2011 – Second MMO Checkpoint: Rift Edition

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.

Shiny even in battle

It looks good, even from the moment you step into the game.

Peeking out into the Guardian starter zone

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.

We all love achievements, right?

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.

action action bar!

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.

<make Soul Train joke here>

Everything is… well… shiny.  Like the song from Cats Don’t Dance, Trion Worlds seems to get that people like it Big and Loud.

Actual size Level Up text

And shiny.

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.

I'm in the raid now!

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.

It's the tier 1 Telara marathon!

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.

17 thoughts on “2011 – Second MMO Checkpoint: Rift Edition

  1. Bhagpuss

    I’d just mention that I found level 10 to 20 a LOT more fun than 1 – 10. And 20 – 27 (the highest I’ve got so far) is more fun than that. Gloamwood is much, much more interesting and impressive than Silverwood. I only poked my head into the next zone after that, but that was visually stunning. Telara is by far the most explorable MMO world I’ve visited since Telon.

    Mrs Bhagpuss and I are jumping ship to Rift. We would otherwise be buying and playing the new Velious expansion for EQ2, but now we won’t be. Not yet, at least. We’ll get to it eventually, but it will wait. Have to buy it before the end of 2011 to get the final Loyalty reward :)

    Anyway, we’ll be keeping our Station Access accounts even though we probably won’t be using them much and even though we play almost entirely on EQ2X now, on Silver accounts. I like my SA account. I think of it as club dues that I pay even though I might not be going to the club much at the moment.


  2. SynCaine

    I’m wondering how many people fall into your camp (too similar, staying with what I have) vs how many are switching because “its similar, but does it better, off I go”?

    Of course I think there is a large camp of people in group 3; done with WoW/LoTRO/EQ2/Whatever, still want themepark fantasy done well, going to play Rift, but it’s the first two groups that are curious. Is Rift, as a whole, good enough to make people (and guilds) switch from WoW/LoTRO/EQ2/Whatever?


  3. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @SynCaine – I’m sure it depends on where you are in the arc of your play cycle.

    If our little group played WoW nightly rather than weekly and had burned through Cataclysm already, as it is certainly easy enough to do it would seem, we’d probably be looking at Rift as our next option.

    Certainly, there are no negatives to Rift that I can think of that don’t also apply to the games I would otherwise be playing.

    But to pull me away from a game in which I am already invested for changes to the genre that I think are fair to call “incremental” is a tough sell.

    And there is the social aspect, which despite today’s post by Wolfshead, is still an important factor for MMOs. Outside of the regular group, I know a lot of people who play WoW want to continue to play with them as well, now that we’ve got some better consolidation in one guild on one faction and on one realm.

    Rift Pool: When will the solo-ist, PvE, content consuming players start complaining that they’ve run out of content in Rift. It happens in every game.


  4. Randomessa

    There is the third group (possibly not worth mentioning at all, but I exist, so I speak up!) – those who aren’t playing any of the other games Rift is “like,” for reasons aside from not liking themepark games, and so have nothing better to do than give Rift a try because it’s not like they’re playing anything else anyway.


  5. pkudude99

    For me it’s just downright fun. Maybe that’s due to the shiny newness of it, but it’s “got it” for me.

    As a result, I’m in Bhagpuss’s boat — EQ2 is gonna be backburnered. I’m still getting DoV expansion on the 22nd, but on the 24th when the Rift head start begins I’ll be there and doubt I’ll play much of any other game for a month ro so.

    Hmm. Might be a good time to finally train one of those level 5 Battleship skills in EVE.

    And tbh, this might be my EQ2 killer. I’ve played EQ2 since launch and still love it, but at times I log in and just go “What’d I log in for?” and just dink around to kill time, but don’t really finish a session thinking about how much fuin I had. Conversely, though I didn’t actually intend to play much of Beta 6, I actually pulled an all-nighter on Friday. Granted, I was ill and in a lot of pain and probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep anyway, but the fact that I enjoyed it enough that I even *could* pull an all-nighter (I have sleep apnea — I’m normally a zombie by midnight unless something’s keeping me extremely engaged, and this is with a cpap machine helping me out. . . .)

    We’ll see though — I’m not canceling my EQ2 sub or anything, it’ll just be less used for a while while I see if Rift is just “shiny and new” or if it’s going to have legs for me.


  6. Joe

    I have similar feelings about Rift. Its a nice game with pretty world but its benefits dont outweigh what one loses if one leaves one of the more veteran games. I’ve heard it said that the new bar is for an MMO to be polished already upon release..I’m thinking, for me at least, any sequel (think Civ 5) not only needs to be bug free, have all the basics down AND bring with it some level of depth and immersion. Some people call this “end game progression”…I’d rather have culture and and a living world that comes with a developed game.

    Anyhoo here is my Rift review if I havnt already posted it before.


  7. SynCaine

    @TAGN: It’s tough to read Wolfshead, since he considered WoW the game for MMO players. All of the stuff he talks about won’t be fixed in WoW, and is fixed in other games. The issue is not changing WoW, it’s playing something that does what he wants (or at least thinks he wants, but that’s a different topic).

    I mean, it’s one thing to poke at WoW for it’s shortcomings as an MMO, it’s another to seriously expect Blizzard to turn it into EQ1.


  8. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @SynCaine – Well, you’re tough to read too on occasion, when you go on an anti-WoW crusade, but I try to read opinions that divert from my own from time to time, if only to test my own perspective.

    Yeah, what he thinks he wants vs. reality… there is a topic indeed.

    After giving up on turning 2004 EQ1 back into day one EQ1, he hounded WoW for a few years.

    But Wolfie has been tweeting about how he is glad he is no longer contributing to the mortgage payments of Blizzard employees, and we know he has been in on the Rift beta. Maybe Rift will be his next “here is how to fix MMOs” project.


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  10. Random Poster

    I think I am probably in the same boat. If none of these other games existed I would give Rifts a try. But since they do exist I have to compare.


    I do like the sheer amount of souls you can choose from but I think balance is going to be next to impossible unless they pigeon hole people into specific soul combos at end game.

    Getting new Souls: It’s kind of fun to get the 4th sou. Basically you are told to go to a rift, clear it then use your ability to rip forth the next soul to be collected. Sadly the game does nothing to tell you how to actually USE the new souls you get past the first 3. You also do not get to choose which soul is next as far as I could tell.

    From a convenience factor: Only one place to set your hearth (can’t remember the rift term) for the first 20+ levels sucks massively.

    Questing is also a bit painful post 20. A whole lot of Kill 10 mobs turn in quest..Oh by the way go kill ten of these other guys you had to kill while you were doing the first one but didn’t get credit for because that’s next in the chain. It’s basically WoW pre Wrath/Cata

    PQ’s/Rifts: I personally have the same problem with Rifts version of WAR’s PQ’s as I did with them. Right now there is no strategy whatsoever to them, it’s zergzergzergzerg. And when nobody is around..they are quite frankly, boring. All fine and dandy with the tons of people going “ooh free game” but if you happen to end on a server with a low pop? Good luck. This also ties in to the next point.

    That said you can easily level through doing Rift events…so long as they are around since the amount that spawns varies depending on the population of the zone

    Also no idea how rewards work for participating in the Rifts.


    The world is gorgeous. Great lighting and scenery and most of the character models are really nice (see below). At least on my machine which is still rather capable

    Dwarf models: (disclosure Dwarves in any game have always been my favorite race) What the hell did the designer for these guys do >.< Their arms are out of proportion with the rest of the body, simply too long. To a lesser extent the "giant" race on the Defiant side looks this way to.

    Weapon Scaling: Doesn't exist. So my short dwarf with the too long arms is running around with a sword almost 3 times his height. it just looks silly.

    The interface: Is quite well done as you pointed out. If you have played a fantasy MMO in the last 10 years or so you should feel right at home.

    I only got to run the first dungeon but it seemed pretty well put together but it took a lonnng time. I was the only one who had not been there before but even so I think for an at level group that had been there before it owuld still take a while.

    And while that all seems very negative I had a good time and would pick it up if it actually did anything "new" or all my friends left my other MMO's.


  11. João Carlos

    @Random Poster
    Yes, sadly the game say nothing what to do with the 4th soul. If it say it, problably is somewhere at the manual, that no one reads. And the player base is just learning some “tricks” the game offers.

    You can buy “roles” with your “calling” (class) trainer. The 3 souls you gain completing the tutorial are your first role. You can have 4 roles. The prices go up, so the third role will be 4 plat. But the second role have a razoable price for teen levels.

    So, you can add 3 souls to that second role. Take note that at this stage is a very good idea to do ALL quests for gain all souls possible for your calling. Each calling have 8 souls + 1 PvP soul. Teh PvP soul you gain doing PvP, but if you aren’t interested at PvP you can simply forgot it, because the PvP soul only give bonus for play or defend from other players, no skill for PvE.

    With enough souls, you can build a second role at the end of teens levels. Then you choose what a second role can be more apropriated for you.

    The advantage is that you can change roles anytime, except when in combat. It is very usefull at dungeons, that are group content. Your group need other tank or otehr healer for fight the boss? Just change role.

    Tehre are more advantages. For the players that like PvP, they can change a PvE role for a PvP role when entering PvP. You too can change from a soloist role for a more group oriented role.

    For that reason is a good idea get all souls around the teen levels and start to build diferent roles.

    With relation to balance. the devs said 1v1 PvP will NOT be balanced. PvP is intended to be group thing. And the game is PvE with some PvP, you can simply skip any PvP, there is a option for turn on the player be unPvPable. The gear and soul for PvP give bonus only for fight other players, not for PvE.

    With relation to rifts, while the PQs at WAR the reward was random, at Rift the reward depend upon your participation to close the rift. If you arrive at the last stages and do nothing for kill the mobs, you gain nothing.

    The population X rift problem will be hard to solve. They are tunning the number of rifts to teh number of players, but that will need more tunning.


  12. Bhagpuss

    What with Mrs Bhagpuss having spent the last 15 months designing increasingly elaborate houses in EQ2 to the point where she is now building entire villages from scratch outside the actual housing the game allows (it’s called Breakout building I think – don’t ask…), the absence of housing in Rift is actually one of it’s most attractive features right now.


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  14. Ian

    EVE presented solutions to both the multi shard and the disparate level issues that most MMOs suffer from. I’m surprised none of the others appear to have taken notice. I was very impressed when I found that team of low level players could effectively disable (though probably not kill) a higher level player, making them a valuable asset to a group of mixed level players.


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