One of RIFT’s best features is its large array of small group content. A small group of friends and guildmates can go rift and zone event stampeding, crack open their own expert/raid/PvP/crafting rifts, or group up for warfronts, 10-man raids, chronicles, or dungeons. The varying difficulties of rift content and dungeon content make grouping up with players of different gear levels easy as well. Groups seeking a challenge can try out a master mode dungeon, for instance.
Dungeons are an important part of most current MMORPGs. Instanced dungeons provide a closed environment for groups to enjoy a bit of organized fighting, a bit of story, and a bit of hack n’ slash combat all in a social, proceed-at-your-own-risk pace. One way to help a smaller guild with a plan to raid build teamwork and raider skills is to organize dungeon runs. Players learn the ropes of raiding during dungeon-diving, and get to know their fellow players. Dungeon finder groups, although not always perfect, are sometimes very useful for encouraging community building.
One other great purpose dungeons serve is that they help immerse players into the world the game sets up for them by letting them be a part of the environment and storyline straight from the game’s lore. RIFT does a pretty damn good job at the immersion part. As most of us leveled our first characters, we found ourselves amazed by some of the beautiful environments and details inside the dungeons.
Darkening Deeps blew me away the first time I saw it, and I’m still a fan of the first room and the fights leading toward the first boss. Realm of the Fae is also one of my favorites, simply because players take a journey that encompasses all seasons throughout the dungeon. My other favorite is Deepstrike Mines. The overall design of that dungeon, particularly the first cavern, is rather cool.
Speaking of rather cool, we’re getting a new T2 Expert dungeon with Ember Isle. It’s called Caduceus Rise, and it’s located on the eastern side of Ember Isle. There isn’t an actual instance up yet on the PTS, but you can see where the entrance for it will be. The green dungeon icon even appears on the map. It actually seems like there may be two entrances or two ways to go once inside the dungeon, but that’s pure speculation on my part. The atmosphere of the outer area looks rather interesting.
It’s exciting to finally have a brand new 5-man dungeon. As interesting as RIFT’s current dungeons are, we really do need another. The idea behind master modes is a very good one, but I find myself wondering why it couldn’t have been introduced in a totally new dungeon instead of rehashed in current content. Repeating the same dungeons over and over again with very few unique rewards can get a little repetitious, to say the least. Sure, master modes toss in a couple new bosses, and that’s a good start– but at the end of the day, it’s the same place.
With any luck, Caduceus Rise will have some new challenges in store for us, and hopefully a master mode that we don’t have to wait around forever for. I’d love to be able to dive into a challenging dungeon that I have no previous experience with. It’ll be like experiencing T2s for the very first time again, when they were still fairly difficult and my group was still undergeared. My first run through Deepstrike Mines was quite long, but fantastically fun.
On that same note, I find myself wishing that Caduceus Rise isn’t as linear as most of RIFT’s dungeons tend to be. Linear dungeons are kind of like those quest chains you get where you go have to kill 10 boars at every checkpoint. If you have to do the quest more than a couple times, chances are, you’ll get pretty sick of killing boars. I can’t help but think that if RIFT’s dungeons contained more optional pathing, more areas to get lost in, and more ways for players who wanted to spend a little more time in there gain a few rewards, I might find myself more eager to complete them these days.
However, due to time constraints that many players have, developers can’t make a game’s dungeons too complex or take too much time. Instead, they have to find a solid middle ground. Many MMOs have struggled to find that balance. Everquest and Everquest II, for example, had some very difficult dungeons that were sometimes ignored by the player base.
World of Warcraft’s early dungeons were sometimes extremely difficult and long if you chose to do the entire thing, but if you did, you’d come away with some pretty fantastic rewards. Some of my best dungeon experiences took place in the pre-expansion versions of BRD, Dire Maul, Scholo, and Strat. Since then, Blizzard has made every single dungeon extremely linear.
It’s possible that the days of non-linear, expansive dungeons are long gone, and I’m willing to accept that, but it doesn’t stop me from hoping. Caduceus Rise wouldn’t have to be 5-hour-long difficult, but a few twists and turns, optional corridors, and creative boss fights might go a long way toward making dungeon-exploring more fun.
All I really want are reasons to go back to a dungeon more than a couple times. Going back for plaques or gear isn’t nearly as exciting as going back just because the place is freakin’ awesome.