The NDA on Rift has been lifted and that has flooded the web with a ton of opinions on the game. Did you miss out on the Beta Events? Want to get an idea of what it is like without reading 70 blogs? This week on LSB, I do the work for you and find out what everyone is saying from the nasty to the glorifying.
This week, Trion Worlds lifted the NDA to the new anticipated game, Rift. After the first two beta events, and a third on the way, bloggers, columnists and people alike are excited to finally discuss how they feel about the game. Thank the maker because I was stressing out keeping all this bottled up inside.
William Murphy of MMORPG.com writes, “In short, it does indeed have the “it factor” an MMO need in order to keep people playing and paying, and it might even pull some folks who are tired of Azeroth away from WoW. Emphasis on might and some. Because ultimately one of its greatest flaws will be seen as the fact that it’s very much akin to World of Wacraft (and most other traditional MMOs).” He later goes on to list a few things he loved about the game including, fluid UI, lots of quests, huge zones and the soul system. On the later he states, “The system that seems to be the real winner in Rift has nothing to do with the game’s title itself. What’s really going to get MMORPG fans salivating is the soul system.” Massively writer Karen Bryan says, “..but this is difficult to critique right now, because even if you reached level 20, you barely scratched the surface of what the different souls and soul combinations can do.” This brings up a valid point for any assessment of content.
Murphy writes, “The problem with many MMOs rests in its UI, but that’s not the case with Rift. The controls are both responsive and straightforward.” Bryan disagrees though stating, “some things need to be a bit faster. Running, turning around, moving backwards, and panning in and out with the mousewheel all felt really slow. I’m happy Trion sped up the global cooldown between betas and added in a soft queue, but I’d still love to see combat ramped up a bit as well.” Jason “Medawky” Bolton of TenTonHammer believes that, “Rift is a graphically stunning game that is filled with both beautiful landscapes and horrific monsters. While graphics don’t always make the game, the look of Rift is excellent and thus far runs smoothly even in a beta setting.” Karen didn’t have many issues with performance, “but I did run into some major lag during some of the larger invasions, and a few guildmates who were in raid ended up crashing out of the Sunday night invasion event. I’d love a way to swap from a high setting to a lower one instantly, for those unexpected moments when a large invasion suddenly pops up.” Which I agree would be an excellent feature for the future.
“Very few games lately have been able to convey so much in their first 20 levels, but with so much depth and such a quick leveling curve Rift has done an excellent job of immersing me in its world.” states Bolton. Murphy agrees saying, “Some players will decry the game due to the fact that they’re being handheld through the leveling process by the structure of quests. It’s not necessarily an issue for me, however, as I feel the game gives enough incentive with its collections to explore on my own and not feel restricted by questing non-stop.” Bryan adds, “Questing is no different from what you find in most MMOs, but in RIFT, it serves a different purpose. In many MMOs, questing is the fastest path to the endgame. In RIFT, it’s one path, but if beta two is any indication, it’s not necessarily a faster path than rift hunting or grouping.”
What about Rift rifts? “..the Rifts themselves, are an interesting take on the Public Quest idea first introduced by EA Mythic with Warhammer Online.” explains Murphy. Bolton concurs, “Rift combat can happen at any time, with the map lighting up and highlighting active attacks. The feel of the rift events is much like the public quests of Warhammer Online, where players don’t have to be grouped to participate and there is definite strength in numbers.” Bryan reminds us, “The best part about rift invasions is that they encourage teamwork and social interaction. Players quickly learned over the weekend that grouping up, rather than fighting solo, meant better experience and rewards for all.” “They’re essentially supposed to be the main draw of the game, but as I spent more time playing I found myself avoiding them and going around them on my adventures. They’re fun enough, and I’m glad that a solo player can often complete them as that’s my usual play-style,” says Murphy, reassuring us that single play is still viable.
Bryan concludes, “RIFT isn’t perfect, and there’s a lot that might feel all-to-familiar, but the rift invasions and the soul system address the two biggest problems in MMOs today: lack of player interaction and the limitations of the holy trinity in groups. Rifts encourage players to band together, include each other, and fight against a common enemy. The soul system encourages five people, regardless of class, to group up and still have the tools to make progress together. If rift invasions are tuned correctly, and if the soul system realizes its potential,RIFT has a real opportunity to breathe new life into the MMO genre.”
The Blogger’s Response
“Rift MMO feels like a polished Warhammer Online with more dynamic public quests. I am going to get it.” writes Ravious at KillTenRats. Tipa of WestKarana praises the efforts of the development team writing, “There’s a whole “A” team, “B” team thing in game development. The “A” team develops the game according to a shared vision of something new, then the “B” team takes over and removes all the cool stuff in favor of ever-increasing mediocrity. Both EQ and EQ2 have been “B” teamed to death. But I am loving what the “A” team has done with Trion’s Rift. There’s only room for one WoW-like in my life. Rift is the one.” Candace McCarty of MMOReporter isn’t sure what to think yet saying, “Rift: Planes of Telara has a lot of potential. It is a beautiful game world that seems “alive”. The unique class system I’m not completely sold on. It could be a blessing or a bane. I have no final judgement on what the game will be come release day. Based on my first impressions, it remains a “we shall see what happens.” Syp of Biobreak concludes, “For my money and short time in the game, RIFT is the real deal. It’s polished, it works just fine, it seems a bit too familiar in spots, and it may have difficulty competing with other established games in the already-crowded fantasy genre. Still, the soul system is inspired and rifts/invasions are quite cool, so I don’t doubt that this will get quite a few followers at launch.”
Not everyone was inspired by the game though. Keen of Keen and Graev’s states, “If you like WoW, you have absolutely no reason to play Rift. If you’re looking for a real PvP game or one with an open world even remotely like a sandbox then you have no reason to play Rift. If you’re wanting something different then definitely do not play Rift. If you want a good game (that isn’t WoW) that is more of the same then Rift does a great job of delivering probably the best available.” Beau Hindman of Spouse Aggro thinks the lack of innovation is something we should not be making excuses for, “But, let’s not say things like “It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel..” or other half-assed attempts at defending the game. See, for a “AAA” game, you should be required by law to reinvent the fucking wheel. If not, you should be forced to put “We in no way reinvented the wheel. But, we’re new” all over your website.”
I played in both beta events and found the game enjoyable. Was it the best thing ever? No. Most innovative? No. Did it do what its advertisements claimed it did? Arguable. However the only thing lack of huge innovation has proven to me after playing the beta is that they spent a lot of money on making a game that combined a lot of the best theme park goodness of the last 6 years. People will compare this to other games because it is a mix of other games. Elements from EQ2, WoW, WAR, Aion, and more. I don’t see this as making the game bad. I see it as making a smart alternative to what is out there. I don’t need a perfect innovative creation anytime a new mmo comes out. Sometimes it is even nice to play something that isn’t cutting edge (like anytime you revisit an older mmo or some independent titles). The thing that Rift does well is support people playing together, mixing up their roles, and handing you an enjoyable experience in a clean package.
At the end of the day, it isn’t innovation that will make Rift a success. What will? The variety of good features, solid game play and an ability to be a viable alternative to nearly any ‘AAA’ game out there.