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I am playing a Champion again

Posted by Rem on April 27, 2011

In LotRO, I played a Champion: a heavy armour (cf. plate) wearing melee damage dealer. The class concept of the Champion boiled down to a simple principle: kill it before it kills you. You had the Fervour stance, which you were basically using at all times – it increased your damage by 15%, massively boosted your power regeneration and completely disabled your avoidance. So your only line of defence was your armour and the ability to kill things quickly. A side effect of this configuration was that you were really, really motivated to maximise your damage output – not just at some abstract point in the distant future when you face a boss encounter and someone tells you that your DPS is low, but pretty early on, because your progress through the levelling game was directly impacted by how well you utilise your damage dealing abilities.

In RIFT, I am playing a Champion again. Well, actually I am playing a Warrior. Champion is only my “main soul”. And naturally Warriors have tanking souls as well, where the emphasis shifts to survivability, but I’m currently focused on damage dealing souls and that old Champion-feeling is back with a vengeance: how well I progress is directly related to how efficiently and effectively I deal damage. I can’t self-heal and the mobs – even very standard normal ones – don’t just take the punishment, but actually fight back. They cause enough damage to put me – in the long term – in very realistic danger of death if I am not being careful and efficient. And the quicker I can kill it, the less damage I take, the longer I can keep going before having to stop and drink. It all gets emphasized when dealing with rift invaders instead of normal mobs. The better I play, the better my gaming experience becomes. Revolutionary constellation, isn’t it?

Now, I don’t want to claim that RIFT is somehow OMG-hard. It isn’t. Nor do I want to jump on the “WoW is easy” bandwagon. WoW isn’t “easy”. Not in its whole. The problem is that WoW picks the spots in which it decides to be hard very selectively. Any glimpse of challenge is rigorously confined to level-cap dungeons and raids. Which, sure, are hard, but getting to that hard bit requires quite a number of preconditions (many of them social and organisational) to be met. The levelling game, on the other hand, is a joke, especially post-Cataclysm. At some point, someone at Blizzard got incredibly terrified that some hypothetical player will cancel their subscription upon encountering a quest they could not complete, and that hypothetically lost revenue could not be accepted. Thus the levelling game apparently was tweaked, tuned, adjusted and balanced for the damage output of a healer combined with the survivability of a clothie damage dealer. Consequently, levelling takes no effort whatsoever.

And then we wonder why there are so many “bad” players, especially damage dealers. If you are never challenged, how would you learn? Or why? If mobs die so fast that it is almost an accepted fact of life that you won’t be able to practice your “real rotation” until level cap .. well .. how would you practice your rotation then? If good play is not rewarded simply because its results are indistinguishable from the results of bad play, how would someone learn what constitutes good play and why it’s important? It is a weird vicious circle, in which the endgame is positioned as the one true thing, but you have so many levels to get through before you can get to it, so the levelling is streamlined and accelerated, which only further devalues the levelling and accentuates endgame, so levelling is trivialised and sped up further, which makes it even more inconsequential, and so on and so forth. The more it is trivialised and marginalised, the more it feels like a drag and a meaningless timesink.

Again, RIFT is not fabulously hard or anything. But it puts you up against mobs who can pose a danger to your health. Who survive your attacks long enough to make a difference in whether you hit the right keys or not. And while it’s far from screwing you over when you screw it up, the better you play, the better it goes.

Another advantage is that when the difficulty level is just that bit higher, it makes playing together with someone an actually advantageous endeavour again. In WoW, levelling as a team is mostly an impairment; there is always inevitably a coordination-and-thoughtfulness overhead, and since the “outer world” is trivial even for a single player, a team never gets a chance to make back in effectiveness what they lose in efficiency, and you only ruin each other’s rotations by cutting mob life expectations even shorter. When, on the other hand, there is a more decent base difficulty present, along with roadblocks you may face and optional challenges you might be able to jump at, The Team not only becomes viable again, but thrives and flourishes and is very much fun. Putting back the middle M in “MMO”. Cooperation only works when you have weaknesses your partner can compensate. I don’t want to be a self-sufficient superhero, I’d much rather be part of a team.

11 Responses to “I am playing a Champion again”

  1. Salvaenus said

    “I don’t want to be a self-sufficient superhero, I’d much rather be part of a team.” Well said Sir well said but I am afraid that in the future most mmorpgs are going to be glorified self pleasure festivals.

    What Server are you on? From what I hear the Swedish Swim Team is also in Telara. Bloodiron, Ironblood server? I don’t recall exactly.

    As for me, my mmorpg days are over… WoW after Cata is not WoW, and leveling alts, whatever the hell for it goes by so quickly. Whilst RIFT did pique my interests during my beta time, I found it was too much like WoW to actually buy it. At the moment I am enjoying being late to the party with Guild Wars… while waiting for Guild Wars2 and pwing noobs in Battlefield2 Bad Company 2 :D Hope you and other Enthusiasts are doing well.
    Salv

    • Rem said

      We’re on Argent, the English PvE-RP server – as you’d expect from us, probably ;)

      Sadly you’re right about the heroism thing. What bugs me is that it goes against the very name of the genre, “massively multiplayer” meaning quite literally “there are many other people”. Then you have lore, like in RIFT, specifically set up with the notion of “many” in mind, an army of Ascended fighting together, and they still can’t resist frequently trying to tell you that you’re a Special Ascended, more Ascended than the other Ascended.

      The irony is that while the very selling point of MMOs is the whole “sharing the adventure with others” angle, modern MMOs are apparently trying to beat single player games at being single player games, instead of focusing on what makes the genre truly special.

      I like RIFT because it has some interesting and worthwhile things going on in the open world – “some” being more than “none”, I take what I get and am enjoying my time in Telara immensely, while hoping that in the long run the it will hit just the balance of dungeon and open world gameplay that I’d like. Time will tell.

      • Salvaenus said

        “The irony is that while the very selling point of MMOs is the whole “sharing the adventure with others” angle, modern MMOs are apparently trying to beat single player games at being single player games, instead of focusing on what makes the genre truly special.”

        If SW:TOR rumours are to be believed than the future holds EVEN MORE of this playing amongst others crap rather than playing with others.

        I have recently downloaded the RIFT 7 day trial and must admit, you die and you die a lot when you play this game WoW style. The leveling is awesomely harsh on those who like to bite off more than they can chew. Add to this the fact that at low levels there aren’t a whole lot of people available to help close RIFTs and you have a game that could perhaps persuade me to come back to the mmorpg world. Given it is hard to make such decisions when your highest level char is only level 10 but time will tell. I love the public quest style of the rifts, I also like the death penalty mechanics in game… did I mention collections and shinies?

        How is the population on Argent? Have you tried any Battlegrounds?

        • Rem said

          Personally, I think SW:TOR is headed for such a gigantic failure (that is, if you consider the investment) that I am slightly worried for the future of Bioware and EA’s resulting stance towards them. But I may be wrong.

          I’ve never been interested in Battlegrounds, so no experience with the activity in those. The population of Argent seems firmly entrenched in the “Medium” camp. I’ve had a few very positive experiences with calling out on the zone channel that there is a major rift and then people actually arriving to take part in closing it. Invasions tend to quickly draw quite a number of people, so that you find yourself in a full raid where you just thought that there can’t be more than a handful of other people about. Should improve even more now that invasions are displayed on the world map. It’s not a “bump into people constantly” sort of deal, but I haven’t really had a feeling of “not enough around” much.

          One thing of note is that RIFT, to a certain extent, goes back to an “increase complexity with level” model. Freemarch gets you acquainted with the basic principles, Stonefield onwards really starts adding bells and whistles, especially to rift-mechanics, Scarlet Gorge is the first time you share a zone with the opposing faction and are introduced to Ancient Wardstones etc. I don’t expect wonders happening and angels singing, but so far it’s a very well designed and executed game that does a great job at keeping me entertained.

  2. Colt said

    I have just levelled my Champion up to 15th and have very much enjoyed it, although either Rift Champions are a bit more damage resistant than original Lotro Champions, or I’ve got better at damage dealing.
    I wonder if it says anything about our psyche that you prefer an all out damage dealer where survival is reliant on maximising your damage and perfecting ones rotation, and I have fallen in love with a Justicar Cleric build where, damage output is slow but steady, damage resistance is high, and health and mana can be maintained, and recovered during the fights?
    It seems I have become Mr Slow and Steady! How did I end up playing a mage in WoW?

    • Rem said

      Well, RIFT Champions do have avoidance ;)
      And sure you’ve got better, why should you have not! But as we’ve also recently seen, you’re still at your best when you can out-smart and out-last an opponent.

      It probably does say something about us, yes! I always preferred the somewhat reckless offensive style, in RPGs and other games alike. You have to wonder how I ended up playing a tank in WoW ;)
      Remember, the notion of “sacrificing survivability for damage output” used to be an actual thing, before The Three Roles got separated by high fences and it became the default thing to do.

  3. Telwyn said

    Hi, just found this blog. Great post. I really enjoy the difficulty in the open world in Rift, compared to the cakewalk that questing in WoW has become. I died plenty in Rift at first, even in a pre-made group (with tank, dps and Bard healer!), because it is very easy to overcommit yourself. Invasions in particular can be fraught back-and-forth battles as you wait for the critical mass of players to gather to overcome the attacking forces.

    I’m enjoying the Warrior mechanics, though I play Paladin tank or Riftblade dps. Maybe I should give the Champ soul a go too :-)

    • Rem said

      Welcome and thanks!

      I tried Riftblade very briefly, didn’t feel quite comfortable with it, but will give it another go at some point. Am flirting with the thought of Paragon now and again, and would like to try a Reaver-based tank spec some time .. or maybe Paladin? Oh the possibilities! :D

  4. Wreen said

    Rem! Where are thou? ;) I am also during the RIFT-tango, would be swell to see you.

  5. Wreen said

    And if i had bothered to read through my post it would have said: “Hey Rem! Where are thou? Im alsp DOING the RIFT-tango…..” Gaah. Fail

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