In which we may again tread into how the seasons are measured.
A little over a month back Trion World’s put out their producer’s letter for Rift in which they were explicitly eyeing the seemingly evergreen fields of video game nostalgia with a mind towards making a few bucks on the idea. Leave it to Trion to jump on the nostalgia bandwagon only after Blizzard began lumbering in that direction with WoW Classic. We may not be in Azeroth anymore, but the influence of that world can always be felt across the genre.
Anyway, the plan was for something called Rift Prime, a nostalgia server set to follow the well trod path that EverQuest has been going down with increasing frequency over the last decade. As with the well honed EverQuest model, the basic plan put forward back then would be a server with vanilla content (with some adjustment to the easier to access dials and switches to make the current state of play seem a bit more retro) that would unlock expansion content over time, and which would be available only to subscribers… excuse me, patrons… which would allow Trion to remove much of the cash shop gimmickry that otherwise pays the bills on the standard live servers. All of this, and some other vague statements, were slated to become reality in “Spring of 2018” according to the producer’s letter.
While you may have noticed the rising tide of sarcasm up to this point, let me assure you I was, and remain, in full approval of this idea. While I’d be interest to know whether the idea of Blizzard soon taking up every last seat on the nostalgia bus or the building backlash against lockboxes might have set Trion on this path, that is mostly idle curiosity. That it is happening is the the real thing, the coin of the realm, and I am on board with it.
And spring seemed like a good time frame for me last month. I was still enamored with Azeroth and pet battles and what not, and expected to remain so for another few months or so before tiring of it. The launch could have been quite a while coming, as late as the front half of June, as we will recall from the Landmark Spring launch that came about on June 10, 2016. Massively OP tried to make that something to complain about, but in the northern hemisphere summer is generally accepted to start on the solstice, not on June 1st. A cabal of astrophysicists and calendar makers have made this a thing. Trion just had to get there between March 20 and June 21st.
So when yesterday I saw the announcement that Rift Prime would launch on March 7, 2018, my second thought was, “That’s not spring!”
I know that seems more than a bit pedantic, especially in California where is can get “spring-ish” in February, but I have been trained by years of working in software that an estimate like “spring” generally means as far into spring as you can get away with… like June 10th… the same way that “the middle of the month” means any day save the first or the last of a given month and “in a future release” means a point in time somewhere before the heat death of the universe. Nothing is ever early.
This mattered to me because, as noted, I am still invested in WoW right now and I hate to dump a game I am enjoying for some new variable. A bird in the hand is worth a pig in a poke and all that. And few things can rain on playing another MMO than currently having fun playing WoW.
My first though was, “Oh, hey, that’s my birthday.” I’m not sure if that is a sign or not.
Anyway, I am as ready as I can be I suppose. After the producer’s letter I went and got the Glyph launcher, now considerably more trim since it let go of its Steam aspirations, figured out my login credentials, downloaded and patched Rift, then actually logged in. So I am ready on that front. I still need to buy my way into patron status… subscribe… to get access to Rift Prime, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
But do I want to play?
As mentioned, still being invested in WoW is an issue. I’m on the downside of the usual WoW high and, while not ready to walk away just this minute, it wouldn’t be a tragedy if I did. It might be better if I walked off still hungry for a bit more Azeroth.
Meanwhile, to get in on day one of a new server can be a special thing in and of itself. And Rift’s world, or at least the initial content from launch, was made up of a set of very well designed zones that I really enjoyed the first time through… and the second and the third and the fourth time. So I am good there.
Not everything will be as it was. As the Rift Prime FAQ points out:
RIFT Prime will not be an exact copy of launch RIFT, and certain features that were added to RIFT to expand gameplay or improve quality of life will be available from day one. These include: Dimensions, Looking for Group, Looking for Raid, current Warfronts, and Wardrobes.
Instant adventures is off the table however. That’s okay, IA was something of a “keep people busy while we get some new content out” sort of thing.
The server will also have level scaling for zones, so if you wander into a lower level zone you haven’t finished up, you’ll be scaled down to the level of the content. No running about one-shotting everything. Good as well.
There will be a cash shop, but it won’t offer gear or bags or lockboxes for the RMT currency. There will just be cosmetics, mounts, and services available. However, if you already have Rift Credits on your account… I have a bunch left from the F2P transition… you won’t be able to use them. There will be special Prime Credits for this server, though when the server closes any Prime Credits you have will become normal Rift Credits.
The FAQ says that they expect the server to run for at least a year, which after so much exposure to the mighty mountain of expansion unlocks that come with an EverQuest retro server, seems like a very short time horizon. but Rift just doesn’t have that much to unlock.
And maybe a year is good. Honestly, I am not interested in going into Storm Legion or beyond, the zone design there being the antithesis of the what I enjoyed about the launch zones. So that would leave me playing for a few months before wandering off. I don’t need a server to last more than a year to get what I am looking for. And if it is a success, the shorter duration will likely lead to more such servers.
And, of course, Trion is selling a special Rift Primogenitor Pack in their web store for $30, which gets you the following:
- 30 days of Patron access for the purchaser
- 2 voucher codes for 15 days of Patron access each (30 days total). Invite your friends to play, apply it to your alts or use the time yourself!
- A mount out of the ordinary: Armored White War Tiger
- A title exclusive to Prime players: Primogenitor
- Cloak of the Void
- A new Prime portrait frame
Essentially, if you buy it all just for yourself, you’re getting two months of Patron access for about the same price as two months of Patron access, with a few goodies thrown in to sweeten the deal.
So I am leaning in favor of this. I am not totally sold, but I have two weeks to decide. And since I am crashing from my typing binge, I’ll close with a poll about this:
There is a poll above this line which, if you don’t see it, might have been eaten by ad block or Firefox or Russian troll bots.