This is just an observational post. I quit back in 2016 and while I still log in every few months to mess around in PvP I never bothered to hit level 70 on my main character due to the simple fact that SFP is the worst expansion in the history of this game. And I'm not talking about anything related to the end-game.

There are a whole host of problems with the leveling, the story, zone design and lack of updates that RIFT needed to be competitive with other MMOs. Most of this aside from the narrative can be more or less adjusted or fixed.

Issue #1 - Leveling (Including Story, Dungeons, PvP etc)

Leveling in SFP is horrendous. Compared to GW 2, ESO and especially FFXIV (which does this the best), RIFT has always just been a clusterf*** of just go around to zones that are your level, do some zone events and do some quests while exploring. Rift has lacked hard in the story department because the way that most of the narrative is told via quest text just isn't entertaining by modern standards. Vanilla RIFT worked well in this format because you had a lot of levels and everything gave a pretty good amount of exp. You had a lot of choices with what you could do to level and you constantly felt like you were progressing. The story took a backseat.

The problem with this setup though is when you don't extend the level cap enough you start to feel like you're banging you head into a wall with whatever content you choose to do. This really started in NMT where you had to cram a full expansion story into 5 levels and just got worse when going into SFP. Your EXP bar barely moves. On top of this, they pushed the story to the forefront for questing by introducing instances and the like. The instances feel like that Trion liked how WoW started to introduce storytelling in Warlords of Draenor and then tried to copy the formula only to fall flat on their face because they didn't have a dev team anywhere close to WoW's in terms of size and skill.

So to level through SFP, you never feel like you're getting a lot of exp or getting anywhere. The story is almost incomprehensible due to the previous setup of it mostly taking up the backseat and being playable out of order. The zones, while they look good, are horrible to navigate around and the zone events are extremely lacking compared to previous events.

Also in terms of EXP it feels like Trion increased the time it took to level on average from NMT to encourage more patron sales. I had patron when SFP came out along with vials of EXP. I didn't when NMT came out. I leveled faster through NMT that I did at the start of SFP and whenever I come back these days, I find that at level 69 a single quest barely raises my exp more than 1% without patron. Considering Trion ended up bankrupt, it wouldn't surprise me if my hunch on Trion encouraging patron purchases is correct. I'm just too lazy and don't care enough to do the math to prove it.

How could Gamigo improve or fix the issue? Please, sit down, look over the leveling and speed it up. Increase the EXP from zone events, PvP and especially dungeons which barely give any EXP unlike previous expansions.

Issue #2 - The Story

The narrative in RIFT is gemerally told horribly. For long term welfare of the game, please improve the way it's currently told and been told previously. I doubt most players in the game still could even give me a good rundown of where we are now and why we're on a comet instead of going to another plane after the plane of water.

Issue #3 - Zone Design

Xarth Mire is a contender the worst designed zone I've seen in a MMO. The pathing is bad and the mobs are all over the place making navigation without aggroing anything virtually impossible. The map also doesn't line up 100% with the actual zone.

Most of the other zones suffer the same problems, but it's by far at its worst in Xarth Mire.

Trimming down on the mobs or adjusting their wandering radius to stay out of the way from most paths would be great (unless it's a base, camp or something else). In old school RIFT, most of the mob placement when it came to roads was realistically far enough away to keep them from seriously blocking travel. The biggest dangers were roaming invasions and rifts. Speaking of those, turn the EXP payout and frequency of them up. They were, including zone events, the biggest driving factor in vanilla and they've slowly faded out of relevance during the leveling process over expansions.

Issue #3 - Lack of Updates

This is mostly related to mechanics found in other games that RIFT should adapt to. This isn't in regards to content drought.

1. Fast travel needs to be given to everyone at this point and needs to be off cooldown. Take the patron fast travel ability, give it to everyone, make it a channel and make the price for ports be based on the distance you're traveling from where you're currently standing.

Remove the cost of ports for patrons.

2. Normalize stats in PVP. Give everyone the same stats please, regardless of level and gear. I'm not saying remove any gear or progression from PVP, but make it purely skill based. It removes a whole lot of variables needed for actually balancing the numbers. Gear you get out of PvP should be upgradable to a value that is just below the current raid drop tier. If you just play PvP it gives you something to do and if you ever want to step out of PvP, you'll have decent gear for whatever you want to do.

3. Do store sales and sell seasonal items occasionally out of season. Going by store prices, the last time I did the math two or three years ago Trion had 1800$ or more worth of stuff if you converted the credits to USD. There's a literal ton of stuff you could be putting on sale to encourage more purchases and maybe get a player who wanted to purchase something but didn't like the price a chance to pick up.

4. Bring back conquest. We're missing the population for it to be like it was in Storm Legion so I would like to offer these suggestions:
  • Add rifts and invasions to CQ, dial up the spawn rate to 100 and make them invade the extractors and usual areas.
  • Remove or signifigantly lower the kill weekly, or adjust it to include invasion NPCs and rift NPCs if the above is implemented.
  • Reduce the focus on pushing for fast wins by making capturing extractors, defeating rifts, defeating footholds/invasions and defeating bosses provide immediate and fairly decent rewards.
  • Add raid bosses to Conquest and have them randomly roam the map. The developer conquest where the devs were spawning them back in 2015 was great and it seriously changed up the gameplay.
  • Add a timer to push conquest into its second phase if the objectives haven't been met in 2 hours.
  • Allow all levels to enter CQ. Give lower level players better normalized stats proportional to the levels that they are from 70 to make up for their missing abilities.

Anyway here's just a list of stuff I believe the game could benefit from. RIFT has the staying power to be a good game people can come back to and enjoy. I don't foresee RIFT ever having a massive revival, but if most of the problems still in the game are addressed I could see it eventually going into cult classic status and having a fairly solid population again.