Here we are at my second follow-up post to my MMO outlook post for 2011, and we’re going to talk about Rift.
Rift is shiny.
It looks good, even from the moment you step into the game.
It is hard to credit Trion Worlds enough. They have handled this game like pros, from the way the game looks and feels to the slow drip open beta events that have kept people clamoring for more. (This is something I think Blizzard totally blew for Cataclysm, at least from a marketing perspective. The all summer/fall continuous open beta seemed to take the edge off for people.)
They have grabbed all the good stuff, the stuff people have shown they love, buffed them up and put them in Rift.
Everything is familiar yet up a notch or two in quality and presentation. Simple things just look better.
I mean, look at those buttons. They are comprehensible! (Well, to me at least.) How many MMOs do you start off in and the buttons for key functions look this good? A tiny little feature, way down in the lower left hand corner, but indicative of the whole package.
And then there are the skill icons.
Those skill icons are all done so very well. Granted, I got a bunch of skills pretty quickly in the game (I have to give Wolfshead a nod. While you need to get that 2nd soul pretty quick to to fill the skill voids in all of the classes I tried, I think maybe that 3rd soul comes in a little too soon.) but the icons are all clear and distinct. And you know what that first one does for sure, just by looking at it, and most of the rest are some form of “hit the bad guy, hard!”
And the soul tree, any veteran MMO player will get it at first glance.
Everything is… well… shiny. Like the song from Cats Don’t Dance, Trion Worlds seems to get that people like it Big and Loud.
When you get into the world, which is dark and has a feel similar to that of Warhammer Online (not to mention using the same font for player names), action is close at hand. And you do not have to go too far down the quest chain to run into that which gives the game its name, rifts.
These are big zone-wide events and you are invited. Just click the “Join Public Group” button that appears at the top of and you’re on the team.
And, being open beta with a large and enthusiastic following, prime time Rift hunts had the feel of mass migrations as people thundered across the landscape.
At midnight when I couldn’t get to sleep and logged in for a while, things were a little less tenable.
The whole package is shiny, familiar, and seemingly as tight as a drum.
At least for those first 10 levels. I rolled up a few characters, but never went past 10 with any of them. I wanted more breadth, trying out classes on both Guardian and Defiant sides of the world, those being the two opposing factions of Telara.
All of the things I like about other MMOs are there. Which is, of course, a problem.
If World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and EverQuest II disappeared tomorrow, I’d be all over this like white on the proverbial polished rice.
But those three games, and many more, are still around and won’t be going anywhere any time soon. I mean, look at EverQuest. It is turning 13 soon and it is still hanging in there. They even launched a new progression server for it.
So my anxiety about the game seems to have proven true. It is more of the same stuff I am already consuming, and I can only consume so much at once.
Furthermore, Rift doesn’t do anything about the things I don’t like about MMOs.
Servers for example.
Or shards, which is the term Trion Worlds has chosen. But servers, shards, realms, or whatever, here is something that only EverQuest II Extended seems to have come close to solving.
There it was, open beta, and Trion already had a long list of shards, all of which were full, something which seems to indicate that the “I want to play with my friends, but they are on a different shard” issue is going to replay the way it always does.
And, of course, there is the whole level thing, the other great separator that keeps people from playing with their friends.
These are issues that I’ve had to reconcile through various means already in other games, and I groan a bit at the thought of having to do it again.
If I was tired of the games I already had on my plate, Rift would be a fine choice. It has much to recommend it, as long as you are looking for a game that is clearly located in the center of the fantasy MMORPG genre and proud of it.
But with my plate already heaped with fantasy MMORPG goodness that I am invested in because of friends (WoW), lore (LOTRO), or nostalgia (anything involving Norrath), I really have to finish with a couple of those before I look into Rift.
So I won’t be pre-ordering. I won’t be playing on day one.
And that certainly is not because of any game issue. It just isn’t 1999 or 2004 any more. There are a lot of choices for games and I can’t play them all. And while the game looks solid, I just didn’t see anything, nor have I read about anything, that stands out as a must-have differentiator for me.
I might get back to Rift at some later date. It certainly looks like it will do well enough that it will still be there waiting for me. But for now, Rift is scratched.
How long until Star Wars: The Old Republic comes out? I think either it or Tera are the next games on my 2011 watch list due to ship.