While I don't have an active sub, nor have I pre-ordered Storm Legion yet, I've been trying to gobble up information as it comes out. One of the bummers, of course, is people who are in and have tested have mostly been in the, "Holy **** it's awesome!" category. And I guess the NDA is okay with people vaguely alluding to things like that according to Hartsman.
Anyway, one of primary concerns for hanging up the towel, as it were, was the lack of timely progression options for non-raiders. Sure, you could pick up Infernal Marks or the like from Dailies/Weeklies, but solely doing such through that would put you at a **** of a long time before getting a single piece of gear, and I've never been cool with that kind of artificial grind. The alternative path, though, involved the Inscribed Sourcestone gear. Even after ID's release, this gear was left to rot in its state of sub-HK quality. Come 1.09, Trion did improve these items, but only partially. The head/gloves/pants/belt (all found from Keeper/Farclan vendors) could NOT be upgraded like the weapons or other slots. This is also meant the set bonuses were stuck in the tier prior to HK. This saddened me, because it again meant I really didn't have anything to do since I'm not a raider.
Unfortunately, in bringing this complaint to light on the official forums while my sub was active, it was typically met by raiders or even PvPers demanding that their activities warrant superiority over open-world PvEers if, for only the most shallow of reasons, "you don't need good gear." Nevermind the fact it's likely the people chasing this stuff helping to keep zone events from failing. I lost track of the times I was the sole person defending the remaining wardstone in an otherwise undermanned event where you could probably expect a bunch of people sitting at the portal waiting for the last boss to spawn. But yes, this gear helped people to better to do such things, at the same time helping them stay up to speed just in case they do eventually take an interest in raiding, or in my case, may finally have a schedule that supports it. I could also babble a bit on the likely resulting guild politics that commonly complicate any kind of endgame MMO process, but that's another can o' worms.
So, SL is on the horizon. 2 new continents with lots of PvE things to hopefully do. I tend to favor the pick-up-and-play nature that made coming upon open rifts and whatnot more appealing than setting schedules and being held up by one guy who forgot or whatever. Were these encounters soul crushingly hard? No. Then again, I don't believe they needed to be. If I was looking to challenge myself, I could always just pull all the mobs in a major rift and survive. Sometimes I wouldn't, especially on EI, but it was basically a challenge I could control. Much like EI, even if I did pick up SL, I suspect it'd hold me over for a month or two as general injection of fresh content. My primary concern is what comes after.
Has Trion learned that there are non-raiders/PvPers out there who still wish to engage in the combat system for meaningful progress? Yeah, I capped fishing and survival after they were added, but then there's the sort of, "Then what...?" that's common among the other crafts in that raid quality goods were guaranteed to spank them. So even if playing some kind of tradesman was more your schtick, you'd also hit a brick wall and fewer people will naturally want your stuff over time as they get deeper into the raid game. Said brick wall was also why I was discouraged from picking up alts, because if grinding ISS for one character took so long for so little, imagine two, up to four characters! Madness, I say. I actually look at Dimensions as a similar fate to crafts. While the various crafts sound like they'll be providing goods for building your own home(s), the combat-centered aspect of the game, the very heart of it all, is not improved any by participating. At best, it just sounds like a platinum sink for a currency that's under-utilized for the very reasons I just described of crafting's ills. Of course, my inner artist would joke about doing things like recreating Dracula's Castle from one of the Castlevania games to scall or something, but my more practical side considers a likely lacking of materials or funds for such grand, silly projects. And if wanting more than some strangers going 'ooo' and 'aaa' at makes me a selfish twat, so be it. Perhaps this is a not-so-subtle suggestion that things could be more like Build-A-Raid or whatever would help people get their jollies.
Still, one thing I am at least aware of is the pending adjustment to Planar Attunement and it becoming account-wide. I am for this exponentially in a similar reason to why farming ISS for multiple characters was so off-putting. The more a primary character progresses, the less appealing alts appear. Heck, Diablo III loosely emulated the PA system through Paragon Levels, and the same feeling applies there in knowing that some level 60 character with 35 levels has 105% more MF/GF than a fresh 60. Why spend time farming on that alt when you're seriously getting 105% less quality loot/gold? But I guess true to how the people sought fit to shut me down in my gripes about the Planar armor set, you also had people on the D3 forums insisting that account-wide Plvls would cheapen the game, be hand-outs, blah blah over-exaggerated drivel that someone with no real compassion for others could say with a straight face. Basically, fake difficulty is dumb. Humans aren't rats in a Skinner Box and I'd more than love to hammer that into the head of any game developer.
If you've actually read all of this, great. You're probably wondering why I'm babbling. It's mainly for the concerns I brought up, for that, "Then what...?" feeling that comes about when you've done what you can. Even if people could freely speak about what they've seen in the beta, I fear they may not have seen enough to fairly address any of this. And as common on the Rift boards, people tend to defend Trion's mistakes with the onus that they update the game fast and frequently. That's all well and good if you're getting the things you'd like to see, but from my perspective, nothing had really been added to the game for players like myself since Ember Isle. And when you're done with that in a month or two, seeing months pass with attention devoted more to raiders or PvPers gets demoralizing. And with no clue when the NDA being lifted, the prospect of waiting a month for SL itself, then the cost of the expansion and a month or two on top just to find history may repeat itself has me wary. Curious, obviously, but wary.
And while I know this forum sees little traffic, perhaps the direction of this thread could take on a sort of hopeful aspiration for the game's direction. If you're actually in the beta and find yourself free to further discuss anything due to official info releases, go ahead and throw them in with comparisons of the old and new, too. And despite my lacking eagerness for raiding, I'd like to avoid chatter roughly consisting of how much myself or others must suck, can't make friends, need to learn to play, or whatever juvenile drivel is sadly too common in the internet gaming sphere in relation to issues brought up. That doesn't help the game at all and always leaves me fearful that genuine suggestions get lost in the noise here, on the official boards, or anywhere in general.