’s historically “all time” bad, but it’s at least close. It has, more or less, nothing going for it. The warfronts are meh, the balance is off, and the entire end-game aspect of it is just terrible. Why games so focused on PvE continue to tack on PvP is beyond me, but with Rift it really is a total waste of dev time.

The warfronts: For starters, you get a grand total of four maps. Four. Warhammer launched with what, 20+? And that game was rushed out the door… Four is a low number, but if those four are great, it’s not that big an issue. The four in Rift are overall bad.

Black Gardens is, IMO, the best one, and it’s a very simple and straightforward map. Nothing super memorable, but nothing that screams terrible (really high bar we are working with here, huh).

The Codex: This one comes close, but the variables turn it into a formulaic map with basically one way to win. That the top point is worth more than the others means everyone rushing for it, and whoever controls it wins the vast majority of the time. While the actual fights around the points can be interesting due to the terrain, they play out too similar each battle, and come-from-behind wins are very rare due to how the points are balanced.

Whitefall Steepes: Remember how in WoW the most annoying thing about WSG was that it was a standstill and encouraged people to do stupid stuff like going in 1v10? Hey lets re-create that! Bonus points for making the middle ground larger to give the halfwits extra time to fight pointlessly in the middle. At least the match ends in 20 minutes or less, but far too often the map is a total campfest, and the whole design encourages cheesy soul combos just for this one map.

Port Scion: You finally made it to 50 and can now play the final, epic warfront. Surprise, its terribad! I swear Trion must have stolen the worst copy of Alterac Valley from WoW. Just so many things wrong with this map; from the main goal being totally ignored, to the snowball effect of the buffs (now nerfed, but still), to the quests the do more to distract people than encourage them to help out in a win. Port Scion should be used as an example in how NOT to design PvP, it’s that bad.

Bad maps are just the beginning though. If Rift nailed everything else, you would be left with two decent maps and could ignore the other two. MMOs have done worse.

You know what MMO history says about crowd control when it comes to PvP? It sucks. No one likes to get stunned, mezzed, disarmed, or whatever you want to call the effect of not being able to play your character. Not playing is not fun, shocker! Double suck kicks in when you get to watch yourself die when not playing. Yay. So hey, let’s release our game with a 12 second sheep, that someone can spam-cast. I’m sure that will be TONS OF FUN! Then go on to give most souls (but not all…) AoE CC in bunches, long-lasting single-target stuff, and massively inefficient anti-CC.

And the worst part of that? Even your own team hates you sheeping, because if they break it they feel bad, you get pissed, and now both sides are not having fun. Design 101 fail.

So we have rampant CC from specific souls, and since CC rules PvP, that’s how people spec. Now change it up and make CC worthless, but don’t change those souls, and watch as everyone suddenly turns super happy. Oh wait.

Let’s go for the bad design hat trick and introduce a specific stat for PvP that makes WoW look like 97 UO in terms of PvP. The way Valor is designed is staggeringly bad, in that it not only creates a massive gap between those with and those without, but turns those with into uber-tanks. Nothing says “I’m having fun now” when your giant axe wielding warrior charges a mage and bounces right off him, and then gets roasted in an AoE due to the damage amp and from the lack of actually being tanky.

Rift PvP is actually half-decent pre-50 in small bites, but it’s just terrible at 50 thanks to Valor. The difference is pretty shocking, and just highlights what a major mistake Valor really is.

I’d mention world PvP, but um… well this has been negative enough already.

At the end of the day though PvP in Rift is a total afterthought, and I doubt many would leave if it was completely removed. Which it should be, because continuing to try and bandage it together is just a waste of time, and I’m sure Rift players would much rather that time be spent on releasing PvE updates faster, or tuning souls with PvE in mind.

Trion has done a lot of things right, and created a very solid themepark MMO, which is perhaps why this total miss on PvP is so surprising.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Combat Systems, MMO design, PvP, Rift. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Rift: How bad is the PvP?

  1. Warsyde says:

    The PvP at low levels is fun, but as you increase in levels it gets progressively worse as more and more overpowered abilities come into play. Rift essentially copied WoW PvP, so if you liked WoW PvP you’ll like Rift PvP, and if you didn’t like WoW PvP Rift PvP isn’t going to do it for you at all.

    I actually like the Codex the best, as it tends to have more back-and-forth, and I’ve seen plenty of come-from-behind wins (usually for the other team, yay!). Whoever designed Whitefall Steppes needs to be taken out back and beaten though. I never thought I’d see a worse map than Warsong Gulch, but they pulled it off.

    So really, I think the best thing to do is PvP at the low levels where you only have The Black Garden and The Codex anyway and there’s not much CC or absurdly overpowered classes.

    As to Dev time though, yeah, I think Rift should focus on the PvE since that’s what it does best anyway. When they start spending development time on things like PvP arenas and ladders I’ll know it’s time to leave.

  2. Having leveled a lot of Warfronts, I agree.
    Pre-50 is actually all right. Nothing fancy, but solid fun.

    At 50 there is the valor shock and the CC!
    My Warlord can aoe-pull any number of close standing enemies to him and aoe-root 8 of them with the next instant for 8 seconds. This root does not break due to damage.

    Unfortunately, 50% of the time I only get ‘immune’ messages when I do this, because so many other players have used some CC just before.

    Still questions?

  3. bhagpuss says:

    I agree pretty much with all of that. Rift is very clearly a PvE game, and a pretty good one in my opinion, but it’s been obvious from the start that most players have little interest in PvP and those who do don’t like what they’ve been given.

    It seems that no mainstream MMO can launch nowadays without a PvP option, and somehow quite a lot of people seemed to get the idea that Rift was actually going to be a PvP-focused MMO. (How they got that idea is beyond me. I followed the game for more than a year before launch and it was always clear top me that it was a PvE MMO with a little PvP bolted on).

    I like doing Warfronts, especially after a couple of glasses of wine on a weekend. If I want to enjoy myself, however, I really have to stick to Black Garden and Codex and only play my under-50 characters. Whitefall Steppes is probably the worst instanced battleground I’ve played in any MMO, and doing anything at 50 is pointless unless you like being chain-stunned and/or one-shotted repeatedly.

    I’d love it if they just gave up on the PvP altogether and spent the development time elsewhere, but obviously they won’t. Let’s hope they at least add some new Warfronts at the sub-50 levels for a bit of variety. That’s about the best I think we can expect.

    • Angry Gamer says:

      things to think of –

      The upper tiers in the pvp souls really punish PVE toons… extra crit, de-buff you, anathema (-50% heals) etc

      A mage cleric combo can debuff you, enhance damage curse you then AOE crit you 3 times for an insta-kill in about 5 seconds if you are PVE souled.

      So yes if you are undergeared, and under pvp tiered you ARE going to have a bad day.

      But there is hope, all except mages (mages should go heavy heals) have tank type soul combos so just do a heavy damage taking soul combo and use the anti-stun stuff to survive. Yes dps will suffer but it’s really not much a change tactically.

      The idea is to get at about 7k plus HP because (psst – the channeled and insta-damage abilities all seem to top out at about 6k bursts… )so if you are above this level your healers can save you… if you are below yes you are just a graphical speed bump.

      I used a rogue riftstalker build with no points in the pvp (just using the anti-stun ability) and even at T2 I was doing ok. Good survival, good cc on healers etc. It was fun to do fang and shard relays.

      Happy Rifting

  4. Ralex says:

    “Rift PvP is actually half-decent pre-50 in small bites, but it’s just terrible at 50 thanks to Valor. The difference is pretty shocking, and just highlights what a major mistake Valor really is.”


  5. Stabs says:

    I’m really surprised that WoW’s resilience concept has caught on. It’s not just Rift, Age of Conan also borrowed it.

    It rewards people who grind battlegrounds all day at the expense of everyone else. Purely from a commercial point of view the people who play your game’s boringest bits all day long aren’t the players you must struggle to retain.

    It’s an intrinsically negative stat. I’m rank 4 with a decent set of valour gear but I don’t usually bother using it. I just rush in with PvE raider dps spec and gear and burn people down who aren’t expecting me to do 800 dps to them. I die lots but miles more fun than playing properly.

    • Nils says:

      Purely from a commercial point of view the people who play your game’s boringest bits all day long aren’t the players you must struggle to retain.

      From a commercial point of view these people should be retained above all else … …

      Otherwise I agree. Extra PvP stats are bad. They destroyed a serious amount of fun back in the day when they were introduced in WoW. I loved to go to dungeons, come back with a new weapon and put it to use in PvP. Not even talking about the immersion and crediblity …

      Of course, the negative impact of this change, pales compared to the more recent changes to MMRPGs ;)

      • Torcano says:

        No offence or anything Nils, but I am fairly certain that he wasn’t actually referring to which players you should or should not *want* to retain – ideally you would want them all wouldn’t you anyway?

        I think he refers to the fact that those hardcore grinders are your most diehard customers and surely it won’t be a ‘struggle’ to keep them. Like WoW and WoW-clones are predicated on appealing to the lowest common denominator based on the fact they are the ones you must work harder at to keep. The hardcores are much more likely to be dedicated with or without your efforts directed at them.

        That being said, I agree whole-heartedly with your 2nd paragraph on ;)

        Love the anecdote of getting a new weapon and using it everywhere…Like you said, even disregarding immersion and the “living online world” stuff (and I don’t, this is one of the biggest most important parts of MMOs for me*) it is just plain stupid and a waste of time to be limited like that.

        *I honestly do *not* see the point in MMOs that are basically multi-player dungeon looting games. It really defeats the purpose of even having an open world and the like. Its just pointless terrain no one sees or uses for the most part in WoW for example.

        At least Guild Wars is honest and doesn’t gloss over their instance-based game with the trappings of an online “world”. Its an arcadey mmo and it is so openly, and they realize their market is a lot different than say, EvE’s. They have catered to PvPers in HUGE ways but at the same time provide a pretty solid PvE experience solo and in groups. They don’t dazzle it up as having a living breathing world/economy/whatever….

        Oh ya, and im pretty sure your skills items and stats are identical for both, am I right?

        Then you have WoW and its ilk. We have this huge lore-based well-crafted clever world and TONS of crafting and eTc EtC ETc!!!!1 But really they have a useless and empty world, retarded and broken crafting/economy, and essentially 90% of players would be unaffected if they launched a WoW LFG Lobby that starts right into your dungeon of choice.

        Now the real people that piss me off though are the players. It makes absolutely no fucking sense to me why someone who solos and just wants loot (I guess?) and sometimes LFGs to advance even WANTS to play an MMO in the first place? What do they gain?

        Ive thought about it a lot lately and I am about 82.54% sure that its a combination of:
        1) Friends
        2) (Self) Respect
        3) Success

        Note that these are all based on the person’s perception. They feel successful being handed a welfare epic every 10 minutes, and they feel others respect their l33t achievements and gear (not that anyone EVER even looks at either), and they feel popular because they are in BIG GUILD or have a full friends list (of people they barely talk to most likely)

        But in any case I don’t really blame them I guess, the market does as it wills I suppose.

        But its not like we have had even *one* AAA MMO offering anything different.

        • Torcano says:

          I forgot this paragraph about 3rd from bottom:

          The thing is, personally I could never understand why they wouldnt just play single-player games. Other than fake or semi-real friends on line (and these are available outside a specific game if they are really online friends…), they get everything they want but way better. Story? about 10000x better at least, same with characterization, drama, tension, fun, combat, dialogue, the world, etc.

          The problem is that while one would assume people would like the option (in SP) to make it a lot easier for example. But no. They WANT it to be super easy but they also want to FEEL like it was hard. Or that they accomplished something. They want to wear l33t gear around and show off how l33t they are, even though its the same gear as everyone else.

          And God forbid someone make a kid feel like hes not the most badass hero in the whole game world. Thats what the game TELLS HIM ISNT IT?

          Ive been repeating myself a lot this week, but my thoughts are at least becoming more refined if not coherent :P

        • SynCaine says:

          The above is why so many THINK they like PvP, but when a game comes out with solid MMO PvP, they hate it.

          Most people are very, very uncomfortable being exposed as lesser players than what they believe they are. Themeparks do a great job of helping you support that illusion. PvP games… not so much.

        • SM says:

          Are you criticizing soloers or bad group players? I’ve seen tons of idiots playing bad and then whining about not getting gear. They aren’t soloers though.

  6. epic.ben says:

    The biggest travesty is that Rift could have had good open-world PvP. Well, maybe not. I forget that the servers can’t handle more than 20 people in the same space.

  7. Angry Gamer says:

    “Port Scion: You finally made it to 50 and can now play the final, epic warfront. Surprise, its terribad! I swear Trion must have stolen the worst copy of Alterac Valley from WoW. Just so many things wrong with this map; from the main goal being totally ignored, to the snowball effect of the buffs (now nerfed, but still), to the quests the do more to distract people than encourage them to help out in a win. Port Scion should be used as an example in how NOT to design PvP, it’s that bad.”

    Side note: You DO realize that the quests when turned in actually launch assaults and hero NPCs into the battle so far from being “distracting” the quests actually enhance the chance of victory? You knew that right?

    I’m afraid this quote is wholly inaccurate. As someone who has won more than 100 port scion and has completed all the scion achievements I believe I have some expertise to say the quote is just bad analysis.

    Port Scion is a PvP and PvE hybrid zone where you get cycled quests for PvE like things (get relics, kill endless court NPC, kill boss in church). You can also kill the opposing faction boss, gather shards for scoring, or destroy minibases for points.

    Frankly I believe port scion to be one of the best bg/warfronts I have ever played. You have multiple ways of wining in pretty much any combination.

    Unlike Wow where it’s pretty much just get to boss and kill him. You can win with a mix of strategies and scores. For example in Port there is no “get the workshop/blacksmith or we are dead” central point that kills all other strategy… you can get the mini-nodes, you can shard carry… it’s really fluid and open AND the victory score needed is high enough for a team to come from behind. (something that 98% of the time never happened in WOW – without cough “achievement premades” cough).

    I will admit it’s not Wintergrasp (tanks still rule) but really port is pretty fun and truly I like the fact that even with overpowered overgeared opposition you CAN still win scion just like WG in the old days… boy I miss when wow rocked.

    So here’s an idea get a couple of ranks in pvp actually win a few port scions and THEN critique the PvP. We bag on people who play like 2 hours of Rift and knock it… why not actually you know… er play the warfront and learn the nuances BEFORE you dump on it???

    Find out what’s upstairs at the church!
    Find out the secret way to the faction bosses.
    Find out the best way to destroy the mini-bases.
    Play shard keep away with the overpowered faction forcing them to come to your territory with your bosses to get shards to win.
    Do the dodge ball run of shard relay through the church while 5-10 opponent toons are in there
    Get the hero to spawn and herd him to their faction boss! have him tank you spank!
    Force the other faction to abandon the bridge when you gang their boss and they have to scramble to save their boss to prevent your insta-win.
    OR for bonus points chain pull a bunch of npc/npc-bosses INTO the oppositions mob at the bridge!!! Fun Fun fun as they split forces to deal with you AND the PVE…

    Just saying it’s like you guys did WG a few times never got in a siege or cannon and say it’s stinks. Well yeah it’s stinks if you don’t participate in the fun parts.

    • SynCaine says:

      All of that looks very cute on paper. I’m sure Trion had it planned out something like that.

      Here is how Port Scion goes in 99% of all games (assuming no premade): Side takes bridge, said side runs crystals, buff stacks, they win. That’s it. Anything not involved in taking the bridge and running crystals is a waste of time and a distraction for poor players. What good are NPC assaults when they don’t influence the crystal game, and the crystal game wins the vast majority of PS? Oh that’s right, they distract people away from the church, helping you lose.

      I’m aware that with a geared pre-made you can use all the little stuff in the warfront and win in different ways, sure. That same pre-made could just PUG stomp using the bridge strat, it would just take a little longer (maybe).

  8. Yea, i agree, i found the lvl 1-49 PvP entertaining as a side attraction while i level. The moment i hit lvl 50 PvP became just terrible. I’m talking getting one-shotted with regular consistency. The excuse? I need more valor.

    I suppose what broke the camel’s back was when i realized there’s not even a matchmaker to make lvl 50 pvp at least emulate some sort of “challenge” . It was either premades vs pugs resulting in an inevitably farm-pvp or rank 6 guys against rank 1 players. The difference between rank 6 and rank 1 might as well be like putting lvl 10s vs lvl 40s .

    There’s just no room for casual “sideshow” pvp at lvl 50, that’s the real issue. If you are going to “tack” pvp onto a pve game, then treat it as such. r

    • Marhous says:

      Is there a single game on any system that matches gear or ranks? Not that I know of. Sounds likeyour butt hurt because people hit before, got geared, and now are face rolling you in WF’s. The thing is, I think everyone in these posts would get face rolled if they were in P10 gear, sound like a whole bunch of bad PVE players butt hurt, because they though they were OP, but found out that they can hack it in the PVP world.

  9. bonedead says:

    Kinda glad I didn’t get to 50 and become disappointed with Scion. Was a big fan of BG and Codex though (and you can win without the codex herp, its either codex +1 or the other 3)

  10. Paragus says:

    This was one of the major reasons I was turned off to the game after playing the beta. The PvP is the poster child of being tacked on as an afterthought. Instanced PvP gets old extremely fast, and even more so when those instances are complete shit.

    The design of the overworld does not encourage naturally occurring world PvP because the 2 “factions” are so rigidly separated. They literally drew the world, put a line right down the center and cut the playerbase and content in half to prop up some lore based upon some of the worst PvP possible.

    Imagine if they went back to the drawing board and decide to focus on making the game pure PvE, how would that have affected the game? For starters they could have had multiple leveling paths because they population wouldn’t be split, or they could have kept the same path but made it twice as long extending the games content substantially.

    The dev time and resources wasted on PvP could have went to more robust PvE which is obviously this game’s target audience. Nobody plays Rift for the PvP, so they should have just let it go. Aion as bad as the games faults turned out to be, had better PvP than Rift. At least Aion had an absolutely massive central area akin to a DAOC frontier that most players ended up adventuring in pretty early in their characters life. Rift essentially created 2 different games (1 for each side) and cut the the potential world usage in half to prop up shitty lore and a bad PvP system that should have been left on the scap bin on the design floor.

  11. Marhous says:

    What it is i am seeing in all these post seems to be PVE players are getting ran over by the people who like to focus PVP….If this was a truley hard core PVE game, why even have PVP shards? I agree that Whitefall is terrible, but the other 3 Warfronts I enjoy alot. As for Port of Scion there are several ways to win, which i like. Codex I have seen 2 skilled teams work the flags where is a constant flip flop game which made it very exciting. As for Black Garden I love roll that warfront as Bard, and find it extremely fun. If you don’t like the pvp because you are getting face rolled, stick to PVE where the fights are always exactley same, every single time.

  12. Akui says:

    “Nobody plays Rift for the PvP”

    Actually there are people who play MMOs exclusively for PvP. They just hope Trion works out the balancing issues. Personally I wouldn’t have started playing MMOs 10 years ago if there was no open world PvP. I’d have thought these games were lame due to playing scripted PvE encounters all the time.

    • Roq says:

      They’d be better off just downloading Warhammer Online, which has had infinitely better PvP from launch – the problems in that game vanish into insignificance in the face of Rift PvP. Alternatively they might play Guild Wars for that matter.

      It’s seems odd to me that anyone with a PvP bent would even consider either WoW or Rift. I suppose once a game has attracted such negative publicity as WAR did, that then there really is no way back out of the hole. Guild Wars on the other hand has a good base of PvP players, but somehow the WoW/Rift crowd never can make the switch, such is the hypnotic attraction that Blizzard seems to exert.

  13. coppertopper says:

    “Black Gardens is, IMO, the best one, and it’s a very simple and straightforward map. Nothing super memorable, but nothing that screams terrible (really high bar we are working with here, huh).”

    I’m pretty sure you meant The Codex here. Surely you don’t hold a rectangular arena with all the strategy of a game of dodgeball (are you the 1st graders or 6th graders?) over every other map in the game, let alone Port Scion which you are clearly ignorant of the tactics it requires?

  14. Bob says:

    I was with you until you used this “terribad” and right at that point you slated yourself as just as bad as one of the dumbasses you slag off. If you are at all interested in sounding like a person that has even the slightest intelligence and you don’t want to come off like a 13 year old drop the kiddy chatter, seriously.

  15. emz says:

    Kind of strange that they give you buffs below lvl50 to even out our levels and then completely reverse that logic when you hit 50 by adding 8 prestige ranks.

    What is the fun of PVP if one single rank 6-8 char almost instantly kills 3 chars of rank 2-3? it’s not challenging for the rank 8 and certainly not for those who died in a couple of seconds.

    Warfronts with 50 tend to end up at the spawn point of the fraction that has less chars with good gear.

    all in all that makes very, very boring fights – if fighting occurs at all!

  16. stevey says:

    Valor geared people walk over pve geared people so i don’t see the point for grinding for your shiny items anymore when your damage goes less than half of what its supposed to hit for on players in pvp, It just seems way off and grinding for PVP gear means bearing the humiliation of being farmed for 5+ ranks which is definitely not fun, Perhaps they will nerf it sometime later but as of right now… valor based gear is dictating the outcome of fights. I’ve seen people taking out 3+ people at a time on several occasions now and subsequently rolled to a pve server and never looked back. It’s completely out of whack. They really need to pay attention to the PVP side of this game, it’s pathetic!

  17. Anonymous says:

    they should eliminate pvp gear altogether, and why are they rewarding people for ignoring the other half of the game they worked so hard on ?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Umm FYI WSG was the absolutely best thing in WoW (and possibly the most frustrating).

  19. Steve says:

    Everybody here will most likely disagree with me, however, here we go. I PvP in games and expect to receive gear related to PvP by doing so. I work a lot of hours and go to school, so if I’m ever bored and have 30 min or so, I’ll hop in a PvP match. Over a couple months of very casual playing, I would to be rewarded with some type of gear.
    I don’t have hours of uninterrupted playing time where I can get in big raids for dungeons ect. However, I do believe that people that have time for this should in fact receive items that are better / different from the items I am earning.
    If PvP is so horrible, why do you care if people who do play ‘horrible’ pvp, receive items that are only decent in that category of the game?

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