RIFT Patch 1.9 is hitting live servers this week, and Rift Junkies got a chance to participate in a press conference call with Hal Hanlin and Scott Hartsman, who chatted a bit about why the team at Trion is so excited to unleash all the cool features of Conquest– and how that excitement will carry on into the future. One of the underlying themes of Patch 1.9 seems to have a lot to with accessibility– bringing players closer together, and creating content that all types of players can dive right into, enjoying it for months to come.
What feature are the staff at Trion most excited about? That question’s pretty easy to answer, at least when it comes to Hal Hanlin and Scott Hartsman. Conquest, of course! It isn’t the patch’s namesake for no reason. The team’s excited about Conquest for many reasons, the most notable reason, however, is because it has the capability of bridging players together. PvPers who enjoy going up against other players have a place in Conquest, as well as anyone who likes multiple objectives, teamwork, or crafting. Everyone can take part. And as a bonus, the rewards have a place on everyone’s wish list.
Scott Hartsman mentioned that his entire goal for Conquest is to make a character “Conquest-passive” by only participating in non-PvP goals and objectives. That is, focusing on crafting, collecting empowered resources, running sourcestone, and upgrading turrets. It’s an odd twist on the usual instanced PvP experience, but the cool part? It’s actually possible with the right team, viable, and sounds quite fun. It’s often extremely rewarding to be the behind-the-scenes fighter in battles of Conquest’s size. The team also plans on clarifying some of the non-PvP objectives in Conquest.
Speaking of behind the scenes, Hal Hanlin was excited to reveal his favorite role in Conquest– the behind the scenes “distraction” ninja. He enjoys grabbing a small team of players and sneaking behind enemy lines, capturing extractors left unguarded. Since Conquest is very much open-world focused, objectives are fluid and don’t become permanently capped. This lets small teams of smart players sneak around and put pressure on the enemies from behind. In many MMOs, tactics like this won’t have a large effect, but here, they will. Small groups of players can make a large impact in Conquest, and that, according to Trion’s team (and us)– is awesome.
The rewards in Conquest are also intentionally different from many other PvP rewards. The team doesn’t want RIFT players to feel like they have to grind out 20 hours of Conquest per week. They’d rather see players hopping into Conquest every so often because they enjoy it, not because it is a place to grind out special, hard-to-get rewards or currency.
All three factions of Conquest will be eligible to receive the same rewards, and as a bonus to the winning team, the colossi fight will grant a special buff. In this manner, Conquest is ideal for both dedicated and casual PvPers (Hanlin used other words. He went on record as saying “hardcore” and “softcore” in the same sentence. Yep, you heard it here, folks. Check your cable listings for hardcore and softcore “content” in RIFT).
When asked about the intended length for Conquest battles, the team replied that they don’t actually have a set time frame in mind. It’s more important for them to ensure team balance is in place, which is why we saw some important balance adjustments being tested during the third Conquest testing event. As long as the teams are properly balanced, the team noted, the match’s time length will depend solely on the back-and-forth struggles of the battle itself– this struggle is the very essence of Conquest, and shouldn’t be controlled by a timer. And in the case of an actual stalemate, there’s always attrition.
Another bridge being built between players in Patch 1.9 is, of course, the mentoring system. Along with low-level Instant Adventures, new players will find it easier to vary their leveling paths and find leveling partners. Trion’s team has had a lot of fun working on the mentoring system and adding new Instant Adventures, and it’s definitely their goal to continue creating IAs in the future. They’re fantastic places to insert fun lore characters, and they take players right to the action.
Hanlin and Hartsman mentioned a new feature the team recently added to the PTS, which gives grouped players using mentoring the ability to ride around at the mount speed of the fastest mount in the group. We’ll be seeing this on live servers in 1.9. This feature, along with all the other perks that mentoring brings, should help new players quite a bit.
One of the best “developer” perks about adding new Instant Adventures, the team says, is that the system is a perfect canvas for innovation. New quest types and fight mechanics can easily be tested within Instant Adventures, allowing the team to find new ways of introducing these innovations into later material, such as during raids. Innovation is essential in any MMO, and along with Trion’s rapid rate of delivering new content to its playerbase, innovation will definitely be key in RIFT’s continued success in the years to come.
Patch 1.9 offers bridges that are built between players, but the patch itself is also a bridge leading to Storm Legion. Players eager to hop back into RIFT when the expansion launches will be closely inspecting the game between now and then. Part of that inspection will doubtlessly focus on two things– future innovations to RIFT, and comparisons to other games on the market. What features is RIFT lacking that other games have? What does RIFT offer that blows other games out of the water? These are questions gamers new to RIFT ask themselves, and Trion, very smartly, is beginning to place some features on radar for the months to come.
During the press conference, we asked a few questions about some of the features fans might like to see for Storm Legion’s launch, or even before. Some of them have to do with 1.9’s additions, but not all. With Trion and Syfy’s Defiance currently in development, we found out that Trion is beginning to think about some sort of cross-game chat functionality. The team’s priority will remain on delivering the highest amount of quality possible to both titles, however, so a system like this definitely takes the backseat. RIFT has seen some quality updates, and it doesn’t sound like that will change anytime soon.
When asked about a possible addition of raids and slivers to the Looking for Group tool, the team responded that while there are no immediate plans to add large-group activities to the tool, it’s time to start thinking about doing so. The game has enough content now, and it would be interesting to see Trion’s take on something that has caused World of Warcraft players to share a mixed bundle of reviews. When asked about future barbershop additions such as new hairstyles and customization options, the team said additions will be gradual, but headed our way. The team is also talking about adding some new weather effects in the future.
With Summerfest, Conquest, the barbershop, mentoring, new IAs, global chat and Primeval Feast around the corner along with plenty of Storm Legion talk on the horizon, the future is looking bright for RIFT and for Trion. Now is the perfect time for the team to concentrate on building bridges between RIFT players, and that’s exactly the focus on Patch 1.9– Conquest. Enjoy the patch, folks!